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Education

Published: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 4:06:26 PM

A timely break

HAVING a job does not seal the fate of the salaried worker to a lifetime of mundane tasks behind the desk.

There are many brave souls who take the bold step to leave their jobs and pursue their interests, whether it be studying, travelling or even embarking on a working holiday stint abroad.

Petrina Thong did just that when she quit her job as a TV writer and copywriter after four years to work as an au pair in the United States (US)

She likened her au pair stint as a delayed gap year.

“Working in an office can be rather draining and you tend to get stuck in a routine. So it’s nice to be able to get away, see new things, meet new people and just find a different perspective on life,” says Thong, 27.

Having never lived abroad, Thong longed to experience life in a different culture. Travelling to the US was expensive so joining the au pair programme fitted into her plan perfectly.

“Initially, my parents were concerned. There were horror stories out there. They needed to know if I was joining a legitimate programme, and if I would be assigned to be with a good family. But they understood that I really wanted to take up the opportunity and they were very supportive,” says Thong.

Her decision had spurred her friends to follow a similar path although it might not have been an easy decision for them.

“It won’t be a difficult decision to make when you’ve only recently graduated, but once you have started working and earning, there are more commitments, it gets much harder to make that decision to pack up and leave,” she shares.

There was a set age limit of between 18 and 27 for the au pair programme, Thong left just a few months before turning 27.

Prior to leaving for California, she had spoken to her host family via Skype sessions when she first “met” her charges aged between nine and 15.

Her day as an au pair usually starts at 7am with breakfast before she takes them to school. After fetching the children from school in the afternoon, she drives them to their activities and helps them with their homework. Her day ends around 6.30pm after dinner with the family.

“My host family is amazing. They’ve helped me settle in and make me feel like a part of the family, but at the same time, they respect my privacy and are happy for me since I’ve started making friends and having my own life,” Thong says.

Currently, she still has six months to go before her one-year term as an au pair ends. Thong has decided to return to Malaysia after her stint.

“I believe a year is sufficient for me to fulfill this experience, but normal life awaits me back home. And I do miss my family and friends in Kuala Lumpur,” she adds.

Tags / Keywords: Education, degree

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