Tips, Ideas, Important Information
45 Strouden Road
Tel/fax: 01202 532600
Mobile: 07949 205771
Welcome to England, I hope that you enjoy your time here as an au pair. The following is a list that I have put together to help make your stay as successful as possible. Enjoy, and remember that I am here to help in any way that I can – call me if you need anything (don’t worry our conversation will always remain confidential).
Safety: The emergency telephone number here in the UK is 999 from any telephone, the cost is free. You will be asked which service you require: ambulance, fire, or police. The main Bournemouth police station is in Madeira Road near the top of Old Christchurch Road in the town centre should you need it – or you can always call me, Andrea Rose on 07949 205771 (24 hours) if you have a problem, I too am here to help. Don’t walk about late at night on your own. Don’t go with strangers. Only get in a yellow taxi marked “taxi”. Be careful about who you give your personal details to, remember that the host family may not be too pleased with strangers phoning or arriving at the door. Be careful with your belongings – there are people out there who specifically target young foreign students so be careful how you carry your valuables.
Health: All EU Member Nationals are entitled to treatment on the National Health Service (NHS) for acute illnesses. You should register with the host family doctor (GP) soon after you arrive just to be on the safe side (your host family can write a short letter to confirm your address, if required, or I can too). Consultation is free, medication, however, will cost approx £7 per item (by prescription from the GP which you then buy from the chemist). Ask the chemist if they have a cheaper, own brand alternative.
In case of an emergency any casualty department at a hospital will take you.
If you need to visit the dentist make sure that you go to a NHS dentist (cheaper), not a private dentist. Check before you undergo any treatment, or you may make a very expensive mistake! You may have to try a few different dentists as there are not so many NHS dentists around any more. Check with your host family to find out which dentist they go to.
Insurance: Most people do not have personal liability insurance in the England (we are covered for the most part by our home insurance, or by our employers). If you are worried, keep up your insurance in your home country. In case of accidental breakage, normally the host family or their insurance will cover you, but if you have been negligent the host family may ask you to pay, or at least contribute. With accident insurance you would again normally be covered by the host family’s insurance. Discuss it with them to be sure, or get insurance in your home country.
Banking: You may want to open an account here (although it is very easy to access your money at the ‘hole in the wall’, or ‘ATM’ using your usual pin number). You will need confirmation of your address, again the host family can write you a short letter, or I can too.
Travel: National Express (coaches) 08705 808080, National Rail (trains) 08457 484950.
* Student Card: from your language school. Always ask for a discount; especially for travel, even try in shops, cinema, theatre, restaurants, cafes, they can only say no!
* Tourist Information Centre on the corner of Westover Road for cheap ideas on things to do, places to visit, accommodation.
* Travel: flybe, Ryanair, other budget airlines – check the internet. For trains, book far in advance to save money and ask about a ‘young person’s rail card’ if you want to travel by train more frequently. For the local Yellow and Red buses – check to see if you can buy a bus pass. See if you can use your Student Card for additional money off.
Go by coach: it’s cheaper than by train. Sometimes there are amazing offers – last year you could travel to London for just £1 off peak!
* Free language school – ITTC in Nortoft Road Tel: 397609, conversation class in the afternoons.
* Join your local library: free internet access, free books, (also a good source for ideas on things to do with the children, cookery books, even, in case you need inspiration!) and a safe environment to take the children to. The staff are usually very helpful too, and have access to information on just about everything.
* Haircuts: go to one of the top salons on training night.
* Supermarkets: Lidl town centre, Asda at the train station (look out for their own brand cheaper products).
* Restaurants, for lunch: Hot Wok on Westover Road – eat as much as you like for around £7.
* Telephone calls: Europe call 0844 4621 621 from a landline and then dial the European number you wish to call, for the cost of a local call. Call 0871 343 7575 for Turkey.
