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Spending 14 months in Switzerland as Au Pair
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Nick Hafer was welcomed home from Switzerland recently by parents Paul and Cynthia after spending 14 months in the foreign country caring for three children two boys and a girl as well as preparing all the familys meals during the week. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Nick Hafer, 24, took on the challenges of serving as an “Au Pair” in Switzerland to the children of two married doctors – a general practitioner and an Ob/Gyn – for some 14 months after graduating from college last year.

As an Au Pair he was responsible for the doctors’ three children, two boys 8 and 14 and a girl 9.  Nick also prepared all the meals for the family in their two-story home where the dad had his practice down stairs with the mom serving women in a nearby hospital.

A graduate of Sierra High School in 2006, the Mantecan is an alumnus of California State University, Monterey Bay.  He was introduced to the family, Drs. Karl and Rosemarie Ulrich and their children, the year before at an annual Swiss Club barbecue in Ripon.

The physicians were in California attending the function at Ripon’s Swiss Hall and were actively looking for a young woman from the U.S. to care for their children and asked Erika Hafer, Nick’s sister, to go back home with them.  She was still in college, however, and didn’t want to interrupt her classes.

Nick, who had been a Psychology major in college, offered his services thinking it would be a positive experience in the country of his cultural roots. 

“It was pretty amazing what I did during the week,” he recalled. “I would cook for the whole family when mom worked at night at the hospital.”  Probably his biggest challenge was learning the difficult Swiss-German language.

He noted that all the schools taught German, English and French which made it fairly easy to communicate with the family and especially with the children.  As a result of his year abroad, Nick is going back to college to work toward his Masters degree in Psychology. He wants to enter into counseling kids in this country.

During his tenure in Switzerland, Nick was visited by his grandparents Ken and Alice Hafer along with his sister Erika and his parents.  A challenge to remember was his 1.1K swim around Lake of Zug learning that the finish line was near the birthplace of his great grandfather Luis Aufdermaur.  The house is small town of Arth owned by the descendants of the Aufdermaur family.  The large house near the shore of the lake is over 400 years old.

Nick finished in tenth place out of some 200 swimmers.  He also competed in four other races around Switzerland during his stay in the central region of the country.  He added that he enjoyed a lot of skiing in the weekends he had to himself.

The freezing cold temperatures seem to be etched in his memory.  One friend he made in Switzerland was a Rotary Club Exchange Student from Rocklin in Northern California.

Nick added that the couple had been married years ago in Washington State, the home of the husband.  The wife was Swiss which apparently led to their move back to Switzerland.  The couple is planning a vacation this summer to see their friends in Ripon and Manteca.