Sunday, 27 December 2015

My Au Pair Summer in Spain

For all our budding au pairs, please read on. The following is Irish Siobhan Costello's recollection of her amazing summer in Spain as a kangaroo au pair! We hope that her account inspires you as much as it has us. Thank you Siobhan for writing such a wonderful piece about life as an au pair, Corinna and the Kangaroo Au Pair Team

 My summer of being Spanish!!! 

In typical Irish fashion being a young adult mainly consists of spending the summers working 
hard abroad on a visa or something, but did my summer consist of hard work? Let me 
think… most definitely not!! I spent my entire summer working (having fun) as an au pair for 
an amazing Spanish family. 

Let me give you some background, for those that don’t  know me,  it’s always been a dream 
of mine to be an au pair for a summer, to experience a new culture, look after children and 
enjoy my summer hols all at the same time. So going through the application process last 
January my expectations were moderate to say the least. Within a couple of weeks I had 
come in contact with my ideal host family. A Spanish family with two young kids who live in 
a small village just outside Barcelona. What could sound more perfect? A summer with 
plenty of sunshine, in Antoni Gaudi famous city of Barcelona and for a bonus learning bits of 
Catalan (main language in Catalunya) and Spanish, I was most certainly convinced! 

In what only felt like a short space of time I was saying goodbye to the wind and rain and 
jetting off to the tropical Mediterranean.  Within the first week there was definitely some 
aspects of home sickness, I had brought some of my Lyons teabags with me, however the 
host family didn’t have a kettle so had to resort to the old fashioned way of boiling water in 
a saucepan.  Thankfully the homesickness didn’t last long as I began to become fonder of 
the Spanish food, culture and the beautiful city life. 

The host family welcome me with open arms, basically becoming the fifth member of their 
family. Each day consisted of new adventures with the children. Some days we spent the 
afternoons in the pool, going to a chocolate museum, the zoo and going on picnics. Once 
again I kept my Irish element with me and decided I would teach them some Gaelic. It 
started off as a challenge for them to pronounce it but once they started there was no 
stopping them. I’m proud to say I’ve created international Mayo supporters!! 

Having evenings and weekends off gave me plenty of opportunities to meet new people and 
be a proper tourist doing some sightseeing. My host family took me one weekend to a small 
village just outside the city of Lleida, it’s a village that is quite similar to typical Irish ones 
apart from a few small things like the weather and how their Sunday roast consists of Paella 
compared to our spuds, meat and vegetables. 

One ambition of mine whilst being in Spain was to truly experience how the Spanish people 
lived. So one day I took the opportunity to travel to Monserrat. Monserrat is seen as the 
most important religious retreat for the Catalan people. It is about 40 minute outside the 
city and you get cable cars up to the mountain. On the mountain there is a small village with 
breath-taking scenery, a monastery and so much more. It’s not just a pilgrimage it felt like 

Throughout my stay in Barcelona I consider myself so privileged and lucky to have met some 
extradinary people, I became friends with so many au pair from around the world from 
Scotland all the way over to America.  It made every weekend a new adventure travelling 
around being typical tourists with our cameras. I have so many highlights it so hard to 
mention them all.  Me being my normal sporty self it was my mission to go to camp nou to 
watch a match despite the fact I don’t even support Barca.  Trying to be a neutral at a 
Barcelona home game was quite a challenge especially when you know well who is going to 
win before the game even began. The atmosphere was absolutely incredible, if you think 
screaming the fields of Athenry at an Ireland game is thrilling then you have seen nothing. 
Barcelona have their own special chant before each game where the whole stadium gets 
involved, even some fans bring along their own instruments to play. 

As many of you know Barcelona has some amazing sights, so here’s a bit of tourist 
promotion for you. The Magic Fountain of Montjuic is most definitely the one place I miss so 
much about Barcelona now. There’s a few fountains with one main one in the centre, every 
weekend it displays magical and breath taking colours with music playing in the background. 
I could have stayed there for hours upon hours, if you ever go to the city the magic fountain 
is a must see attraction. 

Summer 2015 is a summer I will never forget I now have a second family and home in 
Barcelona and have made best friends for life from all around the world.

 by Siobhan Costello, Ireland

For other related stories about being an au pair see:

Au pair programme Spain

Being an au pair in Italy

Spanish au pair Elena's video about being an au pair in Ireland

For more information about being an au pair in Spain see also Rachel Ward's article 'The realities of au pair life abroad' from Transitions abroad

For more information about being an au pair, see our au pair programmes. To become a summer au pair, please register a profile on kangaroo au pair.

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