Blog by Ilena Vunga 2020.1
Homesickness is real and when it hits you, you feel it in so many ways. It impacts you mentally and sometimes even physically. Though often joked about, it really does affect you. So what is homesickness? Well basically, it is when you’re feeling a little or maybe even a lot of distress from being away from home. It is missing the things that you are used to. This can include but not limited to your house, family, pets, and food. However, don’t stress! We all go through this and most people will miss something while they are away so you’re not on this road alone.
Having it is one thing but not being able to cope is another. Just know that there are others here who either know how you feel or are willing to help you out. Don’t be afraid to say that you miss home because the likelihood of someone knowing exactly how you feel is pretty high. I am no expert but I am pretty sure that some quote on Instagram had told me that bottling up feelings weren’t good and who would ever doubt an Instagram quote? On a serious note though, if you are really struggling then you need to reach out to those around you.
Homesickness is common so please don’t think you’re supposed to tough it out be happy all the time. Though the experience of being in a new country is amazing it doesn’t stop you from feeling the effects of being far from home. Signs of homesickness can include anxiety and constantly thinking of home. It can be the feeling of isolation and loneliness as well as feeling like you’re the odd one out because you’re different from others who seem to be having a better time. It’s decreased motivation and getting irritable at the smallest things. It’s sadness, social withdrawal, a negative outlook and a lack of connection with others. Of course one of the signs in missing the people, things, places, and comforts that are associated with home. You may feel all the signs or just a few but it doesn’t change the fact that you are homesick.
I am no expert in this department and I am not here to tell you that I have all the answers but what I can give are some pointers and suggestions. So with that in mind, let’s dive into my top 10 recommendations of what to do when you feel homesick. In other words my TTROWTDWYFH.
1) Don’t give yourself too much pressure.
Don’t give yourself such a hard time when you feel homesick. It’s normal and we all go through it. Having high expectations for yourself only leads to more disappointment. Take each day at a time and live in each moment. Stop envisioning this amazing adventure that you may never go on and take each journey as they come. Giving yourself so much pressure only leads you to stress more. In the words of Bob Marley “Don’t worry. Be happy”
2) Get out and about
Get out and about! Don’t stay in your room too much and actually get some fresh air. Keeping to yourself on your own only reminds you of how isolated you actually are. There are millions of people in this city alone so why not leave the four walls you have become so accustomed to? Maybe practice your Mandarin in the process.
3) Look at the brighter side of things
I know that I can just tell you to stay positive but how realistic is that really? Being constantly positive is not something that happens naturally and though we wish it were true, negativity always worms itself in. So what I am going to say instead is to look at the brighter side of each situation instead. Take it one step at a time and try to see the happy side even though that may be hard. Instead of taking it all in and getting sad, think of the lessons it may be teaching you. If you are one of those people who manage to be happy all the time, I envy you. For those of us who feel all emotions including sadness, let’s try our best to be a bit more lively.
4) Ask for help
Everyone gets sad. Everyone gets homesick. So… ASK FOR HELP! Do not think that you have to go through it all on your own. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Nothing is worse than feeling isolated and alone with no escape. There are people around you both here and back home who care and though it may not seem like it, you do have people here. Do not feel like you can’t speak out because you might be seen as weak or childish. How will people know how you feel and that you need help if you don’t say it? Speak up and if those initial people don’t listen, talk to someone else. There are always ears willing to listen and you never know, you might just find the answers you have been looking for. If you never ask, you will never know.
5) Go exploring.
Get lost in this beautiful city. There are so many things to do and things to see. Distract yourself by trying new things. See the beautiful sights and find out what this place has to offer. There are so many historical sites to see, malls to shop, bargains to be made and food to eat. Lose yourself in its beauty.
6) Keep in touch
Keep in touch with people back home. You miss them so why not give them a call? However, do not call every moment of every day and don’t call every time you miss them. You’re never going to be able to get over your homesickness if you constantly remind yourself of what you’re missing. Call home once in a while to see how they are and to keep them update but please don’t overdo it. I get that you are missing home but you’re never going to be able to see the amazing things around you if you’re blinded by how much you miss home. Give yourself the chance to grow.
