Category Archives: Q and A

Holidays and Vacation Reminders

Holidays and vacations are a great opportunity to rest, recharge, and explore the US.

With the summer travel season fast approaching, here are some reminders about program rules regarding holidays and vacations.

Holidays

  • Host families are not required to give au pairs any specific holidays.
  • Each host family will make different arrangements on holidays; some au pairs will be off and others will be required to work.
  • As holidays approach, it is helpful for host parents to let their au pairs know if they will be off or not, so plans can be made.
  • Au pairs should not make plans for holidays without checking with their host families first.

Vacations

  • Au pairs earn 2 weeks of paid vacation during the course of their year.
  • Vacation time should be mutually agreed upon.
  • All vacations should be pre-planned (at least 4 weeks in advance.)
  • All au pair’s friends and/or family visits should be pre-approved prior to purchasing tickets.
  • If an au pair travels with her host family, discuss in advance the expectations of the trip:
    • If an au pair travels with her host family for work, the host family is required to pay for the au pair’s transportation, lodging, and meals.
    • If an au pair travels with her host family for vacation only and is not required to work, discuss the expectations for her participation in family activities in detail BEFORE the start of the trip.
  • For more information about scheduling vacation time, see APIA’s Tips for Current Host Families: Vacations.

Travel Outside the U.S.

  • During their first year, au pairs are allowed to travel outside of the U.S. and return. However, there are some important steps to take:
    • Au pairs must have their DS2019 signed (travel validation) PRIOR to their departure from the US.
    • It is essential that au pairs make their travel plans to return to the U.S. prior to the expiration date listed on their visa. This date can sometimes be earlier than their actual year end date.
    • More information and the travel validation request form may be found here on the Au Pair in America website.
  • There are limitations on travel outside of the U.S. for second year (extension) au pairs. Please speak with Catherine prior to making travel plans.
  • More information can be found by selecting the Au Pair Resources tab on the top of this page and looking under “Au Pair Travel Outside the US.”

Education Requirements for Au Pairs

Required Credits 

Au pairs are required earn at least six academic credits during their year by completing classes/courses at accredited US post-secondary colleges and universities. 

6 academic credits = approximately 8 CEUs = approximately 80 classroom hours 

Universities and colleges use several different systems for credits, and au pairs use any combination of academic credits, CEUs, or hours as long as they add up to the required number of hours. (The absolute minimum is 72 classroom hours.)

Accredited Schools

For a list of classes approved for your DC-area cluster, click on this link.

If you want to take a class from a school not listed on the cluster blog, check with your Community Counselor first to make sure it is accredited. Otherwise, it will not count toward your education requirement.

Choosing Classes

Be flexible. Remember that your childcare responsibilities come first. Class schedules need to be arranged with your host family and around your childcare duties. Your favorite class may not be available when you are. Schools vary in what they offer, but most offer a wide range of choices and offer day, evening, and Saturday classes.

The APIA Advantage UCLA Course is the only State Department approved class with an online component. No other online classes are accepted.

Tuition

Your host family will pay an education allowance of $500 to assist you in completing your education requirement. There are a few ways to get your credits for just your education allowance, but choices are limited. Normally au pairs will contribute some of their own money ($200+) towards their education.

Transportation

Your host family will provide transportation, including gasoline, parking, or public transportation costs, to and from your classes in your community until you complete your education requirement.

If the class is remote (out of town), host families pay for the class and what is included; au pairs pay for transportation, food, & lodging.

Education Proof

Submit any of the following as proof of your education:

  • Letter from the school on letterhead
  • Completion certificate from the school
  • School transcript

All proof of education must state your name, school attended, course title, start and end date of the course, and number of credits/hours earned. If your community counselor does not have proof that your education requirement has been completed, you will not receive a completion certificate upon your return to your home country and you forfeit the opportunity to extend.

DCC cluster au pairs should use this link to submit their education proof to their Community Counselor, Catherine.

Extending 

Image: NEC Corporation of America (Flickr)

Image: NEC Corporation of America (Flickr)

In order to extend, you must show proof that you have completed the education requirement no later than the end of your 11th month. 

If you are still in the process of completing your education, you must obtain proof from the school stating that the course(s) you are taking will conclude no later than the end of your 11th month and the number of credits/hours/CEUs that you will earn.

All proof of education must state your name, school attended, course title, and number of credits/hours earned. Completed verification should be given to your community counselor. Your extension request will not be processed without this proof.

