Alumni Spotlight: Sara Marzo


Sara is a 25-year-old Italian girl with a big passion for foreign languages.

Why did you choose this program?

After graduating from university I felt stuck in life and unsure about my future. All I knew was I wanted to travel to new places, so I signed up on a couple au-pairing sites and when Sarah (Edu-Pal China's Co-founder) emailed me about the program it just sounded like too great an opportunity to pass up!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The EPC staff assisted me with pretty much everything. They helped me find a flight to China and organised my flight back home, ensured my visa process ran smoothly and took care of my accommodation until I was able move into my host family's house. They also send a list of useful tips and items (e.g. a good VPN, an adapter, apps to download etc.) to every new EduPal.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Of course I'd recommend everyone to keep an open mind throughout the whole experience. Whether you're already interested in Chinese culture or know absolutely nothing about it, I can assure you this program can turn out to be one of the best experiences of your life if you have the right mindset.

Another piece of advice I'd give people who are considering becoming and Edu-Pal, is to not give up on host family too soon. I won't lie, communication won't be easy at first (especially if they don't speak English), but if you make a genuine effort you will really be treated and cared for like a family member and it will be so rewarding.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

It really depends on the age of your little brother/sister, but you'll usually have the morning to yourself while they're at school, then spend the afternoon helping them with homework or teaching them until dinner time (EPC will provide you with lots of materials, books an topics for every level). During summer vacation you'll naturally spend more time with the children, but a lot of families will travel or plan many fun activities, so you'll never be bored (and you still have your full day off and break hours to rest and relax).

Twice a week you'll go to the EPC office for your Mandarin classes and the weekly meeting. On top of that, the staff organises fun and interesting cultural every two weeks.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was definitely nervous about the language barrier. Moving all alone to a new country on the other side of the world for 6 months, and not even speaking a word of the local language can be very scary. I won't lie and say it was easy from the get-go, but it absolutely wasn't as big an obstacle as I made it out to be. The EPC was always incredibly supportive and available to help with any inconvenience we encountered (like setting a Taobao account or topping off our WeChat balance, two extremely important things when living in China) and the teachers were honestly fantastic and made us able to independently navigate daily life in Mandarin in a matter of weeks. Just make sure you download a good offline translator app!

Thinking back to my experience, there really isn't much I would have done differently. If you're still on the fence (and are sure you like and get along well with children 😅) just go for it, you won't regret it!