7) Keep Healthy
This one is more of a reminder to myself but the seventh recommendation is to keep healthy and to get active. Don’t binge eat if you don’t usually eat a large amount and don’t drink more than what you can actually handle. Go for a run, join a sports club, join a dance class, hike I a mountain. I don’t know what you have to do but take the advice of someone who is clearly not taking her own advice and stay Healthy.
8) Make new friends
Get out and make new friends. Meet new people. Also, maybe don’t just stick to the other foreigners you know. There are many people who would be interested in where you come from and there are many who want to conversate in English! Don’t be that one person who came all the way to China and did not make a single Chinese friend. Add people on Wechat, say hello to strangers and you never know, they might just help you with your homework on the subway while heading to class. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and say hello to people once in a while and don’t get discouraged if they don’t reply. Make new friends and have fun! Also… locals know the best places to go so make sure to be extra friendly so that they can take you along next time they know of things happening.
9) Write a journal
Write down how you feel. No matter if you’re sad, lonely, happy, excited or whatever. Write it down. It’s a way to express yourself without the worry of being judged or rejected. It might seem weird at first but write it down and let it go. If you find it hard to ask for help or to talk to others about how you feel homesick, this is a great way to say just how you feel without anyone knowing.
10) Do things that you love doing at home
Part of the reason as to why you are so sad is that you have literally left everything that you know behind including home comforts. I find that by doing some of the things that I do at home really helps me feel less homesick. This could be as simple as french toast on Sunday mornings, coffee with a good book, a favorite tea, a weekly TV show, a snack, a ritual or anything that you do at home. Just because you are in a new country does not mean that you forget all the things you have done before. There is no need for you to deprive yourself of the things you love.
So there it is ladies and gentlemen! If you’ve read all of it to this point… I am proud of you! Just remember that homesickness is normal and that you always have people around you care. Be happy and enjoy your time with Auparia because you can easily just blink and it will be time to go home. Don’t waste too much time being homesick because you may miss out on all the amazing things around you.
Enjoy your trip and be safe!
Xi’an is a beautiful city located in central China, it is also the Easternmost site of the Silk Route. Xi’an is a very popular tourism city now because of its long history and splendid culture. As someone who was born and raised here, I am proud to introduce this wonderful city to you. If you have a three day or longer holiday, you can’t miss it.
Being the birthplace of Chinese culture, what Xi’an is to China is like what Rome is to Italy, what Athens is to Greece or what Cairo is to Egypt. They are all “The Four Ancient Capitals of the World”. Nowadays, Xi’an is a modern city. Centered on its developing subways, what we call “metros” in Xi’an, and with a developed bus system, you can easily shuttle from places to places in the city. WeChat Pay is supported almost everywhere in China so you won’t need to worry if you have it. Not only is the scenery in Xi’an pretty, but also the people here are very enthusiastic.
Let ‘s have a look at a short video to get a first impression of Xi’an.
Such a nice city, you might say, so why don’t we go and see it? Here are some places you definitely should visit in Xi’an and here are some tips for you when you plan to go there.
Dayan Pagoda and Great Tang All Day Mall
Dayan Pagoda was built for Master Xuan Zang (Monk Tripitaka) who introduced the classics of buddhist teachings from ancient India to China in Tang dynasty. The pagoda was used to keep these classics and also acted as an office for Master Xuan Zang to translate the classics from ancient Indian characters to Chinese. The music fountain in north square is very famous around the world. You just can’t miss it. Dayan Pagoda has been in the south of Xi’an for more than 2000 years. But south of the pagoda is a more modern place, we called it Great Tang All Day Mall, the lighting and music are theme of this street. The architectures and sculptures were all designed using Tang Style, showing the development and inheritance of Chinese culture throughout the ages. A note of interest, the arts or dance showing here are also an important part of experiencing the Tang culture.
The Terra Cotta Warriors
Of course, as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Terra-Cotta Warriors(TCW) are something you absolutely must visit. These clay figures were buried along with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. So this mountain is also his mausoleum. I promise you that you will be amazed at first sight at the skill of sculptors from over 4000 years ago when you see the Terra Cotta Warriors. Close to the TCW is a Tang dynasty palace, Hua-Qing Palace, which was a summer palace for emperor Tang Xuan Zong and Queen Yang Yuhuan. There are many ancient poems extolling their love in Chinese history. The ticket price for the TCW is 120 RMB per person, and 14 RMB for Hua Qing Gong ticket. If you have a student card including that from foreign universities, then you can get a half price ticket. Even though the place is a little far from the center of the city, you can take a bus at the East Square of Xi’an Train station. It will take only 6 RMB for the single line per person for the bus ticket.
