LoPair Education: Au Pair Cultural Exchange Program in China

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2017 IAPA Au Pair of the Year Award Winner | 2018 LoPair Scholarship is calling you!

The LoPair Scholarship Fund exists to help high quality applicants fulfill their dreams of living in China by providing reduced program costs. Don't miss your chance; apply now!


Nǐ hǎo! LoPair offers an award-winning cultural exchange program which enables you to become fully immersed in Chinese culture, learn Mandarin, make fantastic friends from across the globe. We'll provide you with a 3-12 month placement in a major Chinese city living in a homestay with a lovely Chinese or Expat family.

Your adventure starts with a three-day group orientation, training and sight-seeing tour in the beautiful city of Hangzhou! You'll get 60 Mandarin class hours per 3 months, fascinating Chinese cultural courses etc. You will become a real family member and assist them with live-in educational childcare and some light household chores up to 30 hours a week — you'll get a room of your own, meals, insurance and international round way flight tickets! On top of this, you will have plenty of chances to explore on your own, with other au pairs and with your family while receiving 1500 RMB pocket money per month and a Completion Bonus for all programs exceeding 6 months!

Questions & Answers

Hi Karlie, I agree with Clara that asking directly Lopair ([email protected]) is the best idea. I am 99% sure it's impossible to have two au pairs in the same family, but I think you guys can manage to be placed in the same city! The matching process might just take a little bit longer, because you have to make sure you both find your families in the same city. Hope this helped, and let me know if...


based on 64 reviews
  • Housing 9.2
  • Support 8.3
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 8.3
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 64
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3 months in China

I have mixed feelings about my Au Pair time in China.

On one side I got to know lots of amazing people, that I’ll definetly miss. We had lots of fun together, even though our tight schedules didn’t give us that much time to meet up. The other Au Pairs were people, who understood me when I was talking about problems with my host family or cultural differences, when others didn’t.
My host family was also one of the better ones, compared to horror stories I heard from others. Of course there were some misunderstandings from time to time but what I really appreciate is that my host mum supported me at studying Chinese and getting to know Chinese culture better. After the kids were in bed, we sometimes had short practice sessions where she would test my vocabulary, practices things I learnt in class or tried to teach me new things.

On the other side I need to say that there are lots of things I did not expected in this parogram. I knew, that there are lots of cultural differences between western countries and Asia, but sometimes it was tough because my host family did not understood how important certain things are for me (e.g. Christmas). What I also realized is, that I never felt like a part of the family. The focus of our program lays on teaching, so we are live-in teachers - not the big sister. I felt very pressured because I was afraid the kids don’t make enough progress.
Furthermore, the reason I came to China was to travel and become more independent, but in the end I couldn’t really leave Shanghai because there was no time (most Au pairs have their off day on a day where they have chinese class). So if your intention is to travel I would not suggest to this program.

How can this program be improved?
More time off, working schedules that the Au Pair and Host family follow (checked by LC)
No, I don't recommend this program
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3 months in Beijing

I spent three months as an aupair in Beijing and got the chance to become part of a lovely family. I loved spending time with my host kid and my host family always tried to show me as much of their culture as possible. They took me on trips within Beijing at least once per week and we also got to spent a few days at the ocean together etc. Even though being an aupair and teaching children English can be quite challenging from time to time and requires a lot of effort and energy as well as commitment for children, my host family always made sure that I got enough free time to discover the city and spend time with friends. So I got the chance to camp and hike with friends on the Great Wall...
Also the cultural classes offered by Lopair, like a Kung Fu class or a traditional tea ceremony, were very interesting and the Chinese classes by Mandarin House were an excellent opportunity to study Chinese.

All in all, this program is an amazing opportunity to get to know China and its culture, to become part of a lovely family and to learn Chinese. I am incredibly grateful for my host family and hope to visit them in Beijing again soon!

Yes, I recommend this program
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It was an amazing experience. But try to take things not personal because the culture is different and mostly the people don't mean it how they say it. Through the chinese class, I could learn some basic skills in Mandarin and I also got a lot of new friends there. Friends make China much better. You can visit a lot of new places. I have been to a lot of different parks as well as in a lot of temple. That are so pretty places. It is nice to see the Buddha figures. They are all unique. Moreover I enjoyed to go to watertown because you can escape from the busy life in the city. To go around I would recommend to download Shanghai metro app and to use google maps. Glogle maps was my best friend in China. The metro system is very easy so you could also manage it without an app. But why should you make your life harder than it has to be.

