What now? Student life finally over


I’ve been a pupil or a student most of my life. I went to school when I was 6.5 years old, and besides taking two years off after high school, I’ve been student until now. After this month’s graduation ceremony my student life will finally be over. My exchange student years have gone by as fast as all these six years in China.

For the past half a year my main job have been taking care of our baby girl, it’s amazing to see her grow and learn new things every day. These two months I’ve also been teaching Finnish and Chinese on a relaxed schedule, allowing both me and our daughter to get used to the change.

In July our long waited trip to Finland arrives! Me and our baby will spend 2.5 months Summer vacation back home! Cant’ wait to let Anna meet my side of the family and show her where I grew up. If everything goes well, I’ll also be teaching a short course of beginner Chinese in Lahti before we head back to Guangzhou.

After a hopefully refreshing holiday in Finland it’s time to get back to business! Unfortunately staying at home longer isn’t an option as I won’t have any maternity benefits as I would if we lived in Finland, so work is calling. The rest of the year I’ll be working towards opening my own Chinese language center here in Guangzhou! I’ll be sharing more news about that as my plans go along.

My husband Alan has exciting news as well, he opened a Japanese bakery with other partners and they are all working super hard to make it a success. So far everything is going very well and their bread and pastries are delicious! If you want to try it ouy, you can find Fujio Japanese Bakery at the Utopia shopping mall at the Liede metro station exit A.

But now back to being a working mom and happy Dragon Boat Festival to everyone!


How to say I Love You in Chinese?

Our honeymoon

When a Chinese couple dates they often say Wo xihuan ni I like you, but the big word love isn’t used as much. I remember I used to lecture my husband (boyfriend at the time) that I’m not his friend so he shouldn’t just say like. Now he is very used to saying the three important words on a daily basis.

But in a Chinese family words of love aren’t heard in Wo ai ni I love you, but in other words completely.

Presenting Chinese – Western translations:

You don’t know how to do it, let me. Translation: I love you and want to help you.

Don’t move away from home, you will starve to death. Translation: I love you and want to be near to you.

Why you got such a bad score from the exam?! You need to study harder! Translation: I love you and want you to have a nice future.

Wear more clothes or you’ll catch a cold! Translation: I love and care about you.

A Chinese family member won’t say I love you directly, but often hide it between criticism, scolding or advice. I often get upset by the words I hear, but often thinking it through it translates into love. We just express it in different ways.

How does your Chinese family express love?


Finding an ayi in Guangzhou


Most of my time is still spent taking care of Anna, but having an ayi at home allows me to make a slow gradual change back to work

After more than six years in Guangzhou, I have finally hired an ayi (housekeeper) to help me with household work and to take care of the baby when I work. Finding the right ayi wasn’t easy, but now she has worked for us for one month and become like a family member to us.

The first question that locals as me is why I need ayi when I live next door to the grandparents. In China is common for the grandparents to take care of grandchildren when the parents are working and earning a living. Well in our case nainai (grandma) already has a 10 month old grandson to take care of which keeps her busy enough. I also admit thinking that a hired person would more likely do things the way I want them to be done.

Finding an ayi is a bit easier if you live in the city center in areas like Tianhe, Zhujiang New Town, Liede or Ersha Island. Of course the prices are higher as well and the monthly salary of a full-time cleaning ayi or nanny starts from 4000rmb and can go up to 7000rmb.

As we live far from the city center, in a very local village, my options were limited. Finally through my connections I found our ayi, who is a sweet young woman who came to Guangzhou last year to earn a living. As her experience is quite limited still and she eats and lives with us for free, her monthly salary is just 2200rmb.

At first it was strange to have someone around all the time, but we have gotten used to it quickly. Our baby girl likes her a lot and she takes care of her three afternoons per week when I’m working outside. Besides that she cooks lunch and dinner, and takes care of our household chores.

If you are looking for an ayi or nanny, it’s best to find one through recommendations like I did. Ask your friends in WeChat and you will surely get plenty of recommendations depending where you live. During the Summer many families leave Guangzhou and good housekeepers are available for hire.


The art of being super cute


Are you done taking photos?

Like I’ve written before, I like to take our baby out where ever I’m going. She took the bus when she was 2 weeks old, metro at 1 month old and just last week a plane at 5.5 months old. We’ve been to cafes, restaurants, parks, shopping malls and visiting friends. There is one common theme that happens every single time we go out the door.

Wow, your baby is soooo cute!

Words cute, beautiful, adorable all can be heard when ever we go outside with our baby girl. Strangers turn their heads and twist their necks to get a glimpse of our cute little mixed baby. They take out their phones, snap photos and send them on WeChat for their friends to see. They want to touch her little cheeks, caress her soft hands and make funny faces to get her to smile.

