Melissa Mercer - 2016 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I really wanted to gain more life experience, as I took a year off from university. I wanted to step out my comfort zone and experience a completely different culture, as well as learn a foreign language.

Why did you choose LoPair?

When I first decided that I wanted to go abroad I researched many different programs and agencies. I came across Lopair and after emailing back and forth with the agency I made the decision to go abroad in China. What made me choose this specific program was the great reviews and videos from previous au pairs who shared their great experiences.

Foreigners eating Chinese food in China
Enjoying Chinese food!

What was your favorite part about living in China?

My favorite part about living in China for six months was that the country is so big and has so much interesting history; there was always so much to do and see. Traveling around the country is also very convenient, you can take a high speed train, plane, or a bus anywhere. Making it easier to see the famous cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. Although I really liked seeing other cities in China, I am glad to have lived in Hangzhou. It is truly a beautiful city, and you really have the best of both worlds here; you have the city life as well as the mountains and countryside. My favorite thing about Hangzhou is the stunning Westlake. No matter how many times I went there, its beauty never dimmed. It was always bustling with life.

What made your experience of of life in China unique?

I think I definitely had the most unique experience apart from the other au pairs here in China, because my host family was very traditional. They weren't so into the modern lifestyle. They're devout buddhists and don't like the city life. Instead, they prefer to live in a small quiet village surrounded by mountains (which was beautiful to wake up to each morning). As much as it was difficult for me to adjust at first, as time went on we learned how to meet in the middle. I also had a close relationship with the grandma of my host family, which not many au pairs have. She even took me to her temple in Nanjing for a weekend; it was really amazing to experience such a thing. Living with this family really gave me a good impression of a typical traditional chinese life.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The staff at Lopair are amazing, I can't even stress that enough. I speak very highly of them because they all really work so hard and go above and beyond for everyone. If you ever have any issues at all, you can contact them at anytime and they will do their best to help as much as they can. The best part about this agency is that the staff feel more like your friends than anything else, so it makes it much more comfortable when speaking with them.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I would've tried to learn some more of the language before arriving here.

Tourist learning how to make traditional Chinese medicine
Learning how to make Chinese medicine

Describe what a typical day is like for you as an Au Pair in China.

Usually, I would get up, have eat breakfast with the family, and then while my host kid is in school, have free time. Then when she comes back home I teach her English through playing various activities. On Mondays and Thursdays, I have Chinese class, and then Fridays are my day off.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I usually will go out with my friends here in Hangzhou, maybe go to Westlake or just relax in a coffee shop.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

It was great! It felt just like home because my family really did their best to make sure I was comfortable. The best part was they really gave me my space.

What is one thing every participant should know before becoming an Au Pair in China?

You really should prepare yourself for the Chinese lifestyle, because it is completely different from the Western world. I think if you do not have an open mind, it will be hard for you to adjust to the life here.

How has your time abroad impacted your life at home?

I definitely look at things much differently. i have become much more opened-mind and gained more knowledge about the world. I also feel so much more grateful to live in Canada after seeing the poorer side of China.

Would you recommend LoPair’s Au Pair program to others? Why?

Yes, most definitely. I think it's a great once in a lifetime opportunity for a young person who wants to see more of the world and broaden their mind. If you want to come to China, I highly recommend this program.