Au Pair Program an Opportunity for Any Gap Year

The U.S. is a prime destination for visitors from all over the world. Some come for business and some as tourists, but a growing number of people are coming for the opportunity to experience another culture every day.

The Independent Online reports that many South African youths have consistenly been attracted to the idea of a "gap year" between the end of high school and beginning of university studies or work. For some, the year represents another chance to gain additional experience before applying to the schools they want to attend. For others it is simply a time to gain some perspective and pursue other interests they might not have otherwise.

Some hope to work as international interns, but getting into some of these kinds of programs can prove difficult, particularly in countries like the U.K. that have tightened visa restrictions. Instead, many South Africans have discovered the U.S. Department of State-sponsored au pair program and decide to be sponsored by a host family for their gap year.

This popular program offers young adults from around the globe the opportunity to experience the U.S. firsthand for a year or more. Participants are welcomed by loving host families and are able to share their culture with them while also experiencing American life and furthering their educations by taking college classes.

The Independent notes one young South African, Tracey van der Schyff, has had the opportunity to study at Harvard Extension School while helping out a Boston family.

The State Department notes that the work requirements of au pairs are relatively limited, restricted to no more than 45 hours per week and 10 hours per day. The host families also benefit by exposing their children to a different language and culture, all while forming a lasting relationship with their au pairs.

As an added bonus to the cultural exchange aspect of the sponsored program, participants have the added opportunity to travel around the U.S. for a month after their time with their host family ends.