How can this program be improved?
More support during the program would be good and that you get not enough information or the wrong one. Always double check how it really is.
Yes, I recommend this program
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China was a good experience

I really liked this cultural experience here in China! The first month was quite hard as a lot of things are different than where I come from. I would not recommend this program to somebody who has problems with communication issues or homesickness!
Especially the Language barrier was quite a big deal here for me.. of course I am not able to speak Chinese and I can‘t expect everyone in China to speak English but most of the people here do not Even understand a single word.. I was shocked at the beginning. I really liked my family, but as an au pair in China you should be prepared for difficult kids! Collect as much experience with children as possible! Having a good relationship with the child was the hardest challenge for me in China, and until the end ist stayed dificult.. I feel like Chinese kids are completely different from European ones!!

How can this program be improved?
Maybe more international families and not only chinese families should be in the program! There live so many international families in Beijing !
Yes, I recommend this program
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It was great!

I have spent the last three months teaching English in a lovely host family in Beijing. The LoPair staff was helpful and efficient. It did not take me long to find a host family and I feel very lucky to have lived with them. The Chinese classes by Mandarin House are really good. It is communicative Chinese but I was very satisfied with the quality of the teaching. We also had culture classes such as fan making and calligraphy which were very interesting. I also had many opportunities to visit the city.

Yes, I recommend this program

It was great!

I enjoyed being an au pair to a lovely family in Beijing for three months. I am sure I will miss them and cannot believe how fast the three months went. The Mandarin classes were also really good! It is focused on communication but I am very satisfied with it. We also had cultural classes such as making fans and traditional calligraphy which were very interesting. I would probably do it again if I could and whole heartedly recommend it

Yes, I recommend this program
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Mixed Feelings

I completed the Summer Educare programme; an experience which has left me with mixed feelings about the programme. It is an excellent opportunity to truly experience a different culture by being immersed into life in China with a Chinese host family. I was able to gain insight which wouldn't be possible when visiting for a short period of time as a tourist. Everyone's experience will be unique as host families have different interests and can introduce you to different cultural aspects. The mandarin classes are also fantastic as I went out to China with no previous knowledge of the language but came away after 8 weeks being able to communicate with basic mandarin.

I was supposed to be living with a lovely family in Shenzhen. Sadly, they pulled out of the programme last minute after much deliberation regarding other plans for their young son. With less than two weeks before starting the programme, Lopair helped me find new families quickly and really seemed to empathise with my situation. However, the family I ended up with in Beijing turned out to be an unfavourable match and I worry about their suitability for the programme at all. I want to give praise to all of the coordinators in Hangzhou who made me feel so welcome and took our small group (3 au pairs as we arrived earlier than other participants) around Hangzhou after orientation training. Unfortunately, Lopair's support seemed to dissipate.

There were numerous negative occasions with my host family but I will limit these to just a few examples:
- the family did not make me feel welcome or accommodated and I didn't feel like "a member of the family". Many mornings I had to go without breakfast because the parents or one of the three nannies would not set the table or cook for me. I was made to feel very awkward about asking for food and the nanny seemed to resent making me a fried egg (most of the time the only thing which my breakfast consisted of). There were no snacks provided for me (apart from the occasional bit of fruit) and I was not allowed out of the house so I couldn't buy any. One time the family went out for the whole afternoon until evening without telling me and I didn't get any dinner. I politely messaged them asking if they could bring me back some "leftovers" which they did a few hours later. As I sat down to eat, the three year old (who had already been out for a big meal) started to try and take the little bit of food I was bought back. He made a commotion and the family gave a large portion of my food to him! I was also hit on different occasions by the boy for no reason (punched in the nose and face as well as my legs) and the mother didn't even react to tell him off or at least check that I was alright.
- no privacy: the family got annoyed with me for shutting my bedroom door—especially locking it—but this was necessary to keep the three year old out of my room when getting changed or sleeping. I wasn't even allowed to lock the bathroom door sometimes (of which I did not have my own and had to share with the three year old and his nanny) which resulted in the boy catching me in the shower—something the family then blamed me for. Even in my free time I lacked privacy as I got criticised for shutting my bedroom door. This was a strain as I was prevented from recuperating and relaxing which had a damaging effect as the weeks went on.
- during week 7 the family had plans to travel to Tianjin and Jinan but this meant I was yo-yoed from one hot cramped car to the next with lots of travelling, no rest, and I was not always given any water. The trip made me very ill for my final week. As soon as we arrived back in Beijing (after a full day of travelling) my body couldn't take anymore and succumbed to the illness it was desperately suppressing under the constant changing of environments. I was up the whole night and the day after throwing up. I wasn't able to eat for over 4 days and it took a couple of days until I could start stomaching fluids again, meaning I was severely dehydrated (something especially uncomfortable in the heat). The family unfairly blamed me several times for being ill because I "ate too much" on the trip—something which was not even true. After the parents asked if my insurance covered going to hospital (to which I said I just needed rest and to try and get over the illness, unable to take anymore distress after the week of travelling) they lost interest. They did not try and look after me or even check up on me which made me feel incredibly isolated. Luckily, despite the difficult language barrier, the daughter's nanny (a different nanny to the one who usually cooks) started to look out for me and made me small portions of plain rice or noodles: a great relief after being neglected by the rest of the family.

