From China greenhand to China expert, British girl Laura and her Chinese story
Lopair companied and grew up with families for eight years.
During this time, we met so many nice au pairs. We collected the stories about those excellent au pairs’ experiences about culture, families and friends in China, to show you the wonderful life of au pairs in China.
Today, we bring you an intelligent and considerate English girl and her Chinese story.
“Do you have any expectations before you come to China?”
"I honestly didn't know what to expect. I didn't know enough about China. This is a mysterious country, even when I think of China, I can only think of pandas and air pollution. I can't believe I can get such a perfect experience in China.”
Laura talked about her life in China with enthusiasm.
Laura, 20, is a sophomore at Durham university in 2018. At the fresh fair, she first heard about the au pair program. Her friends who participated before told her that the program would allow her to come to China for six weeks for free and live with local Chinese families to experience Chinese culture, while she would accompany Chinese children and teach them English. This captured Laura's heart.
Laura soon had an interview after sending out her resume, and the family sent her an offer, but she turned it down, she said she didn’t think it through and need more time to think about it and talk to her family about coming to China.
This came as a surprise to us, for we know how great it is to receive an offer at the first interview and an offer from a family that seems to be very good. We were even a little worried. Did she want to give up the project? Fortunately, sometime later, she was interviewed by a second family. The family liked Laura very much and sent the offer very quickly.
This time, she accepted.
She said afterwards that she was at a loss to go to a country and to be with a family she did not know at all so soon, she felt nervous and uneasy because she was totally uncertain and unprepared.
But in the end, she made it to China and started a surprise trip.
"Do you have any special feelings after attending the au pair program in China for the first time?"
"Yes. You know I come from an English-speaking country and everyone speaks English and we take it for granted. When I come to China, I think it's amazing that a non-English speaking country would attach so much importance to learning a foreign language -- English."
Laura's family is based in Beijing, an ancient capital with a history of more than 3,000 years. Here, she can walk through those old Hutong, to explore the traces of the old Beijing; To find historical stories in scene spots; To feel the city's booming economy amid the towering skyscrapers.
Laura was extremely nervous when she arrived at the family. However, the kindness and warmth conveyed by the family made her feel that she was regarded as a member of the family, and the tension and anxiety in her heart were gradually diluted by the family atmosphere.
Because the family's child is a 12 years old girl, and her English is very good, they could have daily communication in English, they got along more like good sisters. The girl is very independent and could take Laura through the streets of Beijing. They visited museums and hung out in parks. On weekends, the whole family went out together. The girls would tell Laura about the history of the Great Wall, the origin of Hutong, the art of Peking Opera, and many other things she doesn't know about Chinese folk customs and culture. Laura would also share the history, culture and art of Britain with the girl.
Laura marveled at the depth and extensiveness of Chinese culture, which has a history of five thousand years. But what surprised her most was the emphasis on education. If the glory of the past is the precipitation of history, then the strength of the future is the vision of the present.
Chinese families attach great importance to learning English, because it is an international language. If children master this language, it means they have more opportunities and channels to obtain more information, knowledge and opportunities, and they can communicate with people all over the world from a more cosmopolitan perspective.
In China, she learned that Chinese education is very strong and competitive. So Chinese children have more pressure, and parents always pay more attention to their children's study and provide as much support as possible.
'maybe that's part of what au pair means to Chinese families,' she says.
Laura's postcard to the family
“Did you experience any culture shock while living in China?”
"No, or I don't think that's culture shock; But there were some differences."
The Aupair experience in Beijing gave Laura a wonderful Chinese experience, which not only brought her rich cultural experience, but also the friendship with her family. They keep in touch with each other all the time. During holidays, Laura will also communicate with the family by WeChat, sending each other recent photos and wishes.
Because of her wonderful experience in Beijing, Laura has devoted herself to helping more British students learn about and participate in the au pair program. She has successfully recommended many excellent British students to us, especially those from Durham university.
This summer, Laura joined the au pair program again. This time, she came to a family in Hangzhou. Having already known China, she was much more relaxed this time. She got along very well with her family and had a lot of good memories with the children. During this period, she also agreed to come to the office of Lopair for exchange and study, and provided a lot of support for the promotion of Lopair' s overseas project.
Laura in lopair
farewell party for Laura
Laura likes China very much and does not feel that she has encountered any so-called culture shock. She thinks that all new people and things are interesting. But it's true that sometimes, you can feel the differences between the two places.
For example, British culture is relatively "polite", or too polite, British people often say a lot of thank you, sorry and so on. When she arrived in China, she was a little surprised that people looked "rude". For example, people would talk loudly, and she thought they were fighting at the beginning. For example, when she went out for dinner with her family, she found that Chinese people usually call the waiter directly and give a very clear indication of what service they want. In the UK, people often say, Could you please... Can I have a... Oh, thank you or something.
However, after living in China for some time, she found this to be quite common.
Compared with culture shock, she realized more about the modernization of China and the convenience of life.
Laura's family in Hangzhou lives close to the subway, so she often used it for her daily trips. The first time she saw everyone using Alipay to take the subway, she was envious and felt that it was really convenient! So she went to apply the bank card immediately, but the transport payment function is unable to work. Even after communicating with customer service, the problem was not solved in the end. She had to get a regular bus/subway pass. She was sorry for that.
“Will you come to China again in the future?”
"I will certainly come back. I wouldn't rule out working in China for a while."
The days in Hangzhou flew by. Laura will spend her gap year interning in France and taking part in exchange programs in Chile before continuing her final year at Durham university in the UK next year.
As for us, we are really happy to know more about this nice girl this summer.
In Britain, Laura used to attend a free school, also known as the state school, which does not need to pay tuition fees, but the quality of teaching cannot compete with private schools or boarding schools. For a free school student, she had to work very hard to get into a good university like Durham. She is considerate, energetic, and always has a pleasant smile on her face.
We are also pleased to serve as a bridge for such excellent British students to have a more comprehensive and authentic understanding of China. We believe that she will spread China's goodwill to her and the beauty of China to more British young people. Let them also know more about China, let them with us, to contribute a little bit to the friendly exchanges between the two countries.
Before she left, Laura also gave some advice to other young people who are interested in the project: "make sure you really want to come, you really want to teach, and you can do it well. And then you have to really like kids and be outgoing. And you must be aware that coming to a country with a completely different culture will bring many difficulties and challenges. You need to be flexible, open-minded and adaptable. You need to be ready to adapt to the environment, the culture and the expectations of your family. I can only say that this experience in China has been really great."
She has left her mark on China, with families, with Lopair.
Nice to meet you, Laura.
Wish you a bright future.