Why did you choose this program?
Having had 3 months off my regular job, I wanted to spend this time undergoing a new challenge in a place completely foreign to me.
With studying abroad being so expensive, and not having enough time to start a full time work contract, I stumbled upon Wanderlust Exchange and its Au-Pair program. It looked like exactly what I wanted. It was, and more.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Wanderlust exchange were with me every step of the way. From the initial interview and contract signing, right up until making sure I got to the airport safely for my return flight. Thanks to their help, I never felt like I couldn't overcome any problem that I might have had.
I received a detailed departure guide, which listed all the things I needed to do before moving to China (how much money to bring, apps to download, etc).
Additionally, the visa process was made much easier with their help. In my case, I had to apply for the China visa twice (in New Zealand and Hong Kong) and the Wanderlust stuff were available at any time to give advice and provide me with any required documentation.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say that going overseas (in my case, China) with an open mind might be the most important thing. The culture in another country can be very different and the things we do/take for granted everyday may not be the norm. This is NOT a bad thing. Embrace it and enjoy a new outlook on life. Whenever I saw something that I thought was really foreign to me, instead of thinking "oh that's weird", I tried to think " oh, that's cool and different". I think that way of thinking really helped me to enjoy my time more.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
My schedule was very comfortable. The family I stayed with had two boys, aged 4 and 7. Both went to a Kindergarten school from Monday to Friday. Because of this, on weekdays I was basically free until 3 or 4 pm everyday!
I could use this time to go to Mandarin class, hang out with friends or watch movies at home! At night, I would eat dinner with the family, play with the kids and do any reading or homework that they had been assigned from school. At about 8:30, they would go to bed and I would be free again until 3 or 4 pm the next day.
Weekends were a little more full on, but very exciting! I would usually be with the kids from morning until night, but I was always free to go and take a couple of hours rest in the afternoon. On top of that, we would often go out as a family on Saturdays and Sundays. Go kart racing, space exhibitions, and the zoo were just a few of the great experiences I shared with the family on weekends!
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Going to China, I was a little concerned about the language barrier. Not speaking any Mandarin, I was worried about what I would do if I got stuck in the middle of nowhere unable to communicate with anyone!
Of course, this never happened and I realized that, in Shanghai (where I lived), English is widely spoken and I never had any problems. On top of that, anytime I had to do something which required Chinese, my host family and/or Wanderlust Exchange were there to help me.
Are there opportunities to travel with your host family?
YES. This is something I'd like to share. During my short stay in China (which coincided with the Chinese New Year Holiday Period), the family booked a 2 week holiday to Africa! I was extremely lucky and was also invited to go. A 2 week safari in Africa is something that I definitely didn't expect when applying to go to China as an Au-Pair. But what an experience! It just goes to show that, when you put yourself out there and try something new the possibilities, are endless! Give it a go!