Wanderlust Au Pair China Program

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About

Wanderlust Au Pair China Program integrates educational travel, Mandarin learning, childcare and English tutoring together for overseas youngsters to experience China with an authentic touch by staying with Chinese host families.

By offering 30-35 hours of live-in childcare and English teaching per week, you have an opportunity to explore Chinese culture through weekly Mandarin classes, culture immersion activities held by Wanderlust and your day-to-day colorful life with your host family.

We are culture enthusiasts, we love different languages, we love the tenderness in your eyes when you see children's smile. Fundamentally, we love what we do: helping you go through an off-beat experience that could potentially change your life.

We are here to "cherish you caring & loving soul, enlighten your wanderlust spirit."

Program fee: 0 $

Questions & Answers

Hello Joanna, Thank you for your question and interest in Wanderlust Au Pair China Program. I would like to answer your questions in three aspects: how au pairs can get ready for their trip to China; what support they will have from Wanderlust; what's to be expected of your daily life with the host family. In regards to how au pairs can get themselves prepared for the trip to China, here are some...

Reviews

90%
based on 22 reviews
  • Housing 9.2
  • Support 9.2
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 9.2
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 15 of 22
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Joanna
9/10

Where have the past two months gone?

I am just about to complete two out of my three-month stay here in Beijing. Where has time honestly gone? So far, I have felt welcomed into a family with cultures far different from my own. I am teaching three kids who at the beginning were very shy, however now are so talkative and full of ideas that our lessons usually tend to overrun. One major difficulty I found was the language barrier, as many people here don't speak much English however with an adequate translator app, it was no longer a problem. Another was taxi fares - they can easily sniff out a foreigner and when they do, they'll triple your fair (I was charged 200 yuan for a 30 yuan fair). At times, I felt uncomfortable around taxi drivers so make sure to download Didi, which is the trustworthy Chinese equivalent to Uber.

My host family have been so wonderful and have even taken me on holiday to Guiyang, Xishuangbanna and Kunming. This programme is truly the cheapest way to experience the authentic taste of Chinese culture and living with a family speaking predominantly mandarin helps pick up the language a little easier too. However, while other au pairs weren't set one, I was given a curfew of 9pm, which I felt was quite restricting especially when trying to experience the nightlife here, so it's best to deliberate this if you're given one. The support given by the WAC team has been great too, more specifically from my coordinator Lizzie who has helped me out with countless of things - they are great to rely on when you need a rapid response or someone to talk you through the ins and outs of Beijing.

Before considering this programme, it's best to decide which age you'd prefer to tutor as kids of various ages learn at different speeds so decide beforehand which is best suited for you. It is also best to know that your working hours will be incredibly flexible so if you’re good at adapting to constantly changing routines then this is great for you. I would with no doubt suggest sending over an application if you’re willing to experience authentic Chinese culture at relatively low costs.

How can this program be improved?
more cultural activities - perhaps twice a month.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Liam
9/10

