Equipeople Au Pairs Practical Information

Travelling to Ireland

Ireland has two main airports Dublin (Republic of Ireland) and Belfast (Northern Ireland) and several smaller airports such as Shannon, Kerry and Cork.  Your host family or Equipeole Au Pair Co-ordinator will advise you on what airport is nearest to your placement.  In general, most of our Au Pairs fly into Dublin.

Do remember to check baggage restrictions (this will depend on the airline) as well as the EU regulations on liquids in hand luggage.

Ireland operates two major airlines: Aer Lingus and Ryanair.  Both offer competitive prices on European flights, however, be sure to check your local airline as well for good deals.

Make sure you bring an ID card or a passport which is valid for the duration of your stay in Ireland.

Our Travel Advisor will provide you with a Travel Advice (TA) outlining how to get to the host family from the airport.  We will have given the host family a call to ensure they will be at the bus/train stop when you arrive.  Should you miss your bus or train for whatever reason, you must ring your host family (phone number will be on the Travel Advice) and/or Equipeople Au Pairs to let them/us know.

Departure – During the last week of the placements we will contact you with information on how to best return to the airport for the flight home.  Please supply Equipeople with the return flight information when providing us with the arrival flight details or as soon as possible.  This will guarantee we have adequate time to research the return transport.

Those taking early flights will be advised to stay either in a city hostelor airport hotel which will offer a complimentary airport transfer during the early hours.  We will help arrange and book this, but you will pay for it.  We do not encourage Au Pairs that are checking-in on early flights to stay in the airport overnight, as this could be dangerous, however some Au Pairs choose this option.

On the conclusion of a placement, we can supply each Au Pair with a letter or Equipeople certificate as proof of completion of their time here in Ireland.

We will contact you regularly during your stay in Ireland to check that you are happy but please contact us if you have any problems whatsoever.

Living arrangements

You will be living with the host family in their family home.  In some placements there may be separate accommodation for you, but this will never be far from the home.  An Au Pair will have all her meals with the family and will be invited to participate in family occasions and traditions.

Please remember to respect your host family.  You are, after all, a “guest” in the host family’s home, even though you will not be treated in this manner.  The family may have house rules and it is important that you respect these.

Rural Ireland

Family values are extremely important to the Irish.  Not so long ago, it was not uncommon to have eight or more children and for the grandparents to be living in the same house as well.  These days there are usually two or three children in a family and the grandparents might still live nearby and often visit their children and grandchildren.

Throughout rural Ireland, houses are scattered across the countryside and the nearest neighbour may be a mile away.  Communities are a tight knit group of friends and family members who are involved in each other’s activities and affairs and can be trusted to look out for one another.  Youwill be immersed into these families’ and communities’ daily lives.  You will spend time with the children, be able to sit down and talk about old Ireland with Granddad and have a pint (if you are over 18) with the natives in the local (pub).  You are likely to meet brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles and a few of the many cousins.

Every town and village in Ireland has a pub where you can find traditional Irish music being played.  It fills the air and the atmosphere swells with the sound of clapping, laughter and people having ‘the Craic’ – fun!  The pub culture in Ireland is not based around just the “pint”; it is also a place where friends, neighbours and family gather to catch up on the local gossip.  More than often a sport’s game or horse race will be on the TV, the children will be running around together and a very competitive game of darts or pool will be taking place in the corner.

Meals are a time for the family to get together and talk about their day.  They will discuss what has been happening on the farm or at work, what the children did in school, whether a neighbour called over for tea and to discuss what will happen the next day.  Au Pairs are included in mealtimes and we suggest you do so as it will help you integrate in the family.

Breakfast will probably be on a self-service basis whilst everyone gets ready for the busy day ahead.  The main meal will either be served at lunchtime or in the evening time.  This varies from family to family and usually depends on whether the “mum” is at home during the day.  Traditional Irish dinners usually consist of vegetables, meat and potatoes.  The lighter meal will probably entail soup and a sandwich or perhaps a salad in the summer.

An Au Pair should get involved in helping to prepare the meal (or at least offer to do so) and clearing up afterwards.  You become an integral part of the family unit, helping out with the same household chores as any other member of the family; you become an adopted daughter for the duration of your stay.

Sports are an integral part of Irish rural families.  Team pride is a very strong element of each community.  You could find yourself attending local matches, supporting the local GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) teams and maybe even joining in whilst you are here.  Joining in on the local club’s training session is a great way for sporty and active Au Pairs to meet a group of local youngsters with the same interests as them.  It also helps create a social life with people your own age away from the host family.

