LoPair Au Pair China Program
LoPair Au Pair China Program Programs
What better way to hone your Mandarin, acquire hands-on work experience, and experience a new culture than this unique opportunity. Join LoPair Au Pair China, the 2017 IAPA...
Hoping to experience life in China? Work with LoPair Au Pair China, the winner of the 2017 IAPA Au Pair of the Year! We offer an opportunity that helps you enjoy an action-packed...
Nǐ hǎo! Grab this chance to experience Chinese culture and family life with the help of LoPair Au Pair China, the only award-winning au pair agency in the country! For...
Sign up for this award-winning cultural exchange program offered by LoPair! Hailed the 2017 IAPA Au Pair of the Year Award Winner, it gives you lifetime experiences in one...
LoPair Au Pair China Program Reviews
Submitted by Emma - Algonquin College | July 20, 2018
In the beginning, I was excited about my opportunity to study abroad and be an aupair. As we got further into the process of paperwork, I had no issue with it and Lopair was very helpful in getting me what I needed and answering all my questions. I usually am a nervous person so asking for help is a difficult for me, however the staff was very approachable, which made the pre-departure less stressful.
However, when it was time to apply for the visa I become confused about lying to get the visa. It made me feel uncomfortable to be dishonest and I was afraid of messing up. Getting a fake itinerary and flight sheet made everything a bit stressful because I was unable to check in, online (as I would usually). This with the fact it would be the first time going abroad by myself, much less for 3 months, half way around the world.
Orientation was well planned, but the information wasn't anything that we hadn't heard from the webinar or from researching culture differences. The implementation and discussion of activities was very beneficial, however, apart from that I didn't find the presentations helpful for preparing aupairs for living with families. I did like how they stressed they would be there the whole way there and cooridinators will help you when you half difficulties.
I am almost half way through my 3 month stay and have enjoyed all of the experiences thus far.
There are many opportunities to connect with other aupairs, during orientation, within your district of where you are placed, in your class and new arrival aupairs.
I found that orientation is more suited as a building a network of friends, to support you as you share your experiences with each other. This is great because other aupairs can sympathize and understand what your going through, because they are having a similar experience, themselves.
That being said it can be difficult at first to adjust to life here in China with your host family, as the children are probably used to people coming and exiting their lives. Resistance is natural, and can take a while for the child to warm up to you. The process is tiring, but rewarding.
I have made lifelong friends during this trip and plan to keep in contact with some even after this is over. The new experiences the good and the bad have prepared me for future encounters with working with families.
The cultural trips are a great way to meet new people and I met fantastic fellow aupairs at Jing Shan Park.
Also using "off" days to explore nearby cities such as Wang Fu Jing are great to do in pairs. I went with a friend and we spent the day just looking at all the different things offered. I even got lucky with a scratch card and got a huge discount of a necklace. That being said Wang Fu Jing can be expensive so spend wisely! However, the upside is you can barter some of the prices down in some stores which can be helpful when you are looking for gifts for friends and family.
Overall, I'm glad I came to experience all of this. It has been a journey thus far, and will continue to be. I can't wait to see what else I'll experience next. It has been a lot of firsts for me, and I hope to continue experiencing the vast culture and language throughout the rest of my stay.
Summer Educare Programme, Beijing
Submitted by Jowita - University of Glasgow | July 17, 2018
This is my second time back being an Aupair with Lopair and this year has definitely gone down much smoother.
Last year I had completed the 3 moth programme, with a few hiccups. I was located in hangzhou and my host family was great for the most part but I did have to share a room and my hot kids were far from a dream at the start. It took a long time before they would stop hitting me and throwing tantrums, but despite that I chose to stay with the family. My host mum was very sympathetic and nice about any incidents and so were Lopair, they had suggested for me to relocate a couple of times but as I was there on scholarship I wanted to persevere.
I paid off as I am still in touch with them and the friends I made there now.
I decided to come back this summer for a shorter period of time with a different family. this time in Beijing. It has been a completely different experience. My entire host family including the kids have been lovely. I've had very few issues and have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. My days have been very scheduled which means there is very little room for miscommunication.
The staff at Lopair have been very friendly and helpful when i needed them to help me with hospital visits, visa, travel and family issues.
I think the key for you to be able to really get the best out of the programme is matching with the right family. My first time I chose the first family that gave me an offer as i was worried I wouldn't get another however this time I was determined to pick a family i really liked in the interview. My last experience really taught me what questions i should ask and how i ought to conduct myself.
I plan to come back next year to do the programme again with my current host family.
