Corona Quarantine: 1

italy

What is it actually like living in the MOST INFECTED COUNTRY outside of China?

Lombardy, Italy is now the hot spot of the deadly Coronavirus, but just how bad is it? It first started off with public gatherings and schools being closed but very quickly it turned into the whole country being on lockdown: Nobody being let in or let out and no one being able to leave their houses unless for groceries. A week of staying home from work or school sounds nice for most people but now it is Week 3 and I want to talk about one of the groups of people in Italy that aren’t getting the good end of the deal: These people are AU PAIRS. If you haven’t seen this blog before, let me tell you what an Au Pair is, it is a live in “babysitter” that does not get babysitter pay as they are here for the cultural exchange! Legally Au Pairs are only supposed to work 30 hours a week, however, due to the breakout of Coronavirus they have been doubling their hours, some without any compensation. Down below I have interviewed some au pairs to let you know just what life in quarantine has been like for them:

Milan, Italy

lily

Lily, 20, Australia

Hi guys my name is Lily and my quarantine story is a bit different from other au pairs. Italy had school closures for two weeks but during this time flights were not cancelled so I continued on with my weekend plans to London. Little did I know that when I returned to Milan, Italy I WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTRY and would be detained by the police in the airport and sent to talk to border control. YES! You read that right!! I am originally from Australia but I hold a UK PASSPORT and with that being said I am allowed to live in Italy WITHOUT ANY EXTRA DOCUMENTATION, well that was until I was stopped at the airport. On Monday they decided that UK citizens or any citizens in that matter COULD NOT ENTER ITALY WITHOUT: A RESIDENCY CARD (which we don’t need to apply for OR a working contract). Funny thing was, I HAD A WORKING CONTRACT but because au pairing isn’t looked at as a legitimate job it was not accepted. What does that mean? I spent hours trying to contact the UK and Australian Consulates but they couldn’t give me any advice, I tried to get my items from my family as all I had was my weekend bag, but they couldn’t leave the house, and I ended up spending 24 hours in the airport praying I could snag a flight back to London that wouldn’t get cancelled. I finally made it back to London but was again stopped by border control to explain my unique situation. Luckily they let me through and am now staying with my uncle but I am heading back to Australia on Thursday. However, I will return to Italy once this all blows over as I left my host family, my belongings, and my boyfriend in Italy without saying goodbye and that is not how my Italian capture is going to come to an end!

I am SO SAD that Lily was NOT LET BACK INTO THE COUNTRY! And the crazy thing is that that same night I flew into the country and was ONLY ALLOWED because I had a permesso di soggiorno (an ID of permission to stay in Italy). This card is something that UK Passport holders DO NOT NEED!

Hello, I’m Nicole and I’m from Canada! I’ve been an Aupair in Milan, Italy for the past 6 months.
I was in the mountains with my boyfriend when we got the news that Milan was going to be under quarantine. It came as a shock and was also a bit scary as I didn’t know if we could go back to Milan. After doing some research and not just reading random headlines and listening to stuff people were saying, we realized it wasn’t as bad as people/news made it seem. In the end, we still made the decision to go back to Milan early the next day.
My host mom gave me a call the following day giving me the option to either go with them to the mountains for a month or to stay in Milan. It was an easy decision in my eyes, as my boyfriend is in Milan, and a few of my friends. I also do not see the virus as a threat to my health as I am young and healthy so staying inside in Milan seemed way more appealing than being alone with the family.
My host mom did let me stay in Milan but she didn’t give me my pay for the month, any food, or a place to stay as she wouldn’t give me the keys to the apartment, so I’ve been staying with my boyfriend.
The past week has been very boring as he still has university classes online, so I’ve been reading a lot and have been watching way too many tiktoks haha. We go back and forth from his parents houses and it’s really weird to see how empty the streets are. It’s starting to resemble a ghost town besides the ever going lines outside grocery stores.
Nicole has a strange situation as most au pairs ARE ALLOWED to stay at the host families house even if the family is gone! Luckily her boyfriend is her to give her a place to stay!

Varese, Italy

beth

I’m Bethanie I’m 26 and from Newcastle and currently au pairing in Monza near Milan, this experience has so far been the best experience of my life, I’ve made hundreds of new friends from all over the world and seen the most beautiful cities, it’s an amazing thing to be involved in and a great life experience, but then the corona hit us and lock down happened…Life in quarantine: it’s a lot harder than expected my host family took me to the mountains (Varese) for a safer experience and in all honesty it’s been very trying already and only 1 week in. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and I’ve nearly given up but what’s got me through is the support from my au pair friends here and family and friends at home, without our WhatsApp groups and FaceTime to UK I don’t know what I would do… but I’d do it all over again to gain the experience that the past 4 months have given me ❤ once in a lifetime experience 💕

Bethanie used to work 30 hours a week for €300 pay a month. She now works 6 AM to 7 PM totaling 65 hours a week plus weekend help. Her pay is STILL €300 a month.

