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Wanderlust Exchange

About

Wanderlust Exchange programs integrate educational travel, Mandarin learning, childcare and English tutoring together for overseas youngsters to experience China with an authentic touch by staying with Chinese host families.

We love culture exchange, we love different languages, we love the tenderness in your eyes when you see children's smile. Fundamentally, we love what we do: helping students go through an off-beat experience that could potentially change their lives.

Website
Founded
2014
Headquarters

No. 588, East Yan'an Road
Huangpu Qu
Shanghai Shi, 200002
China

Reviews

Default avatar
Cheng
9/10

In my final weeks as an Au Pair, I now look back and realize how quickly 3 months has went by and how much I have experienced during my time in Beijing. It is true when they say time passes quickly when you are having fun, and I felt that was the case here.

I enrolled in this program with the intention of improving my Chinese while gaining more experience teaching English, and I can say I have accomplished both of these tasks.I found the Mandarin classes to be extremely helpful in navigating through daily tasks, as the textbook introduced many practical situations that were relevant to the outside world. For me my class was one on one with my teacher who was very informative in teaching me about the Chinese culture and clarifying how to say phrases or words that I was curious about in Chinese.

The highlight of the program would have to be the opportunity to live with a host family, who made me feel at home, provided me with my own room and the most delicious three meals of Chinese food every single day. I was always hesitant of eating outside because I was afraid of missing out on the delicious homemade dishes from the host chefs. After three months, I can confidently say the names of many food ingredients, sauces, and dishes in Chinese, where if I were to go buy ingredients in a supermarket I would be able to communicate what I need in Chinese.

Living under the same roof as the host kids does create a more intimate relationship, as I felt more like an older brother rather than an English tutor. My three host kids, a 5 year old girl, 3 year old boy, and 1.5 year old boy are absolutely adorable, each with their own distinct personalities and traits. Although initially trying to get the kids to focus and follow directions is an incredibly big challenge, once they warmed up to me, then it becomes all fun and games! Everyday was a new learning opportunity, as I often found myself experimenting with different activities to keep the kids motivated and engaged. I actually thought the learning experience was mutual, where even though I taught the kids English, I also learned a lot of Chinese just from the daily interactions with the kids.

As far as support goes, the WAC staff is incredibly helpful in offering their support in any problems you may encounter, whether it is with renewing visas or adding additional Mandarin classes. The cultural activities they plan were extremely enjoyable, as it gives an opportunity to meet other Au Pairs and introduce another aspect of Chinese culture!

Overall, this has been an enjoyable and eye opening experience and I highly recommend it if you enjoy working with kids and are looking for an opportunity to learn more about the Chinese culture while living with a host family!

How can this program be improved?
More opportunities to connect with other Au Pairs like possibly additional cultural activities each month.
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Cheng,

Thank you so much for sharing your story here! It is such a delight to know that you enjoyed a great time in China and most importantly, both of your intentions have been accomplished through this adventure. We are also so proud of you for your great progress in Mandarin learning and feel happy for you for your lovely time with the host family too.

You have done such a wonderful work both for yourself and the Chinese family. It is also a great pleasure for us to have you au paired with us and the days being with you means as much to us as it does to you.
Thanks again for choosing Wanderlust Exchange! We wish you all the best!

Best regards,

Wanderlust Exchange

Yes, I recommend this program
Sheridan
10/10

I've spent 3 months as an au pair with a lovely family in Shanghai.
From the moment I arrived I was treated like family and made to feel extremely welcome.
My family were very flexible and I had an abundance of free time to relax or venture into the city centre, however I frequently chose to spend my free time with them as I enjoyed their company. My two host boys, 4 and 9 years old, were gorgeous. Playing with them was no trouble at all, but getting them interested in practicing their English wasn't an easy task. My living standards throughout were incredible, my host family's house was beautiful and I had my own room and bathroom. They also took me on holiday with them for 1 month in Northern China, which was of course incredible. Living with a host family is definitely the best way to truly immerse in the culture, as you simply can't escape it- the food, language, mannerisms, traditions. Hazel and Lisa from Wanderlust were always fast and effective to respond anytime I needed assistance. Their monthly cultural activities were great, and offered a great platform to meet the other au pairs. I chose to take my mandarin classes online as we went on holiday for so long, so I can't vouch for the quality of the used language school, but I can certainly say that if you want to learn Chinese this is a fantastic way to do it. After learning Chinese for only 3 months in China, I can now have conversations with locals. Overall, my experience au pairing with Wanderlust has been impeccable. I have learnt so much, more than I could ever have learnt in a classroom. It has felt like one big family holiday. I'm grateful beyond words for these 3 months I've had in China!

How can this program be improved?
The cultural activities were great, would love to have had even more!
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Sheridan,

We are SO delighted to hear from you here, knowing that you enjoyed a wonderful time in China! We feel happy for you having so much fabulous adventure with your host family and It is also good to know that you have made such a great progress in Chinese.

It is such a pleasure for us to have you as one of our au pairs. We wish you all the best on your future adventure!

Best regards,

Wanderlust Exchange

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Massimo
9/10

I had a priceless experience with Daisy, Min and the amazing kids of Shanghai's Baby Home. I will never forget the amazing people I met. More than anything I feel extremely grateful to have gotten the chance to meet these children and the staff. This experience will definitely shape my future life and has made me eternally grateful for everything I had growing up. I had a lot of fun with the kids and other volunteers while I was there and I would definitely recommend this experience.

Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Massimo,

Thanks for sharing your story with us. We are so delighted that you had a great time volunteering in Shanghai’s Baby Home. We believe children there enjoyed the time with you as much as you do. Your efforts have lit up their life.