Au pairing Review 6 months

I have spent the past 4 months au pairing in Shanghai with a family with two boys, age 12 and 1, there has been some challenges during my time here but the experience is one that I am happy I have decided to take. From the moment I landed in Shanghai my family made me feel at home and nothing changed about that. Although I had my own room this is not a private space, as the children would often come in as they pleased but this was more out of curiosity in what I was doing rather than an invasion.
Even with a great welcoming the word overwhelming is the best way to describe my first few weeks. Facing crowds of people and a language I do not understand every day, it was difficult to find my place in this large city. Once I started going to mandarin classes and meeting new people I began finding my way around the city better, even though it took a while to get use to the amount people it did not change my outlook on this wonderful city and how much there is to do and see.
The Chinese culture is one of the oldest and most unique in the world and there is no way to better experience it than living with a family. I’ve learnt so much of the Chinese culture and how it has changed from when the parents were younger until now, and what my child’s views on it are. Learning about the culture has been one of the most interesting parts about my stay here in Shanghai as it has opened my mind to my own culture back home and what I can do to improve it and better my own future.
When it comes to teaching English and helping to improve the language being flexible is definitely important. I found myself trying to teach and practise English at many different times and not sticking to a usual schedule, as my child does a lot of extra activities that take up his time. Whether it is in the car, at the dinner table or out doing activities always take the opportunity to try and practise or teach English as it important to show them how they can use the language anywhere if they need to. The challenging moments were trying to get their attention and making it interesting for them because if they feel like they can’t take part they do not focus and take in all the information. Building a relationship that is more like an older sibling than teacher has had its advantages, it makes it easier to communicate and develop the language.
Being an Au pair has also given me the chance to explore Shanghai, and it is clear to see why it is one most popular cities in the world. With the monthly spending money I receive it was easy to see most of what this city has to offer, from the Chinese street markets to the many different shopping malls. The city metro is very trustworthy and safe, although at times it can get overcrowded it is the best and cheapest way to get around. Shanghai is the most western Chinese city but is still unlike any other western city and is a great way to be introduced to the Chinese lifestyle and can lead you to wanting to see more Chinese cities like Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou or Xi’an. I am happy that I got to see some part of the large country that is China in my short time here and it has left me wanting to see more as it is defiantly a country worth traveling.
My time here has been unforgettable and I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity, which most people won’t get, to come and see this beautiful country and be able to help a family improve their English, and in exchange they made me feel part of their own family, that is completely different from my own, but still felt like a home away from home.

How can this program be improved?
Suggestive visiting locations and activities to do in spare time.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Nick
10/10

Fantastic Au Pair Experience in China

If you're interested in au pairing in China, I this is a program you need to seriously consider. All of my expectations have been exceeded and it has been an amazing experience all round.
From my first contact with anyone from Wanderlust Au Pair China I have been impressed by friendly staff that is always willing to help and answer the many, many, many questions you are sure to have about a program that takes you overseas. The continued support throughout the program is great, from the airport pickup to answering questions about places to go, anything really, you have someone you can ask. The cultural activities have given me a further insight into the culture and traditions of China and I have enjoyed them thoroughly. The Mandarin lessons have helped me to communicate with people in China, albeit a challenge, and have given me a deeper understanding of the spoken language you will hear all around you. Wanderlust Au Pair China is dedicated to filling your needs and finding a family that matches you well for a better experience for both you and the family you will be staying with. Overall, a fantastic program.
Au pairing in a foreign country will give you life experience, no doubt - but the agency you use is what improves the experience practically. Wanderlust Au Pair China has not disappointed me once and I am sure if you chose this program, you will have the same wonderful experience.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Megan
9/10

A great experience

The decision to up and go to China for these past months was as difficult as it was easy. I can honestly say that I do not regret it, and would recommend others to take the leap into a different culture.I had some initial anxieties about trusting a program I had found online, but the WAC team turned out not only to be legitimate, but very friendly and helpful. I had a great experience, complete with ups and downs, and a lot of learning!

How can this program be improved?
More cultural activities would be wonderful, as I enjoyed getting together with the other au pairs and doing something I may not have been able to organize myself.
Yes, I recommend
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Peggy
8/10

Shanghai Au Pairing Experience Review

I have been lucky enough to get exactly what I wanted from my Au Pair experience. For me this was a family living centrally in a large, vibrant city that I could explore, and living with a welcoming, friendly Chinese host family. I had hoped to find in Shanghai a city brimming with Chinese culture that also managed to be ‘tourist-friendly’ – I haven’t been disappointed. I’m lucky enough to live 3 metro stations from the city center, so it’s incredibly easy to explore whenever I have a free moment. I’ve also managed to have a lot of fun with the children I look after, whilst still (I hope) improving their spoken English. The host family I was matched with have been wonderfully kind and hospitable. Whilst I can’t guarantee every family would show every Au Pair the same warmth, if you take the necessary time to find one suited to you, you should get along just fine.