Liguria, Italy

catarina

My name is Catarina and I’m Portuguese.
I came to Italy in 2018, but I’m an Aupair for the first time, since August 2019.
I take care of two wonderful boys. Although we have a lot of fun, being stuck at home for the past 3 weeks due to the Coronavirus, is driving everyone mad. My main problem is that I’m away from home and I start to miss my family. Since everyone is supposed to be home, I would like to be next to my parents and spend time with my family… but it is not possible. Everyone just tries to remind you how lucky you are and that things could be worse but of course, I can’t just stop and be happy about the situation.
I can’t leave the house, I don’t have my free time anymore, where you can just be by yourself and do whatever you want without being interrupted. I can’t travel or meet my friends for a simple coffee and have conversations with people my age. I can’t go to university either… It’s very complicated. The kids don’t listen anymore, not even to their mom. They do what they want to do and that’s it. My days are kids screaming, dogs barking and frustrated adults.
At least I have a lot of fun reading the messages on our Aupair group chat, family and friends via videocalls that support me and a lot of support from my host mom. She is very positive and always tries to cheer me up! She always says I’m doing great and that she really appreciates the effort I devote to inventing artsy activities for the kids. The kids are in challenging ages and I don’t have the emotional intelligence needed to deal with them 24/7 but I’m trying my best! Stay strong Aupairs!!
Catarina does not have a set schedule with the family anymore and because she can’t leave the house, whenever they ask, she is there to help. But not only is she helping with the kids she is now helping out with MORE house work and taking the dogs out.. And that is not the end of things: Catarina is NOT only watching her two kids MORE THAN NORMAL, she is also watching TWO MORE kids and PAY HAS NOT CHANGED!

Rome, Italy

LORENZA

Lorenza, 23, New Orleans
Well the second to last weekend of February I took a trip to Florence with some friends and that’s kinda when things started getting weird! On our second day everyone around us was wearing masks and it just didn’t really seem ~the same~ but I didn’t really think much of it. Then on our trip back home is when we found out that Italy was beginning to find lots of cases of the virus in the Lombardy region. As I got home at like 11 pm the mom opened the door and screamed “CORONAVIRUS don’t touch me” and she then made me literally remove all of my clothes and shower for an hour immediately. Then put everything I brought with me to Florence in the wash it was soooo wild.
After that weekend is when everything started to feel more serious. Making sure I washed the kids hands every hour and if I ever coughed the mom looked ridiculously concerned which was kinda funny because the kids had an awful cough for a whole month.
But what’s weird about being an au pair during this is that the parents act like you’re the outsider who is going to bring the virus into their family. Even though, during the week I mostly stayed home or only interacted with one friend whereas they were going to school/work/etc as normal and definitely had a higher chance to be exposed than I was. But I still was feeling like I had to be the one that was most careful. On March 4th we were told all the kids were going to have to stay home for the next two weeks and that kind of shook us all because the big thing about au pairing is obviously the free time in the morning. For me, I had to stay with the kids until noon and then bring them to their grandparents for the first two days. I didn’t get paid any more but I was “given a few more hours of free time” which honestly did not happen because as soon as the kids got home at 4 I had to be with them so since the school thing happened I started to work a lot more. Then this past Monday I had to stay with the kids all day, not go out at all, and we had to stay away from the grandparents. So it became less of a “you only watch them for a few hours a week” to full days of being with them 7am – 10pm with no extra pay and no free time at all, which was super hard. I had a few hours where I had to sneak off since I decided to go home and I had to arrange my travel.
Just like Lorenza MANY au pairs decided to go home as they knew they would have to work more hours and NOT be paid more! Lorenza used to work 45 hours a week (which isn’t even legal for au pairs in Italy) and then was made to work 60 hours week while being treated like the person that would bring the virus into their home, THAT IS HORRIBLE!

Genova, Italy

juliana

I’m Juliana, I am 25 years and I’m from Argentina.
My family has 3 kids (6,4 and 2 months) and I lived here for 2 months.
We’ve been in quarantine for one week now (but school closed 3 weeks ago) and it’s difficult when the days are rainy and the kids can’t go out, the sunny days are easier.
In the morning the mother does a timetable with the kids and I containing all the activities for the day, even the breaks and the meals. We do this to keep a routine so that we all know what to do next and I know when they do activities with me and when I can do something else.
The rest of the time I try to be in my room: studying, doing gym, and meditating. I also go run some days for about one hour.
Recently I discovered the kids like to do exercises from an app, so it’s perfect for when they’re energetic 💪💪💪. Things in quarantine haven’t been too bad as the mom is working with me!
Juliana does NOT know if she will get paid more as families have tended not to bring it up to their au pairs unless they ask for more money!
babe

Things could be worse,

but things could be better,

but no matter what,

we are in this together!

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