One of the hardest parts of being an au pair can be meeting people and making friends. Even though you are living with a family, being an au pair can be very lonely, especially at first. Most au pairs who are brand-new to a country don’t know anyone outside of their host family.
Even those who did their homework, asked all the right questions, and landed with a really great host family, getting to know people outside of your new home can still be tough. Especially at first.
For me, I was fine when I first moved to Germany as an au pair. I had a few friends in the country (although none nearby). I also had a great host family who took me out to see the area and introduced me to their family and close circle of friends, which was fantastic and very kind of them. But at some point I was ready to make friends of my own, especially close girlfriends. You may be in a similar situation and wondering how to meet people.
If you are, here are three ways that I made friends as an Au Pair:
- Language class – I can’t recommend this enough. My closest friendships were made through my German classes. The courses I signed up for were pretty crappy (my German teacher was actually Russian, if that tells you anything). But I made some great (and lasting) friendships during my classes. Granted, once you make friends you may spend more time skipping class than attending (consider yourself warned!), and you will quite likely have to step out of your comfort zone to meet new people, but language school is a GREAT way to meet other people.
- Go to church – Seriously. I met some really great people through a church in Stuttgart and through Bible studies at one of the universities in the city. And believe it or not, some of these people were really cool, and not crazy Bible-thumpers. (For those who do not attend religious services, maybe you could look for groups/meet-ups on things that interest you – either hobbies, sports, or something similar).
- Just get out there – Sometimes you just have to get out and talk to people. And although it can be intimidating, you can meet some great people by getting over yourself and talking to strangers. One of my best friends and I made some great friends by going out and talking to people at our favorite hangout. We didn’t have time to wait around to meet people, so we took it upon ourselves to talk to people who looked like fun, and we made good friends this way, even in Germany, where people tend to be a bit more reserved than what we were used to.
So here’s one au pair’s suggestions, what are yours? What’s the best way to meet people in a foreign country?