Of course, there were some rough patches as I adjusted to a new lifestyle and culture. When I arrived I had never been to Asia at all, and found some of the cultural norms very strange – for example the constant spitting in the streets. It also took time for me to adjust to spoken Chinese, which can come across as aggressive or impolite when you’re not used to its sound. I recognized the familiar symptoms of culture shock in my first few weeks. At first I was delighted with everything new, and was in a constant state of excitement and adrenaline. When this wore off after a few weeks I felt homesick and craved something from familiar; I bought anything I recognized in the supermarkets (which was very little) and called my family as much as I could. However, this melancholy stage passed as I grew accustomed to the culture and my host family and routine.

The Wanderlust Exchange agency have been a great source of support, simply knowing there is someone in your corner in case things go wrong is very comforting. It was brilliant to have a personal tour guide when I arrived, and the company representative took me sight-seeing. This also meant I had at least one friend when I got here. Additionally, for many Au Pairs who have issues they feel they can’t raise directly with their host parents, the agency acts as a go between and helps to smooth things over.

In terms of my personal experience with a Chinese family, I’ve been welcomed into a bustling and affectionate household where I do really feel a part of things. The family’s domestic lives have given me a glimpse of Chinese values, and the importance that’s placed on relationships and looking out for each other here. Living with a Chinese family shows you so much more than you would learn simply as a voyeur, viewing the sights. Additionally, it feels more worthwhile to be part of a cultural exchange; by teaching the children English and sharing a different culture with them you give something back, rather than simply harvesting what cultural knowledge you can from the country.

I have accompanied the family on many day trips and activities and have been taken to countless exciting restaurants where my host parent taught me about local cuisine. Perhaps my favorite part of this experience has been experiencing the multitude of new foods this country has to offer. I eat delicious, homemade meals that are different every day. Even the act of eating dinner with a Chinese family has taught me about the culture here; the communal, sharing dishes emphasize the importance of collectivity. This differs significantly to the Western tradition of having your own plate.

As for Shanghai itself, the city is a brilliant patchwork of the extremely modern and the traditional. It contains enough quintessentially ‘Chinese’ architecture to satisfy the romantic tourist, whilst remaining a fast-paced and convenient city. It has a thrilling and infectious energy. I think Shanghai was a perfect starting point for me, and I feel brave enough to now explore an older and more traditional part of China.

I would whole heartedly recommend the Shanghai Au pairing experience, for me it has given me an environment where I can be both comfortable, safe and well looked after, whilst simultaneously being immersed in a new and vastly different culture to my own. I don’t deny that I have been lucky with my family. I’d urge future au pairs to take their time and search for a family that you will get along with and that will help you have your desired experience. As long as you choose a match carefully you’ll have an incredible time.

Yes, I recommend
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Sarah
10/10

Trustworthy Company

REVIEW FOR WANDERLUST
I chose to au pair with Wanderlust because of the great reviews it has, and the company did not disappoint me. Wanderlust deserves a 10/10 for its great support. It is intimidating and a little frightening to fly to a country all alone, but Hazel greeted me at the airport and made sure all of my needs were met. She always replied to messages on Wechat and truly wanted to help me have the best experience possible. If you are unsure if you can put your faith in Wanderlust, I will tell you that you wholeheartedly can. Some things Hazel did to help me feel comfortable during my stay:
- answered logistical questions about living in China (using the subway, visa questions, etc.)
- checked in on how I was personally feeling
- was always responsive and timely
- acted as a translator between me and my host family to clarify some initial concerns
- gave me the contacts of other au pairs with whom I could talk

