Rebecca Fortuin - 2014 Program Participant
What was the number one reason you decided to become an Au Pair abroad?
I believe learning a language is much more effective in its native country as you have the opportunity to practice in everyday life with native speakers. It's experience that cannot be replicated in a classroom.
What about LoPair’s programs led you to apply?
I liked how the program was presented as a shared experienced between you and your host family. It wasn't solely focused on the interests of one party, but valued both sides equally. To me it seemed like a chance to experience the “real” China, and not from the viewpoint as a tourist or student.
What made working as an AuPair in China interesting?
Definitely the cultural difference. Chinese culture is so different from Western culture that everyday becomes a new adventure; my first trip to a Chinese swimming pool was quite the experience. It was fascinating discovering how often the two viewpoints differed, and sometimes surprising with the similarities.
What do future au pairs in China need to know before they go?
Be open-minded. It's a different country, a different culture, a different world, and if you're a visitor there you need to respect that. If you don't jump right in and embrace the changes you're going to miss out on so many fun and unique opportunities that you'll definitely regret when you return home.
What was your favorite part about being an au pair in China?
What made the trip for me was the people. I met so many amazing people in China both through the program and outside of it. The staff were friendly and supportive, and always made me feel welcome in their country. My Mandarin teacher also became my closest friend out there and helped me out so much it made it very hard to leave.
Is there anything you wish you would have done differently in China?
I really wish I could have started the program with the confidence I had when I completed it. It took me a while to find my feet in China, and though I had so many great experiences, I would have loved to have had more.
Describe a day in the life of an au pair in China.
My typical day would start at six, so that I could get showered and dressed before having breakfast with my host brother. I'd walk him to his bus at seven and be free until half three when I would pick him up. If I didn't have Mandarin class, I would normally meet up with other Au Pairs, or friends I had made in the city and just explore Hangzhou. Sometimes I would even go to the gym with my host Mum. Once I picked my host brother up, we would study before dinner, then we would play and read. After he went to bed I would study with my host sister until she went to bed at nine. I would end my day by emailing my family and friends back home before going to bed myself.
My work with my host sister.
Did you experience culture shock when you arrived in China?
I struggled a bit with the different approach to parenting. At first I found it shocking and upsetting because it was something so alien to me. However, when I took a step back I realized that though it wouldn't work for me, it worked for my host family. Neither of our approaches was right or wrong they were just different. When I came to terms with that I found my trip became a lot smoother.
How has your experience as an au pair in China impacted your life?
I'm a lot more confident now than I was before the trip, and it's helped me push myself further with my goals. It's also made me curious about other cultures, and I can't wait to explore somewhere new.