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Experience Chinese Culture with Marco Polo in China
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Experience Chinese Culture with Marco Polo in China

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host Company

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Professional Development

    10

  • Community

    10

First time in China

I spent three months (July - August- September) in China with the Marco Polo Culture Exchange Program. The people at the company were all nice and made me feel welcome for my first stay in China. They can all speak good English so there is no problem of misunderstanding each other. They are always helping no matter what time (even past office hours!) in case you have a problem with your Chinese family or anything. We would have Chinese classes on Wednesday at the company building which was always fun (we even went water rafting).

I was staying in a relatively well-off family and I would spend most time with my host brother speaking in English, I was impressed by his English-language abilities. All you will have to do is play and speak English with the child. However, the family might ask you to work with books to teach English to them. I would spend four hours in the morning and about four in the afternon playing with my little brother. I also had a 2-hour break after lunch and was free to do what I want after dinner. (Most evenings, the uncle would come to play with the child.)
The family took me to various restaurants, on vacation to the mountains with them and introtuced me to their relatives and Chinese culture in general. I'm still in contact and even visited them in March again. By doing this program, you will find a Chinese family for yourself!
Hangzhou is one of the most beautiful cities in China, even though it is not as big as Shanghai, Beijing or Shenzhen, it's bigger or the same size as big western cities like Paris or London. Thanks to China's thriving economy, Hangzhou is developping at an incredible paste and it's an amazing thing to witness. You will meet people working for big Chinese companies like Alibaba or foreign companies, too like Bosch and so if you decide to go networking during your free-time.

Before coming to Hangzhou, I had little to no knowledge of China and the culture, but thanks to the people I met at Marco Polo and the experience they provided for me, I came back to Europe with a clear understanding of China and a volition for learning the language properly as well!

I would highly recommend this program for anyone ! I hope you can also be part of the Marco Polo adventure !

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Host Company

    9

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Compensation

    6

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Professional Development

    7

  • Community

    7

Experiencing Chinese culture in Hangzhou

After studying Chinese for 6 months in Beijing, working for EF in Beijing and moving from China to Amsterdam and back I decided that my Chinese was good enough to take the next step and apply for this project.

I didn’t have a lot of expectations when I arrived to Hangzhou. Which was great, because only then I could enjoy it to the fullest.
The only thing I was sure of was the fact that I would teach English while speaking Chinese in a Chinese host family.

Little did I know that being able to speak (a bit in) Chinese was SO important.
The first and second family couldn’t speak a word in English. But luckily both of the families had an older daughter (12 and 16) who could speak English.

They were only home for the weekend because they studied in Shanghai and lived on campus.

So during the week I could only use Chinese to communicate. Which I found great! Because then I could improve mine...

But of course I was there to teach them English and we tried our best to get their English to an higher level.

I loved my first host family and the room they gave me. During the day I walked around the city, enjoyed the weather while bicycling and spoke to people on the streets.
They gave me a lot of free time besides bringing the child to school and picking him up.
After school, when only the nanny, the host child and I were at home we baked cakes together and tried to only speak in English. After that I teached him English according to his books.

After 1,5 months living with them they decided to not join the project anymore and I moved to another family.

In my second family I especially loved the children. They were sassy and cute. Coco, my (then)6-year old host child will celebrate her 8th birthday this June and I’m still in contact with her and her mom.

I lived together with her older sister (12) in a room. But since she was away during the week I somehow had ‘my own’ room.

Coco and I spent a lot of time together. I brought her to school, piano classes, dance classes, swimming classes, singing classes and go on. After I picked her up and we sometimes we would go for secret bubble tea’s together.

I miss them a lot and they made my experience in Marco Polo so memorable!
Visiting them coming November is going to be very exciting.

The organization at Marco Polo always helped me when I needed it. Especially when I had to move families and the Chinese (cultural) classes were a great extra every Wednesday.

Thanks to Marco Polo I had a great time in Hangzhou and met a lot of good friends, where I drank a lot of coffees with after spending days and nights together. I love it!

So if you’re still doubting about if this is the project for you... I gave my very honest opinion on the project: if you want things to be perfect, I think you should stay at home...

If you’re a daredevil and in for an adventure... go for it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host Company

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Professional Development

    10

  • Community

    10

Unforgettable experience

This program is definitely for the brave people. What I mean is that it's really hard to adapt to a different kind of life at first. Everything is new, families try to be nice, but they often can't comprehend just how much of their life is different from what you've expected. But after some time you start to feel at home and this feeling stays with you until the very end when you cry your eyes out on your last day.
I went for the 2.5 months program and took care of 3-year-old girl who was amazingly cute! Everyday I read her English books, played outside, watched English cartoons etc. When September came, I also took her to her kindergarten and then picked her up in the afternoon. I really liked our time together!
What is amazing is that my host family came to visit me in Poland after few months, so we could meet again and have some amazing time (family dinner, photos and sightseeing tour).
Now I can say that this experience have really changed my life. I've learned many new skills, such as taking care of a young kid (I'm a teacher, so I was prepared in terms of my education), cooking Chinese food, using Chinese transportation, asking people for help in Chinese and many more. I've also practised my language skills and tried some calligraphy and painting. Our Marco Polo trips were also very fun - we even foraged our own watermelons! I lived in Hangzhou and had enough time to visit Shanghai and Wuzhen. My family took me also to Jinhua.
Would I reccomend this program? Definitely YES. You need to be brave, but it's so much worth it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host Company