REVIEW OF AND TIPS FOR AU PAIRING
I could write a ten-page essay about au pairing. Instead, I will tell you some questions it is important to ask your host family before committing to them, so you can get a sense of what au pairing is like.
- what time does your kid go to bed?
Kids who do not sleep enough are cranky, and a late bedtime, especially for a young kid, could be an indication that your host family likes to overwork their child. (hint: this means you will be overworked too if you au pair for them)
- how much TV does your kid watch?
A lot of TV can be a bad sign, although some families are just very relaxed and let their kids watch TV when they want. Use your intuition.
- how do you discipline your kid?
Every kid misbehaves. Every single kid. Therefore, every parent must discipline.
- what activities is your kid involved in?
- what time does your kid wake up?
- what do you do on a normal weekend?
- who is currently living at the house with you?
Some au pairs arrive in China to find a completely different family dynamic and living situation than what was represented.
- is your kid a BOY or a GIRL?
No, don't actually ask this question to the family. This is a question for you. I will not get into a nature vs. nurture argument about differences between the sexes. What matters is that boys and girls act differently, especially in China with stricter gender roles than in the west. Boys tend to be more out of control and held less accountable for their actions. This is not a hard and fast rule, but please be aware of it!
There are a lot more questions to ask, but this is just a start! Good luck with your au pairing experience!

How can this program be improved?
Group Chinese classes in Beijing instead of private online classes. I took a private online Chinese course. My host family did not really respect the time I needed to be home to log onto Chinese class, so I missed a lot of lessons as well as the chance to meet other students and form a closer relationship with my Chinese teacher.
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Sarah,

It's great to know that you consider receiving sufficient support from Wanderlust! We always think that we could do better and provide the best support possible!

Thank you so much for your suggestions for applicants when they conduct family interviews, which are very helpful and we could write a guide about that.

About Mandarin classes, yes, the online classes arrangement are mostly because of some host families live really far away from the city center. However, offline small group class is indeed the best option and we have this arrangement for our au pairs from now on.

Thank you so much for your kind review. It's been a great pleasure to see you in China and hear those amazing moments you had with your host family and in Beijing!

Warm regards,
Wanderlust Team

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Pam
9/10

Wanderlust Au Pair China Program

I decided to become an au pair in China because I wanted to experience Chinese culture in the most authentic way I knew. The program most definitely did not disappoint and I’m glad I took it on. Living with a host family was a fantastic way of gaining in-depth insight into Chinese traditions and the society as a whole.

I received great hospitality from the host family. They were incredibly generous, making sure I was fed properly and gave me whatever I needed. The host family made sure I felt at home and comfortable at all times. I felt like I was a part of their family as they included me in their weekend excursions and holidays.
One highlight was Chinese New Year where we flew to their hometown. From the food, fireworks and extended family gatherings… it was just amazing!

No one day was the same, it definitely was no easy sailing. There will be highs and lows with your host child which I believe is totally normal as it is in a child’s nature to act in such way.
Attempting to discipline host child was one of the most difficult tasks I had to face, so do prepare yourself for behavioural challenges. Despite the challenges, the good most definitely out-weighed the bad. Spending time with my host child was fun and heart-warming at most times.

As time went by, transitioning into Shanghai life got easier. It is a very Western city where most amenities are accessible and many things made convenient. Not long since arriving, I had a familiarized daily routine and settled in well.

The language barrier was the toughest challenge of all. Although, the language classes eased off those worries and I was lucky enough to store in the basics. Chinese is not an easy language to learn. But it is incredibly rewarding knowing the basics.
Another point I want to make, as difficult as language class was, I still enjoyed attending them. I made wonderful friends with the other students as well as the teacher. They made the class so much more vibrant and animated!

I want to mention my full appreciation to the Wanderlust team for their extremely helpful service and support. All queries and requests were met in the appropriate manner. I would also like to mention how I thoroughly enjoyed the cultural activities organized by Wanderlust for the au pairs to engage in.