Ancient City Wall
The Ancient City Wall is one of the symbols of the ancient city of Xi ‘an and is also the only intact ancient city wall in China. The city wall has a very long history. The present Xi’an City Wall you see now was built in Ming dynasty. The City Wall has many gates, and each big gate matches a big square. They often have culture shows like playing ancient music inside the square (PS: The ones in Yong Ning Men square are the highest frequency), if you are lucky enough you can enjoy the shows and all the shows have an Introduction broadcast in English to tell you the meaning of the music or the dance. The most interesting thing should be riding bicycles on the city wall. You can cycle around the city walls while enjoying the whole view of the city. But you can’t ride your own bike, only rented bikes are allowed. But that does not cost too much and you need 300 RMB in cash for the pledge.
A very important reason why Xi’an fascinates many people is the food there. Hui-min street is a street of Xi’an’s cuisine. Hui street is full of restaurants and snack shops that are so crowded streets due to so many tourists. These three restaurants you need to try at Hui Street.
Some other places you might want to go to if you have a long term planning.
Da Tang Lotus Garden
Shaanxi History Museum
Ban Po Museum
Tablet Forest Museum
Hua Shan （Mount Hua）
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.
Jacques is a former engineering student from South Africa. For the past 2 years, he’s come to Beijing and spent his three months’ summer vacation as an au pair. “It was so weird for me this year to not be getting ready to get on a plane” said Jacques. Let’s find out how has the au pair program influenced his future career and life.
For the past two years I’ve had the privilege and honor of working with the amazing people from the Aupairia office, spending three months in China each year over the December holidays. It was an amazing experience where I made friends from all over the world that I’m still in contact with to this day. The experiences I gained from the exposure to the different culture and the language barrier was an eye-opener to me. It opened up a different world for me, new experiences that allowed me to form different perceptions and not just the limited perceptions from my well-known and ‘safe’ surroundings at home.
After the time I spent in China, my goals have undergone a radical change from what they were previously, now far removed from what I used to believe I was interested in. I’ve been focusing more on my time as a hockey coach and the influence that I have on the youth through this interaction with them. It has become a goal of mine to not just improve my players’ athleticism but to also teach them and widen their current views on life through our daily interactions. In the same vein, my future plans have also taken a bit of a turn; where I was initially planning on finishing my mechanical engineering degree and landing a good job that would sustain a comfortable living style, I have opted to start up my own business, coincidently not in the same field that I had studied previously, with a friend.
During my time in China, I was able to observe how different families interacted with each other and this has made me realize just how important my own family is to me. Having seen these interactions, I’ve resolved to work on my own family ties and therefore these experiences have simply tightened the existing ties I had with my own family.
Although this year hasn’t been as eventful as previous years with my student life coming to an end and the startup of my own business, there were still quite a few highlights to fondly look back on. Amongst these I definitely have to say is that I was finally able to continue with my Mandarin studies which I had started in China. I am excitedly looking forward to taking further HSK exams in the upcoming years. Even though I am not taking any formal classes here in South Africa, it is always reassuring to know that I can contact Cicy, my Mandarin teacher that I met through Aupairia, anytime and she is always willing to help me out. Another highlight I must mention, is the achievements of the hockey team that I played for this year. It is a club side that consists of mostly high school boys and three senior players who fulfill the role of mentors, of which I am one. Despite the youthfulness of the team, we were able to place second in the senior league we participated in. As a mentor, I was greatly invested in this achievement and proud of what we were able to achieve together.
With all of that said, one of the things that I am missing this year, was that in November I didn’t start my preparation to go to China again. Normally by this time of the year, I would have already been talking to Candy, another one of the awesome ladies that work for Aupairia, preparing all the required documents for a return to China and all preparations surrounding that. Having done this for the last two years, it now feels as if I have forgotten to do something important, leaving me with a nagging feeling of loss.