China is Amazing, Lopair is not
Submitted by Annie - London | July 15, 2018
When I first heard of Lopair their au pair programme looked like a good option for my gap year; so I applied and went through with the matching process etc. I found a family who lived in Shanghai and seemed nice. They told me in the interview that they lived 40 mins by metro outside of central Shanghai. They also told me that they wanted to take me abroad with them on their family holidays. This was in early December so when they asked when I would be coming I told them either January or February on one of the company's arrival dates. They took that to mean that I would arrive on 11th January and when I confirmed to Lopair that I would actually be coming in early February they seemed a little annoyed. But it was clearly just a communication issue so I took no more notice of it.
I first started to have doubts when Lopair asked me to get a multiple entry 90day tourist visa (instead of their usual single entry 180day study visa) in order to be able to go abroad with the family. They insisted that if I wanted to go abroad I needed to make up a fake tourist itinerary to apply for the visa and not to make any mention of Lopair at the visa office at all. The company representative I was e-mailing gave me a fake flight sheet and an example itinerary which was based on me receiving a family invitation letter. However I did not get a family invitation letter and was supposed to make (cancellable) hotel bookings for the duration of my fake 20 day trip. This all seemed very shady to me so I contacted my UK representative. She was lovely and really helpful in reassuring me that this process had worked for many au pairs before. Lopair also assured me that if something went wrong and I did not go abroad with my family they would pay for my trip to Hong Kong in order to renew my visa. So I went to the Chinese visa office in London and was initially turned away because my flight tickets were fake. I immediately contacted Lopair and they booked real flight tickets for me that same morning so I was able to hand in my application the same day. Their response was quick and helpful but it worried me that their original advice had been wrong. What if the visa office had let me hand in my application and it had been denied? It was less that two weeks before my flight. My visa was also about twice the price of the student one and I had to pay for it myself.
I arrived in China and was put on a long distance bus to Hangzhou with a few other au pairs. The orientation camp was nice because we got to make a few friends who would be going to other cities and got to see a little of Hangzhou which is a lovely place. However we were all very jet lagged and the “training” was essentially a series of power point presentations and didn’t tell us anything they hadn’t already covered in one of the webinars. This was a little disappointing as I had been under the impression that we would have some kind of team building activities or maybe a workshop with kids. But never mind, I made some nice friends.
Next we were transferred to our host cities. In my case there were two other au pairs going to Shanghai and we got the bullet train together. I felt sorry for some of the others who had to get domestic flights on their own so soon after arriving. We were told to meet our families at Starbucks when we arrived at the train station and managed to find each other after only an hour without wifi or working phones. Success! Now to settle in and get to know the new family.
Everything seemed fine at first. My host mum took me to the supermarket to buy any food that I wanted ( as I’d told her that I am vegetarian and she wanted to make sure there was something I could eat ). I had my own room, she gave me a house key, a metro card and a SIM for my phone. My 7 year old host kid already spoke fluent english as he went to international school and we got on very well from the beginning. They had an ayi (nanny) who did all the cooking and cleaning so my duties were purely with the kid. However I quickly discovered that their house was much farther away from the centre than the 40 mins I had been told. It took me nearly 2 hours to get to Chinese class (including a bus ride to get to the metro station) and I had a 10pm curfew on my day off. The 1500 RMB monthly pocket money is also too little to live well in an expensive city like Shanghai; I pretty quickly found myself eating into my savings.
When Chinese new year came, just two weeks after my arrival, I was told to pack my suitcase because we would be going to stay in a hotel in Shanghai. I thought this was weird - since they lived in Shanghai - and they told me that because I had “delayed” my arrival they had to change their plans to go abroad. That didn’t make sense to me - I was still there wasn’t I? Anyway, we stayed in a 5 star hotel which was incredible as it was my first experience going to a place like that. Apart from a visit to the temple next door we almost never left the hotel. We had meals there, swam in the pool and sat in the lounge on the very top floor playing chess and doing homework. It was totally different from my idea of holiday but a great experience nonetheless.
When my coordinator first came to visit my host mum told me that they had plans to go to England in July - one month before the end of my contract - to look at schools. I couldn’t go with them but they wanted me to travel and then come back to work for them in August. I have plans in August so that wasn’t possible. My other option was to find a new family for the last month. Again they blamed this on my “delayed” arrival.
