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America in 365 Days - Day 157

By Vivien Chung

Last updated: 20th April 2015

One of the best parts of the au pair programme is the compulsory college classes that your host family helps to pay for. I’m over halfway through my first class to make up my mandatory six credits whilst here. I’ve chosen to take project management – something I hope to find interesting, which will perhaps also be useful towards my future. Class is at 6:30 in the evening for three hours every Thursday. I admit it can be challenging to stay focused after a long 10-hour work shift, but I’m willing to deal with a tiring weekday in order to have completely free weekends to use at my own leisure.

Here are a few tips for when you enrol:

  • Take a class that interests you and which may be useful to you in the future. This is a great opportunity to further yourself – whether it’s learning a new subject, building upon your language skills, or expanding your career prospects.
  • Search for the professor on This is an extremely helpful indicator of how well taught and enjoyable the class is.
  • Check how much a class will cost you. The host family gives you $500 – no more, no less. You may have to shell out more to cover the costs if you choose expensive classes.
  • Ensure you pay local student tuition rate. For example, I was charged over $1,000 at international student tuition rate before I gave the college a completed and signed form to prove my visa status.
  • Personally I wouldn’t recommend taking two weekly classes at the same time. It’s a lot of time to schedule around your work hours, and even though the class may not sound like a lot of work, you’ll find homework more time-consuming than you’d expected – trust me!
  • Attend a local college that’s no more than 20-minutes drive from you. Again, you can avoid clashing with your work schedule – which is extremely stressful – and it certainly saves a lot of time. My college is about 20 minutes away from where I live, and after a long workday, I sometimes dread having to rush to make it to class.

I haven’t taken a weekend au pair class, but I’m seriously considering signing up for one once my project management class is over and I have to decide on what class to take to make up my three remaining credits. It’s unfortunate that you have to give up four of your weekends for an au pair class, but after it’s complete, you don’t need to commit any more time to it. Additionally, you’ll likely see your au pair friends in these classes, or make new ones through them. I’ve also heard it’s a lot of fun! Some classes take you visit new places – for example, I have friends who are going to Niagara Falls – and if you dislike travelling alone but don’t have any available companions, this is a great way of ensuring you have company in your numerous selfies.

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