Finally, I’d like to mention all the people who had a hand in making my time in China so memorable. To my host family, Richard, Vivian and William, and everyone from Auparia, those currently working there, those who have moved on and those still to come, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tina, Cicy, Candy, Queena, Nancy, Neil, Jasmine and Paka, you guys are the best and keep doing what you’re doing.
The bloggers today are Elena and Kevin. Elena is from Canada, she has been an au pair in Beijing for the last three months. Kevin is from the US, and he has been in for 2 months.
Hi everyone! We very excited to share some of their experiences with you! One of the best parts about visiting a new country is to learn about its culture. In an agricultural country like China, food is an important part of its culture. We live with two Chinese families, so we get to eat delicious Chinese food everyday! However, as burger lovers, we couldn’t help but explore different western restaurant chains to see which one had the best burgers. Here are some of the restaurants that we’ve loved so far!
Location: S2-30, Level 3, S2 Tower, No. 19 Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
Blue Frog is one of China’s fastest growing western restaurant chains. One of my favourite things about Blue Frog is the buy-one-get-one-free burger deal that is offered every Monday. It’s located in Sanlitun, which has plenty of other western restaurants and different bars to hang out at. Since most of us au pairs get Monday off, we often go to Blue Frog to take advantage of the BOGO burger deal. They also have BOGO deals on the drinks. They have a wide range of cocktails to choose from. So, if you want to meet up with friends and have a delicious burger complimented with alcoholic drinks I strongly sugest Blue Frog. Fair warning, may not be as cheap as you expect.
Location: 3F, Tongli Mansion, No.43 Sanlitun North Street South Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Aurora is a Mexican restaurant. In my opinion, the best food on their menu are the burgers. The burgers are buy-one-get-one-free from 4-6pm every Sunday. They also offer quesadillas, tacos, salads and cheesecake! Aurora offers BOGO deals everyday of the week so it’s definitely the place to go if you want a good deal on great food！
Location: Huixin E Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Laker’s is a popular student bar/restaurant. It has a few different locations around Beijing but I frequent the one across the street from the University of International Business and Economics. Its menu includes pizza, burgers, chicken, salad, and really any western food you can think of. It’s a little more on the expensive side, but the burgers are totally worth it!
Location: XieZuo Hutong #44 near Zhangzizhanglu Station Line 5
Three Little Pigs by Andy’s Craft Sausages is an American style restaurant located in XieZuo Hutong. Hutong is a traditional style of narrow street in Beijing. By visiting Three Little Pigs, you would not only enjoy its fresh handmade burger, but also the nice traditional buildings of Beijing.
Burger King is a popular fast food chain in America. When I discovered it here in China, I had to try it! Burger King is definitely your budget choice. The burgers have your typical and standarized selections while also having some Chinese variations. Currently BK has a 25 RMB deal that includes four piece chicken nuggets, french fries, a drink and a burger (you get to choose from four options). I would say this combo is a great deal. You can still buy more popular burgers for an inexpensive price.
Location: Huaqing Jiayuan 2F, Building 1; Wudaokou, Haidian, China
Lush is one of the biggest student hangout spots in Wudaokou. It’s known for its 20rmb martinis during Happy Hour, and its free wifi with a built-in VPN. There are multiple burger options on the menu and they all come with a side of french fries (or sweet potato fries). Along with its amazing burgers, it offers breakfast food until 4pm. Lush has live-performances Friday and Saturday night- and they’re currently looking for people to host their open mic nights.
In the depths of the Australian wilderness emerged a nimble and thought-provoking individual that seemed alien in every sense of the word. Perhaps he was just an alien in disguise, trying to mimic human culture, but every now and again making a mistake that brought to mind the question, “is this guy an alien?”.
Hi guys, Lachlan here, with a FANTASTIC review of my first 3 (ish) months in the particularly famous city of Beijing, or Peking for my 19th century homies, bro-fist.
Not gonna lie, when I got here I was #wowed by the city. There were a lot surprises when I got here, and for the first month I was untoldly elated by the differences. Here are just some of those things I saw.
Not gonna lie, when I got here I was #wowed by the city. There were a lot surprises when I got here, and for the first month I was untoldly elated by the differences. Here are just some of those things I saw.