The real problems started occurring after I asked to stay out of the house in a hostel one night on my ‘weekend off’ (it was actually a Thursday). My host mum didn’t want to let me but said it was okay if it was just this once. She asked me to be back in the early afternoon the next day and I didn’t complain even though I was supposed to have a full 48 hours off. I went to Disneyland with some friends and in the evening we went out to a club. It was great until some of us lost our coats (some of which had their phones in) from the cloakroom, and one of my friends was drugged. Bearing in mind this was early March and it was freezing, we went back to the hostel and reported our stuff stolen to the police the next day. Luckily I still had my phone but I was with two friends who had lost theirs, one of which was from another city and had no way of contacting her host family. We contacted my local coordinator to help her get back home and I went with them both, as the only one with a phone, to make sure they met up okay. The coordinator was actually late and I went home almost as soon as she arrived. I informed my host mum that I would be around 15 mins late because of the unfortunate situation. She didn’t take it well and threw a fit, telling me that I was irresponsible and they she would never let me stay out of the house again, refusing to believe that I could actually be helping a friend because I can’t speak Chinese. I again contacted my coordinator who told me that she’d already received a call from my host mum and advised me to ‘tell her the truth of the situation” as if i had been lying. I asked if i could have my coordinator’s support to discuss this with my host mum because communication between us was difficult (her english wasn’t very good and my Chinese was non-existent at that point). She just told me again to “apologise and tell the truth’’. I realised then that I was actually very unhappy in my family - I felt trapped miles from anywhere with a curfew and no friends living nearby. I was also doing very few duty hours and felt that I was having little impact on my kid as he spoke perfect English already and they just wanted me to read books with him. They never stuck to the schedule they had given me and sometimes the family would just leave without telling me when they would be back, meaning I couldn’t know if I had time to go out so had to just wait for them in the house. They never once took me out with them on the weekend or arranged any activity that i could go to with them.
I asked to change families, but somehow my coordinator persuaded me to stay until the end of my third month. I knew at this point that my family would be going on holiday to Hong Kong at the end of April and told my coordinator about this. She didn’t think there would be a problem - I would stay with the family and leave after the trip with them. I needed to go in order to renew my visa anyway and if I didn’t go with my host family then Lopair would have to pay for my trip. I was advised to wait until 2 weeks before the end of my third month to give notice, and wouldn’t be able to look for a new family before then.
So I sucked it up for another five weeks and finally told my host mum I wanted to leave. Very politely might I add (I’m sorry, its not you its me etc.). She was furious. The next day my coordinator came over to discuss everything and I was informed that I had to either pay for my flights and 5 star hotel in Hong Kong with them or stay with the family until the end of June. They were asking for the equivalent of about £700 for me to leave. They were essentially trying to bully me into staying. Apparently the hotel was non-refundable (which I didn’t really believe, hotels tend not to be completely non-refundable 2 weeks before your stay) and although the trip was supposed to be a family holiday to which I was invited since I’m “part of the family” they made it sound as though it was all my fault because of my visa. Lopair suggested that my host mum pay half and Lopair would pay for my flights so I would be left with only a smaller fee of about £300. I would still get to go to Hong Kong and renew my visa and then hopefully leave the family without too much drama. I agreed to this but my host mum refused. She kicked me out, telling me I had one hour to pack my bags. Even though the contract states that both the family and I should respect a 2 week grace period during which I continue to work for them and receive room, board, and pocket money, I was never even paid the pocket money for those first two weeks of April that I did actually work. When I approached Lopair about it they refused to reimburse me and implied that it was my fault my host mum wouldn’t pay me.
After a tearful goodbye to my host kid I got into the car with my coordinator. I was shocked that even as we were driving away from the house (and I was visibly crying) she still tried to explain my host mum’s point of view. I honestly felt that I had been very understanding of her feelings and apologised throughout but no one had really tried to see the situation from my perspective. My host mum couldn’t understand that I was unhappy and still refused to lift my curfew. I was dropped off at a hostel (which I had to pay for myself) and left to come to terms with my new situation.
I was very lucky to match with a new German-Chinese host family in just two days and was delighted to discover that they lived centrally and I had total freedom. Having an interview in person was a thousand times better that on the phone and i got to see where they lived and actually meet the kid and the parents properly. It was quite the contrast from my first host family where I couldn’t even be in the kid’s bedroom with him unless the door was open. Now I was trusted to drop off and pick up my little girl from kindergarten on an electric scooter and look after her all afternoon with no supervision! I suddenly made lots of new friends because of my newfound freedom and I could go out with them in the evenings and on weekends because my family was normal and wanted to spend time with their children on weekends rather than have me teaching the whole time. I told them my story and my host dad very kindly asked Lopair to reimburse me for the pocket money that I wasn’t paid by my previous host family. I had tried asking them already and expected them to refuse but the response from our coordinator was simply “okay”. I felt this really showed how much better the families are treated by the agency compared to au pairs.
I still had to go to Hong Kong in order to renew my visa so I had to badger Lopair to book my flights. When they wouldn’t book the ones I wanted (since they were 200RMB more than their budget) they agreed to send me the money so I could book them myself. However all this hassle and delay meant that everything was very last minute and therefore rather expensive. Hong Kong was great and I’m glad I went alone because I doubt I would have seen anything but the inside of a fancy hotel if I had gone with my old host family.
Being with a family that I loved and having real freedom let me enjoy Shanghai for the first time since I arrived. Of course every family has their difficulties but this time they were minor and overall everything was great. The only issue was that they could only have me for 2 and a half months as they had another au pair coming and I would still have to find a new family for the last month. I didn’t mind because they were so great and I thought it would be worth it if I got to be happy for the next 10 weeks.
