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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
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!

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
Default avatar
Joanna
9/10

I am just about to complete two out of my three-month stay here in Beijing. Where has time honestly gone? So far, I have felt welcomed into a family with cultures far different from my own. I am teaching three kids who at the beginning were very shy, however now are so talkative and full of ideas that our lessons usually tend to overrun. One major difficulty I found was the language barrier, as many people here don't speak much English however with an adequate translator app, it was no longer a problem. Another was taxi fares - they can easily sniff out a foreigner and when they do, they'll triple your fair (I was charged 200 yuan for a 30 yuan fair). At times, I felt uncomfortable around taxi drivers so make sure to download Didi, which is the trustworthy Chinese equivalent to Uber.

My host family have been so wonderful and have even taken me on holiday to Guiyang, Xishuangbanna and Kunming. This programme is truly the cheapest way to experience the authentic taste of Chinese culture and living with a family speaking predominantly mandarin helps pick up the language a little easier too. However, while other au pairs weren't set one, I was given a curfew of 9pm, which I felt was quite restricting especially when trying to experience the nightlife here, so it's best to deliberate this if you're given one. The support given by the WAC team has been great too, more specifically from my coordinator Lizzie who has helped me out with countless of things - they are great to rely on when you need a rapid response or someone to talk you through the ins and outs of Beijing.

Before considering this programme, it's best to decide which age you'd prefer to tutor as kids of various ages learn at different speeds so decide beforehand which is best suited for you. It is also best to know that your working hours will be incredibly flexible so if you’re good at adapting to constantly changing routines then this is great for you. I would with no doubt suggest sending over an application if you’re willing to experience authentic Chinese culture at relatively low costs.

How can this program be improved?
more cultural activities - perhaps twice a month.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Joanna
10/10

I am just about to complete two out of my three-month stay here in Beijing. Where has time honestly gone? So far, I have felt welcomed into a family with cultures far different from my own. I am teaching three kids who at the beginning were very shy, however now are so talkative and full of ideas that our lessons usually tend to overrun. One major difficulty I found was the language barrier, as many people here don't speak much English however with an adequate translator app, it was no longer a problem. Another was taxi fares - they can easily sniff out a foreigner and when they do, they'll triple your fair (I was charged 200 yuan for a 30 yuan fair). At times, I felt uncomfortable around taxi drivers so make sure to download Didi, which is the trustworthy Chinese equivalent to Uber.

My host family have been so wonderful and have even taken me on holiday to Guiyang, Xishuangbanna and Kunming. This programme is truly the cheapest way to experience the authentic taste of Chinese culture and living with a family speaking predominantly mandarin helps pick up the language a little easier too. However, while other au pairs weren't set one, I was given a curfew of 9pm, which I felt was quite restricting especially when trying to experience the nightlife here, so it's best to deliberate this if you're given one. The support given by the WAC team has been great too, more specifically from my coordinator Lizzie who has helped me out with countless of things - they are great to rely on when you need a rapid response or someone to talk you through the ins and outs of Beijing.

Before considering this programme, it's best to decide which age you'd prefer to tutor as kids of various ages learn at different speeds so decide beforehand which is best suited for you. It is also best to know that your working hours will be incredibly flexible so if you’re good at adapting to constantly changing routines then this is great for you. I would with no doubt suggest sending over an application if you’re willing to experience authentic Chinese culture at relatively low costs.

How can this program be improved?
more cultural activities could be set - perhaps twice a month rather than one.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Liam
9/10

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 this program

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