10 days I’ve been here, so it’s about time for an update!
Firstly the city; mentioning the weather seems like an apt, albeit negative, place to start. It rained for the first week, at least; Doc Martens and a pop-up umbrella are essentials. I’ve been told that the mountainous location of the city means that clouds dump their rain here before climbing over the mountains. Something like that, anyway. I’m still determined to get out and see stuff, rather than hiding inside, but it has made me realise how my 5 month stay in Salzburg is so badly timed! I’ve just missed the hot summer, and I’ll leave in February when there’s still snow on the ground. Needless to say I won’t be using my family’s outdoor pool at all!
Though there is a heavy tourist presence here in Salzburg, it’s not as dominant as it is in, say, Prague, where you’re hard-pressed to find a local. I guess the tourist season is on its way out, but you still find yourself battling a large group of them through a narrow alleyway.
There are a fair few expats too – the city is the home of Red Bull and I’ve met several ‘Red Bull mums’ at my kid’s school, and a number of members of an English-speaking meet-up group I’m a part of are also employees there. This group I joined somewhat reluctantly, coming here with the primary desire of meeting locals, or German-speakers at least. Nonetheless, meeting a few Brits and Americans has been somewhat comforting, and I’ve learnt a fair bit about the city from them. However, I won’t give up; Couchsurfing, Meetup and Facebook are my main resources for my ongoing search for local friends!
Language-wise, I am making progress. My host father and I speak in German where possible, though I do occasionally cop out and reply in English. This suits me well, as he is patient, speaks slowly and will happily correct my mistakes without worrying about offending me! In many cases in day-to-day life, it is possible to shy away from speaking German, (English is, after all, widely-spoken) but when taking a phone call, opening a bank account, or listening to a voicemail, you do just have to go for it, accepting that you will be making mistakes and potentially embarrassing yourself!
In terms of the job, it’s really quite straightforward. After all, kids aren’t complicated, really, they just require a lot of patience and energy, but this is definitely a test in itself. The early mornings really do take some getting use to, and children sure do need a lot of attention, but acting like a kid again is mostly just a lot of fun! I will blog about specifics of the job another time.
The bilingual environment at home is great for me as a learner, and the family encourage me to get out and socialise as much as possible. Given horror stories I’ve heard from other au pairs, I know full well that I have a very good deal indeed. The hours can be long (this week I did two bedtime shifts as well as the weekend) but when I remind myself that I am living in this World Heritage Site, and cultural hotspot, for free (being paid for it even!), it all seems very worth my while!