THE SIZE of this city is HUUUUUUUUUge, not even kidding. Coming from a medium sized Australia city, aka Brisbane, I really wasnt cut out for what I was seeing. It takes so long to get from one side of the city to the other, and when you get to the center, the buildings look like they are the size of 4 or 5 Empire State Buildings in one. But even just the normal parts of the city are heavily urbanised as well. You will feel like you are in the land of giants and you are Jack having climbed his beanstalk.
To get an idea of how big this place is, just imagine if you smashed all of Australia’s population into an area a little larger than Brisbane and turned that region into a concrete jungle, then you might be able to fathom the slightest smidgen of the things I have seen. But once you get used to it, you can go to some awesome places like the forbidden palace, tiananmen, the temple of heaven, the Great Wall and the Summer Palace for sure and an absolutely chugging amount of shopping malls. But aside from that, you can also go to Wudaokou (restaurants galour) and Sanlitun (BAAAAAR STREEEEET)
In this land of many differences come objects of great surprise, either with unnerving shock or with the seemingly unending euphoria that lasts for but a moment. But when it comes to the familiar, something we have thought we have always know, can be twisted or changed in a way that feel the same way as with anything new or different but in a more intense manner.
Take for example, soft drinks, such as coffee flavoured soda, halloween brand banana and chocolate flavoured fanta, and cucumber flavoured sprite. These oddities may seem strange at first but once you get used to them they will seem less strange to you, and perhaps you might even come to like these new and interesting flavours. China is full of these different varieties of popular foods and brands common in western countries.
IDEA FOOD OF CHINA!!!
Speaking of food, have you guys tried Chinese food? Its so amazingly delicious that perhaps i might get lost in China just to end up in a food factory where I can endlessly eat jiaozi (dumplings) and baozi (steamed buns), both of which I can say with no uncertainy in my mind that these foods are my favourites. If you want to eat anything, just go outside for a walk and you will easily find a restaurant with just about anything you want, but if you have trouble finding what you really want, just look up the kind of food you want online or on a map app and there will definitely be a restaurant with that kind of food around the corner. And if you still can’t find the food you want, you can try out some food apps like 美团外卖 (Mei tuan wai mai), 饿了么 (e le ma), 大众点评 (Da zhong dian ping).
Deliveries aren’t all just food though. You can use apps like Taobao, Jingdong, and Dangdang to get whatever you want online for extremely low prices and ridiculously fast delivery times, often on the same day. With apps like Taobao and Jingdong, they have just about everything you might need, whereas other apps like Dangdang focus on more specific things such as books in this case.
As in addition to these apps, you can also find many useful apps in China. Some of them include Wechat which is like China’s swiss army app, Tencent maps (My all time favourite map app), 飞猪 (Fei zhu) a Chinese flight app that gives you mega-cheap flight and long distance train costs, 携程旅行 (xie cheng lü xing) for cheap hotel bookings and flights, 网易有道词典 (wang yi you dao ci dian) a fantastic online translator for English and Chinese, and Pleco an offline Chinese dictionary. All these apps have been a massive hand for my time and China and I honestly feel like things would have been much harder if I didn’t have any of them, especially wechat.
Just to give you an idea of how useful Wechat is. It is first and foremost a communication tool, but also a payment method (Wechat Pay) that makes mobile payments very easy, and its vast variety of mini-apps give it a huge variety of functions, such as being able to rent and use share bikes which are quite literally everywhere, so if you have signed up for and subscribed to those bike sharing apps, then you will be able to get on a bike anywhere, cutting down walking time considerably and sometimes being faster than the public transportation.
Speaking about biking, its probably best to not do it when it is very polluted. The pollution usually is decent enough to to bike around for an hour or so.
some quirky cultural differences:
In conclusion, Beijing is definitely worth a visit and i would highly recommend trying out everything i have mentioned in my blog and a whole lot more. I guarantee you will enjoy China! #Peace
From Nov to early Dec, it’s a perfect time to come enjoy the fallen leaves in Beijing. This season is a local favourite as autumn comes it brings clear skies and the foliage within Beijing bursts into a myriad of colours for all to see. Here are 8 best locations to catch a glimpse of these fallen leaves to appreciate this seasonal treat in Beijing. I hope you will be able to enjoy this beautiful season with the help of this guide.