Macra na Feirme is an organisation for young people between the ages of 17 and 35 who are interested in meeting new people and getting involved in sports, travel, drama, debating, or just want to meet new people and have some fun! To be a member of Macra, you must join a Macra club in your area. This will open the door to new friends and new activities. There are hundreds of clubs across Ireland bursting with activities who always welcome a new face. For more information look at www.macra.ie.

Many Irish rural families still attend mass on Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings.  In Ireland mass lasts half an hour.  You are more than welcome to go to the church with the family, but there will be no criticism if you choose not to do so.

Adaptation to the environment

You are likely to experience some form of homesickness, whether it is tears in your eyes the moment you set foot on Irish soil or whether you are just quiet for the first few days, it happens to everyone to some degree.

The most important thing to remember is that it will pass.  Usually after the first week (in some cases it may take two), most of our Au Pairs realise that it is not the end of the world and they start enjoying their work experience.

Top tips to help you overcome the cultural shock are:

  • Go with an open mind – of course life will be different, that is the whole point of an exchange.
  • Don’t criticise –what works for you may not work in Ireland.  Remember this is your host family’s life, openly putting them down won’t gain you much respect.
  • Get involved – don’t hide away in your room, it will be a lonely place.  Why not try a new sport or get involved in a local activity.
  • Get your mind out of your home country and into Ireland – we understand you will be missing your parents, friends, family, pets … but if this is all you think about, you will get very sad.  Though we understand the importance of staying in touch, don’t spend every night talking on the phone or on Skype for hours on end to your parents/family/friends – you are not helping yourself by isolating yourself.
  • Communicate – talk to your host or ring Equipeople about anything that is bothering you.  There is no point worrying in silence when the matter can be resolved. We cannot help if we don’t know there is a problem!
  • Ask questions – learn about Irish culture, farming, family life or whatever interests you, this is your opportunity to get “insider’s information” on Ireland.

Staying in touch

If you wish to use your mobile phone in Ireland, ensure you have it unblocked or set to roaming prior to your arrival.  Do realise that the price of using your mobile in Ireland for phone calls or internet usage could cost you a lot of money.  Many of our Au Pairs opt to buy a “pay as you go” Irish SIM card, or simply use Skype.

Almost all our host families have an internet connection or Wifi and there is no problem for you to bring their own laptop.  It is best to check with the family before you come over to avoid disappointment.  A lot of the internet packages in Ireland have download limits.  Check with your family before downloading the latest movies or music – your family might ask you to pay for any additional charges they incur and that could cost a lot of money!  Alternatively you can purchase a “Pay as You Go” Internet Dongle from most mobile phone shops or large department stores.

If you use the host family’s phone, it is common courtesy to offer to pay for the calls you make.

We strongly urge you not to spend the entire time on the phone or internet as you will become very isolated from the family and will not make the most of your time here in Ireland.

What Not to Forget

  • An adaptor for Irish/UK plugs
  • Rain-proof clothing and suitable footwear
  • Camera
  • Euros and/or Pounds
  • Travel Health Insurance / European Medical Card
  • Warm clothes
  • Dictionary / Phrase book
  • Driver’s License (if relevant)
  • Laptop
  • Every day clothes and one smart outfit

Working at the Placement

Duties vary according to the family.  Your Equipeople Au Pair Co-ordinator will have supplied you with a copy of the “Placement Advice”.  This document outlines the duties which you will be involved with whilst working in Ireland.  Please make sure you understand what is expected of you and don’t be afraid to ask questions before coming to Ireland if you are unsure about anything.

Due to the nature of Au pair work, it is important you realise that although the routine will be pretty much set for the day, things happen, especially when working with children and tasks may vary from time to time.  You need to be flexible and most importantly, you must be willing to try!

A positive attitude is a must for Irish work experiences.  An Au Pair that shows initiative and interest in her work will gain more respect from the host family, leading to increased responsibility, trust and ultimately, job satisfaction.

You are expected to work 35 – 40 hours per week over five and a half days, with one full day and one half day off each week.  Some host families allow Au Pairs to work these hours over five days, giving them two full days off each week. This depends on the type of placement, the time of the year and the individual host family; we suggest you find out what is expected from you upon arrival.