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Professional Development

    10

  • Community

    10

Extremely grateful for this experience

I have been to China for three months with the Marco Polo Program. I had the best time of my life actually with an amazing host family who taught me so much about China. They took me to awesome places and we had a lot of nice conversations together. The child I had to give English lessons was actually the cutest kid ever and we still kept in touch after the program was finished. Regarding my tasks, I had to pick up the kid everyday to school together with the host mom but in between that I was free to do whatever I want. My host mom was a really lovely lady and I felt really comfortable around her. Due to the age of my kid (3) we mostly played with toys, played outside, danced, drew or read books together as activities.
Besides, the living circumstances in my host family were beyond great. We had an luxurious apartment with gym, swimming pool and I had an amazing bedroom. The food was amazing and I'm so so so grateful for this all.
Regarding the Marco Polo Program, I'd recommend it if you're willing enough to be open-minded and committed enough to completely do this program with passion. It takes some courage and willingness to adapt but once you get over that you will have an amazing time. It's really about mindset and appreciation.
The organization of the program works fine even tough the communication style might be different than you're used to as a western person. Just keep in mind that in the end the problems will be solved but in another manner than you're used to haha.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host Company

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Compensation

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Professional Development

    10

  • Community

    10

3 month cultural exchange in Hangzhou, China

I decided to do a 3 month exchange with Marco Polo because it was the best program I came across that would allow me to immerse myself in Chinese culture and learn to speak Chinese. I applied for universities, other exchanges and TEFL jobs. However, I chose Marco Polo because the staff were all lovely people and had great English. This made me really comfortable about their program and gave me a lot of confidence prior to moving to China. This was very important to me because I had no background with learning Chinese. They even helped me to understand Chinese etiquette upon arrival, and certain things to keep in mind!

The only preparation I did prior to moving to China was using an app called Memrise to learn the basics (I definitely recommend this!). I found that throwing myself in the deep end, living with a Chinese family that didn't speak much English was the best way to learn the language fast! I would always recommend a family that speaks less English, than a family that speaks better English. It honestly makes it so much fun. We all had so much fun together learning to communicate with the hilariously large language barrier (the grandparents, nannie, parents and myself). We'd laugh all the time and always have good fun together. The family's child, who was 6 years old spoke impeccable English though, so he could always translate if I was truly stuck! He was good fun to look after. I often just played, read books and helped him with his homework in the time I was expected to spend with him (30 hours a week or so). This was pretty fair given that they gave me free accommodation, food and gave me so many awesome experiences, at their expense.

The family even took me on family holidays (to Shenzhen and other cities in Zhejiang province) and showed me many beautiful places in Hangzhou. During the days I would go to the gym, meet up with Chinese friends, go to lunch with the host family's relatives and would meet up with other foreign exchange students, and sometimes explore! One of my favourite places in Hangzhou was the Lingyin Temple which has caves and Buddhist statues over 1500 years old!

Hangzhou's famous West Lake was stunning too, I spent a lot of time around there and the many shopping regions and amazing restaurants nearby. Although during the evenings, and on weekends I spent a lot of time looking after their child, I loved the challenge of learning how to 'parent', in a sense. Learning how to teach, discipline, love and help a child to become the best version of himself was so rewarding. By the end of the program he grew so much because of me, which was awesome. We're still in touch to this day, over a year later! We video call on WeChat from time to time to catch up. The family loved me so much, that whenever I go back to China now, I have somewhere to stay :D.

It's worth mentioning also that Marco Polo organised weekly Mandarin classes and Excursions, which were also really great. Throughout my stay, we did kite building, calligraphy classes, learnt to make dumplings, and many other fun things!

This is the type of program where you get out what you put in. If you want to have a really diverse and unique experience of Chinese culture, this is for you. But you have to be willing to put yourself out there, get involved in the family life, and local culture to get the most out of it - and sometimes it's difficult. But it sure is rewarding! Couldn't recommend it more highly. Probably best 3 months of my life to date!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Host Company

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Compensation

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Professional Development

    8

  • Community

    10

My experience

when I arrived in Hangzhou I apprehended a lot, it was going to be a new life experience. I was lucky to have met a very kind and patient host family, they helped me a lot morally. At Marco Polo I also met a lot of good people. I recommend this organization well organized, it is a very serious company.
I could make a lot of friends.