2019 Au Pair Education Options

Photo: William Warby (Flickr)

Photo: William Warby (Flickr)

  • APs are required earn at least six academic credits during their year by completing classes/courses at accredited US post-secondary colleges and universities. 6 academic credits = approximately 8 CEUs = approximately 80 classroom hours (72 classroom hours is absolute minimum allowed).
  • For a summary of State Department education requirements, click on this link.
  • Before you sign up for a class, remember to talk with your HF to make sure that the class will fit with your work schedule.
  • If the class is remote (out of town), HFs pay for the class and what is included. APs pay for transportation, food, & lodging.
  • Most courses require homework to receive class credit.

LANGUAGE CLASSES

Georgetown University Evening and Weekend English

  • Details: Conversational English courses (weeknights), ESL Business English courses (weeknights), and Advanced TOEFL Test Prep course (Saturdays)
  • Credits: 3.2 CEUs for 8-week summer course; 3.6 CEUs for 9-week fall and spring course
  • Cost: $480 for summer course; $540 for fall & spring courses (10% Early Enrollment Discount)
  • Placement: Mandatory placement test
  • Location: Georgetown, DC (Take shuttle from Dupont Circle Metro)

International Language Institute (ILI) English Programs and other foreign languages

  • ESL and TOEFL Prep Au Pair Promotion- $500 Tuition for 72-75 hours
    • Day Classes (Monday-Friday 9 am-2:10 pm; earn 75 hours in 3 weeks)
    • Evening Classes (Tuesday-Thursday 6:40-8:45 pm; earn 75 hours in 10 weeks)
    • Saturday Classes (Saturday 9 am-1:05 pm; earn 72 hours in 16 weeks)
  • Other foreign languages (Click here for 10% au pair discount)
  • Cost: $75 one-time application fee + tuition (usually offers 10% discount for Au Pairs)
  • Schedule: Weekday, evening, and weekend courses offered year-round; foreign language classes begin 4 times per year
  • Placement: Testing offered daily
  • Location: Dupont Circle (Dupont and Farragut North Metro)

LADO International Institute English courses

  • Details: Intensive, Semi-intensive, TOEFL Prep, and TEFL Prep classes
  • Credits: 7.6 or 7.2 CEUs for Intensive 4-week program; 7.2 CEUs for Semi-intensive 8-week program, 3.6 CEUs for 8-week Saturday program
  • Cost: $85 one-time registration fee + tuition (10% APIA tuition discount usually offered)
  • Schedule: Weekday, evening, and weekend courses offered year-round
  • Placement: Testing offered daily
  • Locations: DC (Archives, Gallery Place, Metro Center), Arlington (Rosslyn Metro), Silver Spring (Silver Spring Metro)

Mentora College Intensive ESL Program

  • Details: Intensive 4-week program (ask about a 30% APIA scholarship discount)
  • Location: DC (McPherson Square and Metro Center)

Virginia International University (VIU) Non-Intensive ESL Program and Saturday Museum Classes

  • Details: Non-Intensive ESL courses (include Business English, Grammar and Conversation, TOEFL Prep, and more), Saturday Museum classes (interactive one-day museum classes and tours taught by an ESL instructor), and Weekend classes (Grammar Tune-Up and others).
  • Credits:  0.5 for Museum Class; 1.5 – 3.0 CEUs for other courses
  • Cost: $20 one-time application fee + tuition ($40 per museum class; varies for other courses)
  • Schedule: Museum classes =  Saturdays year-round; schedule varies for other courses
  • Placement: No placement test required for museum classes
  • Location: DC-area museums and Fairfax, VA campus

GENERAL INTEREST CLASSES

BMCC Learning Across America

  • Details: BMCC offers au pairs two ways to earn educational credits:
    1. Learning Local: Attend class at Trinity University in DC and then take a study trip to the destination (usually Niagara Falls or Amish Country).
    2. Learning Express:  Study, explore and earn educational credits all in the same long weekend in an amazing destination like Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.
  • Credits: 40 hours/4 CEUs, 36 hours/ 3.6 CEUS, or 32 hours/3.2 CEUs
  • Cost: Varies by class (check for additional housing and transportation costs)
  • Schedule: Learning Local classes meet on Saturdays and Sundays. Study trip dates vary and may include weekdays. Learning Express classes meet over one long weekend on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Carefully check class descriptions dates and times.
  • BMCC continues to add new courses to its Learning Across America program so make sure to check the schedule regularly!

