Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part Two

I have spent the last two months au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here. You can also find part one to this story, here.


Close your eyes, close your eyes and get a surprise

This fun children’s chant could not be more apt in describing my experience in Shenzhen. With every day that comes by, and the shut-eyes in between, I find myself learning more about the environment that lays around me.

Despite the temperamental drenching rain, and the (at times) stifling heat that so threatens to envelop you, the Shenzhen air is clear and the sky is bright.

For those of you who are considering joining the LoPair au pair programme, don’t forget your sun cream – you’re certainly going to need it once you’re here!

One of the most important things to do whilst you are out here, asides from maintaining your work and class duties, is to find and build a support system. I know personally that my experience would not have been the same had it not been for my fellow au pairs. Wechat is such a nifty tool to communicate with others, and it is something that I have definitely taken advantage of whilst I have been here.

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Moments for wechat users is what stories are like for fans of Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram. Something you can use to show off your lesson plans, and travels. It’s a great way of keeping track of those around you, and of highlighting some of your favourite moments in China. It is these personal touches, aided by digital bytes, that are ubiquitous here. Certainly what surprised me when I arrived, was the seamless integration of technology that exist in everyday life here. For example, people can pay for meals or simple trinkets using wechat pay. You could come across, even the most remote shop in the city, and they would accept payment by mobile. Just scan the QR code, and you’re a-go.

It is with this in mind, that I am left wondering why Chinese stereotypes are not extended to technology. A city full of digital minds and hearts, Shenzhen certainly has a reputation for being the pinnacle of technological innovation (having been dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley), however the same could not be said of reputations elsewhere. China is opening its mind (and wallet) to the possibilities of open networks and constant trade of information and goods, and the rest of the world should take note. With one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world, China is making a stand for modernity and connection.

It would, however, be a digression to delve further into the inner mechanisms of Chinese society. Certainly that can be left to the sociologists, anthropologists and economists of the world.

What are worth noting instead are the smaller connections that are forged within this community. Recently, I attended a KTV session (essentially a karaoke booth) with some other au pairs. From this, I had hoped for two things: to gain a finer appreciation for Chinese culture, and to stretch out my vocal chords. As I expected, I was able to achieve both objectives. There is something special about sharing a song with others. Amidst all your struggles and worries, you can left everything go in the middle of a Beyoncé or ABBA song. It was something I needed, and something I really enjoyed. Despite the lack of up-to-date English songs (unfortunately Despacito doesn’t count, however memorable and fun it may be), the booth was packed with throwbacks. Picture Jamilla and Natasha Beddingfield: absolute classics in their time, and you can begin to have some idea as to what the atmosphere was like that night.

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It is from this high that I hope to embark on new adventures in my journey here in China.

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Warm air and picturesque surroundings – what more can you ask for?

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part One

I have spent the last month au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here.


 

The art of using chopsticks: like all things in China, it requires focus, speed and precision. It is something I have been getting used to these past few weeks, and like the hustle and bustle of the city, it is slowly becoming a second nature to me.

My experience in the Middle Kingdom has been stimulating to say the least.

From traversing the subway system to tackling testy VPN connections, Shenzhen has not been without its challenges, but like most trials, it has also borne some satisfying ends.

Despite not being particularly known for their warm hospitality worldwide, the people in China have been among the friendliest that I have come across. When you walk around the city, the only danger you face is the traffic (or getting lost!) and the weather is a warm welcome, and a fine departure from the cold drizzle commonly found in Britain.

You are taken in by the vibrance and stir of the city, and by the aroma of street markets and restaurants. The city is young and fresh, and in this moment, you are one of its makers.

Hangzhou group

Arrival orientation in Hangzhou

I have been in Shenzhen for about a month now and in this time, I have gained the pleasure of getting to know my host brother Brian. A sweet-natured five year old boy, he has taken to British children songs like a regular native. From memorising the words to 10 Green Bottles to Coulter’s Candy (a Scottish classic) to even Frère Jacques (allowing him to expand his repertoire of foreign songs from English to French), it has been a sight to see him grow in confidence in learning popular culture from the West.

It is with this eager companion of mine, I have experienced some of my best days here. From swimming in Guangzhou – a marvellous city where Chinese tradition meets modernity – to trying different teas (how I could write about the tea!) to finding a song in every object (Circle, square, triangle, I see shapes everywhere ‘’ Rain, rain go away, come again another day), China has been full of small wonders, and it is these wonders I look forward to, day in and day out.