Most people are always ready to help out when they see a mom and baby to get into a bus or needing a hand. No need to think of any games to play for your child, the locals aunties and uncles will do that for you at the park nearby! I suddenly understand why Chinese grandparents always take grandkids outside, it’s so much easier than trying to entertain them at home.

I’m still not sure how I should response to all this attention our baby is getting, especially the photos. How would you reply when strangers keep telling your baby is the cutest ever all day long? ;)


Giving birth in China: Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center

Delivery room

Delivery room

Our baby girl is almost six months now, but let’s go back to last year and the exciting and scary experience of giving birth in China!

I had chosen the Women and Children’s Medical Center because after my research and asking other mothers in the area, I think it was the best option within my budget. Lots of moms mentioned that if anything goes wrong, that is the hospital you want to be in or if you chose otherwise, you will be sent to this hospital.

It all started around 2am when I felt painful contractions starting. I soon woke my husband up and let him gather our bags in case it was the real deal. Only half an hour later I told him we really needed to get going! Luckily we have our own car so we drove to the hospital in 25 minutes. If you don’t own a car, remember to borrow or rent one, or find a friend to drive you to the hospital. You don’t want to be waiting for a taxi while you are in labor!


We got to the hospital around 4am and started going through the standard procedures. If you are alone with your husband, he will be running around the hospital paying bills and  doing paper work while you are waiting alone at the emergency. It could be a good idea to get your mother, mother-in-law or doula to accompany you.

After all the paperwork was done we got sent upstairs where the delivery rooms are located. Usually you first get a regular hospital bed in a room, but the hospital was quite full when we arrived. First they told me to wait for an hour, but I kept screaming that I needed to get epidural right this second! Somehow they arranged me and husband to go to the delivery room right away.

Fitness ball

Fitness ball

You can only bring limited amount of items inside the delivery room, so pick separate hospital bags for before and after delivery. Your husband will need to buy and put on hospital gown which can get very sweaty in the warm temperature of the delivery room. My husband was wiping sweat from my and his forehead all day long!

I found out that I don’t do well with pain and asked for an epidural which I got quite quickly. The pain went away completely and I had quite a comfortable time waiting for my body to be ready to give birth to our daughter. I did use their fitness ball to jump up and down, also walks along the corridors to get the birthing moving. Unfortunately I was in charge of adding the epidural my self, so I pushed that button a bit too much which probably resulted in things getting slower.

During this time, roughly from morning till afternoon the midwives, nurses or doctors didn’t bother us too much. They had their computer in the same room which they used a lot, but it didn’t bother me too much. I was too concentrated on getting ready to see our baby.

When it was time to push the epidural had worn off, but my contractions weren’t powerful enough. They probably made me push before I had the right urge to push which made me exhausted. At this point I wish I had told them to wait longer for my natural feeling to push, but I was a first timer so now idea how you are supposed to give birth. Perhaps more preparation or having an experienced doula with me could have helped. My husband was even more clueless than me.

Control for the epidural

Control for the epidural

So having too much epidural and in a rush to push without the urge I ended up pushing for three hours. I really really wanted to push that baby out of me, but in the end I had no energy in my body at all. I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. I decided to go for c-section.

Now thinking back I wish I had asked for other options and kept going a little bit longer. I wish I had gotten better advice from the midwives along the journey in order to avoid c-section. I wish I had prepared my husband a bit better so he could have asked those things when I was too tired to do so.

So in the end my baby was born in a c-section while the doctors discussed how much weight I had gained during my pregnancy. Talk about doing it the Chinese style!

In the end it was of course all worth it, seeing my beautiful baby girl was surreal. I didn’t really quite yet understand that she was the one that had been kicking my inside my belly.

Lets do a recap of the pros and cons of my experience:

– husband needs to run around the hospital for paper work while I’m waiting alone

– I didn’t get advice on how to best use the epidural, and more importantly when not to add it

– They told me to push before I had the natural urge to push, making me exhausted

– Lack of advice on how to proceed after pushing for three hours in order to avoid c-section

– Not being sensitive enough (but that’s China)

+ They arranged a room for me quickly

+ They didn’t bother me too much with unneccessary check ups and let me move freely

+ They let me try different kind of positions to push and gave suggestions on positions

+ They showed me my baby girl after she was born

+ I felt medically safe through out the process

There is still a lot to say about our three-day stay at the hospital, first days with our baby, how hard it was to start breastfeeding and the lack of breastfeeding advice in China, but those are topics for the next time. Please let me know in the comments what you want to read next.