To top this off, I had to plead with the mother for a lift to the airport at the end of my placement as I was still unwell. She refused to get one of their drivers (of which they had a few) to take me and insisted I use the subway. I then had to try and appeal to the father who eventually agreed to get a family friend to take me. Not the tearful sendoff I would've hoped for at the start of the programme.

A friend I made on the programme (who was also in Beijing) had messaged two different coordinators urging them to check on me because he was concerned about how unwell I was and the lack of support from the family. I wasn't aware of this until after completing the programme as I was shown the messages by said friend. Lopair did not bother to get in contact with me which was beyond disappointing, especially as I was experiencing such trauma. Even before this—during a misunderstanding with the family—I found my coordinator would favour the family above me despite assuring me in private beforehand that what I was feeling was completely justified and valid.

That is not to say I never enjoyed my time as an au pair because, despite the hurdles, I did have some memorable times with the children. In fact, I got on with the ten year old daughter very well. However, the family generally did not treat me very well. I completely lacked the freedom that I was entitled to, even on my one day off a week. The family were not flexible on their 9pm curfew (I even received texts demanding I start coming back at 7pm on my day off to ensure I was back way before 9pm). I was always with an au pair friend but they would try and justify their control over me by saying I was unsafe. I was rarely allowed out of the house and I had no front door key to aid any independence (I politely spoke to the parents several times and they refused to give me one).

I had an amazing time in China itself and it has undoubtedly helped me develop as a person and gain invaluable cultural insight. I visited some amazing sites like the Great Wall and my days off were by far the happiest of my time in China. Nonetheless, the positives of my experience are not down to Lopair and I can't imagine how my experience might have suffered further had it not been for the support of other au pairs when Lopair were more than inattentive. To give advice for anyone thinking of doing a programme with Lopair, make sure the family you are matched with are right for you. I believe that if circumstances had been different and I had a more accommodating family my experience would have been even better.

Response from LoPair Education

Dear Keira,

Thank you for your comments regarding LoPair Au Pair China program experience.

We truly value your feedback and the opportunity it brings to make improvements. I am very sorry and disappointed to hear that we did not deliver our usual high standard of assistance.

I can assure you that we have addressed this issue the team to find out what went wrong and take steps to ensure this is not repeated complained issue.

I welcome the opportunity to connect with you to discuss this further. I can be contacted on email [email protected] Thank you once again for your feedback, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards
Nancy Li
Program Service Manager

No, I don't recommend this program
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6 months au pairing

I went in China with lopair, a partner of my french agency. My experience as an au pair was amazing, it makes me grow and develop my patience.
My family was really nice, kind with me and thanks to them I discover a lot of things about China (like food, a lot of food and culture).
When you get used to Chinese customs, it’s really easy. People are really nice and helpfull with you. I really love China 🇨🇳

Yes, I recommend this program

6 weeks in Hangzhou

I spent 6 weeks in Hangzhou in a very nice family with two 5 year-old twin girls. The matching process was made rather easy by Lopair even if I had asked to go to Shanghai in the first-place (in retrospect I am really happy I spent these few weeks in Hangzhou and not Shanghai as Hangzhou is a better place to explore traditional China).


- Being able to discover/explore China on my own was definitly what I was looking forward to the most. After 6 weeks, I can say I have become a lot more confident in travelling by myself, meeting new people, trying new things and starting conversations with locals.

- My Mandarin has improved a lot as the program is a chance to be fully immersed in a Chinese family and the Mandarin lessons I had twice a week were taught by a great teacher.

- The people you get to meet. Spending 6 weeks (or more) in China can get very isolating if you don't make an effort to meet people and make friends. I was very lucky I got along so well with my classmates and also got the chance to go out with other au pairs in my free time. I also made a few Chinese friends that I keep in touch with over wechat and hope to visit in the future !

- The support provided by Lopair was great for me. Both my local coordinator Yvonne and June were amazing, checking up on me and taking me (with one or multiple other au pairs) for coffee and dinner. It really made me feel like I had someone to turn to in case of an issue.