Xiang Shan Park is a famous spot to see the colorful fallen leaves within Beijing. Every year when winter comes, the leaves turn to bright red and crimson, coating the ground to the red fallen leaves. This time of the year will tend to pretty cold(especially on the top of the mountain), so please remember to take a nice thick coat!
Best time to visit：November and December.
Best route to explore the park: East gate-Jing Cui Lake- Cui Wei Pavilion- Shuang Qin Villa- Xiang Shan Temple-Liang Feng Pavilion- He Shun Gate – Yu Tai Gate- Xiang Lu Peak. This is the imperial road for the ancient emperors to climb mountains and enjoy the scenery.
How to get there:
The Palace Museum is another one of the prime places to see these beautiful autumn scenery. Red walls, green tiles, and native Chinese trees are the main keynotes of the Palace Museum in autumn. With the unique beauty of ancient Chinese architecture, the scenery here is unlike any of the other locations.
Ginkgo leaves watching sites:
Zuo Yi Door （左翼门）; Green pines and yellow apricots all the way from the Wenhua Dian to the Zuoyi door, and there is a small ginkgo forest on the path.
Shi Ba Huai （十八槐）; ShiBaHuai,on the west side of Hongyi Pavilion are the most dense ginkgo trees in the imperial palace. The ginkgo biloba here is planted along the high wall, forming a ginkgo road, whether standing under the palace wall, or walking on the ginkgo road, are all perfect for photography.
YanXi Gong （延禧宫）；Step through a door along the red wall of the Dong Gong and you’ll see the thick ginkgo leaves sticking out of the wall in YanXi Gong. Here is the best site to view the beauty of gingkos in the Palace Museum.
How to get there：
The Summer Palace is predominantly filled with willows, every autumn the leaves turn to a lovely golden yellow that can lead to some amazing photos with the reflection of the water. With this the lake becomes a really special sight to see and not one sight you want to miss. The Summer Palace also has boats you can rent to take in the sights on the lake. Pick from electric and manual pedal boats to take out on to the water, this can be also be another beatuiful sight to see at sunset.
How to Get there:
Ditan park is located in the north of downtown Beijing, just past the second ring road. It was built in 1530 during the Ming dynasty, where the emperor offered sacrifices to the gods. At the center of the park lays the earth temple, from which the park got its name.
How to get there：
Take the subway and get off at Yonghegong on lines 2 and 5. It’s a five-minute walk from there.
If you want less of a wild forest and more of the tame beautiful autumn flowers, go to the Beijing botanical garden in the haidian district. Outside its 4 million square meters (990 acres) of greenhouses, hot rooms and gardens, the site boasts more than 6,000 plants. These include tropical species, aquatic plants such as lotus and lily, traditional Chinese medicines and rare species such as redwoods found in China, which were thought to have been extinct for millions of years.
How to get there:
The Olympic park is not only a sports park but also home to a kingdom of plants. The forests in the north garden will become very beautiful in autumn. Running in the Olympic park and enjoying the autumn scenery are good choices.
How to get there:
The park itself is known for its total of about 1,000 ginkgo trees, which turn suddenly yellow in autumn. Furthermore, it also has two huge areas, which are definitely can be a real bonus for au pairs. For hundreds of years, it was a favorite spot for emperors.
How to get there:
Take the subway to the military museum station (line 1 and line 9) and enter from the north side of the Chinese millennium monument.
A list of fall destinations would not be complete without the wall, as it sits on a ridge and is an ideal place to view leaves. There are several places you can go to, but the best place to visit is Mutianyu. The Great Wall is located in Huairou district, about 70 kilometers away from the center of Beijing. Further afield, tourists are less likely to be spotted than nearby Badaling.Walk a few miles along with the historic building and climb to the top of watchtowers. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery at a glance.
How to get there:
Visit MuBus website to book the bus ticket.
Hi guys, I’m Marco from Italy. I have been au pair in Beijing for almost three months. On my spare time I travelled to lots of places both in and out of the city. One of my favoriate places is a nearby city called Tianjin, which I went with two other au pairs Toby and Roxane and one of our friends in Beijing. As a coastal city on the shore of Bohai sea, it has its unique sceneries from the cosy beach to its city life. Here are my five reasons why you should visit it.
