Monday, 27 July 2020

The lucky 2020, quarantine & one Italian #loveaupair

How I did not want to give up

When I decided to leave for China, my plans certainly did not include what happened. At the beginning of the pandemic, I received dozens of messages and calls from friends, relatives, even strangers who repeated to me to return immediately to Italy. Instead, I decided to trust my personal judgment and what people said to me here: respecting the rules, staying at home, the situation will improve. 

As a result, China has always been the safest place for me because as China recovered, Italy was starting to show the first signs of a fall. But the phrase that bothered me most was "I'm sorry, you were really unlucky." To be honest, I always thought I wasn't particularly lucky... Yet during all these months it never occurred to me, indeed if you have the patience to read these few lines, I explain to you why the feeling that I perceived and that I will perceive by remembering this period was only luck.

My journey to China

I arrived in China on January 1, 2020, stopped in Wuhan and then landed in Hangzhou, where the family that would welcome me for the following months was waiting for me. Yes, you read that correctly. I stopped in the hotbed of the current global pandemic. And all this time I have done nothing but think about how lucky I was to have been there at that precise moment, without any consequence. 

When I arrived in Hangzhou my new family welcomed me with a bouquet of flowers and embarrassed smiles, the first thing I said to Hannah (what should be the "host mother", but which I have always seen as an older sister) I think it was "sorry, can I hug you?"And if you still have any doubts, yes, I'm Italian and I love hugs. In recent months I have had the opportunity to get to know my "new family" better and I firmly believe that I have been tremendously lucky to have happened in such a special environment.

My tricky host boy Max The boy I should have taught English, but who has become more of an adventure companion with whom I shared this strange experience, is called Max. He is an intelligent and curious child, who loves Harry Potter like me, but hates reading books in the original language (the reason for continuous discussions between us). I always think there is a hate-love relationship between me and Max, which makes our relationship very interesting: maybe we love each other, but often we can't stand each other. With all the time we have available to study together, I think it has now reached my level of knowledge of English ... and also my level of knowledge of Disney songs. 

But it's not just Max ... it's all his family that made me feel right. Her parents made me feel at home even in such a paradoxical situation. Sharing spaces is not easy and coexistence can often be complicated. Here, I have never felt this feeling, while remaining locked up in the house with them for more than 50 days. If this is not luck! They always treated me with respect, they listened to me and accepted me. 

The energy of a volcano? Max's little cousin

I met Max's grandmother and grandfather, thoughtful in different ways: my grandmother always offers me a lot of fruit, while my grandfather always fills my glass. Then I was lucky enough to meet Chloè, the little cousin of Max, and her family. Chloè has the energy of a volcano that sometimes amazes you with her sweetness. The relationship between her and Max has repeatedly made me smile, they protect each other like the most valiant warriors.

Furthermore, even while staying at home I discovered new things. For example, when they made me try foods I didn't even imagine existed, most of them delicious, while some, let's face it, disgusting (the egg with the chick inside); or, when they showed me how to write with brushes and ink and there I understood all the magic behind it, all the precision and technique, all the passion, art and beauty; or again, when we did karaoke at home, alternating Chinese songs with Italian, English or Spanish songs. Then when we started going out again, we made small trips near the city where I live. And perhaps if I had had the opportunity to go further, I would not have been able to discover and appreciate the beauty that I have around here. 

It's all fascinating

One of the things that I certainly loved the most were travelling by car with music to keep us company and the scenery to chase us. Some of these songs will remain in my heart forever. Plus, I didn't leave for China to learn the language perfectly or to become "Dora the Explorer". 

There is a reason before every change we do in our lives

I left because I needed to disconnect from my reality, I needed a different experience that enriched my soul. I needed to discover new ways of thinking and to approach life, I needed to appreciate the beauty of the "different". So I think I have achieved my goal. In fact, maybe I was lucky enough to go further. To conclude... these months have been a continuous surprise and a gift for those who, like me, can see beyond two simple walls.


Monday, 9 March 2020

Trying to live normally by Jenna

Hey everybody, it’s Jenna writing this from my apartment in Shenzhen! Yes, I said it, I am still in China, and boy is it quiet!  This is day 12 of not leaving my apartment, but I would rather be bored, sanitized and safe than sick right now. I hope everyone is staying safe in China, well anywhere in the world right now. This post this week is going to be about how to kill boredom, and most importantly how to stay safe. 

What it is like?

Let’s start with what it is like. First, I want to say, I am not here to bash anything about China, I love living here, and I think officials are handling the situation fairly well where I am at. Anyway, as an au pair,  living with my boyfriend here in Shenzhen we both are not seeing the kids we see every day. Who knows when they will open schools, etc. back up again?

Dead city, wearing masks and other rules
Let me tell you when we got back from our tropical vacation in Cambodia, it was “dead” in the city of Shenzhen. Temperatures were being checked from when we left the airport, on the highway, (yes in the middle of the highway), and at the gate of our apartment complex. Most food delivery services are suspended from taking your food up to the door, you have to walk down to the tables they set it on and hope someone doesn’t take your food! Masks, masks, masks are worn everywhere.

