Au Pair Diary Ⅰ
How to be an au-pair in China. My thoughts and feelings.
I came to China about 2 months ago. However, I have a feeling like I've been living here already for 5 months. Especially my first month seemed so interminable. I guess it was like that because I got too much new information. Also my lifestyle changed a lot. My psyche needed the time to adapt to new way of life.
When I told my parents and my friends about my trip to China, they thought I went bugs because:
1. I will live in China for 6 months. People in Russia have no idea how the life in China is. I knew my parents wouldn't like me to go there that's why I told them about my trip only when I had bought the tickets. After my coming I told them a lot of interesting facts about China, the life and people here and about my new lifestyle. That's why my parents stopped to worry.
2. I will live with children. Everyone suggested me to leave this idea. :D
I had the exhaust flight to China + nobody spoke English + everything was so different + I had troubles with connection = I can't say my first impression about China was very good. But I had changed my mind later.
To be honest I worried a lot before meeting with family. First of all I worried of children's reaction. If they didn't like me or didn't want me to be with them, it would be very complicated to live with them till November. Secondly I worried about parents' expectations and I didn't want them to disappoint.
Nevertheless I had a good first impression about family. Children were glad to meet me, parents were very nice with me. I liked the atmosphere in their home that's why I felt better.
I started to live new way and I got some difficulties.
The most complicated things:
1) Before my coming to China I had been living alone for 2 years far from my parents, that's why I was totally independent. It means I had the unlimited freedom. Here my situation had changed completely. It means I lost the freedom, the part of my possibilities and autonomy and got new rules. Of course I understand it's a part of Au-pair program. And I was ready to that but anyway I needed the time to get used to live new way. (I think it's one most difficult things for au-pairs in general)
2) It's a feeling of "being useless". I had this feeling In the beginning when I was a new person for children and they didn't want to speak English. I really worried if they will never speak English with me. Also I wanted to be busier than I was. I mean I wanted to do more for family and for children (I still want to do more for them).
Now the situation has changed and kids use English words more and more. They just need the time. Once I realized English for them is like Chinese for me. And I'm sure children know more English words than I do Chinese. :D
3) Children's relation to me. At first I should become a friend for children because it's very important to be a lovely person for them. I suppose I've done it. I think so because they like to spend their time with me. But there is a dark side of it. Now they don't see the difference between us. For them I'm like a coeval. That's why they don't understand when I ask them seriously to stop doing something because they think I play with them. And also I can't teach them like a teacher and the only way to teach them English is our mutual action.
4) During first 2-3 weeks it's impossible to have a feeling of "elder sister". It means for an au-pair it's a new "job". So, psychologically it's really very hard because it's like you live "at work" with your "boss" and you can't leave it.
So, indeed the first 2-3 weeks were very difficult. It was the hardest time for me in China. I was afraid of making mistakes because I wanted to meet the expectations. I couldn't exactly understand that I should do with children. I was calming down when I thought: "If my host family didn't like me, they would let me know". For me it was very important to get feedback either good or bad. And it's still very important to get a feedback.
Moreover emotionally it was so complicated to become a friend for children. First of all it was because they didn't understand me. I couldn't explain them what I wanted to do or why I did something. At the same time I couldn't understand them. Secondly all children have their own world and this world is different. So, you should be very flexible and adroit to be accepted there.
Also it was the time of changing my habits, getting use to live new way. I'm used to move, to change the houses and the jobs that's why I know it's always hard to change the habits and the lifestyle. This time was the most difficult though. Probably it was such way because my lifestyle had changed completely. But I know this experience will give me much more than others did.