Why did you choose this program?
I knew that, after I graduate from high school, I will need a gap year to try to and figure out what I want to do later.
I've always been wanting to become an Aupair, but never really wanted to commit to something for an entire year. So ever since I found out that it's also possible to become an Aupair for shorter than a year, I started looking for host families, and in the end, it was the host family that found me.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Before I came to China, my organization helped me a lot with the organization of my Visa and communicating with my host family.
I had to book the flights by myself, but that wasn't a problem. Other than that, whatever it was that I was struggling with, I could always ask my organization for help and they provided it for me.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Well, being well organized always helps to reduce the number of stressful situations. Something I always tell myself is to keep all the important documents in a folder so, whenever anyone requests them from me, I'll be able to share them.
Other than that, there is nothing really I didn't know ahead of time that made me feel like I would have liked to know. Of course, I didn't know the culture and so it came to be a little bit of a shock as I arrived, but I didn't expect it not to be a little bit shocking (because of the major differences).
My advice is to always be open-minded and willing to try new things. Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to so many great experiences.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
During summer vacation, I usually would wake up in the morning around 9 am and then have breakfast with the family together. Then we'd either be going to see things around the city with the family and kids or the parents would go to work and I spend the time with the kids until the parents get back home. I never had to cook nor clean anything, though I did it anyway, sometimes as for me, it is normal to do such things when you're a part of the family.
My language classes, I mostly had online, so I could choose the time by myself which was very nice.
In the evening, we would have dinner together and then either go outside to the park to dance or just stay home and play.
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 not being able to communicate. I was scared that the English of my host family wasn't as good as I expected it to be.
As I arrived in the family, I had to take notice that the host mum doesn't speak English at all. Even though she didn't take actual lessons, she improved her English very much. We even had normal conversations towards the end of my stay. If we couldn't communicate something, then there always was the translator app on our phone which we, in the beginning, used quite a lot. But overall, the English of all family members improved a lot during my stay. But for that to happen, it's always important to communicate a lot.
What do you have to prepare for in China?
Weird things that might happen to you during your stay in China.
I've noticed very quickly that people staring at me would be normal for the time I'm in China (I have blonde hair, blue eyes and 169cm tall).
I've got to see Shanghai, Beijing, some smaller cities and even places in the countryside. Having strangers coming up to me and wanting to take pictures or taking pictures without asking became normal. Also, people starting talking to me or yelling HELLO was not very rare. Many young students would come up and ask me where I'm from and for them, you could tell that it was very exciting talking to a foreigner.
As for me, I was happy to see them excited.