Tiaan Burger Fouché (26) is from South Africa and has been working in the Netherlands as an au pair for almost a year. He's staying with a host family in The Hague. Soon he'll be leaving the Netherlands to start working as an au pair in America later in 2021. He tells us about his experience, safety and friends.
Tiaan: 'I completed my IT degree in South Africa in 2016. During the holidays I was a lifeguard and taught sea safety lessons to children. This taught me all kinds of things about the ocean. I realised I enjoyed teaching children very much. After my degree and working for a few years, I asked myself how to combine my knowledge in IT with working with children in a teaching direction. A nice stepping stone to this was the au-pair programme. It allows me to explore the world, I'm interacting with children, and I can travel. When I return from America, I'm hoping to use my experience and knowledge to take on a job in child development.'
'My choice for the Netherlands was a conscious one. I always wanted to go to Europe. A friend of mine had been in the Netherlands and told me about her wonderful experience. I clicked immediately with my host family, a mother with two sons aged 13 and 11. The time spent with them was definitely the best experience I have had.'
'By now I'm feeling at home here and have grown attached to the people I've met. Although I do not speak Dutch, I do understand most things because it's somewhat similar to Afrikaans. I like the safety and accessibility in the Netherlands: everything's close by and it's easy to get there. In South Africa there isn't a lot of accessibility in your own surroundings and you mostly have to travel by car to go to locations. In the Netherlands you can get everywhere effortlessly by bike or train. I had already heard that everything was well organised, but had not expected things to be organised this well.'
'In my spare time I take a lot of photos. I put these photos on Instagram (@thewandererspath) so that my friends and family can also follow my adventures. The au-pair year is meant for cultural exchange, to see a lot of a country. In advance, I had made a long list of cities I wanted to see. By now, I managed to visited several cities in the Netherlands, such as Maastricht, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Volendam and Zwolle. I've also visited a lot of museums. I travel with a lot with friends I've made in the Netherlands, also because of the au-pair training programme I attended. In the evenings I'm biking a lot around The Hague and along the beach. It is special for me that this can be done safely in the Netherlands.'
'My application to come to the Netherlands went smoothly. The au-pair agency has mostly arranged it for me, established contacts, and arranged a visa. After the positive match with my host family, they took care of registration with the IND and I got a residence card. This service was very good and quick, both by the au-pair agency and the IND.'
'By now I know a couple of words in Dutch, like bedankt or goedemorgen. I'm leaving next month, although I don't really want to leave. But I also like going to places I don't know, so this will be a new challenge. I'll miss the freedom of travel. The past year has been a great experience, both staying with my host family and the experience itself. I'm leaving with a lot of new experiences, friends, and memories.'