It is a great pleasure to have you as one of our volunteers!

All the best,

Wanderlust Exchange

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Ed
10/10

Picking my bag up from the bag carousel in Pudong airport and heading towards the arrivals hall, I was very much unsure what to expect about my 3 months in China with Wanderlust Exchange. It was my first time in mainland China – and the first day of my new life in China. A new job, family, language, city, country and culture awaited me the other side of the sliding doors.

With my time in Shanghai nearly finished, it is only now that I realise how much I have experienced and seen in the last few months. In my first few days, I saw much of Shanghai with Lisa, Wanderlust’s brilliant and very lovely intern, on the orientation course. Seeing many of the major sights (the Bund, Peoples’ Square, and the Pudong skyline) and the inner city with someone a bit more native to the place than myself helped me feel far more comfortable with the sheer scale of the city. Even though I have visited many of the world’s most influential cities (London, Paris, New York), none of them could quite prepare me for the size of Shanghai, which has roughly 3 times more people than London! Therefore being able to explore with someone who spoke the local language and could explain many of the customs and traditions was invaluable – and the continued support of Wanderlust has meant that slowly but surely I have begun to understand more and more of this huge city and this historic country, although I will be the first to admit I have only scraped the surface.

The monthly cultural activities arranged by the agency for all the au-pairs have also been great for discovering more of China – we have all had a great time bonding over our various abortive attempts at the venerable art of Chinese calligraphy, as well as our unique contributions to the Shanghai paper cutting tradition. These activities have not only been great for learning about Chinese culture, but also for bonding with the other au-pairs from around the world over our shared experiences and challenges of life in China – in the process not only learning about China, but about places all over the world. Both during these cultural activities and in our spare time it has been great to meet so many of the au-pairs and form such a close community with them. Sometimes it’s good just to be able to talk to someone with a Western accent!

Not only have Wanderlust and the other au-pairs been very good and supportive throughout my whole stay, I have also been very lucky to have been matched with such a great host family. My host family are a family of 5 (two parents, two children, and Grandma), and they have been brilliant to me – treating me as if I was one of their family and including me in a plethora of family activities. We have visited historic sites across China, including an unforgettable week in Guizhou Province on the western side of China seeing how different inland China is to Shanghai and the coastal cities. They have introduced me to many of their friends, classmates, and extended family members at many outings, and it has been great to be able to meet so many people and discover all about Chinese culture and society in this way – over many delicious meals and glasses of Chinese firewater. My favourite memories of my time with them include visiting a traditional Chinese spa in the heart of Shanghai, going to a family birthday party for one of their 1 year old nephews, singing karaoke together after a family barbecue, and celebrating the eldest daughter’s admission into university over a meal with many of the parents’ friends and classmates. These occasions have all been great fun, and are very good for seeing “living” Chinese culture. My host family have really gone out of their way to make me feel part of the family and to show me all parts of Chinese culture, and I am sure I have formed relationships with them that will last far longer than the remaining weeks I have here.

Teaching the 2 children English has been incredibly rewarding, a lot of fun as well as a good challenge. We have covered all sorts of things, from helping coach the eldest daughter successfully through the IELTS test for university admission to a top Western university to discussing British history and sports with the younger child. The variety of things that we have talked about has been really interesting, and has definitely kept me on my toes! The proudest moment of it all was seeing the daughter leave for university in the West, having achieved the IELTS grade needed and being far more confident in her English and understanding of Western culture as a result of all that we had discussed.

As her English improved, so did my Chinese! Twice weekly lessons at the Mandarin Garden School have been an integral part of my time in Shanghai, and they have been really useful for helping me develop some basic Chinese skills. Mandarin is as different to English as could be imagined, but it has been great fun trying to tackle it as a result. I am still very much a novice, but the Chinese lessons have been something that has really made my time in China as fun as it has been, and I definitely feel a lot more confident interacting with locals and going about the city as a result. The lessons are only a small part of your life as an au-pair in terms of time spent, but they have really made my time in Shanghai many times more enjoyable, and they have given me knowledge and skills that will be helpful in the future.

All in all, it has been a really rewarding experience to spend 3 months in China with Wanderlust Exchange. It has not been easy, and at times has required a lot of determination and mental strength - as is to be expected when moving to a new country to start a demanding job like an au-pair – but I am definitely very glad that I have persevered. This is definitely not a holiday program though - it is extremely rewarding but you you have to work hard! If you are looking for something relaxed I'd say go sit on the beach in Bali, but if you're looking for something a bit more fulfilling this is definitely for you I have a great time and although I will be ready to return home and see my family when the time comes, I will certainly miss Shanghai and think of my 3 months here with fondness for a long time to come. Thank you Wanderlust Exchange!

Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Ed,

Thank you so much for sharing your story here!

We are so glad to know that you enjoyed your 3 months in China and more importantly, it was a meaningful journey for you to explore China and its culture. As you said, there can be challenges but we do see what a wonderful work you had done and such an achievement you made to improve the elder sister’s English. It is also glad to know that your Chinese has progressed at the same time.

It is also a great pleasure for us to have you au paired with us and the days being with you means as much to us as it does to you.

We would like to thank you as well and wish you all the best!

Best regards,

Wanderlust Exchange

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Aleksander
9/10

Great company with massive help. Highly reccomend. Always provided help when needed within couple of minutes or hours. Very friendly stuff and great host families. Allowed me to get insight into the real China and meet a myriad of wonderfull people. Very unique experience with a big impact on my life. Useful tip: research places you want to visit before actually flying here and maybe even learn some basic Mandarin

Yes, I recommend this program

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