Au-Pair Adventures in London

by Sandra

Let’s start by having a little bit of context.

My name is Sandra, I’m 25 years old and I’m Portuguese.

I came to England trying to find new opportunities for my life in October of 2015. I came here with a program from a Portuguese company who puts us to work in different places. Let’s just say that that experience didn’t go well and I had to find a way to stay here, with a job, because going back home was kind of a non-option for me at the time.

Luckily, I have a friend living/studying here, who let me stay with her while I went to several interviews to try to find something to do. I worked in catering for about a month, until a better opportunity came along.

A friend of mine, living in Portugal, knew a Brazilian family here in London, looking for someone to take care of an old lady who was able to speak Portuguese, and so I then had the chance of staying here, without paying any bills and with a roof over my head. They were looking for a senior au-pair, and they were offering everything included, and I passed the interview. They liked me and I stayed.

Differently from what happens when you’re an au-pair taking care of children, I don’t do much, although my schedule of work is not the easiest schedule in the world. I usually have all my mornings free, Monday as my day off, as well as most of the Saturdays afternoons, after 5pm. Sunday after 11am I’m free too. I work all day after 3 o’clock, until my ‘host mom’ gets home from her job – which usually doesn’t happen before midnight.

Like I said, it’s not the most amazing schedule in the world but I’m already used to it.

When I’m free, I usually go to museums (I’ve already gone to almost all the free museums in London, free is always the best option!), I go to the cinema and for long walks on Hyde Park or any other park over here (I’ve already gone to a lot of them, they are all beautiful and worth exploring!)I go to the historical places everyone talks about. I’m planning my Harry Potter Tour and saving some money to try to go to some places.

My duties are things like: helping the lady on daily activities; helping cooking and serving food to an older lady; provide a safe and friendly atmosphere; being responsible and mature; attending to doctor appointments, helping with daily hygiene. The lady I’m taking care of is a very easy person to work with.

The family is lovely and they are ready to help me every time I need something. They are always concerned with my well-being. My ‘host mom’ is the daughter of the lady that I take care of. She makes my life a lot easier than what usually happens when you have to take care of children and I KNOW, that what I’m doing is not the real senior au-pair program that people usually do, because I have a lot more help from my ‘host mom’.

I had the advantage of having two friends to help me to get this place, and to have the opportunity of staying in London for a little bit of more time. I will be forever grateful to the ones who helped me. It’s was a relief to find work here and a place to stay without paying taxes, because living in London is very expensive.

My friend back in Portugal is thinking about coming to London in a few months and the friend who let me stay with her, is now, one of my closest friends and I’m with her every time I can during my free time. I first started talking with her on the internet, when I started my tumblr about a couple that we both like from a tv-show and I never thought I would be able to meet her in real life. She’s Portuguese too and we have a lot of fun together.

In the meantime, I already took English classes, got an English certificate, went to some places in London, met new people and broadened my horizons a little bit more.

I don’t know how much longer I’m going to stay here, I just know that I don’t regret coming and every experience is a way to make me grow and learn more, and I’m sure that that’s what’s happening to me.

I’m learning and growing as a person and this will always be an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Everything I’ve ever wanted to do since I was really young was to move abroad, go to new countries, see new cultures, meet new people, but it’s not an easy choice, especially when you’re doing it for the first time in your life, alone, without knowing what to expect.

My dream was always coming to London (I blame Harry Potter for it, I grow up reading the books and dreaming about London, Hogwarts and the platform 9 ¾) but dreaming about it and actually doing it are two very different things.

London and Porto (the city where I live back in Portugal) are totally different. The adaptation wasn’t easy. I miss my city, my family and my friends a lot.

London is a city full of life, full of things to do and see. It’s amazing for tourism and I really advise everyone who has the opportunity to come and visit. But, with time, I learned that I don’t want to stay here forever.

Yes, for tourism the city is amazing and it’s worth it, but for me, for living, London is too overrated and, even though I don’t want to stay in Portugal forever, I want to go back and try to get a job there, save some money, and move again.

Life is a journey, and mine has just begun.

Sandra is a 25 year old Portuguese girl living in London. Her hobbies are: reading, writing, watching movies, tv-shows and getting attached to fictional characters. Family and friends are what gives her life a meaning and the major objective of her future is continuing to learn, grow and travel in the journey she calls life. You can find her on her blog and Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

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