- One thing I would say to anyone considering doing the programme though is to not underestimate how much effort and energy needs to be put in teaching and supervising kids. It is a real job that requires commitment and a love for kids. 6 weeks can be long if you don't like being around kids all the time.

- The biggest downside to my 6 weeks in Hangzhou was that, because my host family's house was so incredibly far from the city center (about 2h30!!), I wasn't able to go out with friends in the evening or even in the afternoon and stayed in the house even when I was supposed to have some free time. So do ask how far the house is from the language school and the city center !!
In the end it turned out fine because my host family went to Japan for 10 days and paid for a hotel for me in the center so I did have these days to explore more by myself and hang out with people my age.

In conclusion, my 6 weeks in Hangzhou truly were an amazing for me and it really has reinforced my love for China. I am incredibly grateful to my host family who was wonderful in every way and tried their best to share their culture with me. I hope to go back to Hangzhou very soon :)

Yes, I recommend this program

So glad I did it

I've had a great time here is Beijing and it's all thanks to the family I was staying with and the friends I got to make. Making sure you're with the right family is key to your enjoyment of the program. But don't worry, if you are unlucky enough to get a family that you don't click with then it is easy enough to switch. LoPair are great at finding new matches and making sure you are housed and comfortable.

Overall I've enjoyed myself a lot and I will be very sad to leave. I am very glad I got to experience China and I will definitely be coming back!

Yes, I recommend this program
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First time in Asia

Everything was really good. I got a beautiful family and that make my cultural shock shorter. Learning Chinese was very interesting and I love it. Totally recommend this experience because it’s the cheapest way to get to china, easiest way to stay there longer, funniest way to learn Chinese, best way to improve it, richest way to get connected to the culture. I loved living with a family and sharing with them their culture!

How can this program be improved?
I think aupairs should get paid more
Yes, I recommend this program

LoPair Review

Hi, I'm a 4th-year university student, male, 20 years old and Asian Canadian (my parents are from Central Asia). I found out about this program through a library recruitment I came across which mentioned a cultural exchange program in Shanghai during the summer. I had a free month in summer I felt like it could be a fun experience (spoiler: I was right!!).
So before the trip, I registered online gave them my general information and a Canadian company called Scotia-personnel helped me organize my documents and set up the trip for me (they were really nice and helpful btw). I made a profile which included my resume, letter to the family and some references. After a while a family contacted me and we had a video interview. After that, I completed the confirmation documents and the trip was booked for 6 weeks. I actually ran into some problems with a test I was writing that summer (it had to be moved later) and the test ended up being in the first week that the trip was scheduled. The family and LoPair were really helpful and wanted to accommodate me anyway!! So, in the end, I ended up going for a total of 5 weeks to Shanghai to live with my host family.
Trip itself
So the family was kind and wanted to pick me up from the airport, LoPair arranged my flight tickets and gave them all the information they needed. I lived in Pudong area during my trip which was conveniently close to the downtown area where my language classes were. The classes were every Monday and Wednesday from 10-12:15 and were mandatory time off from the family. The host kid I was matched with was 11 years old and spoke basic English and was enough for us to communicate at a basic level, as time went on his English skills and our overall communication skills improved greatly. I had time off every Friday night and all Saturday, which was great since I had time to go out and see the city with my friends :D. I met some great friends in the language classes and outside of class, the only difficulty was that we didn't all have our free time off at the same time. The family was kind and got my train tickets to go see other cities nearby on my days off if I asked them, sometimes we would go out together as a family for dinner and see city landmarks. For my orientation which took place in Hangzhou, I had tickets provided for me and my whole trip planned and paid for me. During the orientation we went to see the famous West Lake and the pagoda located there, then we went to a shopping district and finally for a Chinese dinner! We all stayed in a small hotel (which was really clean and nice) after one of the coordinators (Saigon) was amazing and took me to see the city on her free time because I had some free time after the orientation was over. During the work days, I had a plan outlined by my host mom for each day which was really helpful because it gave me an estimate of how much work and how much play time I needed to spend with the host kid. Overall my host kid was very funny and kind but like any kid, he could get annoying. We would spend time together from breakfast to dinner, playing games, reading books, studying, eating, drawing, talking all the time about random things. It was really fun but it did get really tiring after 4-5 days, which meant that days off were really nice to spend outside the house. Since in the summer it gets really hot, many of the days were spent inside, that means that having good books and fun hands-on things to do is a must. I got to see the best parts of Shanghai, either with my friends or with my host family. Living in a family with a different culture is challenging but its a great and fun experience and taught me about our similarities and differences. I will keep in touch with my host family and this is a relationship I have for life.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe have a few standardized slots for free time for LoPairs so that more people could have time off together. More organized activities would be really fun especially in the start of the program to help meet other LoPairs and make friends.
Yes, I recommend this program
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My 2 fantastic months in Shanghai