As a third of my trip goes by, I find myself wistfully yearning for the next adventures of my Chinese experience.

Guanzhou city view

A city full of people – the opportunities are out there!

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Backpacker Beauty: How to Stay Looking Good When You’re Living Out of a Rucksack

My seventeenth article for moonproject has been published and it’s about the top beauty regimes to follow when backpacking (Backpacker Beauty: How to Stay Looking Good When You’re Living Out of a Rucksack), so please check it out and check out other people’s articles because it is really an amazing blog on virtually every subject out there.

A gap year is a rite of passage for anyone but looks never seems to make the cut of “important things”. Here are my top tips for becoming a backpacking beauty.

18 hour coach journeys may be cheap but they don’t keep your hair grease-free and they certainly challenge your (supposedly) 24-hour long antiperspirants. This, however, doesn’t mean beauty is it out of the question. Here are some of my best tips for staying glamorous whilst travelling.

DIY Products

Even when I am not travelling, I still love to make my own beauty products. One of my favourite treatments involves just two ingredients: milk and lemon. First of all, collect your ingredients: half a cup of milk (to be boiled for one minute by your trusty microwave (or cooker)) and a large squeeze of lemon juice to pour into it. Then give it a quick stir and a cooling. Once the treatment is cool, apply the mixture to your face and let it dry for around 10-15 minutes. A good idea would be to brew some hot water and lemon – this drink works wonders for your digestive system and can pass the time whilst your face is drying. Once the facemask has dried, in circular motions, wash your face with warm water. This treatment will result in a new, fresh, glowing skin which, believe me, feels wonderful after a long trek. Another of my favourite treatments is a hair revitalising mask. First gather one ripe avocado, half a cup of coconut milk and three teaspoons of olive oil. In a bowl, mash the avocado, adding the coconut milk and the olive oil, and stir. Then, warm up your mask on a stove for a couple of minutes. Once the mask is warm, apply the mixture from your roots to the ends, massaging it into the scalp. Leave on for at least half an hour then rinse your hair. This mask should renew your tresses to its natural gorgeous self!

Alternative Products

Unfortunately, in Phang Nga Bay or East Timor, very little showers are available, leaving your hair (and body) crying out for nourishment. Nevertheless, there are a wide range of products accessible for alternative methods of “cleaning” or exfoliating.When I can’t get to a shower I resort to dry shampoo or baby powder. Batiste is my favourite dry shampoo brand but there are many other brands available. I prefer the “fresh” product but on a holiday, “oriental” or “topical” can work too with fragrances of coconut and flora. I also use Johnson’s baby powder as it soaks up oil and grease in your hair, leaving your hair more ‘fresh’. Serums or salt sprays can keep the fizz at bay, and hairbands or hair-clips are lifesavers when you’re having a bad hair day. For solid cosmetics, I personally go for Lush products. They’re light, small and environmentally friendly. Whether you need a solid shampoo that doubles as body soap or a solid perfume that doubles as washing detergent, Lush has hundreds of products ranging from £5 – £20 lasting for around 4-6 weeks. One of my favourite products is Angels on Bare Skin. For only £6.35, you get 100g worth of an almond-fragrant facemask that reduces redness and evens out skin tone.

Durable Products

Whether you’re on holiday for three months or three years, “durable” products are essential. Invest in make-up sponges when applying 24-hour foundation. They are incredibly light, easy to clean and easy to apply. The best make-up rule I have is “less is more”. The less foundation you have on your face, the less foundation there is to slide off it. To protect your lips from the heat, use a clear or light-tint lip gloss such as blistex or carmex. They’re high-moistured and help keep your lips smooth and polished. If you must wear mascara, always make sure it’s water-proof. Again the “less is more” rule can be applied here. To look fresh, always carry baby wipes around with you before you go to bed to avoid “panda eyes”. And only wear eye liner at night time when you’re going to a party. You don’t NEED to wear liner when shopping for fruit and vegetables.

Overall, there are hundreds of rules and hundreds of products to use when travelling. It’s up to you to choose what your preferences are but always pack as little as you can, and aim for durability!

Feel free to comment down below on what you think of the article and I will be continuing to upload all my blogs for moonproject on as many issues as possible from current affairs to travel.

|| I am so sorry for the wait! Have being going through exam period (only four more exams left!) and had a lot of coursework assignments to hand in, however, with exam season coming to an end I hope to be going online a lot more! Vive l’été! (Long live the summer.. I think!) ||