It would be a great regret if you went to Tianjin but missed the delicious food there. Among the many kinds of food, I strongly recommend the Gǒubùlǐ Baozi, which Tianjin is famous for. It’s similar to dumplings. You can probably eat Baozi anywhere in China but the Baozi in Tianjin is the most delicious ones i have tried.
We were shocked to find there were lots of people taking the quene at the restaurant so we went in just out of curiosity. Bite a mouthful of it, oily water comes out, juicy but not greasy.
There are also lots of food courts where there are foods arranging from all kinds of barbecues, cookies, fruits, to dried nuts, you should definitely try!
Interested to Chinese dialects？ A trip to Tianjin would be a good choice to hear about the Tianjin dialect spoken by the people. Besides that, the Tianjin folk arts are spectacular. It includes Xiangsheng, which is known as the comic cross talk. Xiangsheng is a comedic dialogue performance between usually two performers. Tianjin is also famous for its arts and crafts such as Clay Figure Zhang, Zhang is the family name of the person who started the business, this kind of business can usually be dated back to the 1880s. There are also Kites Wei, Instrument Li etc.
Tianjin has a combination of both old and new, Western and Chinese buildings. The buildings are generally quite tall. I visited the Italian style street. Some of the buildings there are kind of European style, it’s really a beautiful place.
If you are looking to travel outside of Beijing but don’t have a lot of time, Tianjin is a recommended place as there isn’t a very long distance from Beijing to Tianjin. It only took me one hour from Beijing train station to Tianjin, and 30 minutes with the high-speed rail from Tianjin to Beijing. The environment on the train was very friendly, the food there was super cheap(about 10 kuai) but delicious.
Our favoriate transportation to tour the city was riding bicyles. We used those shared bicycles to a few tourist places.
Tianjin Eye has a half hour ride which offers a wonderful view of the city. I recommend you to go there at night since its more colorful. From the Tianjin Eye you will be able to see the flowing Haihe River, all sorts of ancient and new buildings, music and sounds of the city.
One more thing I liked about Tianjin is its close to the beach, something I missed back in Italy! My trip was perfect after watching the sunset! You will find people in Tianjin live their life with a slower pace than in Beijing. They have no worries about being late for work. The subway is not so crowded as that in Beijing, you could follow your own step to take the subway and enjoy the trip.
Whether you’re heading to China for a week or for a year, there are a few apps you’re definitely going to need on your phone. In the past decades, with the development of China’s economy and the advancement of internet technology，almost everything can be done now on your phone. These apps are strongly recommended to help you experience life in China and explore the country without much hassle.
Once you are in China, you may find google maps doesn’t work well here. Don’t worry! Baidu map is a perfect fit on your smart phone to help you get around!
Download on Google play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.baidu.BaiduMap&hl=en_US
If you live in Beijing or Shanghai, subway is the most effective and easiest transportation. Metroman is an English interface app which is used for subway map view and intelligent path planning.
Didi is a ridesharing app which is similar to Uber. You can use didi to get a taxi easily. It should be noted that didi drivers generally do not speak English but if you enter your location precisely on the app it should be no problem!
WeChat, as the most popular socialize app in China, is a widely used tool. Your life in China may not leave WeChat. You have to use WeChat to message your friends, go shopping, pay phone bills, unlock shared bikes, transfer money to your friends and so on.
If you use C-trip, book a trip will take you less than 3 minutes!
You can use c-trip to book train tickets and fights, or find out where to go hiking. This app has both Chinese and English supports.
Meituan has a collection of food, drink and entertainment information. People like to check the nearby restaurants, web celebrity bubble tea, famous snacks and other information on it. Meituan is a very convenient APP when you go out and party. Pay attention to their discount information every now and then!
Duolingo, a free language learning app which includes Chinese and many other languages. Duolingo’s design is very user-friendly, it is fun to study since its like a game, and with no interruptions by ads. After choosing a language course, two difficulty settings will be provided according to the user’s ability. One is for beginners and another for intermediate learners.