Before arriving in Shanghai, Lopair did a very good job in helping me build my profile and putting me in contact with potential families. They provided good assistance and advice for the Skype interviews with the families, and once I had been matched with one, also provided valuable webinars to prepare me for teaching in China and adapting to Chinese customs and overall lifestyle. These webinars were useful in calming my nerves and feeling supported while preparing my trip, but also made up for the 3 days training they organize in Hangzhou, but that I could not attend. Therefore, if a future Au pair has dates that differ from the travel packages suggested by Lopair, the company will more than gladly adapt to them and fill them in on what they will miss.

Lopair also made the visa application clear and straightforward, and was always available to answer any questions I had, which was very appreciated. Lopair made sure I was put in a suitable level for my Chinese classes, and arranged a change in classes when it was needed.

Other than these services, Lopair also organized a trip to Hanghzhou for other Au pairs and I, which was a fantastic experience and an amazing opportunity to travel a bit and see another city. We were greeted at the train station and taken sightseeing all day by some very nice coordinators.

However, Lopair has unfortunately failed to keep up one promise, which was to organize meetings with the local coordinator. I am aware that in my case, my host mother was rarely available for a meeting with my local coordinator, which delayed our eventual meeting, but that did mean that I received my welcome package one month into the program. As of yet, my local coordinator and my family still haven't met in person, as Lopair requires. Although this has not impacted my stay here at all, as these meetings are mostly to make sure there are not any issues between the Au pair and the family - and there have been none for me - it does remain the only unfulfilled task on Lopair's part.

Other than these examples, I believe Lopair is a successful and mature company, that manages the whole program and experience very well. I am very glad to have been able to participate in this experience with them, and am very grateful for all their help.

I would definitely recommend it!

How can this program be improved?
I think the program can be improved when it comes to the meetings with the local coordinator, although, this has not been something that worsened or really impacted my stay. Nonetheless, even if these meetings were not really necessary for me, they may be for other Au pairs whose stay may not be as pleasant as mine was, so I still regard thee meetings as important to make the Au pair feel welcome and supported when they first arrive. Other than that, Lopair has done a good job in terms of communication, as I have always had a quick and efficient reply whenever faced with an issue or had a query.
Yes, I recommend this program
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A Home away from home

This is my second time back aupairing for Lopair in China and my first time on the summer programme.
It has been an absolute dream, my host family is absolutely amazing, they have accepted me into their home and from day one I have had absolutely no problems. I love spending time with my host kids as well as the rest of the family, could not have asked for a better placement.
I'm addition to a lovely host family I have really enjoyed going to school which is included in the programme. I feel as though my Chinese has greatly improved and I've met some lovely people.
I've also had an amazing time exploring Beijing. In the 4 weeks of being here I've managed to do a trip a week with friends I'd made because of the aupair programme.
I think for anyone who's interested in seeing China and loves working with kids this is a great experience. I've grown to be more resistant and understanding due to my work as an aupair as well having widened my horizons.

Yes, I recommend this program

China is Amazing... Lopair isn't.

When I first heard of Lopair their au pair programme looked like a good option for my gap year; so I applied and went through with the matching process etc. I found a family who lived in Shanghai and seemed nice. They told me in the interview that they lived 40 mins by metro outside of central Shanghai. They also told me that they wanted to take me abroad with them on their family holidays. This was in early December so when they asked when I would be coming I told them either January or February on one of the company's arrival dates. They took that to mean that I would arrive on 11th January and when I confirmed to Lopair that I would actually be coming in early February they seemed a little annoyed. But it was clearly just a communication issue so I took no more notice of it.

I first started to have doubts when Lopair asked me to get a multiple entry 90day tourist visa (instead of their usual single entry 180day study visa) in order to be able to go abroad with the family. They insisted that if I wanted to go abroad I needed to make up a fake tourist itinerary to apply for the visa and not to make any mention of Lopair at the visa office at all. The company representative I was e-mailing gave me a fake flight sheet and an example itinerary which was based on me receiving a family invitation letter. However I did not get a family invitation letter and was supposed to make (cancellable) hotel bookings for the duration of my fake 20 day trip. This all seemed very shady to me so I contacted my UK representative. She was lovely and really helpful in reassuring me that this process had worked for many au pairs before. Lopair also assured me that if something went wrong and I did not go abroad with my family they would pay for my trip to Hong Kong in order to renew my visa. So I went to the Chinese visa office in London and was initially turned away because my flight tickets were fake. I immediately contacted Lopair and they booked real flight tickets for me that same morning so I was able to hand in my application the same day. Their response was quick and helpful but it worried me that their original advice had been wrong. What if the visa office had let me hand in my application and it had been denied? It was less that two weeks before my flight. My visa was also about twice the price of the student one and I had to pay for it myself.

