Alumni Spotlight: Aleinik Kseniia


Kseniia (22 y.o.) is from Russia. In 2019 she participated in a сulture exchange program (China, Shenzhen) with Edu-Pal China for 3 months.

Why did you choose this program?

In the fall of 2018, I caught myself thinking about how much I wanted to visit China one day. But back then, I was in my third year of the university, so I had to come up with an idea of how to get there on a budget but still see China in its full glory and have a great time. My friends told me about the program called Au Pair China. After learning more about it, I realized this was what I needed. My love for children plus my curiosity about Chinese culture are equal Here was I in the middle of Shenzhen airport waiting (impatiently and excited) for my host family and agent to pick me up.

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

Wow, come to think of it, Edu-Pal China did an incredibly great job back then. First of all, the program agent quickly found me a lovely host family (btw, I still keep in touch with them, which is incredible to me) and set an interview with them. After that, the agent sent me the required documents for the visa. Ofc, I applied for the visa myself. I also bought the one-way plane ticket myself, but the return ticket was provided by the agency. After arriving in China, together with the host family, my lovely agent picked me up at the airport. The agency also helped me to get my metro and SIM cards. About the educational process: there was a mentor who gave us tips on how to teach English to Chinese-speaking kids and how to make the entire process more entertaining and fruitful. We did demo classes with her and discussed it all together. But ofc, when we came back to our host families we were to plan our days with the kids ourselves in a way so they could learn as much as possible from us. The agency also organized Mandarin classes and short and long-distance trips for us. If we had any miscommunications with our host families, Edu-Pal China came to help anytime. If we had any problems with adaptation to a new country (health or homesick problems), Edu-Pal China came to help anytime. I am eternally grateful for all of the above. I now understand that thanks to Edu-Pal China, I had no worries or troubles.

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

First of all, if you are going to become au pair, make sure you really love children and are ready to discover a whole new world with them. This is really important, cause I know some guys who went to this program without having any idea about how to work with kids and it was very difficult for them to get along with them. Also, it may be helpful to bring along any medications that you use on a regular or non-regular basis. Since I personally had a little problem with it. Fortunately, it wasn't serious. And maybe the most important piece of advice... at first, life in a different country, with different people, might seem very difficult and sometimes unbearable. It's kind of a culture shock. I can relate to it totally, as I have been through it myself. Therefore, it is worth being mentally prepared for this. This may last a couple of weeks. But here comes good news~! After a couple of weeks, there is a 180-degree turn in your wonderful trip and you are gonna enjoy every single minute of it from then on.

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

It depended on the schedule of a particular family and the season of the year. But in general, my week looked like this. One day of the week was my day off (I don't remember what day was, but I could do or go wherever I wanted). During the workweek, while kids were at school (till around 4 pm), we had Mandarin classes, cultural activities or trips with the agency, or just a bit of spare time. But after the kids got home (i whether picked them up or not), we spent all our time together till they went to bed. We could have an English, a science, or an art class or just go out with our family and so on. The whole weekend I usually spent with the host family, but sometimes during the evenings, I had spare time. As I've said, it all depends on the particular family's schedule, but in general, we had a fixed amount of time (so-called quality hours) we were to spend with our kids per week.

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

Since I am not a native English speaker, I was afraid that many people would not understand me and that there would be a language barrier. At first, my brain really refused to think in English, but it took quite a bit of time and I got used to it. My mates from America, England, Denmark, Italy, and Scotland participated in the program with me as well, and we communicated easily. The problem solved itself. And I even improved my spoken English. I was also worried that the family would not accept me or the children would not love me. But again, the problem solved itself as soon as I crossed the threshold of their house. We had a very warm relationship with my family. And the children called me 姐姐 ~~

Write and answer your own question.

I've already shared many things with you. But in case, you still doubt whether to participate in this program or not, let me say a few more words. Let's start in reverse order. Just so you understand, I have already graduated from university majoring in Translation and Interpretation and now i am working with children (shocking news!) again but here in Russia for now. I can't imagine my life without two things: English and kids. Oh, wait! Three things. English, kids, and China! Everyone around associates me with Asia, no matter what I say. That's how much of an impact this trip had on me. During this trip, I found new friends from different parts of the world, really fell in love with China, its culture, people, food, gained a HUGE experience, lit up with new ideas and plans for life, and met my family, with whom I keep in touch even after a year and a half. I cannot describe how much I am grateful for this trip and how much I cherish all those pleasant and not really moments in my memory (not me shedding tears over and over again while writing this review haha). Of course, I'm going to come back to China as soon as I get the chance. So I hope to meet you guys over there! ~~ Hopefully, my story is useful and you've made the right decision for yourself.