Carolin, Au Pair in Viña del Mar
Au Pair 2017
My name is Carolin, I am 18 years old and I graduated from high school in 2017. In school I had only a few years of Spanish, so I decided not to start studying directly after graduation and to go abroad to improve my Spanish. Although I have heard some dangerous stories about South America, Chile is the safest country there. That also calmed my parents. My choice quickly fell on the Au Pair program of Chile Inside. At the beginning of 2017 I contacted the organization and they quickly found a family for me. My host family consisted of an Austrian woman who emigrated to Chile eight years ago and her two sons (five and a half years old). The family lived in Viña del Mar, on the Coast, about one and a half hours from Santiago. In Viña, the older boy also visits the German School. It was important to my host mother to have a German speaking Au Pair, so that the children could speak a lot of German in everyday life. When I arrived at the end of August, winter was just over, and spring was beginning.
The Chilean Spanish is special: ending syllables are omitted, words different and there are many words that exist only in Chile. At first, I understood hardly a word. Four weeks of language school, always three hours in the morning, helped me a lot. Although I have two smaller siblings myself, it was a completely new experience for me to take care of a baby. The older brother was at school in the mornings so in the morning, I only took care of the baby. Three times a week also came a housekeeper to cook, clean and help me with the baby. At lunch we all ate together, in the afternoon I took care of both children.
We often went to the playground or played in the garden. Often we also did crafting or we did other great stuff together. I noticed how difficult it is to satisfy the needs of both children at the same time. I admire my parents now, how good they did it with me and my siblings. I quickly felt very comfortable in my family. On the weekend we did excursions together. Not infrequently, we have experienced great adventures that I will never forget.
In the language school in Viña del Mar I also met other au pairs and volunteers from the Region Viña del Mar / Valparaíso and we often did something together. My host mother left me a lot of freedom in terms of days off. Thus, I could go for extended weekends to Mendoza (Argentina) or north to San Pedro de Atacama. A special experience was also Christmas with my Chilean family and their relatives. For the first time, I celebrated Christmas with so many people, but without a real Christmas tree. When my host mother told me that we will have possibly only a small plastic tree or none at all it was very hard for me. Buying and putting up the Christmas tree is an important Christmas tradition in my family, which sometimes end up in a Drama. The idea of painting a tree on paper, for a Christmas tree replacement, caused some doubt, if this year would be a happy Christmas. I was wrong with those fears though and had a very special and memorable Christmas.
During my last month, I traveled to get to know the country and its people. I even spent five days in Peru and travelled to Machu Picchu. Chile is a breathtaking country that has thousands of facets. I've always felt very safe when exploring places and the people were very nice and helpful. My Spanish has also improved a lot. Since I was not really living in a Chilean environment, I cannot say that my Spanish is perfect, but it is better than I expected. I can understand a lot, even tours in Spanish. Speaking wise, I also became much more secure and I can hold longer conversations. Although I'm back in Germany now, is it certain that I will return to Chile again to visit my family. I hold the children so close to my heart now and the farewell was very difficult for everyone. A stay abroad I can only recommend, as I learned a lot about myself and about life. For example, I know that children are wonderful and you can have lot of fun with them, but that they can also be very exhausting. Often, I fell into bed in the evening completely exhausted. This trip was also the first that I organized alone I am proud of how everything worked out smoothly.