I arrived in China and was put on a long distance bus to Hangzhou with a few other au pairs. The orientation camp was nice because we got to make a few friends who would be going to other cities and got to see a little of Hangzhou which is a lovely place. However we were all very jet lagged and the “training” was essentially a series of power point presentations and didn’t tell us anything they hadn’t already covered in one of the webinars. This was a little disappointing as I had been under the impression that we would have some kind of team building activities or maybe a workshop with kids. But never mind, I made some nice friends.

Next we were transferred to our host cities. In my case there were two other au pairs going to Shanghai and we got the bullet train together. I felt sorry for some of the others who had to get domestic flights on their own so soon after arriving. We were told to meet our families at Starbucks when we arrived at the train station and managed to find each other after only an hour without wifi or working phones. Success! Now to settle in and get to know the new family.

Everything seemed fine at first. My host mum took me to the supermarket to buy any food that I wanted ( as I’d told her that I am vegetarian and she wanted to make sure there was something I could eat ). I had my own room, she gave me a house key, a metro card and a SIM for my phone. My 7 year old host kid already spoke fluent english as he went to international school and we got on very well from the beginning. They had an ayi (nanny) who did all the cooking and cleaning so my duties were purely with the kid. However I quickly discovered that their house was much farther away from the centre than the 40 mins I had been told. It took me nearly 2 hours to get to Chinese class (including a bus ride to get to the metro station) and I had a 10pm curfew on my day off. The 1500 RMB monthly pocket money is also too little to live well in an expensive city like Shanghai; I pretty quickly found myself eating into my savings.

When Chinese new year came, just two weeks after my arrival, I was told to pack my suitcase because we would be going to stay in a hotel in Shanghai. I thought this was weird - since they lived in Shanghai - and they told me that because I had “delayed” my arrival they had to change their plans to go abroad. That didn’t make sense to me - I was still there wasn’t I? Anyway, we stayed in a 5 star hotel which was incredible as it was my first experience going to a place like that. Apart from a visit to the temple next door we almost never left the hotel. We had meals there, swam in the pool and sat in the lounge on the very top floor playing chess and doing homework. It was totally different from my idea of holiday but a great experience nonetheless.

When my coordinator first came to visit my host mum told me that they had plans to go to England in July - one month before the end of my contract - to look at schools. I couldn’t go with them but they wanted me to travel and then come back to work for them in August. I have plans in August so that wasn’t possible. My other option was to find a new family for the last month. Again they blamed this on my “delayed” arrival.

The real problems started occurring after I asked to stay out of the house in a hostel one night on my ‘weekend off’ (it was actually a Thursday). My host mum didn’t want to let me but said it was okay if it was just this once. She asked me to be back in the early afternoon the next day and I didn’t complain even though I was supposed to have a full 48 hours off. I went to Disneyland with some friends and in the evening we went out to a club. It was great until some of us lost our coats (some of which had their phones in) from the cloakroom, and one of my friends was drugged. Bearing in mind this was early March and it was freezing, we went back to the hostel and reported our stuff stolen to the police the next day. Luckily I still had my phone but I was with two friends who had lost theirs, one of which was from another city and had no way of contacting her host family. We contacted my local coordinator to help her get back home and I went with them both, as the only one with a phone, to make sure they met up okay. The coordinator was actually late and I went home almost as soon as she arrived. I informed my host mum that I would be around 15 mins late because of the unfortunate situation. She didn’t take it well and threw a fit, telling me that I was irresponsible and they she would never let me stay out of the house again, refusing to believe that I could actually be helping a friend because I can’t speak Chinese. I again contacted my coordinator who told me that she’d already received a call from my host mum and advised me to ‘tell her the truth of the situation” as if i had been lying. I asked if i could have my coordinator’s support to discuss this with my host mum because communication between us was difficult (her english wasn’t very good and my Chinese was non-existent at that point). She just told me again to “apologise and tell the truth’’. I realised then that I was actually very unhappy in my family - I felt trapped miles from anywhere with a curfew and no friends living nearby. I was also doing very few duty hours and felt that I was having little impact on my kid as he spoke perfect English already and they just wanted me to read books with him. They never stuck to the schedule they had given me and sometimes the family would just leave without telling me when they would be back, meaning I couldn’t know if I had time to go out so had to just wait for them in the house. They never once took me out with them on the weekend or arranged any activity that i could go to with them.

