Marlene's Life in Santiago
Au Pair 2016
My name is Marlene, I am 18 years old and I have been an Au-Pair in Chile for almost 3 months. My host family consists of a mother, father, 2-year-old girl, and two boys, 4 and 5 years old. We live in Chicureo, about 20 km (12.5 miles) outside of Santiago, where there are several other Au-Pairs as well. In addition to the family, there is also a housekeeper that lives with us in the house and helps me take care of the children. Since the two boys go to a German school, my tasks also include speaking German to them when I take care of them in the afternoon. I really enjoy when the children tell me something in German, and I do not have to ask again.
The term “Au Pair” is completely unknown in Chile. If someone here asks you what you are doing in Chile, tell them “I live with a family and take care of their children, and I try to teach them some German, while I learn Spanish.” My little host brother, Cristobal, tells his friends that he has his very own Marlene at home, who takes care of him and plays with him. Moments like these give me joy as I feel that I have a spot in the children’s hearts.
The Chileans are very warm and helpful people and it does not take much time to find new “amigos.” I found this out when the best friend of my host mother, took me to a snowboarding trip to the Andes. This was so much fun that we went again the next week and enjoyed the snow at an altitude of 3000 meters (9,840 feet).
The country itself is very interesting and beautiful. I was with my host family for a few days in Villarrica and Pucon, in the south of Chile. The port city, Valparaiso, is also worth visiting. These cities offer so much to discover, and when I am not traveling to them, I often go with my host family to Santiago to do some shopping on the weekends. Over the coming weekends, we have already made plans to visit other corners of Chile.
In addition to enjoying my time with my host family and traveling, I have also fallen in love with the Chilean cuisine, and want to learn how to prepare some of these traditional meals myself before leaving. Some of my favorite dishes thus far have been empanadas, steamed bread with filling, Sopaipillas, bread made from pumpkin, and “Mote con Huesillos”, a sweet juice with dried peaches and wheat. But my absolute favorite is manjar, a cream that is made out of condensed milk and sugar and reminds me of caramel.
I got used to the Chilean lifestyle rather fast, and the daily routine is very stress-free and filled with spontaneous situations and flexible schedules. In general, the days seem longer, because everything starts later. For example, bars and restaurants are only really crowded around midnight, or even later.
By now, I can easily communicate with the children in Spanish, and I hope that this will improve even more in the coming 3 months so that I can also have better conversations with adults. In the beginning, it is a challenge to understand Chilean Spanish because they use a lot of slang and words they have invented themselves, but after a while, you get used to them. During the week, I take care of the children in the house and on the weekends, we either visit family members of my host family, or I meetup with some friends. Of course, sometimes the children can be exhausting, but when everything goes well and the children laugh all the time and you are having fun together, these days are more than worth it. Sometimes my little host sister puts her fairy-tale books on my bed before saying good night, so that I also have some reading material. These types of gestures are just adorable!!
I am very happy to have made the decision to be an Au-Pair in the wonderful country of Chile, and I am super excited to see what the next 3 months have in store for me.
Here, you find more information about our Au-Pair program: