Wanderlust Exchange


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.


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


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I have spent the past 4 months au pairing in Shanghai with a family with two boys, age 12 and 1, there has been some challenges during my time here but the experience is one that I am happy I have decided to take. From the moment I landed in Shanghai my family made me feel at home and nothing changed about that. Although I had my own room this is not a private space, as the children would often come in as they pleased but this was more out of curiosity in what I was doing rather than an invasion.
Even with a great welcoming the word overwhelming is the best way to describe my first few weeks. Facing crowds of people and a language I do not understand every day, it was difficult to find my place in this large city. Once I started going to mandarin classes and meeting new people I began finding my way around the city better, even though it took a while to get use to the amount people it did not change my outlook on this wonderful city and how much there is to do and see.
The Chinese culture is one of the oldest and most unique in the world and there is no way to better experience it than living with a family. I’ve learnt so much of the Chinese culture and how it has changed from when the parents were younger until now, and what my child’s views on it are. Learning about the culture has been one of the most interesting parts about my stay here in Shanghai as it has opened my mind to my own culture back home and what I can do to improve it and better my own future.
When it comes to teaching English and helping to improve the language being flexible is definitely important. I found myself trying to teach and practise English at many different times and not sticking to a usual schedule, as my child does a lot of extra activities that take up his time. Whether it is in the car, at the dinner table or out doing activities always take the opportunity to try and practise or teach English as it important to show them how they can use the language anywhere if they need to. The challenging moments were trying to get their attention and making it interesting for them because if they feel like they can’t take part they do not focus and take in all the information. Building a relationship that is more like an older sibling than teacher has had its advantages, it makes it easier to communicate and develop the language.
Being an Au pair has also given me the chance to explore Shanghai, and it is clear to see why it is one most popular cities in the world. With the monthly spending money I receive it was easy to see most of what this city has to offer, from the Chinese street markets to the many different shopping malls. The city metro is very trustworthy and safe, although at times it can get overcrowded it is the best and cheapest way to get around. Shanghai is the most western Chinese city but is still unlike any other western city and is a great way to be introduced to the Chinese lifestyle and can lead you to wanting to see more Chinese cities like Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou or Xi’an. I am happy that I got to see some part of the large country that is China in my short time here and it has left me wanting to see more as it is defiantly a country worth traveling.
My time here has been unforgettable and I am very fortunate that I have had the opportunity, which most people won’t get, to come and see this beautiful country and be able to help a family improve their English, and in exchange they made me feel part of their own family, that is completely different from my own, but still felt like a home away from home.

How can this program be improved?
Suggestive visiting locations and activities to do in spare time.
Yes, I recommend
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If you're interested in au pairing in China, I this is a program you need to seriously consider. All of my expectations have been exceeded and it has been an amazing experience all round.
From my first contact with anyone from Wanderlust Au Pair China I have been impressed by friendly staff that is always willing to help and answer the many, many, many questions you are sure to have about a program that takes you overseas. The continued support throughout the program is great, from the airport pickup to answering questions about places to go, anything really, you have someone you can ask. The cultural activities have given me a further insight into the culture and traditions of China and I have enjoyed them thoroughly. The Mandarin lessons have helped me to communicate with people in China, albeit a challenge, and have given me a deeper understanding of the spoken language you will hear all around you. Wanderlust Au Pair China is dedicated to filling your needs and finding a family that matches you well for a better experience for both you and the family you will be staying with. Overall, a fantastic program.
Au pairing in a foreign country will give you life experience, no doubt - but the agency you use is what improves the experience practically. Wanderlust Au Pair China has not disappointed me once and I am sure if you chose this program, you will have the same wonderful experience.

Yes, I recommend
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The decision to up and go to China for these past months was as difficult as it was easy. I can honestly say that I do not regret it, and would recommend others to take the leap into a different culture.I had some initial anxieties about trusting a program I had found online, but the WAC team turned out not only to be legitimate, but very friendly and helpful. I had a great experience, complete with ups and downs, and a lot of learning!

How can this program be improved?
More cultural activities would be wonderful, as I enjoyed getting together with the other au pairs and doing something I may not have been able to organize myself.
Yes, I recommend
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I have been lucky enough to get exactly what I wanted from my Au Pair experience. For me this was a family living centrally in a large, vibrant city that I could explore, and living with a welcoming, friendly Chinese host family. I had hoped to find in Shanghai a city brimming with Chinese culture that also managed to be ‘tourist-friendly’ – I haven’t been disappointed. I’m lucky enough to live 3 metro stations from the city center, so it’s incredibly easy to explore whenever I have a free moment. I’ve also managed to have a lot of fun with the children I look after, whilst still (I hope) improving their spoken English. The host family I was matched with have been wonderfully kind and hospitable. Whilst I can’t guarantee every family would show every Au Pair the same warmth, if you take the necessary time to find one suited to you, you should get along just fine.

Of course, there were some rough patches as I adjusted to a new lifestyle and culture. When I arrived I had never been to Asia at all, and found some of the cultural norms very strange – for example the constant spitting in the streets. It also took time for me to adjust to spoken Chinese, which can come across as aggressive or impolite when you’re not used to its sound. I recognized the familiar symptoms of culture shock in my first few weeks. At first I was delighted with everything new, and was in a constant state of excitement and adrenaline. When this wore off after a few weeks I felt homesick and craved something from familiar; I bought anything I recognized in the supermarkets (which was very little) and called my family as much as I could. However, this melancholy stage passed as I grew accustomed to the culture and my host family and routine.

The Wanderlust Exchange agency have been a great source of support, simply knowing there is someone in your corner in case things go wrong is very comforting. It was brilliant to have a personal tour guide when I arrived, and the company representative took me sight-seeing. This also meant I had at least one friend when I got here. Additionally, for many Au Pairs who have issues they feel they can’t raise directly with their host parents, the agency acts as a go between and helps to smooth things over.

In terms of my personal experience with a Chinese family, I’ve been welcomed into a bustling and affectionate household where I do really feel a part of things. The family’s domestic lives have given me a glimpse of Chinese values, and the importance that’s placed on relationships and looking out for each other here. Living with a Chinese family shows you so much more than you would learn simply as a voyeur, viewing the sights. Additionally, it feels more worthwhile to be part of a cultural exchange; by teaching the children English and sharing a different culture with them you give something back, rather than simply harvesting what cultural knowledge you can from the country.

I have accompanied the family on many day trips and activities and have been taken to countless exciting restaurants where my host parent taught me about local cuisine. Perhaps my favorite part of this experience has been experiencing the multitude of new foods this country has to offer. I eat delicious, homemade meals that are different every day. Even the act of eating dinner with a Chinese family has taught me about the culture here; the communal, sharing dishes emphasize the importance of collectivity. This differs significantly to the Western tradition of having your own plate.

As for Shanghai itself, the city is a brilliant patchwork of the extremely modern and the traditional. It contains enough quintessentially ‘Chinese’ architecture to satisfy the romantic tourist, whilst remaining a fast-paced and convenient city. It has a thrilling and infectious energy. I think Shanghai was a perfect starting point for me, and I feel brave enough to now explore an older and more traditional part of China.

I would whole heartedly recommend the Shanghai Au pairing experience, for me it has given me an environment where I can be both comfortable, safe and well looked after, whilst simultaneously being immersed in a new and vastly different culture to my own. I don’t deny that I have been lucky with my family. I’d urge future au pairs to take their time and search for a family that you will get along with and that will help you have your desired experience. As long as you choose a match carefully you’ll have an incredible time.

Yes, I recommend
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I chose to au pair with Wanderlust because of the great reviews it has, and the company did not disappoint me. Wanderlust deserves a 10/10 for its great support. It is intimidating and a little frightening to fly to a country all alone, but Hazel greeted me at the airport and made sure all of my needs were met. She always replied to messages on Wechat and truly wanted to help me have the best experience possible. If you are unsure if you can put your faith in Wanderlust, I will tell you that you wholeheartedly can. Some things Hazel did to help me feel comfortable during my stay:
- answered logistical questions about living in China (using the subway, visa questions, etc.)
- checked in on how I was personally feeling
- was always responsive and timely
- acted as a translator between me and my host family to clarify some initial concerns
- gave me the contacts of other au pairs with whom I could talk

I could write a ten-page essay about au pairing. Instead, I will tell you some questions it is important to ask your host family before committing to them, so you can get a sense of what au pairing is like.
- what time does your kid go to bed?
Kids who do not sleep enough are cranky, and a late bedtime, especially for a young kid, could be an indication that your host family likes to overwork their child. (hint: this means you will be overworked too if you au pair for them)
- how much TV does your kid watch?
A lot of TV can be a bad sign, although some families are just very relaxed and let their kids watch TV when they want. Use your intuition.
- how do you discipline your kid?
Every kid misbehaves. Every single kid. Therefore, every parent must discipline.
- what activities is your kid involved in?
- what time does your kid wake up?
- what do you do on a normal weekend?
- who is currently living at the house with you?
Some au pairs arrive in China to find a completely different family dynamic and living situation than what was represented.
- is your kid a BOY or a GIRL?
No, don't actually ask this question to the family. This is a question for you. I will not get into a nature vs. nurture argument about differences between the sexes. What matters is that boys and girls act differently, especially in China with stricter gender roles than in the west. Boys tend to be more out of control and held less accountable for their actions. This is not a hard and fast rule, but please be aware of it!
There are a lot more questions to ask, but this is just a start! Good luck with your au pairing experience!

How can this program be improved?
Group Chinese classes in Beijing instead of private online classes. I took a private online Chinese course. My host family did not really respect the time I needed to be home to log onto Chinese class, so I missed a lot of lessons as well as the chance to meet other students and form a closer relationship with my Chinese teacher.
Response from Wanderlust Exchange

Dear Sarah,

It's great to know that you consider receiving sufficient support from Wanderlust! We always think that we could do better and provide the best support possible!

Thank you so much for your suggestions for applicants when they conduct family interviews, which are very helpful and we could write a guide about that.

About Mandarin classes, yes, the online classes arrangement are mostly because of some host families live really far away from the city center. However, offline small group class is indeed the best option and we have this arrangement for our au pairs from now on.

Thank you so much for your kind review. It's been a great pleasure to see you in China and hear those amazing moments you had with your host family and in Beijing!

Warm regards,
Wanderlust Team

Yes, I recommend


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