08/29/16

Moving with family to Guangzhou


Moving to China can be an adventure, especially if you are moving with kids. But luckily there are a few things that will make your family’s transition to new life a bit easier.

Join GWIC

First of all, the women in your family can join Guangzhou Women International Club which offers variety of events, but most importantly a web of connections and friends. Need to find a good doctor or where to buy a certain item? GWIC ladies know for sure!

WeChat is a must

If you only have one application in your phone in China, it must be WeChat. Keep in touch with friends, make new friends, join useful groups, pay at stores and restaurants, top up your phone and so much more. We have groups for parents in Guangzhou and parents of kids of different ages. Want to join a play date or find out the best playgrounds around city? Ask in WeChat and you’ll get an answer in seconds.

WeChat also has a few local second hand groups if you want to make affordable and environmentally friendly purchases.

What to bring

You can find most international items from Guangzhou, but imported products are often more expensive than back home. If you need, bring infant formula, medicine and comfort food with you. Also if you wear big size shoes, those are hard to find in Guangzhou. 

This Summer I’m taking back second hand clothes for my daughter, medicine, Finnish food and chocolate, a few books. Most of our day to day items are easily available in Guangzhou or through Taobao online store.

Friends make a home

Through my expat friends I’ve seen that when all family members get new friends, it’s easy to immerse into a new place. Luckily the international crowd is super friendly here and there are sport groups, lunch dates, play dates, short trips and much more for you to experience.

Learning a bit of Chinese

For me personally learning Chinese has shaped my whole life here, but for all expats it’s definitely beneficial to learn some Chinese. It will help you to get a taxi or show respect in business meetings.

If you are interested in private Chinese classes, send me a message through my contact form.

08/16/16

Chinese lessons in Guangzhou are continuing in September

Learn Chinese in Guangzhou

I’ve gotten emails asking when do I resume teaching Chinese and I thought it’s best to share the plans in a blog post as well. Chinese lessons are continuing in September!

I’ll arrive back to Guangzhou a bit earlier than planned, on the first week of September. After that I’ll need to find a nanny and then I can continue teaching Mandarin. My estimate is that I can continue lessons in mid-September.

I’ll be offering one on one or small group lessons for beginners and elementary level students. Most of my students are keen to learn the basics of spoken Chinese but I have students who are fascinated by the Chinese characters as well. In any case the lessons are always tailored to your personal needs with a flexible schedule.

If you want more information about Chinese lessons in Guangzhou or want to book a meeting with me, get in touch through my contact form!

08/10/16

Summer in Finland

It’s the last Summer month in Finland and we are in the middle of our holiday. Next in the agenda is to visit Tampere and Helsinki!

My home town is small and one day is enough to visit all then”sights”. Now that my mother’s vacation is over and my little brother will be back to school next week, the days will be quiet for me and my daughter. Luckily in Tampere and Helsinki I’ll be able to meet more of my old friends.

We’ve already visited Lahti, Kuopio and Porvoo in Finland, also made a quick trip to the capital of Estonia, Tallinn. I’ve been concentrating on second hand shopping as China doesn’t really have flea markets yet. 

For a few days temperature rose to 25 Celsius and we head to the beach where I used to swim every Summer when I was a kid. Water was around 19 Celsius, pretty warm I’d say!

My little brother (one of them, I have two brothers and a sister) is super into sports and we have done nice long walks with him and Anna in the baby carrier.

We have also been to the forest to pick blueberries as its a must activity for all Finns during the Summer! You ain’t no Finn if you haven’t braved some mosquitos in the forest while eating and picking berries! 

Anna has made friends with two dogs and a cat so far. She is clearly an animal lover! The cats run away while dogs like her company. Let’s see what our two cats will do when they realize Anna can crawl much faster now, they need to be careful!

It’s been a great holiday so far and we are going to enjoy the last month to the fullest as well. I’ve had some mild case of reverse culture shock, but I believe visiting bigger cities like Tampere and Helsinki will at least partly cure it. 

Until next time!

08/2/16

5 reasons to love China

For some reason my old blog post, 5 reasons to hate China, has been widely read and misunderstood through the years. I thought it’s time to give my five reasons why I still love living in China.

Yummy oysters with garlic

1. Chinese food

I thought I liked Chinese food before but only until I moved to China in 2010 I realized how delicious the food can be. And every province has their specialities so you can use a lifetime trying them all! With Chinese food I’ve also started to eat more vegetables which has made my diet healthier, no one can do eggplant as tasty as the Chinese!

Chinese menu on the wall

2. Chinese language

It’s no secret that I came to China to learn Mandarin and I used my first 6 years going from non-degree student to undergrad and finally to Master’s degree in Teaching Chinese. China is unarguably the best place in the world to master this fascinating language. It’s my passion towards Mandarin that led me to a completely new life and I love it!

My teachers and classmates

3. Chinese people

Even though cultural differences create problems, there are many characteristics that I admire in Chinese. One is their care for their family, they will go out of their way to help you out if you are a family member. Now that we have a baby, I’ve realized how Chinese adore kids. No matter where we go, lots of people are always willing to help out and play with our baby girl.

At GWIC morning coffee

4. Guangzhou’s international crowd

Maybe I could get this somewhere else too, but by living abroad I’m getting a chance to jump in new circles and make new friends. I think it’s important for our daughter to have international and mixed kids, just like she is. Guangzhou isn’t as international as Shanghai or Hong Kong so you can decide your self which side of the city, local or international, you want to explore today.

A treat in a park while baby sleeps

5. I can be my self

When living in China as a foreigner, who looks like a foreigner too, I stand out and my customs are seen a bit strange at times. That gives me a freedom to be my self. I don’t need to fit into a box or compare my self with neighbors. I’m the strange foreigner living in the village anyway so why not enjoy it to the fullest!

+ I just have to add this final point: job opportunities. Sure I could perhaps find job as a Chinese teacher back in Finland, but right now China is offering me more interesting opportunities. I can be here developing the scene of teaching Chinese the foreigner way, build my business by helping others to fall in love with Mandarin as well. 

So here is the new top 5! What’s your reasons to love China?

07/31/16

How to keep on learning Chinese: Do something fun!

Can you recognize these characters?

It’s easy to lose motivation to study Chinese, especially on a Summer vacation when all sorts of things compete of your attention. Open a textbook or go to the beach? I won’t blame you for choosing the latter.

But what can we do in order to keep on learning and not forgetting everything before continuing lessons in the Autumn?

Do something fun every day!

Learning should be fun, especially on a holiday so choose a fun Chinese activity that fits your Summer mood.

For example:

  • Explore fun apps on Apple Store or Google Play, for example tracing characters on Chinese Writer by trainchinese can get addictive!
  • Listen to podcasts on interesting topics. What about listening ChinesePod podcasts At the beach or   Going on a picnic
  • Listen to Chinese songs on QQ Music app, Youku or YouTube. Follow the lyrics as you go to help comprehension.
  • If you want to improve your reading skills, get shopping on Taobao. 
  • If you live in China or close to a Chinatown, make it into a game to spot a certain character on road signs or restaurant menus. Forget catching Pokemons, try catching as many “人” as possible!

You don’t have to study for hours, even a few minutes per day is better than cramming a full day once a month. Stay consistent and your Chinese will improve. Most of all, have fun with Mandarin!

How do you make learning Chinese fun?