I asked to change families, but somehow my coordinator persuaded me to stay until the end of my third month. I knew at this point that my family would be going on holiday to Hong Kong at the end of April and told my coordinator about this. She didn’t think there would be a problem - I would stay with the family and leave after the trip with them. I needed to go in order to renew my visa anyway and if I didn’t go with my host family then Lopair would have to pay for my trip. I was advised to wait until 2 weeks before the end of my third month to give notice, and wouldn’t be able to look for a new family before then.

So I sucked it up for another five weeks and finally told my host mum I wanted to leave. Very politely might I add (I’m sorry, its not you its me etc.). She was furious. The next day my coordinator came over to discuss everything and I was informed that I had to either pay for my flights and 5 star hotel in Hong Kong with them or stay with the family until the end of June. They were asking for the equivalent of about £700 for me to leave. They were essentially trying to bully me into staying. Apparently the hotel was non-refundable (which I didn’t really believe, hotels tend not to be completely non-refundable 2 weeks before your stay) and although the trip was supposed to be a family holiday to which I was invited since I’m “part of the family” they made it sound as though it was all my fault because of my visa. Lopair suggested that my host mum pay half and Lopair would pay for my flights so I would be left with only a smaller fee of about £300. I would still get to go to Hong Kong and renew my visa and then hopefully leave the family without too much drama. I agreed to this but my host mum refused. She kicked me out, telling me I had one hour to pack my bags. Even though the contract states that both the family and I should respect a 2 week grace period during which I continue to work for them and receive room, board, and pocket money, I was never even paid the pocket money for those first two weeks of April that I did actually work. When I approached Lopair about it they refused to reimburse me and implied that it was my fault my host mum wouldn’t pay me.

After a tearful goodbye to my host kid I got into the car with my coordinator. I was shocked that even as we were driving away from the house (and I was visibly crying) she still tried to explain my host mum’s point of view. I honestly felt that I had been very understanding of her feelings and apologised throughout but no one had really tried to see the situation from my perspective. My host mum couldn’t understand that I was unhappy and still refused to lift my curfew. I was dropped off at a hostel (which I had to pay for myself) and left to come to terms with my new situation.

I was very lucky to match with a new German-Chinese host family in just two days and was delighted to discover that they lived centrally and I had total freedom. Having an interview in person was a thousand times better that on the phone and i got to see where they lived and actually meet the kid and the parents properly. It was quite the contrast from my first host family where I couldn’t even be in the kid’s bedroom with him unless the door was open. Now I was trusted to drop off and pick up my little girl from kindergarten on an electric scooter and look after her all afternoon with no supervision! I suddenly made lots of new friends because of my newfound freedom and I could go out with them in the evenings and on weekends because my family was normal and wanted to spend time with their children on weekends rather than have me teaching the whole time. I told them my story and my host dad very kindly asked Lopair to reimburse me for the pocket money that I wasn’t paid by my previous host family. I had tried asking them already and expected them to refuse but the response from our coordinator was simply “okay”. I felt this really showed how much better the families are treated by the agency compared to au pairs.

I still had to go to Hong Kong in order to renew my visa so I had to badger Lopair to book my flights. When they wouldn’t book the ones I wanted (since they were 200RMB more than their budget) they agreed to send me the money so I could book them myself. However all this hassle and delay meant that everything was very last minute and therefore rather expensive. Hong Kong was great and I’m glad I went alone because I doubt I would have seen anything but the inside of a fancy hotel if I had gone with my old host family.

Being with a family that I loved and having real freedom let me enjoy Shanghai for the first time since I arrived. Of course every family has their difficulties but this time they were minor and overall everything was great. The only issue was that they could only have me for 2 and a half months as they had another au pair coming and I would still have to find a new family for the last month. I didn’t mind because they were so great and I thought it would be worth it if I got to be happy for the next 10 weeks.

As it turns out, once I’d spent 2 months living with my amazing family, the thought of staying with a new one that might give me a curfew or didn’t let their kids play games filled me with dread. I had one interview which didn’t go well, and the host mum only wanted someone for a week anyway. So I waited for more interviews. A week passed and still nothing came. With just 10 days left and still no suitable family found, I decided that I would rather spend my last month travelling and getting to see a little of the country I’d lived in for the past 5 months. I contacted Lopair and asked to leave.

