Today we’re hearing from Anneke, a 24-year old German student who worked as an au pair in Western Australia for seven weeks. I’m especially excited to have her as she’s my good friend Julika’s little sister!
On this site I try to mix up both positive and negative experiences to give future au pairs a realistic idea of what to expect. I’m happy to say Anneke had a great experience- she fell in love with both Australia’s sunshine and an Aussie guy while in Oz.
Without further ado…
Country of origin: Germany
Age at time of au pairing: 23/24
Salary: $150 AUD per week
Location: Northampton, Western Australia
Length of stay: 7 weeks
Willkommen, Anneke! So how did you find your family in Australia?
I found my family through a website called Workaway.
What was the town like where you lived?
Northampton is a VERY small town in Western Australia. It has a small IGA (supermarket), a post office and a gas station. That’s about it.
It is 50 km away from Geraldton which is the biggest town between Perth and Darwin. So on my day off I could visit Geraldton (about a half an hour drive) do some shopping and stuff like that. But in Northampton there isn’t much to do.
What kind of visa were you on?
A Working Holiday Visa, which is the standard visa for people under 30 who want to work and travel in Australia.
What was your relationship with the family like?
I felt totally welcome and at home during my 7 weeks there. I had really good talks with Hayley (the mom). It was more like talking to one of my friends although she’s 10 years older than me. The kids got used to me very quickly and I became their playmate and boss if I had to be ;)
Did you live with the family or did you have your own apartment?
I lived in their house, in my own room.
What duties did you have? Did you cook for the family?
My duties were taking care of the kids, when the parents were at work, some housework like cleaning, dishwashing, and doing the laundry. I also cooked sometimes, but only when I wanted to. I made German dishes after my mum’s recipe and baked a traditional Black-Forest cake for Brett’s Birthday.
How did you entertain/educate the children?
The kids had a huge playroom with lots of different things to play with. So most of the times we played there. If it wasn’t too hot, we went to the beach or to the playground. I even tried to teach them some German just for fun, but it didn’t really work.
Did you take English class while you were in Australia? And did you have any trouble understanding Australian English at first?
No, I didn’t take English class and yes, Australian English was a bit hard to understand in the beginning. But you get used to it really quickly. And I had three months to get used to it before I started living with my au-pair family.
Just sometimes they use funny words you’ve never heard before e.g. for “bangs” they use the word “fringe.” Or I remember one day when Hayley asked me to get the mince out of the fridge and I understood mint and looked for something green ;)
Were there any cultural barriers you noticed?
No, not at all, Australians are very similar to Europeans just a bit more chilled and relaxed.
How did you spend your free time?
I read a couple of books during my stay, spent my time at the beach or wasted my au-pair salary on new clothes. :) One friend of Hayley’s is a surf teacher and she took me surfing for free one day. That was amazing. ☺
How did you make friends? Were there many expats/fellow au pairs?
I didn’t really make friends. But maybe I knew it was just for a short time period so I didn’t really try. But I actually met a German girl that worked at the local pub. But there were no other au pairs in my little town I knew of.
What was the dating scene like in Australia?
Well, I had a German friend in Adelaide (before I stayed with my family) who used Tinder a lot to go on a couple of dates, but I personally met someone at a New Year’s Eve party a few weeks before. We’re still together ☺ But I don’t think that in Northampton there were really any dateable men.
What you loved about working in rural Australia:
You can always count on the sunshine. ;) And all the people are very nice and helpful compared to Germany were people are often self-oriented and a bit grumpy, maybe it’s the climate difference. ;)
What you disliked about working in rural Australia:
I can’t really think of anything.
Overall would you recommend working in Australia?
Definitely! It was such a nice holiday and working experience!
One last thing! Any important things to pack?
The right adapter and a multi-outlet power strip to charge your camera, phone, tablet etc. ☺