For the safety of course, but people do not get within 10 feet of each other. Okay, so I am exaggerating, but there is a little bit of a panic, however, there doesn’t need to be as long as you cover your mouth when you sneeze, and wash your hand THOROUGHLY!

Killing the boredom
No one can see the peak of the madness ends soon, so might as well make the best of it. Grab the remote, stock up on some of your favourite snacks, and just be able to enjoy staying at home, because it may be awhile. Hey, you can always get that laundry done you were meant to do! 

Stay safe
Please, whether you are with a host family or not, stay indoors! Wear a mask if you have to go outside, for grocery shopping or something like that. Cover your coughs and your sneezes, and WASH YOUR HANDS! I find it helps to sing happy birthday while doing it. ;) If this is done, we can beat this! I will be praying for all the families that have been affected by this virus, stay safe in the world. 

What is your favourite thing on Netflix you have binged?
Comment below...


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

5 months in China | Au Pair Paola

I’ll just start off by saying you don’t know the ride you’re in for. My name is Paola and I just spent the last 5 months of my life being a big sister to a 2-year-old girl in Dongguan, China. 

There are so many things I could tell you about my experience. There were up and downs along the way. There was good, bad and there was ugly, just like any other experience. And of course moving abroad to a place you don’t know much about, where you don’t speak one word of the language and where you will be living with complete strangers for the following months does sound scary and risky but isn’t that what life is about? 

If I hadn’t taken that risk I’m certain I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Because yes, China will change you for the better. It has changed me. It is like there’s a Paola before China and the one I become because of all that. 

In China, I found myself a second family, a second home and I also fell in love with a culture. All the same time. My hosts were a Cantonese family based in Dongguan, southern China. Whom today I can call my second family. 

Not only did I experience countless amazing things I wouldn’t have been able to without them. Trips, family gatherings, traditional Chinese weddings, the most delicious food I have ever tasted and even the end of the year-Chinese company dinner. But, also they made me experience what it’s like being part of a Chinese family.  

Don’t get me wrong, the trips were amazing too, but my favourite part definitely was being able to form a bond with the family. There was nothing more comforting than the little things such as sitting with your family eating tong sui (sweet soup. it’s delicious, I promise) on a Sunday afternoon.

Those moments where you’re not feeling great, maybe you’re kinda homesick, but your host family will talk to you to comfort you and cheer you up; or even the most simple thing like your host mom buying your favourite food or snack when she was at the store because she remembered you remembered you liked it...

Living abroad will always be a bumpy road, where you don’t really know what’s going to happen next, but you will never know until you take the risk. 

So, dear future au pair, pack your bags and get ready for the time of your life!

Paola :)

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Free time in china by Jenna

Au pairs are either constantly busy with the kids or always free. You may be busy picking up the kiddos from school, playing with them, or helping them with their homework. You may be free because the kids are at school and you have nothing to do. Fear not, this post will be all about free time as an au pair and what to do in that spare time.

Going out? Yes, you can!
As a former au pair in Hangzhou and Shenzhen my schedule was very open (and similar), so I am an expert in the subject. My schedule consisted of English class in the evenings then dinner. Lastly, the kids had their bedtime routines. Sometimes I helped out with bedtime, sometimes I did not. This schedule made it so my whole day was free, from when they woke up until they got home from school. I went out a lot, whether that be by myself on walks to see the city, or out with friends to grab a bubble tea and get our eyelashes done. 

The first step is figuring out what you want to do. You want to be alone with your thoughts? Go on a walk, from personal experience Hangzhou and Shenzhen have some great parks. In Hangzhou, there is the famous West Lake to walk around. In Shenzhen, you can walk along a boardwalk and look out at the ocean. 

Manis or pedis?
If you want to be with friends there are plenty of  bars to go to in both cities. You can normally find places where all the ex-pats go. Feeling hungry? Want to save money? Canteen style restaurants are where it is at! Then grab something sweet at the famous chain Coco for some bubble tea. One of my favourite things to do it go to the beauty salon. Whether that be to get manis or pedis, or your eyelashes done, grab a girlfriend, your WeChat for translating and relax. Prices for the salon depending on the area and salon, and sometimes what discounts they have going on that day. 

Transportation while in China
As a next, you need to figure out how to get there. Transportation in a big city is everywhere, especially in China. Fun fact: did you know in Shenzhen the blue taxis are all-electric powered? If they are red they are gas-powered...go green! Easy ways to get around fast is the metro station! You can download a subway map of the area, find the stop you want to go and enjoy the well deserved free time! Make sure you don’t miss your stop. There are also taxi and rideshare services, the bus, biking, and walking. 

There is just so many things you can do in your free time and If you are wondering, whether you will chance to improve your Chinese, the answer is YES! 

