I started out as an au pair with the intention of living in places such as Italy, Australia, etc. in order to broaden my horizons. When Sarah from Edu-Pal China reached out to me to join the program, I decided why not? I hadn't been to China before, knew nothing of its culture or the language that is spoken there, it would be an adventure! When I told my friends and family I was going to China, they were all extremely hesitant, telling me to be careful, that I wouldn't like the everyday life there, but it was just more reasons I wanted to go, to immerse myself in a place I wasn't comfortable in. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
From the moment I agreed to join Edu-Pals until even today (long after I left the program), I have had endless support from those working at the company, making sure that I settled into my host family well, that I was adjusting to the culture shock (yes, there are a lot of things that the Chinese do differently than western cultures, but I was never forced to do anything I didn't want to do, which made it more enjoyable to see the differences). As someone who has worked as an au pair in other countries, one of my favorite things about this program is its emphasis on the exchanging of cultures. Not only are there events that you and your family participate in learning about other countries as you teach English to your host kids, you also have access to Mandarin classes and events that help you become immersed in China's rich culture. In the nine months I was with the program (I was originally supposed to be there for just six months, but I extended my stay and would have stayed longer if not for a previous commitment), the other Edu-Pals and I participated in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, learned how to dance in Hanfu, made various dishes and traveled to Chaozhou and Guilin, to name a few! You also have time to go do some exploring on your own, I was able to do some day trips to Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong with some of my friends!
The best part about this program though is the people I met. I will forever be grateful to my host family for taking me in and showing me their home country, to my host sisters who we've created a special bond, the members of Edu-Pal who still keep in contact with me (answering all my Mandarin questions I have, checking in on me), and the other Edu-Pals who I have only met a few months ago, but feel like I have known them for a lifetime. Edu-Pal China has given me lifelong friendships with crazy stories from China to reminisce about when we visit each other in each of our own little corner of the world, and I know they will give you the same opportunity as well. I highly recommend Edu-Pal China, I myself can't wait to go back and visit!