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stories of immigration

Au-Pair program to Paris

Anna Boico; 24

We publish real stories of emigration to France to make it easier for you to understand how the move actually happens.
The idea of immigrating to France
The dream to visit France, namely Paris, appeared in my childhood, almost in the first grade. My mother listened to Patricia Kaas, loved French movies, and even sent me to a school with profound study of the French language. I studied with pleasure, I liked the language, I spent a lot of time reading and translating, watching programs and movies in French. By adolescence I was already quite good at reading, speaking and understanding.

At the age of 13-14 I saw for the first time an article about the international cultural exchange Au-Pair program, where girls and young people described their life and work experience in French families. To say that I was impressed by it is nothing to say! I lived in the Crimea and the idea that I could go to France, and even almost for free, inspired me beyond belief! Excess money in my family did not have and that to go to France to study for a fee, I did not even dream, and here they told me that you can go to work, where they will feed, water and even pay a little. And all this in Paris!

At the age of 22 I graduated from the Kiev Polytechnic Institute and I seriously thought about trying to go to France as an Au-Pair. I started looking for a family that would be willing to take me in. I found one, but it took quite a long time, and then we corresponded with my potential foster family for almost a year to get to know each other better.
Paris, France. View from Notre Dame de Paris

Problems and solutions when moving to France

Au-Pair is an unusual program. In fact, you go not so much to work as to live with a family as an older daughter or niece. Your duties include watching and taking care of the children, taking them to school or kindergarten, doing homework, playing - not as a nanny, but as a sister. Clearly, it takes time to accept a stranger into the family, so if my story inspires you and you want to try too, expect that it may take you quite a while to find a host family. It took me about a year.

Collect all the documents to apply for a visa on their own, as it turned out, is also not an easy task, my mother and I tried, but then decided that it is easier and cheaper - even with our financial situation - to pay an immigration lawyer to help us arrange everything correctly.
In itself, the package of documents is not much, but they must be filled out and translated into French in a certain form, each has its own deadline, and many nuances, about which the website of the French consulate is not written.
Anna Boico
On the waterfront in Paris
Documents, prices, final
The documents were processed, I received a visa without any problems, but when I arrived in France, it turned out that my host family is not as nice and friendly as I thought during the correspondence. I found myself in a very stressful environment with three wildly capricious children who were allowed literally everything. I endured for six months and then started looking for an alternative - I was already in the country, with a visa, so in a sense it was even easier than from home.

I was lucky - not only did I find a family that welcomed me, but they lived in Paris, in the center, not far from Notre Dame Cathedral - it was some kind of fantasy dream of my childhood that came alive! With my second family I was very lucky - amazing people, thanks to whom I saw what France and the French can really be, but when after six months my second family offered to extend the contract and keep me with them for at least another year, I decided to move on and go to school.

In France, there is a special type of vocational education - "alternans" - the possibility to study at a vocational school in parallel and, at the same time, to work in the same profession in one of the enterprises attached to the educational institution. I do not know if there is such a system anywhere in the world, but in France it is quite widespread and usually looks like this: you study for a week, work for 2-3 weeks and so on for a year or two.

To find a suitable option was not possible at once - I looked for options and pounded the doorsteps for almost six months until finally I got a hotel with the opportunity to study at the School of Hotel and Restaurant Business, where I am studying up to now. The training program is very intensive and intense - there is almost no free time left, but I was ready for that.

View of the Champs Elysees in Paris
In addition to French, I also decided to learn Spanish - they are beginning to understand something. Sometimes on weekends I manage to relax in the neighboring countries of France - the French call this mini-vacation "changer des idées" - "to get some air".

Paris is the city of opportunities, no matter how pompous and banal it may sound, here is the center of everything - culture, fashion, art. There is always something to grow and develop, something to learn. Was it easy for me? No. And it is unlikely to be, but I am ready for hardships, they refresh and strengthen me, and I definitely do not plan to go back to the Crimea, at least in the next few years. My mother supports me, although we have not seen each other for quite a long time because of covid restrictions. I hope that soon she will be able to fly to visit me and I will show her my Paris!