after almost a year back home, I decided to leave again and so I did last July. This time I did not choose a western country but I accepted a bigger challenge: China. BIG for real. Right now I am writing from the 16th floor of a beautiful building in Hangzhou, with an amazing view all over the town. What I am doing here is called au pairing ( same job I did in the States, here for more info)
but in China the idea behind this program is different. In the States, being an au pair means to be a nanny, in China it means to be an English teacher. There is a lot to say about China but let’s start from the beginning. How do you become an au pair in China?
The first decision you need to make is: agency or not agency? Since China can be very challenging, my advice is not to come by yourself but look for a good agency that can help you before and after your departure. I knew some people who were au pairing in China and they told me about their experiences. I got in contact with an agency and they gave me all the details. My plan was to leave as soon as I could, so I started the process few days after that. The important documents that you will need are: your diploma, criminal records and a good health certificate.
Before starting to fill in your application, the agency will ask for a video interview to test your English. You don’t need a C1 level, but it is very important that you feel confident to speak English. Chinese families expect their kids to improve their English thanks to you. If your English is good enough you can write your personal profile, answering to the usual questions: “Why do you want to be an au pair?”, “Do you have any childcare experience?”, “Do you have any hobbies?”. Once your application is translated in Chinese, your profile will be online.
If a family is interested in you, the agency will schedule an interview via WeChat ( a translator will help you to communicate with the family). This is the matching process. You are free to talk to as many family you would like to until you feel like you found the perfect one. Chinese families are very different from western ones and the ones who look for au pairs are usually extremely rich. For example, where I live there are also a nanny, a driver, a cook and a cleaning lady. I noticed how Chinese families are very fast in picking au pairs, many of my interviews lasted only 10 minutes and I even got offers to join the family after those 10 minutes.
After choosing the family, you will be ask to pay the agency and they will send you the flight ticket and all the papers you need to get your visa. In China there is not a specif visa for au pairs, the one you will get is the student visa. This is possible because part of the program consists in taking Chinese classes, 5 hours a week, and thanks to this school you can be considered as a student.
Apply for a Chinese visa is quite easy. In Italy there are offices that do the job for you. You only need to go there and show them the documents that the agency sent you, especially the one who said that you will be enrolled into a Chinese school. My visa was ready after 4 working days. Once you get your visa you just need to wait the day you will leave.
P.S. I forgot something very important. How long can you stay here? My agency has many options. You can stay for a minimun of 6 weeks ( only leaving in May, June, July or January) but without getting any pocket money. If you want to stay longer, you can choose to stay for 3 or 6 months/ 9 or 12 months.