I knew that I would forfeit my measly 1000RMB completion bonus (not even one full month’s pocket money) and that they might ask me to pay a fee towards my flights according to their ‘early return policy’. All I asked from them was to keep my return flight on the same date it was booked for. I thought they no longer held anything over me and my leaving was saving them the hassle of finding me a new family for just one short, awkward month.

It took four days for them to respond to my requests which I wasn’t thrilled about. The response I got from my coordinator was “Lopair didn’t agree you to leave the program with Lopair’s visa”. I was outraged. I have a tourist visa which I paid for myself. I lied on every single immigration form at Lopair’s request to include no mention of them whatsoever. I wanted to use MY visa for its intended purpose - actual tourism. I met with my coordinator the next day and told her this. She said if I chose to leave the programme they would move my flight to the next week and I would have to go straight home. When I pushed her to give me a reason or explanation for this seemingly unnecessary action (it costs money to move flights!) the best she could come up with was that Lopair didn’t want me in Shanghai with other au pairs if I was no longer on the programme. I might give them a ‘bad feeling’ about the agency. I asked “so Lopair is trying to protect their reputation from me?”. She changed her story, saying that it is their usual policy to send au pairs home after the end of their programme because “Lopair is the reason you came to china”. I knew this was untrue. When I first applied to the programme I had asked Lopair to book my return flight 2 weeks after my end date because I wanted to travel. This had caused no problems before and my flight was booked on the date that I wanted. Now that I wanted to leave they were threatening to change it against my will. I pushed her again but couldn’t get a straight answer out of her. I could afford to pay them their “early return fee” according to the contract but I couldn’t afford to buy a new international flight.

My coordinator then told me that I was “just feeling stressed” and not to worry because they would find me a nice family. I went home that evening and told my host parents what had happened. They were very understanding and agreed that what Lopair were doing was unjustified. They discussed it that evening and when they later told me that they could extend for one month (their other au pair had delayed her arrival) I cried tears of relief.

I think the thing to remember about Lopair is that at the end of the day they are still running a business and they are here to make money. The au pairs are not their clients, the families are. They will support the family over the au pair if given the choice. The au pairs are their ‘product’ and they will do whatever they can to make a profit out of us.

That said, I don’t regret coming to China with Lopair. It has been an invaluable experience. I have learnt not to accept being unhappy just because it suits others and to stand up for myself against a company that have tried repeatedly to bully me. I will never let anyone book flights for me again. I have begun to understand both the Chinese language and the wildly different culture, and discovered that I don’t really like Chinese food. I will still take two weeks to travel after I finish at the end of July and I am very excited to see more of this beautiful country. I have made friends both in China and from around the world. I fell in love with my second family, and with Shanghai, and I know that I will return to China in the future - but not as an au pair.

Response from LoPair Education

Hi, I’m Nancy, Program Service Manager of Lopair.

Thank you for bringing to our attention regarding bad experience about the imperfect service of Lopair, from which we understand the situation. Sincerely regrets this and apologizes to you for any disappointment caused.

The issues referred to were raised here lately, some due to misunderstanding or miscommunication. It happens between people communicating with the same language, even if they share the same mother tongue. This is especially true if there is the added difficulty of cultural or language barriers.

First of all, we admit that the match between you and the first family is not appropriate, though it was your choice, Lopair should take some responsibility for this. Furthermore, we should have helped you communicate with your family more before the match, and “The visa issue” complicates the situation.

I understand that compared with emotional communication, blindly emphasizing rules may seem rather stiff and callous, while my colleagues may fail to find a proper way to communicate with you due to language or cultural differences, and may ignore the importance of personal feelings and the implementation of rules. I'm sorry, however, it's important to follow the process from an institutional and corporate perspective. No matter the early return policy or rematching process related to the rules of regulation of Au pair program, but not against you. Despite all this, your comments are also a reminder of whether the rules need to be improved.

Your review indicated you paid hostel during grace period yourself, which is offered to reimburse you by Lopair, and has been transferred to you along with the completion bonus. In addition, you will receive a compensation payment for the previous bad experience. I hope it makes you feel better.

In conclusion, we express our regret for your previous unhappy experience, which will improve our service quality and prevent it from happening again. please don't hesitate to tell us before you leave China in next few days, or if you come to China again in the future, whenever you need any help , we will do our best to help you. Thanks again for your feedback.

No, I don't recommend this program


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LoPair, based in Hangzhou, is proud to be the 1st Chinese au pair company that wins the Au Pair of the Year Winner Award at 2017 annual campaign run by International Au Pair Association. We place au pairs from worldwide with host families in 10+...