Male Au Pair In China - Story

Antoine, 24 years old Frenchman, has worked as an Au pair in Gunagzhou, China. He agreed to share his unque experience and answered 10 questions. Do you want to know how it is to be a male Au pair in Asia? Read more below!

Antoine, when did you come up with the idea of working as an Au pair in China?

I just love travelling and living in a foreign country is a perfect way to go beyond tourism and experience a country more deeply. At first, I wanted to work as an Au pair in Argentina to visit the South American country and to learn Spanish. But things went into a different direction. I registered on some websites and someone offered me an Au position in China and …. I accepted!

What was your first impression of your new host family? How did you adapt to their lifestyle?

During my stay in China I worked for two different families. Getting used to new people each time wasn’t that easy.  But in the end it was the same everywhere, the same routine during the week.

What did your typical day look like? What were your duties?

Again, duties varied depending on the family. In the first one, I had to go to the university every morning to follow my Chinese classes.  In the afternoon I could do whatever I wanted until my host kid came back. Then I spent some time with the kid – we played and I taught him some English. Sometimes I prepared meals for my host family and other times I helped my host mum in her job (she is an English teacher). During the weekend I used to give English lessons to some of her students. Basically my main duty was to be a part of the Chinese family.

How did you spend your free time?

I spent most of my free time with other Au pairs. We were going out together, visiting some historical places or just wandering around. In China nothing was quite similar to my country so there were plenty of new things to discover. During my stay in China I also made excursions to some other Asian countries: Korea and Indonesia.

Different cultures have usually different ways of bringing up children. What kind of differences did you notice yourself? What surprised you the most?

I don’t know what people say in your country but in France, people call the Chinese kids the “king children” who are almighty in their family. Chinese kids are almost always just children and their parents treat them as “their treasure”. In addition, parents are often busy at work and often leave their child with a nanny who basically brings them up.  Therefore, Chinese children can be difficult at times. Regarding to my experience, my host kids were nice and polite. But a friend of mine had a worse experience. He worked for a rich family with 2 kids. The parents were not able to feed their daughters without the help of a nanny so they bribed their kids with 100 yuan (10 euro) to make them eat their lunch or dinner. I emphasize that it one extreme example but in my opinion that kind of missbehavior is  more common to happen in China than in Europe.

What different cultural traditions and customs did you learn from your host family?

Traditions are a really important part of Chinese culture. It would take many hours to describe all the customs I learnt. Chinese people believe that you shouldn’t touch other people (including children) on the head, as it is spiritually the ‘highest’ part of the body. Chinese people consider it inappropriate taking pictures in Buddhist temples. And of course, you shouldn’t have political talks or criticize the government leaders, present and the past. Lack of knowledge about the customs and the traditions can make a European rude or foolish.

What aspects of being an Au pair did you enjoy the most?

Being an Au pair is a great chance to experience another culture without spending too much money. It is also the best way to learn or reinforce a foreign language.

What aspects of being an Au pair did you find the most difficult?

If you hope to earn a lot of money, being an Au pair can be a though experience as your family provides you just a small stipend. Although I didn’t had to worry about accommodations costs, living with other people wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. In China, people don’t tell directly you what they really want so it’s sometimes hard to understand their expectations.

How did you benefit from being Au pair?

The main benefit was the cultural experience and the friends I made during my stay in Asia. The au pair program let me also gain some childcare experience – the knowledge of how to deal with children.

Antoine, could you give us a piece of advice for future Au pairs?

Being an Au pair can be used for various purposes: personal experience, language learning, making friends and eventually commercial contacts. You can also use this job as a perfect way to stay in a foreign country and even looking for a job at the end of your contract. If one of these purposes attract you, it is really worth to try.

Regarding to my experience, I would recommend not getting too much involved with the family as you’ll leave them sooner or later.

In tropical countries, you should respect all the hygiene recommendations especially concerning food and drinks. Also, try to avoid any kind of behavior that could create problems, especially with locals.

To finish, my experience told me that becoming Au pair might the biggest adventure of your life provided that you carefully chose your  host family. My first one was great but the second was very religious while I am totally atheist. No need to explain that we got quite a lot of religious debates to “save my soul”.

The interview is copied from:

AuPairGarden AuPairGarden
May 21, 2012