This month, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Lydia.  She worked abroad with us for six months in Beijing, China.  Read more to learn about her favourite moments as a Canadian in Beijing, her day-to-day as a cultural ambassador and recommendations for people looking to work abroad.

Lydia, which program did you do, and which city were you placed in?

I was a Canadian cultural ambassador in Beijing.

That’s an amazing immersion experience, and also very interesting from a professional perspective!  How did you find working in China?

Working as a Canadian cultural ambassador was amazing, traveling always been a passion. Working in the travel industry was a perfect fit.

How long was the program you did? 

The program I did was six months long. 

Living with a family can be so rewarding.  We think working as a cultural ambassador is a great way to learn about another culture and make lasting international connections.  Could you describe your day-to-day with your host family and kids?

From Monday to Friday, I get up and eat breakfast with my host family,  accompanying my host child to the local daycare. My host child and I would do several activities such as reading books, painting, role playing, dancing and going to the park. We often have family gatherings on the weekends.

We often hear people say they made fantastic friends while doing our China program.  Could you tell us a bit about your social life in China?

I’ve met a lot of people from around the world with whom I am still in touch with. Culture class allowed me to interact easily during our monthly gatherings with my fellow classmates and au pair friends. Being a Canadian cultural ambassador make me more confident.  I was able to talk to new people, or strangers when I needed help for directions.

Any recommendations for someone visiting China for the first time? (ie.  your favorite spot, great food, activities to try etc.)

If you want to eat and shop on a budget, 7th Eleven and Miniso are perfect for you. There are lots of things to see at The Art District and Taoranting Park is cheap and really beautiful

Do you still keep in touch with your host family? 

Yes, I still keep in touch with them, but It’s difficult due to the time difference.

Au pairing is much more than the job description.  People au pair for different reasons, and likewise, enjoy different aspects of their life abroad. What were your favourite things to do outside of work hours?

My favourite things to do outside of work were exploring with my friends, taking pictures, meeting new people, dancing, trying new food at local restaurants and shopping.

China must have been a fantastic experience, and also very different. Do you have any favourite moments that stand out to you as “typically Chinese” and which you wouldn’t have been able to have in Canada? 

Every time my friends and I were hanging out we would always came across Chinese people who wanted to take pictures with us. It was definitely a culture shock for us. Eating with chopsticks on a daily basis was quite challenging, but I got the hang of it in the end! 

Deciding to work abroad can be a tough decision.  It helps to hear about international opportunities through close friends, but not all of our participants hear about us through word-of-mouth.  What part of Canada where you coming from, and how did you hear about Scotia Personnel?

I come from Ottawa. When I was in college I was assigned to do research and prepare a presentation on Scotia Personnel.  

-you have to get the following documents to get an interview: resume, references, criminal record check, medical records Canadian passport, self’-portraits with friends, family and children etc.

-a Skype interview with Marilyn to discuss your personal interests, hobbies, travel experience, work experience etc.

– there’s a program fee, depending on the program, if your interview is successful.

– you have to write a dear host family letter about your background and goals 

– potential families will be listed for you

– you have to fill in an application.

Don’t worry, Scotia Personnel will help you step by step. Scotia Personnel will assist you with your visa and will make sure you arrive at your destination.

Could you describe the interview and placement process? Would you work with us again?

Yes, I will work with Scotia Personnel in the near future.

Living abroad isn’t for everyone.  Would you consider living in China, or another country outside Canada again?

Traveling is my passion. My dream is to travel the world. I would like to go live in Italy.

If you were to meet someone considering working abroad, but afraid to take the leap, what advice would you give them?

Traveling is very rewarding and educational. It will allow you to learn about another culture, make friends from around the world, and become more independent and cultured. It gives you a different perspective on life.

How did our partner organization China help you during your stay?

They picked me up at the airport.  Absolutely everything was provided during my 3 days of orientation session (touring, food and hostel), and I was always able to contact them for help.  

Would you recommend our Cultural Ambassador in China program? If so, how would you describe the job and benefits to someone who didn’t know much or anything about it?

The Cultural Ambassador in China program is amazing because it covers your airfare, free mandarin classes two times a week and cultural activities monthly. You will get support 24/7. You will meet a lot of people and gain cultural knowledge.