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Wanderlust Exchange


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.


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

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!


Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed my stay in China. I was placed with a wonderful family and we did a lot of things together. I would definitely come back again and work through Wanderlust Au Pair agency. I had the best time in China and I got a lot of opportunities as well. Wanderlust Au pair supported me throughout my stay in China. My host mom could speak very good English. We lived in a small city few hours away from Beijing. It was a great experience. We went to visit Shanghai and a lot of other cities in China.

Yes, I recommend this program

Ever since my student exchange to Shanghai I've wanted to revisit the city and this program has made this dream possible.
I've stayed in Shanghai with my host family for roughly seven months so far and I'll stay another five. I'm glad everything worked out so well and that the staff is so welcoming. Whenever I needed help (for example when I had my Visa renewal in South Korea) they were very helpful and the monthly activities they organize are fun and help you connect with other AuPairs.
I originally signed up with a different AuPair Agency, however, seeing as I wanted to go to Shanghai they recommended me this one as a trusted partner program. They were very nice in the original interview and were able to connect me with two host families in roughly one to two weeks.
After choosing my family they helped me with the Visa application and registration at the Manadrin school, which was a great relief.
During my stay they ususally came back to "problems" in a day or less,t hough I myself didn't really experience any problems. I have herad from other AuPairs though that they were rather helpful.
My work is fun too and get along with my host family. The Mandarin school is excellent too and I personally didn't experience any problems with the program.
10/10 would do again.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would probably choose Beijing instead of SHanghai, simply because I'd love to see more of China and while I have holidays, I'm waaaay too bad at organizing trips.
Yes, I recommend this program

For me coming to china was a way to push myself to grow and at the same time experience new things. I had heard about au pair programs before but most were too long where the shortest time is a year and cost very much. When i found out you could do a 3 month program without making a big dent in you wallet. I felt like this program was for me, where i can dip my toes in and experience being an au pair. I had some interest in asian culture before coming to china. So getting to live with an chinese family and learning more about the every day life in china and tasting authentic chinese food was something very new and interesting. Having mandarin classes and learning a bit chinese is just one more thing that made the program fun and worthwhile.

During my program I had to change families. But wanderlust was very fast and efficient in helping me transfer. Even though moving families was not something easy to handle. I’m very happy and thankful for meeting my second host family. They were the kindest souls and the children were so beautiful and nice. Wanderlust checking in made me feel reassured and having a contact person there made me feel that i’m never alone.

From my application process to coming to china and settling in with the family, wanderlust has always been there every step of the way. They help you with anything big or small. Whether it is communicating about any misunderstanding with the family or advice on places you can visit. They truly help to make the experience great.

What would you improve about this program?
There is nothing i would change about it, just perhaps the monthly allowances should be a bit more.
Yes, I recommend this program

I decided to leave for China just after high school but I didn't just want to visit, I wanted to experience the culture. Thanks to Wanderlust, I was able to get help to go to China and to live in a Chinese family and experience China and its culture, its customs, its people, its food, first-hand, with support whenever needed and a safe, welcoming environment where you feel happy and purposeful. They allowed me to live 6 months in China, comfortably, and discover it fully. I also made friends for life and got to know a family who has become like a second family for me ! Overall, it was the best way to experience a new country, without being scared to be lost, because you get help all along the way :) Thanks, Wanderlust, I'll never forget my experience !

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you're gonna spend time in China with Wanderlust, be ready and open minded to experiencing new things ! China is really different, but it's so worth it. You'll make friends, you'll go places you didn't think existed and you'll eat things you've never heard of ! And that's the fun of it, be ready and you'll be fine and have fun :)
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.



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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.

Staff Interviews

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

Lilian Liu

Job Title
Project Coordinator
Lilian was born and raised in Shanghai, then studied in the UK and Australia. She moved to Sydney for work and decided to come back to Shanghai in 2018.

She started a small art classroom in Shanghai in August 2018, and because of her passion for international cultural exchange, she joined Wanderlust Exchange as a part-time project coordinator and starting to help running the company's Au Pair program in China.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My best travel memory would be to the small town in Germany named Regensburg. When we got there, it was their festival season; every shop is closed, and we saw people in traditional costumes celebrating on the streets.

We sat in front of the local church just to see how the sun moved on the church and cast beautiful shadows on the street. We felt so peaceful and joyous.

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

This job really gives me a chance to get to know people from every corner of the world. I met people from Northern European countries as well as South America. Not only I get to share with them my cultures and heritages, but I also get to know their distinctive cultures and lifestyles when communicating with them. I made friends with some of our au pairs and volunteers, which I think it will be a life long friendship.

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

Yes, we actually have many positive feedbacks from our au pairs and volunteers. One of the best stories I've heard is between our au pair in Ningbo and her host family.

They had such a great bonding that the kids really saw her as a close big sister and they wanted to be with her all the time, even wanted to sleep together with her. By the time she had to leave, both the au pair and the family were very emotional, but they still keep in touch with each other from time to time. This could be something that lasts for a lifetime for both the au pair and the family. Not to mention that the au pair's Chinese language skills also improved quite a lot during the program.

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

I would definitely choose to be an au pair. Because this will give you the most authentic experience of what it's like living in China. For those who are interested in learning the Chinese language as well as the cultures, it will offer you a lot more than you can imagine. You get to see and experience so many things that you will not experience if you just come here as a student and live on campus.

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

Our company is unique because of the fact that we put great effort in enhancing the experience of both our au pair program candidates and family candidates. We will provide service throughout the entire process and until the au pair leaves the family. We try to make each and every candidate feel they are taken care of and their needs will be attended to.

I was especially proud of seeing the growth of our team. We are a small but close-knit team. We share the same values and goals, and we also share a lot of common interests, which makes the work much more enjoyable. We have sharing sessions each week to share and discuss different interesting topics. We truly care for each other and aim to bring out the best outcome in our work.

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

I think passion is really important so that the team can really have the motivation to keep improving and keep growing. Also, sharing the same values and goals is equally important so that you can truly work as a team and try to think about what will be the best for the team and the company. Wanderlust Exchange has both qualities, so I believe we are on our way to be successful.

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