What do you like to do in your free time? Let me know in comments below,

Xoxo, Jenna

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Au Pair & craft tips to do with your host kids

Crafting is so much fun! But did you know it's important for development as well!! Crafting can help children with their small and gross motor skills and also teach multicultural holidays. Here are a few of my favourites for Halloween and Thanksgiving!

Spooky Spider! 
 Supplies needed:
 Black paper (or plain)
 Markers (or paint!)
 Scissors Googly eyes (optional)

For this craft, you will need to fold the paper in half and have the child trace their hand at the seam of the fold. Then have the child cut along the lines of their tracing. When opened up you will have a double handprint! If you used black paper all you now have to do is either draw your eyes on or glue googly eyes to the paper! Of you choose plain paper then have the child paint or colour the spider’s blacks then add eyes! For added add a silly or scary mouth to your spiders!! You can also make a spiderweb for your new spooky spiders to hang out in!

Floating Ghosts! 
 Supplies needed: 2 tissues (per child)
 Ok balled up the other flat.
 String markers

This craft is simple and very cheap to make! First ball up on tissue to be the head of the ghost, the cover the head with the second tissue and tie it off with the string. Decorate with faces and whatever your child would like! For added fun use a long string to hang the ghosts to make them fly!

Hand Turkeys! 
 Paper Paint Googly eyes (optional)

This is one of my absolute favourite crafts To do! It doesn't even have to be just a turkey, they can be turned into Santa faces as well for Christmas!! Help your child paint the palm of their hands and their thumbs brown and then allow them to pick colours for the other finger. The child should relax their hand and press it into the paper for maximum colouring. Once dry they can draw a face on their turkey (or Santa)! For added fun have the children use each "feather" to come up with something that they are thankful for!!

I hope that these crafts will bring so much fun and joy to you and yours as they have mine!

xoxo, Jenna 

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Packing to China: Au Pair edition

I have been here for 9 months already with 3 more to go. When it comes to packing I am a wizard. But that wasn't so for when I first moved here. So I want to help those of you who have no idea how to pack or what to bring!!

1) Clothes
This is obviously priority number one but doesn't get carried away. Bring only maybe 10 outfits that you can mix and match to make more combinations. I suggest not bringing dresses and skirts that you would never wear back home. You won't wear them here either. Also, you're working with kids … don't be stupid and bring only name brand super cute clothes. 

Let's talk about bras. Buy extra. Of every kind you can. It's China… if you're bigger than an A cup you're going to have a hell of a time finding your size. 

2) Shoes I brought three pairs. And it was the worst mistake. It takes up room in your limited space. Bring a pair of walking shoes and maybe a slip-on. But honestly, all you need is walking shoes. You can find any shoe here for super cheap. There's no point in wasting your space on it.

3) Medicine
Oh Chinese medicines… don't rely on them. I brought a whole person of "western medicine" because they think hot water is a cure-all. (I'm all for homoeopathic medicines but be smart… you need real medicine sometimes.) You can never be too safe when it comes to what medicine you bring. The OCT stuff you're used to isn't sold here. And bring big bottles. When if comes to prescriptions always talk to your Dr about what you need to do

4) Toiletries
Everything here is pretty cheap but if you have curly hair like I do then you'll need to stock up and bring it with you. If you can even find curly products here they are way expensive and take months to come in. Deodorant should also be stocked up on…. Just trust me on that. Bring several of your favourites because they don't have it here. Most don't even know what stick deodorant is. 

5) Pack all of your clothes into vacuum seal bags and you'll be amazed at how much room it can save!!! That's about all you need. Maybe a light jacket depending on your area you're in. But again. They are cheap here and you have limited space. A MINIMALIST lifestyle is a way to go here. A family could change their mind and you have only 2 days to leave or you could last a full year with 1 family and you need to use this to get back home.. trust me I know what I'm talking about. 

xoxo, Danielle

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Totally scared and really excited | Aurora

I’m Aurora from Italy and I’ve been living in China for two months.
So many people just talk about other countries knowing nothing but stereotypes. Actually, I kinda did the same when I talked about China before the experience I just had. I won’t ever forget the day I took my plane from Italy to Hangzhou and how I felt (a mix between totally scared and really excited) and I will always remember the culture shock I got right when I met my host family - I gave them my hand for a handshake and they just ignored me and went over.

Me and my 2 host girls. Did I tell you we had our private driver?

This experience in China made me much richer: I literally discovered a new world.

This experience in China made me much richer: I literally discovered a new world! I must say that China is a two faces country: one shows you the roots of this country proud of his own ancient culture and history, the other totally open mind and willing to develop. During these months I experienced so many things that not even a book would be enough to tell them all but I would really recommend everyone to live it!

My host family took me to eat Italian food. Chinese people love it.

Now my experience is over but the bond I made with my friends (they have been more than “just” a host family) and my “two little sisters” will last forever, thank you all.


Blog Design by Get Polished