* Clubs: go before 10pm when entry costs are cheaper/free and there is usually a special offer on the drinks too (although still expensive and not very generous measures). Alcatraz (Bournemouth) is the top club with foreign students as far as I know. Prepare to be shocked if you go to a more British club as the girls wear very little and tend to get very drunk! And watch your drinks, make sure that nobody adds any drugs to them.
* Pubs: happy hour is usually around 7pm for cheaper drinks (usually a sign outside). Traditional pubs close at 23:00 hours.
Registration: Turkish au pairs only, with the police in Madeira Road. You need to take your passport and x2 identical passport photo’s to the Foreign Nationals Department, the cost is around £35. Open Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9:30-13:00 hours. Tel: 222087.
Being an au pair:
* It is normal to be homesick at the beginning. Get out and about – use the au pair telephone list to make some new contacts. Get started at the language school.
* Communicate, communicate, communicate. Always talk about things with your host family before they get out of hand. It is a good idea, especially at the beginning, to set aside a few moments at the end of each week to check that everything is OK on both sides. Ask if there is anything that you could be doing better. Tell them if you are having difficulties, especially if it is with the children. If you need advice, call me, I won’t mind, I am here to help!
* Ask for permission before you use anything/take anything that belongs to the family (including food).
* Be polite. People very much appreciate ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ here in England. And remember to say ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ to your host family – tell them when you are going out and when you expect to be back, they care about you.
* Remember that your room and food are also part of your payment (to stay as a paying guest would cost around £95+ per week). And on top of that you need to add electric, gas, water, etc…
* Don’t wait to be told what to do, think and see for yourself what needs doing.
* The work can sometimes be boring – make lots of arrangements for your time off and try to focus on the bigger picture why you are here! Usually the time after the New Year and before the spring warmer weather comes is the most difficult – plan some extra special trips (London?).
* It is not your job to ‘educate’ the children to your way of life, even if you don’t agree with the parenting methods of the family.
* It is normal for the au pair to have quite a bit of housework. Be willing but also stand your ground if you think that you are being taken advantage of. Call me if you are not sure.
* Don’t expect to have friends and family stay with you if they come to visit. A lot of families do not like it. Ask in advance, but not when you first arrive as it gives the impression that you are not a serious au pair! Be prepared to book visitors into a cheap bed & breakfast.
* Most families will not allow you to have your boyfriend sleep in your room.
* If you want to go out late in the evening, tell your family. Often they feel responsible for you and there may be alarms to be considered. Many families will have a rule that their au pair should be back by a certain time if they have work the next day, and even at the weekend do not stay out all night without telling the family first.
* If friends want to visit you during the day, always ask your host family for permission first. Introduce them to the family; they should always say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ as they come and go.
* It is important that you discuss the rules about using the telephone, and that you respect these rules. The phone bills are itemized so they will know if you used the phone, and for how long!!
* You may have to work longer hours if the children are on holiday from school, or are sick and not at school. (But you should get some time back, or be paid a bit more).
* It is normal to be asked to baby-sit up to twice per week.
* Sunday and bank holidays should normally be free for you, unless otherwise agreed and you should always have 2 days off per week.
* Eating a meal with the family is not part of your working hours unless you are specifically supervising the children in their parents’ absence. You should also help with laying the table and clearing up afterwards as a matter of course without waiting to be asked. This is also not part of your duties, just common courtesy.
* Remember that small children will not understand the difference between when you are working and available to them, and when you have your time off. Be sensitive.
* Your bedroom should be your own personal space and the family should not go in when you are out, and should respect your privacy when you are home.
* In England it is the law that children under 14 should not be left at home alone – do not pop out quickly without the children! In fact, never leave the children alone anywhere, anytime and be extra careful if you take them out, for example if you are taking them to/from school.
* Misunderstandings can easily happen when there are different cultures, languages and generations. Always talk things through.
* * And don’t worry, the advice for the host families is just as long. The au pair relationship is a two-way thing, its success depends on compromise from both sides!
If you have any ideas to add to the list – just email them me (it would be good to add some info on local cafes, bars, restaurants, places of interest, etc. that you particularly like, so let me know).