As it turns out, once I’d spent 2 months living with my amazing family, the thought of staying with a new one that might give me a curfew or didn’t let their kids play games filled me with dread. I had one interview which didn’t go well, and the host mum only wanted someone for a week anyway. So I waited for more interviews. A week passed and still nothing came. With just 10 days left and still no suitable family found, I decided that I would rather spend my last month travelling and getting to see a little of the country I’d lived in for the past 5 months. I contacted Lopair and asked to leave.
I knew that I would forfeit my measly 1000RMB completion bonus (not even one full month’s pocket money) and that they might ask me to pay a fee towards my flights according to their ‘early return policy’. All I asked from them was to keep my return flight on the same date it was booked for. I thought they no longer held anything over me and my leaving was saving them the hassle of finding me a new family for just one short, awkward month.
It took four days for them to respond to my requests which I wasn’t thrilled about. The response I got from my coordinator was “Lopair didn’t agree you to leave the program with Lopair’s visa”. I was outraged. I have a tourist visa which I paid for myself. I lied on every single immigration form at Lopair’s request to include no mention of them whatsoever. I wanted to use MY visa for its intended purpose - actual tourism. I met with my coordinator the next day and told her this. She said if I chose to leave the programme they would move my flight to the next week and I would have to go straight home. When I pushed her to give me a reason or explanation for this seemingly unnecessary action (it costs money to move flights!) the best she could come up with was that Lopair didn’t want me in Shanghai with other au pairs if I was no longer on the programme. I might give them a ‘bad feeling’ about the agency. I asked “so Lopair is trying to protect their reputation from me?”. She changed her story, saying that it is their usual policy to send au pairs home after the end of their programme because “Lopair is the reason you came to china”. I knew this was untrue. When I first applied to the programme I had asked Lopair to book my return flight 2 weeks after my end date because I wanted to travel. This had caused no problems before and my flight was booked on the date that I wanted. Now that I wanted to leave they were threatening to change it against my will. I pushed her again but couldn’t get a straight answer out of her. I could afford to pay them their “early return fee” according to the contract but I couldn’t afford to buy a new international flight. Essentially this was blackmail.
My coordinator then told me that I was “just feeling stressed” and not to worry because they would find me a nice family. I went home that evening and told my host parents what had happened. They were very understanding and agreed that what Lopair were doing was unjustified. They discussed it that evening and when they later told me that they could extend for one month (their other au pair had delayed her arrival) I cried tears of relief.
I think the thing to remember about Lopair is that at the end of the day they are still running a business and they are here to make money. The au pairs are not their clients, the families are. They will support the family over the au pair if given the choice. The au pairs are their ‘product’ and they will do whatever they can to make a profit out of us.
That said, I don’t regret coming to China with Lopair. It has been an invaluable experience. I have learnt not to accept being unhappy just because it suits others and to stand up for myself against a company that have tried repeatedly to bully me. I will never let anyone book flights for me again. I have begun to understand both the Chinese language and the wildly different culture, and discovered that I don’t really like Chinese food. I will still take two weeks to travel after I finish at the end of July and I am very excited to see more of this beautiful country. I have made friends both in China and from around the world. I fell in love with my second family, and with Shanghai, and I know that I will return to China in the future - but not as an au pair.
A whole new experience
Submitted by G. | July 14, 2018
I’ve been in China for six months as an Au Pair in Beijing and I really enjoyed my stay! I started with Orientation Days in Hangzhou that gave me a chance to meet other Au Pairs around China and an opportunity to calm down before meeting my hostfamily. I got along very well with my family and never had problems concerning my schedule or my travel plans. I also learned some Chinese in my Mandarin classes (it is a very difficult language to learn but worth the work!). I met a lot of other Au Pairs and made great friends, learned a lot about the Chinese culture and daily life and traveled a bit around China (Shanghai, Xi’an..). Moreover I also improved as a person since it’s not always perfect and you have problems you have to deal with yourself. Everyone who is interested in experiencing something else should definitely take a look at the program!
My half year au pair experience
Submitted by WeiWei | July 11, 2018
My half year here in China was great! My host family was really nice and I got along with the kids very well. My host family tried to show me as much of the Chinese culture as they could and always tried to do everything for me feeling welcomed and comfortable. I had the chance to see many different cities and you meet many different personalities from all over the world.
With Lopair you have orientation days in the beginning of the program where you come to Hangzhou, one of the most beautiful cities in China in my opinion, and they tell you what to expect from your work, from China in generell and how to get along in your new environment. Everyone at Lopair is very very friendly and they will always try to help you when you're in need.
The also offer activities for the aupairs and also for the host families. Overall it is an experience that I do not want to miss out on.