WPS is a useful free Office App for smart phone (iPad) and PC. It works both on Android and iPhone. You can use this App to read or edit documents on your smart phone. It supports “word files”,”Powerpoint files”,”Excel files” and PDF files and it has language support for 8 languages on the PC and 64 languages on the mobile app. One account can get you 1G free cloud space, to access files anytime between computers or mobile devices.
Download on https://www.wps.com/
Shimo Office is an online web office App for noting or writing essays. It is also Aupairia’s official tool for writing your daily reports which is part of the program. You can use shimo to take notes when you study Chinese and it is easy to share it with your friends with a short link.
Get more https://shimo.im/
DangDang（当当） specializes in selling books. On this website, you can find almost all the books you wish to purchase. They offer 30% off sale on lots of books, constantly giving you a surprise! Its interface only supports Chinese. You can translate what you want into Chinese and put it into the search bar. I don’t recommend you buy anything except books on dangdang unless you really like it. And it is strongly recommended that you fill in the delivery address to be the Aupairia office address to avoid losing your favoriate books! Website: www.dangdang.com
Youdao translator is issued by netease and youdao. It is the first translation app that supports offline translation feature, and it can be used without network. The app supports translation of 107 languages including Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, Russian and Spanish. Equipped with powerful camera and photo translation feature, the translation results can be obtained quickly.
Jd, comparable to Amazon, is a shopping website with a big range of products. Jd has a fast logistics network, you can get the goods you buy online very quickly. It also supports the use of WeChat payment, which brings great convenience to your online shopping experience. If you are not sure how to express what you want to buy in Chinese, don’t hesitate to ask your Aupairia supervisor for help.
Ele. me is an online meal ordering app. You can choose your favorite restaurant nearby and order online. Fill in an address and someone will take your food to the place you specify.
Luckin coffee is a very popular coffee store in China, you can see them everywhere in Beijing. Luckin coffee has a unique taste and many coffee varieties. A new user can get a cup of coffee for free from the coffee store. You can choose to pick it up in the store or pay a delivery fee to deliver it to your designated location.
Du Chinese is a powerful tool that makes Chinese learning simple and effective. Their built-in features let you practice your Chinese in a more natural environment, with assistance provided whenever you need it.
This app has a dictionary function that shows you what each specific word means in a sentence. The sentences are manually translated by their instructors into proper English. The current word is highlighted karaoke-style to help you read along. Du Chinese has over 1 000 Chinese lessons with 5-6 new lessons added each week. The lessons are categorized by difficulty and topic to optimise your learning experience.
Get the installing from web: https://www.duchinese.net/
Tencent video offers you a great selection of dramas, movies and many other TV shows for free!
Free online music player. You can find most of the popular songs on Netease Music. https://music.163.com/
Hope these recommendations are useful for your life and study as an au pair in China. Please e-mail me when you need any help or have any trouble during using these Apps.
Jet lag is a problem that always bothers travellers when they are travelling across many time zones especially for au pairs flying from a western country to China. Your body perceives the previous time zone and feels tired, excited or sleepy etc in the wrong time in the new time zone. Don’t worry! We have some advice for you!
1.Prepare in advance
Don’t just get your package done before you start, get yourself prepared physically as well: set your watch and daily life time (time to have a meal, to wake up, to go to bed etc) closer to that of your travel destination after you get on board the plane. For example, if you are travelling from New Zealand to China, try to sleep later than usual. Remember only to adjust your watch after you are in the plane unless you want to miss your flight!
2.Drink more water than usual
Drinking more water is important, because a lack of water will enhance the feeling of jet lag, so even if you are not thirsty, also try to drink more water. However, skip drinks with alcohol and caffeine, because they will make you lose water quicker.
3.Try to sleep at the plane
Though dificult, try to sleep at the plane. Bring earplugs and patches, try not to be influenced by the surroundings.
Despite your long, tiring flight, try not to sleep for too long. Get up in the morning according to the Beijing time. Leave your pillows and beds alone, talk to someone, or go out for a walk.
5.Adapt to the local weather
If you are travellng to somewhere colder, bring more warm clothes. If warmer, pack some light clothes for the warm weather.
Hope the information could help smooth your au pair stay in China. And enjoy your unforgettable experience in China!