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Wanderlust Exchange

About

Wanderlust Exchange combines travel with educational exchange opportunities through several programs where participants have the opportunity to learn Mandarin, teach English as an au pair, volunteer with children, act as a cultural ambassador, or even coach tennis. Each of our programs encourages cultural immersion and exchange by giving participants the chance to experience China firsthand.

Wanderlust Exchange provide students with quality, authentic cultural experiences with an aim to bridge cultural divides. Our programs encourage participants to develop the self-awareness and cross-cultural competencies necessary to be active global citizens.

Wanderlust Exchange is a member of International Au Pair Association (IAPA), a global not-for-profit organization, and a member of WYSE Travel Confederation, the only global not-for-profit membership organization representing the entire youth, student and educational travel industry.

Founded
2014
Headquarters

No. 550, East Yan'an Road
Huangpu Qu
Shanghai Shi, 200002
China

Surprise Host Family – Are you ready for your once in a lifetime experience in China?!

This summer, Wanderlust Exchange is launching a new type of Au Pair experience for recent graduates who are adventurous and looking for an off the beaten path experience! The “Surprise Host Family Program” will select three audacious Au Pair applicants who would like to spend 8-12 weeks in China working as an Au Pair in an undisclosed city until just before they depart!

Your round trip flights will be covered!

Reviews

Default avatar
Austin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I definitely suggest this trip to anybody with an interest in foreign languages and foreign cultures, anybody who is looking for a change in scenery and of their daily life, and really just anybody who has the time. Through this experience I was able to greatly improve on my Chinese language abilities both in provided classes and at home with the families, I was able to see amazing sites like those on the top of the Huangshan Mountain, I was able to eat some really tasty and some really weird food (not mutually exclusive), and I got to meet some amazing people that I’ll be proud to call my friends in the future. I do think knowing a bit of Chinese before you come here is definitely a foot in the door for more fun experiences, conversations, and meaningful connections, lots of people do come here without much familiarity with it, so that’s fine too. This has been a crazy, amazing experience and I’m so glad I did it. I’m sure I’ll be telling people about it for the rest of my life.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of the greatest things I did during this trip was go to Huangshan with my second family for Guoqingjie. Not only did I get to see some of the most beautiful views of my life while climbing around on Huangshan, I was also able to spend the large majority of the week with the mom’s friends and family who are from there. We had lots of good times together and I really felt like part of the family.
Default avatar
Ximena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Not only you get to experience a new culture through staying with a true chinese family, but you get to make new friends and explore the city. I stayed for 3 months in Beijing and it was truly a life changing experience. Wanderlust was really helpful at all times, since i applied to this program until the moment i left China. I got to live with the sweetest family that was always trying to do their best to make me feel at home. I tried chinese food, i got to go to a lot of cool places, hang out with my friends from all over the world, and i expanded my horizons. I got to learn mandarin since you also get to go to school !! Overall, the greatest experience of my life until now, thank you Wanderlust Exchange, for allowing me to do this after i finished high school.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Staying in another city, not because Beijing wasn’t great, but to explore more of China
Default avatar
Austin
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I’m really glad that I decided to take this semester off from college and come to live in China for 6 months. The company does a great job at making sure you get a family that you can be happy and comfortable with, both of my families turning out great. Didn’t experience any real difficulties while here. I’m happy that I was able to improve my Chinese ability both in the classes provided, and at home with the families. I ate tons of great food and tried some stuff I never thought I would. I’ll definitely miss some of the everyday meals I had here. The connections that I made with people on this trip really is the best part; the experience wouldn’t be the same without the company of all the family and friends. I think that knowing a good amount of Chinese definitely can make the experience a lot more interesting and fruitful, but many people come without knowing Chinese so it’s no problem. Truly a great experience, one I’m sure I’ll be sharing with people for the rest of my life. I’m very sad that I’ll be leaving soon, and I hope that I’m able to come back to China in the future and meet up with old friends.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
One of the greatest things that I was able to experience while on this trip was a week-long vacation with my second family to Huangshan Mountain for China’s National Day. Not only did we climb the beautiful mountain and take some amazing photos, I got to meet many of the mother’s friends and family members, as well as celebrate some birthdays, and stay in the mom’s old home. One of the great things about China is that it’s so vast and that you’ll never get to explore all the different customs and foods and beautiful sights. The culture is everywhere!
Default avatar
Luisa
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

At first I was worried about how serious this organization is because instead of charging me fees like other aupair agencies around the world they would even give me money for the visa fees. But now I can assure you that this organization and program is not shady at all instead I recieved good support and got placed in a very lovely host family.
Even though they live in a rather small city. I got to see Beijing and Shanghai as well. I also got to attend online classes with a one on one teacher which I thought was very effective.
Whenever I had questions about anything the agents from wanderlust aupair would reply to me very fast (never longer than one day).
Overall I can say that I had a great experience while living 3 months in a chinese family. I made many unforgettable experiences and it was definitely worth it.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I got to try an enormous amount of fruits I haven't had before and vegetables too but besides that I tried some nice snacks with seaweed or food and other than that I tried wierd (well at least I think its wierd) things like ducks tounge chicken legs or cows stomach.
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Hi Luisa,

Thanks very much for sharing your aupairing experience in China with us and it’s very nice to hear from you here as well.