To wrap up, au pairing is more than just a job, it takes a lot of emotional strength as it requires the au pair to truly care for the child. Au pairing is rewarding because you learn from the host child as much as they learn from you. Au pairing is a life-changing experience not only for the au pair but also for the host child – you will have a massive impact on their life, they will remember you not as someone who taught or played with them in English, you will be remembered as their friend. Au pairing will leave you with many memories and moments. Most importantly, the experience will gain you a life-long friend.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Ria
9/10

Being an au pair in Shanghai

I still remember the day, when I arrived in Shanghai, tired and nervous about meeting my new host family. But even before I entered their flat, I heard a young girl jumping around inside, saying that she ‚likes teacher‘, this was the beginning of a wonderful experience in Shanghai.
During my time with them, I made more memories like these, memories, that make me smile, whenever I think of them.
My host family was truly welcoming, they showed me around and included me in family activities. I really enjoyed my time with them and it was great to see my host kid’s English improving every day.

Sure, being an au pair is not always easy, even with a great family there are ups and downs. My host child and I regularly got in small quarrels with each other, but that’s normal, isn’t it? Even with your own family, you’ll get in quarrels from time to time and you still like each other.

In my opinion Wanderlust is a reliable agency, that will support you during your time as an au pair.
When you arrive in China, you’ll have orientation days, which helps a lot as you’ll learn about the host family’s expectations, cultural differences and you’ll go Sightseeing.

I’m truly thankful, that I had the chance to come to Shanghai and to live with a wonderful host family.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Madison
8/10

China Au Pair program

I had a great time as an au pair in Shanghai! This program is a great opportunity to see and experience Chinese culture. I stayed for 6 months in Shanghai with 2 different host families. Both families were very kind and welcoming, and understanding to are cultural differences and helped with the ease into life in China. The majority of my work with the family revolved around playing with the kids and speaking to them in English, mainly focusing on immersing the kids into an english environment while occasionally giving structured english lessons. All families are different though and may hold different expectations of the au pair. Hazel is a great friendly person, always ready to help if it's needed. Throughout my experience I felt very supported by wanderlust and new I could message Hazel at any moment if anything was to go wrong. Overall, being an au pair in China is definitely a challenging situation with a big shock in culture and sometimes having tricky kids but the experience is definitely worth it!

How can this program be improved?
better communication of what the family expects before the au pair arrives to the family. both the au pair and family should be on the same page of what is expected when they join the household
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Anna
10/10

My adventure in China

Are you adventurous, brave and looking for something completely different to everything you’ve ever experienced before?
Then China is the place to go!
Here are some notes I want to share about my Au Pair stay in China:

First of all I want to mention again what incredible place this country is. I am staying in Shanghai and fell in love with the city as there is always something to explore and you never get bored here. With a working time of only 6 hours per day I have lots of time to visit the various spots of the city and meet many new friends from all over the world.

Another thing that makes being an Au Pair so special is that you are living with a hostfamily. This is gives you the opportunity to learn about the Chinese way of living, culture and food. However, most importantly for me is that I made new friends who welcomed to their home so warmly, took me to beautiful places and made me feel like a member of their family.
Even though I really enjoy living with host families you have to consider this not always as very easy: As you’re home is at the same time your working place it might lead to working some overtime and you have to adapt to your families way of living which could for example include not staying out in the evening or washing you’re clothes by hand.

Also wanderlust is a good Au Pair agency I can recommand because they always give their best to support me and stay in touch with the Au Pairs during their whole stay.

All in all can I would recommand this Programm for so many reasons: experiencing an interesting culture, learning a new language, making many new friends, get teaching and childcare experience, having fun an so much more...

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Mae
9/10

Time Flies When Your Having Fun

I remember sitting on the plane to China thinking, "In 14 hours, you are going to be in a new country. Halfway across the world, and living with a family you barely know, and you don't speak the language. Everything will be fine". I was trying not to freak out. And here I am 6 months later wanting to stay in China.

