Annie is a 21 year old Melbourne University student with double majors in Media Communications and Geography. She is eager to learn about Chinese culture and is a fast learner.
In terms of everyday life, do you find it different to your life in Australia?
I am still trying to get used to the city and lifestyle. Chinese people usually get up and sleep very early. Usually they have breakfast like at 7:30am, while in Australia I usually have breakfast at 10:30am.
The bus stops quite early at night, in Melbourne on Friday and Saturday night the bus runs all night, but here it usually stops at 10pm or so.
There are so many cars all the time on the street. Subways are always crowded; one day I took the subway at 9pm but there were still lots of people on the subway. Another thing new to me is every subway station they do the security check which I have never seen that in other countries, even in Tiananmen square they check you as well haha.
Where have you travelled in your first month?
I went to Tiananmen square. There are lots of people there but it’s a very big square. It’s very close to the Forbidden City but I didn’t go as it says in Nov the ticket will be half price so let’s save some money and go in November!
And I went to Yong He Gong (lama temple) with Sophie (another new au pair). Yong He Gong is enormous. There is a very big Buddhist statue which has 26 meters!
I also went to Shenzhen with the host family. In Shenzhen I spent time with the family and we went to a theme park called Window of the World, in the park there are many western structures from Europe, America, middle east, Africa etc. There is an Eiffel tower in the park. Shenzhen is also very hot.
The most interesting experience for you during the first month?
I had a lot of Chinese food. Hotpot is great, I would like to try Peking duck sometime!
Do you have chance to meet other au pairs? What do you usually do in your free time?
Yes, I usually meet them when we are both available. In my free time I usually do my homework from the language school. At first I tried to do my homework with the kids while they are also doing their homework, and they will laugh and said its easy and they will write my homework, and asked me to write their homework, so after that I did my homework at my own room haha!
Can you tell us about your host family and kids?
The host mom is very nice and accommodating, if I need anything she is always helpful and the dad is very nice as well, he is always curious about how was life like in Malaysia and Australia. The family has three kids and they have lots of energy. They get up at 7am and they can be energetic all day till 10pm.
What’s a typical day for you?
I usually have mornings off, and I will pick up the kids at 2:30pm. On Monday morning and Friday morning I go to the language school to attend Mandarin lessons.
What activities do you normally do with the kids?
We played a lot of games together to help the kids learn English such as Hangman, Simon says, and we read a lot of books together.
What’s your impression on China/Beijing and Chinese people so far?
The people are friendly. Before I came to China I heard something not so good about China but I am glad that they are not true after I come.
About Beijing I never know that it’s a huge city! Everywhere takes 2 hours to get there. For example, on the map it says its two blocks away, in Melbourne that’s like 5 minutes’ walk, but here it can be 15 mins!
How about the Mandarin class?
I speak some Mandarin before I came, now I am at level 3 class. I really like the class. There are only 2 people in my class, another boy is from France. So whenever I have questions I can just ask the teacher.
What are the top three things on your to-do-list for the next two months?
Summer palace and temple of heaven, and also Ha’erbin. I really really want to go to Ha’erbin because when I was a kid, my dad showed me a picture of the ice festival and it looked so nice and I always want to go and now that I am here I am going to try to go. I am planning to go in November when it’s cold. I heard in Ha’erbin it’s going to be minus 30 degrees in winter!
Any tips for anyone looking to be an au pair in China?
Be open to try new things, new food and new culture.
Did you have any difficulties/cultural shock in your first month? How did you deal with it?
At the first week I was so lost as Beijing is so big, and my internet on my phone sometimes is not very good so after I get off the subway I have to ask the passengers how to get here or there. Now I am familiar with the environment it’s much better.