LoPair: an Interview with an Au Pair

www.lopair.com

Looking for something excited and constructive towards your CV this summer? Harry Phillips from LoPair – an organisation “dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and intercultural learning using its core program Au Pair China” – speaks to a student about her experience au pairing in China.

The summer holidays can be slightly daunting. Yes, there is the chance to relax after exams and a hard term but for many the background pressure to do something ‘useful’ with these summers mounts. With competition for graduate jobs being fierce and internships almost becoming a must it feels like some kind of project must be undertaken during this large amount of free time.

I recently spoke to Laura, a 2nd year languages (French and Spanish) and cultures student to ask her about her summer spent in China. Laura spent the summer au pairing for a Chinese family, with the programme costs and flights being fully funded.

How did you first hear of the Au Pair programme?

A previous applicant advertised it at the university’s Freshers Fair and I signed up immediately!

Were you sceptical about the free travel offer?

Yes, I knew it must involve having to do some kind of work for free. I knew however that English language is very in demand in China so I wasn’t surprised that there are such opportunities for native speakers in China.

What was your reaction upon landing in China and meeting your host family?

After spending so long travelling (I had a 6 hour layover in Munich) I was just very relieved to arrive! The first thing that struck me was the sweaty, humid July heat of Beijing. I had never been to Asia before so that kind of heat was something that I had never experienced before. I remembered seeing strange dragonflies flying around and it really felt like I had entered a new world! My host families were immediately so welcoming. A LoPair member of staff introduced me to the family and we all sat down, discussed the schedule and got to know each other.

What were your host family like? What did you do with them?

They were amazing! I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better host family. They always went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. My host mother was always so concerned if I was homesick which was very sweet. My host dad had excellent English skills and so I loved bombarding him with lots of questions about China and he was really happy to discuss with me! I also developed a really close bond with Vicky, my host sister.

Did you find it easy to make friends whilst in China?

Yes, I had Chinese classes twice a week with other au pairs and we formed a really close group! We would often all go for lunch after class and I’m still in touch with a few of them now. Some of them were from Germany, France, and America so I got to learn about their cultures as well as Chinese culture!

How did you find your dealings with LoPair?

I had contact with three members of staff who would regularly message me to check that everything was going alright. Nancy, our City Coordinator, would also frequently organise cultural activities around the city.

What was your most memorable experience of the trip?

I would have to say that going to the Great Wall was extremely memorable as it was just so incredible and stunning! But it’s really hard to choose as I feel like every day I learnt something new about China and my host family very generously took me on lots of trips around Beijing.

Are you glad you participated in the programme?

Yes! It was one of the best things that I have ever done because it was the first time that I had lived abroad without my family. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone does wonders for your confidence and you really learn who you are. Living with a host family is the best way to really get to know a new culture. I arrived in China looking nervously around me at this new strange world and by the time I left I confidently knew the city and Beijing almost felt like home!

This is an advertorial piece written by Lopair for advertising purposes. Responses are honest and unedited. Every year Lopair offers fully funded 6-week Au Pair trips (with travel time at the end) to China for Russell group university students.

If you are interested in participating, please send your CV and cover letter to: lopair.europe@gmail.com


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Eleanor Jefferys

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