George Washington University School of Business Women’s Business Leadership

  • Details: GWU’s School of Business Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence Women’s Leadership Seminar series
    • WBL 101: Intro to Women’s Business Leadership (Fall- Nov 2 and 3, 2019)
    • WBL 102: Personal Leadership Journey (Spring- March 7 and 8, 2020)
  • Credits: 3 credits/ 36 hours
  • Cost: $360 early registration; $385 regular registration + $25 for workbook
  • Schedule: TBA (also pre and post-class assignments)
  • Location: George Washington University (Foggy Bottom Metro)

Stratford University Event Survey Course

  • Details: Explore the world of event management including theme development, food, design, tourism, and more.
  • Credits: 3 CEUs/ 30 hours
  • Cost: $460
  • Schedule: 10 am-2 pm on Thursdays Sept 12-Oct 17
  • Location: Stratford University’s Alexandria Campus (Eisenhower Ave Metro)

University of DC Community College Au Pair Weekend Class

  • Details: Learn important skills for dealing with the cultural and personal challenges that international visitors in the U.S. often face and also learn about Washington, DC.  
  • Credits: Receive up to 45 hours for a 3-day weekend class 
  • Cost: Varies by course (housing not provided)
  • Location: 801 N Capitol St NE (near Union Station)

University of the Virgin Islands International Program (based in DC and other locations)

  • Details: Courses that meet for multiple times for several weeks, weekends, or months (include Accent Reduction, ESL Small Talk, Sign Language, art classes, business classes, and more).
  • Credits: Between 20-40 hours (2-4 CEUs) and varies by course
  • Cost: Varies by course; create student account to register and pay
  • Locations: Throughout DC Metro and other locations

Other Classes located at Universities all over the US, including California, New York, Florida, Virginia, Hawaii and others. Click here for more information.


ONLINE CLASS

UCLA Extension American Studies

  • Details: Click here for detailed class description and a sample of the required English level
  • Credits: 6 credits
  • Cost: $500
  • Schedule: September 23, 2019 – February 3, 2020. Course #364702. (Use this link to register and pay for the course. Registration can be tricky. Use this guide for tips on how to register.) Registration opens July 29, 2019.
  • Location: Online (Note: This is the only online class approved by the State Department and is only available to APIA Au Pairs.)

OTHER DC-AREA OPTIONS

Below is a list of accredited DC-area schools you may wish to research for class options. However, they tend to be more expensive and do not have special programs designed to fit into an au pair’s typical schedule.

American University Nondegree Student (over $1000 per credit)

Corcoran Arts Continuing Education classes (around $1000 per credit)

Georgetown University Visiting Non-Degree Student (over $1500 per credit)

Montgomery College Work Force Development & Continuing Education (must pay non-resident fee)

Prince George’s Community College classes (must pay out-of-state tuition)

This blog post was last updated on 07/13/2019.

Hints for Success – Overcoming Homesickness

Almost everyone experiences homesickness and culture shock to some degree, when they come to live in a completely new environment. So much is different and it takes time to adjust.

It is normal to miss your own family, at home. Try to remember that they support you and want you to make the most of this experience. They will enjoy learning more about the U.S., through your eyes, as you share your adventures with them.

Top 5 Tips for Dealing with Homesickness

1. Make Friends – Don’t wait for other au pairs to reach out to you, reach out to them. There are other lots of new au pairs who are feeling the same way you are right now. Set a goal to reach out to a few of them each day. Some will respond and some will not. Don’t let that discourage you. No one will ever be mad at you for sending them a message to say hello or ask if they want to do something together. Make friends from various countries and you will also get a chance to practice your English skills together.

2. Stay in touch with your home country, but not too much. Skyping or talking on the phone every day with your family and/or friends back home normally makes homesickness worse. Try emailing instead and reduce the Skype and phone calls to once a week, until you feel stronger. It’s much harder seeing the faces and hearing the voices of those you miss.

3. Get out of the house (or your room specifically) – Go to cluster meetings, have coffee or movies with other au pairs, join a gym, go to the library, go for a walk, visit the mall, get a manicure, visit a museum. If someone invites you out, say “yes.” Also, don’t be afraid to do the inviting. If your host family invites you to do things with them, say “yes.” This will help you get to know each other and contribute to your overall happiness.

4. Realize that it definitely gets better – All au pairs experience homesickness and the vast majority of them get through it, stay and have a successful year (some even extend for a second year!) So, it must get better, right? Once you get past the initial homesickness, most au pairs report how quickly the year goes by.

5. Make Plans – Create your own Au Pair Bucket List (places you want to go, new foods to try, new things to experience during your year in the U.S.) and start doing them now. Post on our cluster Facebook group to find others who may want to join you on your adventures.

Photo by:  Shimelle Laine (Flickr)

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