You must get a total of eight days off every month, so if you are not getting two full days off per week, you need to get additional days off.  In addition to weekly days off, youare also due to get one week paid holidayevery six months.

In return for yourwork, you need to have your own bedroom, all the meals and €100 pocket money per week.

During the Placement

A member of the Equipeople team will contact the host family to make sure you have arrived safely.  In addition to the “initial call”, a follow-up call will be made at a regular basis to monitor your progress.

We deal with any problems promptly and we will also visit you during your time in Ireland.  If you don’t let us know that something is wrong – we cannot help you!  Be open and honest and don’t worry about things in silence.

Days off – Visiting Ireland

Of course it would be a great shame for you to come to Ireland and not to see any of the country.  Ireland boasts many beautiful sights and plenty of historical and cultural outings or city trips, but you will not be able to visit everything.  Check out the Top Ten Sights of Ireland for ideas of where to go.

Upon arrival in Ireland, you will receive a Welcome Pack.  This pack contains information on life in Ireland, what to see and what to visit in the area, helpful tourist information as well as a Contact List.

The Contact List will hold all the names and contact numbers of all students and Au Pairs that are in Ireland at the time that you are.  It also notes the nationalities of these students and Au Pairs as well as the area of Ireland in which they are placed.  We actively encourage you to get in touch with each other – many new friendships have been formed over the years.  Why not get together and have some fun as a group!

Keep an eye on the Equipeople Au Pairs Facebook page to keep up to date on what is happening!

Quirky Irish Customs

Look out for these quirky traits whilst you are in Ireland …

  • In the country it is common for drivers to salute each other by raising the index finger off the steering wheel, when passing each other in the street, even though they might not even know each other.
  • Irish people will talk to anybody and ask a lot of questions – it is quite common to walk away from a conversation with them knowing everything about you and you never even having asked their name.
  • In the pub, it is common practice to go into “rounds”, meaning that everybody buys everybody a drink in turns.  It is considered very rude to join in on the round and not to pay for one yourself.
  • When in conversation Irish people swear a lot.  They do not mean anything by it; it is simply a way of expressing themselves.
  • Somehow, no matter what country they find themselves in, the Irish will always find a fellow Irish person they know, who knows them or knows someone who knows them!
  • Ireland was never incorporated into the Roman Empire; there is a relative lack of Roman influence in Ireland.  The Vikings however, did settle in Ireland and established the marine ports around Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford.
  • When looking at old farm houses, the more manor-like, square, two-story houses were probably built by the English when they occupied Ireland.  The Irish farmers tended to build small bungalows.
  • It is quite common for acquaintances to pull up beside each other in the car whilst blocking the entire road for a “chat” even though there may be people behind them trying to get by.
  • Due to the large families that Irish farmers used to have with few of them moving very far from the “home place”, it is quite possible that within the community many of the villagers are related to each other.
  • In the rural parts of the Republic of Ireland we do not have any street names, house numbers or postcodes.  Remarkable how the postman knows exactly what mail belongs to each person.  Especially when a father and a son with the same first name (and surname obviously) have built houses beside one another.

Seeking out Interests and Hobbies in Ireland

It will not be possible for you to see the whole of Ireland whilst you are here; however, it is worthwhile finding out what would be of interest to you before you travel.  This is also a great way to help you settle in and get over the homesickness – having something to look forward to will help take your mind off the initial apprehension of taking part in the experience.

Some of our ideas …

  • Are you passionate about music?  Why not find out if Ireland is hosting a music festival or when the “trad session” (traditional Irish music) is on in the local pub.
  • Do you enjoy landscapes and gardens?  You would probably enjoy a trip to the Botanical Gardens in Dublin or the Japanese Gardens in Kildare.
  • Are you a horsy girl?  Go and soak up the atmosphere at a local hunt (winter only) or down at the races.  Why not visit the Irish National Stud and horse museum?
  • Agricultural students should keep an eye out for local country fairs or vintage tractor runs.
  • Wildlife and sea life fanatics could easily spend a day whale watching in West Cork, seal spotting in Howth or fly fishing in the many lakes and rivers of Ireland.
  • Nature lovers should take a look at the National Parks and beautiful sights Ireland has to offer.

There are plenty of things going on in Ireland.  You just need to know about them!

Try the following websites:

Of course you will receive a welcome pack containing information about what to do and where to visit upon your arrival.  But there is no harm in awakening the flame before you arrive!

For more information contact Equipeople Au Pairs