Do you ever think about going abroad but feel anxious or worried about what’s going to happen or if you could make it to afford everything during the time abroad? Do you love having kids around? If you do, look no further than being an au pair in China!
An au pair scheme is a program meant to allow a cultural exchange for young people and provide a bit of help to families with young children. Au pairs are meant to live as members of host families and should be treated as equals (the translation of the phrase ‘au pair’) rather than as paid servants. In China, au pairs are called “members for reciprocity / mutual benefits." Reciprocity is at the core of au pair programs for cultural exchange and life bettering.
Is au pair in China a good experience?
Most likely YES!! While being an au pair has both pros and cons, it depends heavily on the individuals and host families whether the experience is perceived as great. The host family members will be the people you hang out with and spend time with the most during your stay in China. It is key to make sure you and the family are a match.
In the meantime, the au pair experience may be beneficial as well as a bit frustrating for individuals. Before you make a decision about your au pair journey, make sure you do the research and find supportive parents, the culture you want to explore, and a well-organized au pair agency which will constantly offer help for you along the way. A responsible and supporting au pair program will help you prepare documents and insurance for arrival, get you prepared for local life, coordinate possible conflicts stemming from cultural differences, and link you up with other au pairs in the same program to ensure you a satisfying journey in China.
What are the pros and cons of au pairing in China?
Advantages of being an au pair in China
1. It is an economical way to travel abroad for a few months.
Being an au pair in China allows you to start a living experience abroad without huge payments for flights, accommo-dation and food. Living with the host family, you do not have to find a place by yourself to live in and that means you save much money and time searching. The host family will spare a room for you with privacy and oftentimes a toilet. Food is also provided considering each family member and your taboos and prefer-ences. The family will also offer you monthly pocket money and it'll be enough to make your China stay an unforgettable one.
Additionally, Wanderlust Exchange holds cultural exchange activities on a monthly basis for free. We have had calligraphy classes, Beijing opera classes, Karaoke experiences, sightseeing and so much more before. Such opportunities will bring you to decent local life in China and experience it in interactive and fun ways.
2. You'll have a new home in China and become a family member of them.
During your au pair trip, you will be able to connect with the host family and truly become a member. Many of our previous au pairs reported that their host family feels like home on another side of the world. Some of them still contact each other and value their time together.
Oftentimes, the host family might have vacation plans to travel to other parts of this vast and diverse country and you will be invited. This benefit will be an opportunity for you to explore more about China of its history and splendid sites. It will also make unforgettable memories for you and your host family.
3. Working with children is rewarding.
Unlike some au pair jobs where au pairs have responsibilities to take care of the host child(ren), sometimes younger than 3, au pairs in China are expected with more language teaching responsibilities rather than childcare. Of course, a bit of childcare and housework is inevitable when you're living with the host family and children. But it will not take over your main responsibility. The family's main expectation is for the child to immerse in a new culture and language. Au pairs in China usually do up to 30 hours a week of language teaching and child-companying. You will be invited to the children's extracurricular and outdoor activities and ensure their security and health conditions.
Throughout your au pair journey in China, you will witness the children’s process in study, life and more. Whether it's their language skills or the ability to take care of themselves or some other knowledge gains, working with kids will be challenging but rewarding!
4. Your Chinese language skill will witness great improvements.
When you live with a host family where the mother tongue and main language at home are Chinese, chances are that you will have a better language sense in Chinese with the tones, emotions and literal meanings as time goes by. There’re no better ways to learn a language than to put you in the lingual context for a few months. From small talks with the local shop owners to trying to order in a restaurant, you'll be able to practice in an integrated way to better your Mandarin listening, speaking and more.
As you spend time teaching and talking to the children in English, opportunities for Mandarin learning and cultural experiences are offered to each member included in our program. You will be able to attend Mandarin classes at your level in your local school. You will also meet expats whose Mandarin is at a similar level as you and practice with them. Your Mandarin will be fluent in no time!
Disadvantages of being an au pair in China
1. Separating work and life might be difficult when living under the same roof.
Living with your host family might be a great experience, however, it is crucial to keep healthy boundaries through communication. You and your family will agree on the working schedule before implementation. But it could be possible that you take care of the children at other hours. It is up to you and the family to determine the specifics. The key is to always stay honest and transparent about your needs and expectations in communication.
Fortunately, Wanderlust Exchange provides program coordinators for each of our au pairs. When in doubt, always reach out to your program coordinator or anyone at Wanderlust for solutions and suggestions.
2. Working with kids might be difficult at times.
Kids are cute, innocent and fun to be with... most of the time. But kids are kids. Sometimes they might get annoying or test your patience. But the good news is this will disappear over time and they will respect you and listen to you. You will also learn and figure out the techniques that work best for your host children.
3. Your schedule may look different.
Usually, you might be busier when the kids are on holiday or finish school but otherwise, more available. That being said, you might not have holidays as other people tend to have and it may be a little difficult to make appointments or meet friends with a conflicting schedule like that. But the good news is that you'll have at least one whole day for free and when the kids are at school and other extracurricular classes, there's plenty of time during the week for you to spend enough time on yourself, hanging out with friends and exploring the city.
Although there are pros and cons of being an au pair in China, the pros definitely outweigh the cons! There is no better way to experience the exotic Orient culture at a low cost, gain language fluency, and meet local nice people than being au pair could bring to you. Get yourself ready for an au pair life in China today with Wanderlust Exchange.
Wanderlust Exchange encourages the exploration of self-awareness and personal development , and fostering of global understanding. We desire to bridge cultural divide and contribute to build the world with more trust, understanding and diversity among all.