During my time, I have had the pleasure of serving two very different families in Shanghai. While this cultural experience has been amazing, it is important to remember that it is also a job. A job that is 100% about supporting your host families child(ern) in improving their English. And with any job, you will have highs and lows. Luckily, Wanderlust has been very supportive and helps you get through any issues that you may find yourself in. But seriously, if you don't like kids, you may want to rethink this program.

Besides that, China is an amazing place to explore. Shanghai is an amazing city to explore. It is almost like a playground. There are many things to do, but once you find what you like to do, you can stick to that! The best part about doing a cultural experience like this, is that after awhile, you stop feeling like a tourist and get to know the China at a very personal level. For me, I had my favorite lunch spots, drink shops, best metro stations, etc. Everything becomes familiar, and yet if you are looking to explore something new, just hop on the nearest metro station and you can find yourself in a new part of the city.

Overall, this experience has truly been eyeopening. I'm grateful of Wanderlust, the families that opened their homes for me, and the people that I have met during my time here.

How can this program be improved?
The Visa Process: The process could be made more clear about acquiring a visa and the different kinds of visas you are able to get. Additionally, what the process will look like for visa renewal once in the country (if it applies to you). I understand that every country is different, however having more information provided by Wanderlust at the beginning of this process could have made getting that initial visa easier, less stressful, and less confusing.
Yes, I recommend
Melomy
Kim
10/10

Safe and reliable, Highly attentive and Informative support system. Excellent experience in every way possible!

When I decided to leave my country for a cultural adventure; never had I imagined that I would have such a great time at such little expense. The team at Wanderlust Au Pair was extremely supportive and overall great in every way! My host family had such a benevolent spirit, they were truly God-sent. They were extremely kind, honest and good-willed people. They took me many placed, ensure that I had a good time and was always well taken cared of and well fed. They helped me physically and emotionally through difficult times and helped me to adapt to the change in environment. I got a lot of teaching practice with their son while also broadening my horizon by learning Chinese! They treated me like family and I will never forget my experience with them and this program!

How can this program be improved?
It's already perfect!
Yes, I recommend
Harry
10/10

Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Moving to China and working as an au pair is not something to be taken lightly. You are moving to a new part of the world, immersing yourself in a foreign culture, and adopting a second family. If you can't speak Mandarin, there will likely be some problem with the language barrier, but the program's staff is very helpful and will aid in any conflicts between you and your host family. If you don't like rice or are vegan, you might be in the wrong country, but there are ways to work around this issue (mainly by cooking for yourself). One thing that you might be concerned about that was not an issue in China was the concern for personal safety. At most, you should be protective of your belongings against pickpockets, but this was never an issue for me, and I never felt in danger in China.
By leaving your comfort zone, you are able to immerse yourself and better understand a different part of the world. Things in China are very different from the west, but that is a good thing. The constant feeling of discomfort and slight anxiety can also help you grow as a person. My experience in the Wanderlust program was a fun one. Our cultural events included a calligraphy class and a martial arts lesson, both of which were very enjoyable. And if you think you might feel a little homesick of western society and interaction, I met a lot of westerners in my Chinese language classes, and we would always get lunch together after every class. I recommend the au pair program to anyone interested in it.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Chris
7/10

上海/绍兴 Experience

Au Pairing has helped me grow as a person. I believe it is very important to learn about other cultures that are different from your own and that's exactly what this program allows you to do. Staying with and being so close with a Chinese family has really opened my eyes in a very positive way. I felt very comfortable around my family and the bond you create with your family is very genuine. I also thought it was very rewarding to see my younger Chinese brother progress in English. I could see that he was understanding what I was teaching him each day. China is a terrific place and I cannot wait to come back soon.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Benjamin
7/10