We are glad that you found our team supportive and enjoyed your stay in China. And it’s also good to know that you found online Chinese classes helpful.

It’s such a pleasure to meet you and have you with us for three months.

We wish you all the best to your future adventure.

Wanderlust Exchange

Read my full story
Default avatar
Eva
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was looking for an Au Pair job for the summer before my enrolling at University and was deciding between a family in Geneva and a family that was introduced to me by a different Au Pair agency. Then I was, fortunately, contacted by one of the workers from Wanderlust, and within 2 days, they found me the best family I could have ever wished for. As opposed to the other Chinese family and the other agency, Wanderlust and this family were very open-minded, talkative, sympathetic and kind so that I decided for them right on the spot. Wanderlust provided me with assistance every step of the way - gathering all kinds of documents - which was much appreciated since I have not yet traveled outside of Europe and, therefore, never needed a visa.
I was to teach English to a 7-year-old girl and I have to say that the start was a bit rocky because we didn't understand each other's languages at all... But now, after more than a month, she can speak in full sentences and has a truly vast vocabulary, especially of food and animals - we are all so proud of her!
I, on the other hand, am having difficulties speaking Chinese because of its tones but I like it very much! Although Tianjin is a big city, the program there does not have Chinese teachers experienced enough, so I needed to take Skype lessons via Mandarin house while also having lessons with my lovely coordinator and, occasionally, with the family members which was a lot of fun.
I learned how to make Chinese potstickers and dumplings (my new favorite food) and also attended calligraphy lessons - a truly wonderful experience. I visited many amazing places with my family (Beijing Picasso exhibition, The Great Wall) or with my coordinator (Binhai Library and other Tianjin sights). There was always a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and for that, I am very grateful.
I hope that it's obvious how excited this stay has made me, I could go on forever talking about every little detail... But I will not because I would like you to try and go to China with this agency so that you can experience it on your own. It is truly worth it.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would try to learn some Chinese before I went to China.
People all around me were trying to speak English with me from the very beginning and I couldn't meet them halfway with some Chinese phrases.
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Eva,

Nice to hear from you here and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

We are so delighted to know that you have been enjoying your stay in China and we also feel proud of you that you have helped the host little girl make a such great progress in her English learning!

It is happy to know that you enjoy learning Chinese though find it difficult. We believe you can improve your Chinese through this journey as well 😊

It is amazing that you have already got involved in so many great cultural activities and such a pleasure that you found our team supportive.

We hope you enjoy your stay in China as always and wish you all the best in your future adventure.

Wanderlust Exchange

Jobs

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Luisa Kern

This is Luisa. After she graduated from her high school in Germany, she came to China to stay with a host family as an aupair for 3 months.

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.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Ginger Liu

Job Title
Program Manager
Ginger Liu has two years of experience of teaching Mandarin at an elementary school in the U.S.A. During that time, she had the precious chance of living with two local host families.

Ginger Liu has been working for Wanderlust since the beginning of December 2019.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Florida is the first place pumping into my mind when I saw this question.

I spent two years living and teaching in the United States and one of my favorite travel memories was the self-driving tour I had with my friends during the Christmas holiday in 2017. The first stop in Florida was Orlando after which was Miami and then all the way down to the Key West. I enjoyed the view, food, and architecture a lot!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have definitely grown a lot from my experience working for Wanderlust Exchange!

Firstly, I have been better at time management when it comes to multiple tasks.

Secondly, my sense of being a global citizenship has grown by working with aupairs and volunteers from various countries, which requires respecting and understanding different cultures.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I would like to share one of the best stories I have heard from two of the previous volunteers about what a good time they have had at Shanghai Baby Home as participants of our Volunteer in Shanghai Orphanage Program.

They have built strong connections with three disabled children they were assigned to accompany by teaching English and playing activities with them. The preconceived language barrier they might have with the orphanage staff turned out to be solved as all of them really worked as a team or even family.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I guess I personally would choose the Au Pair China Program through which I would get the chance to immerse myself in a foreign culture by learning its language, living with a local host family and interacting with the host children. I believe it’s inspiring and rewarding to see a child improving his or her English or other second languages through my company. Besides, I am really interested in seeing a different lifestyle and engaging myself as a family member to push myself out of my comfort zone.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Well, to some extent, the programs we have been working on partially make our company unique given that the whole “Au Pair” thing is springing up, but not that well known yet, and we aim to help with bridging the culture gap between China and other countries in forms of home-stay English teaching and volunteering programs.

I feel especially proud of my team every time I see how much our participants enjoy the cultural activities prepared and held by Wanderlust!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

From my point of view, I always believe that great teamwork is an indispensable part of a company being successful. A company will be benefited a lot from the inspirations, creativity and effective solutions arising from its team. A supportive, target-orientated team can be of huge help with the company's success.

More Interviews

Professional Associations

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