Jo is a 19-year-old Pharmacology and Chinese student from Australia. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling, crafts, going to the beach, seeing friends, spending time with her two dogs and learning new languages including Mandarin and French. Recently she moved to Beijing as an au pair for three months and travelled around China afterwards. Let’s find out her stories!
What does your everyday life look like? What do you usually do in your free time?
Most days I wake up to a Chinese breakfast which is usually either rice and egg or dumplings. I take the subway to either Chinese class or to visit sights/ explore new places. In the evening, I teach my three kids English and eat a huge Chinese dinner that sends me straight to sleep!
What have you learnt about the Chinese language and culture?
I have learnt tons about Chinese culture, not only the Big Cs (art, history, etc.) but also the little Cs… (basically how to live like a local in Beijing)! My listening skills have improved dramatically; I have also learnt many informal conversational phrases that you wouldn’t typically learn in Chinese class.
How’s the experience different from what you expect?
Before coming to China, l was expecting to improve my Chinese speaking skills and learn about the China’s art and history, however what really surprised me was how much I learnt about daily life in China, including eating habits, getting around, how to bargain (in chinese!) and how to talk to the locals, which is not something you would learn from being a tourist.
Any tips to anyone looking to be an au pair in China？
You must come to China with an open-mind, the culture and customs here are very different and every day comes with new surprises, if you are looking for a different and exciting experience then this is for you! A good VPN (ExpressVPN, Windscribe, and WangVPN are good starters) is a must and WeChat is your best friend, as well as the share bike apps, I lived off meituan (美团) when I was sick of walking!
Tell us about your travels after Beijing.
Travelling solo was such an exciting, nerve-wracking and enlightening experience. I visited Xi’an, Guilin and Shanghai as well as Seoul, South Korea for a week, to get my tourist visa. I met so many interesting fellow travellers as well as locals, I realised that China is a huge country and that each city you go to is entirely different which made it all the more interesting! If you go to these cities, I recommend the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an for tasty street food and cheap souveniers (and to practice those bargaining skills!), Guilin’s DieCai hill for stunning views, and Shanghai’s French Concession, if you want some different architectual views.