Antonia graduated in 2018 and planned on spending a year abroad before attending University. She is currently an Au pair in Shanghai, China, which was made possible by Wanderlust Exchange.
Why did you choose this program?
Wanderlust Exchange are partners of my German Agency (Starexchange). Truth be told, it was just a lucky coincidence, but I do think that Wanderlust is the best Agency that focuses solely on China.
I really wanted to experience another culture as closely as possible and I really love children, therefore the Au pair Program was very appealing.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Since I also have a German Agency, I can't fully say how much they provide for people that participate solely over their website.
Wanderlust did provide me with all the necessary paperwork, helped to set up an insurance and, once I arrived, they helped me to get a phone card, as well as a transportation card.
They also provided a PDF with all the things that we might need for our journey. We had great orientation days where we got to know the culture better. And, of course, they answered any kind of question you might have.
We would have to organise getting a Chinese bank card by ourselves. Since it can be kinda difficult to get one, I just decided to use my visa card.
I also organzed my flight by myself (of course, I checked in with the agency before booking it), since we receive a flight stipend at the end of our stay.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Please don't underestimate the work that comes with being an Au Pair! If you don't really like spending much time with children and just want to spend a year abroad without doing much, this program is not for you. It can be very exhausting at times, but it is so rewarding. You really get to be a real member of your host family and it is an amazing experience!
If you think about doing it, you should DEFINITELY go for it though.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Well, each day is different for the participants. It all depends on schedule, age of the kids, and your classes.
Personally for me, if it's a class day, I usually wake up around 7:30 am to have breakfast with the family. My host kid is leaving for school around 8 am, which leaves me with 90 minutes before I have to leave for class. Usually I review in that time.
At 9:30 am, I head to class which is usually around 90 minutes long.
Afterwards, I hang out with a few friends until it's time to go home.
My host kid is usually back home around the same time as I am, and we do her homework, read her reading practice books together or play until dinnertime. Afterwards, she might practice piano or violin and we play some more.
I usually read her some books around 8 pm, while she eats her yogurt. At 8:30 pm, she heads to bed and I am free to do what I want.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was that my host kid would not like me or that I wouldn't get along with my host family. But that fear immediately disappeared as soon as I met them! I got treated like a member of the family from the first moment and we have an amazing relationship.
My host child was very shy at first, but she opened up very quickly and now we're inseparable.
What is your favorite Moment of your stay?
Honestly, I have too many of them.
From visiting various cities in China, to just singing Karaoke with my host family, going to Disney or baking with them, each experience is amazing! I feel this entire year is like a dream come true.
I got to experience SO many amazing things, visited many cities (Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing to name a few) and had an AMAZING trip to Guilin with a friend that I made here. I can honestly say that this year has been the best year of my life, even though it had some tiny bumps during the ride.
My host family is very dear to me and I can't thank them enough.
I have to say, this year changed me a lot as a person, it made me more open and definitely more spontaneous. I'm also very grateful to all the amazing friends I made here.