In the middle of the Middle Kingdom

10 days from now I will be sitting on a plane. Again. I have been to China for almost 9 months now. Looking back, it doesn’t feel that long. Back then, when I made the decision to go to a completely different part of the world and challenge myself with one of the most difficult languages on earth. Well, it was both different and challenging for sure.
First of all the biggest issue is the language; if you are unable to use language to communicate it’s obviously tricky. Well, everyone who has been to a foreign country knows the struggle, you eventually get used to it. Learning Chinese is a bit more of a struggle than Spanish though. I have spent 9 months here while continously attending Chinese classes and I am OK with my Chinese. I am able to talk pretty fluenty, although not on every topic. I get what people are talking about, even though I am far from understanding every word. Reading and writing are the parts I struggle with most. I find the Chinese language quite interesting and it often makes use of logical concepts but their characters require lots and lots of practice and I have been a little lazy for that. But I am quite satisfied with my improvement over 9 months.
Apart from the language, then there are still the cultural differences. And China certainly has many aspects that Americans and Europeans are not used to and that extend beyond social etiquette differences. You might be too hungry to notice during your first week, because you havent figured out how to hold the two big toothpicks next to your plate in order to put food in your mouth. If the hunger is not keeping you up you all night you might want to take a nap on the floor, it’s about as comfortable as the bed. Because their mattresses feel like they are stuffed with wood pellets anyway, the only comfort you’d miss on the floor is the sandsack of a pillow you get to sleep on. I am not sure if it’s actually sand but that’s what it sounds and feels like. As one would say, it’s not an easy start, but pull yourself together, lift your sore back, ignore your growling stomach and get set to start your Chinese classes, things are going to get better!
I am staying in Baotou, a city in the north of China. The winters are cold and dry here, the summers are very hot. Baotou is a rather ordinary Chinese city, sometimes a little boring, however, not as crowded as the big cities though. People love taking pictures of foreigners here, which I could sort of understand because there are hardly any non-Chinese people here. It wasn’t until I had gone to Beijing that I realized it’s not a small city thing, they like to do that everywhere. So if you come to China, prepare to feel famous!
I have a great host family here in Baotou. They have been very welcoming and helpful all the time. But family here works different than I was used to. I grew up with 4 siblings and my parents took care of us. Here, me included, we are 5 adults taking care of 2 children and that’s not including the grandparents who are often strongly involved in childcare in China. Due to this constellation, children are often very overprotected and not independent. As soon as children start school, their whole focus is on academic education, which often causes a lack of simple behavioral means and personal interests. I don’t want to make this about the Chinese school system, I just want to point out that the educational system here works significantly different and it’s something to be aware of. Growing up I always believed that Chinese children are super disciplined, robot-like. Well, was I wrong! They are as crazy as we were as kids.
Now, I know better. I have seen the 3 main cities of China. I’ve lived in Baotou for nine months. Throughout my stay I have learned many things, as has my host family. I showed them Christmas and Easter for the first time in their life, I cooked them food they had never eaten before, I told them things about my country and what it’s like. And as I taught them, they taught me. They showed me holidays I had never heard of, they gave me food I had never tried or even seen before, they taught me what China is like. Of course, we also taught our languages to each other. My little Chinese friend (4 years) is making especially great progress, but it’s even better to see how his mother is filled with joy every time he says something new in English.
I want to be honest here, China is not my favorite country, there are certain things that I don’t like here. But there is a beauty in this country that is well worth experiencing. I certainly do not regret coming here. I want to point out for future visitors though that it is not an easy place to adapt to, especially in the long term. The one thing I do want to recommend, is to keep a really open mind here, you need it to properly get along with this country and to leave space to fall in love with it.

PS: For people who plan on staying in Beijing or Shanghai, some of my experiences might not apply, since these cities are far more international than the city I stayed in.

Yes, I recommend

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About Wanderlust Exchange

Wanderlust Exchange programs integrate educational travel, Mandarin learning, childcare and English tutoring together for overseas youngsters to experience China with an authentic touch by staying with Chinese host families.

We love culture exchange,...