Visiting a pet market in Guangzhou

For some animal lovers the Yuehe Flower and Bird Market (越和花鸟鱼艺大世界) might be a paradise. Lots of different pets from cats and dogs to turtles, birds and squirrels. But to some animal lovers from the West it might be a terrible place. Too many animals in cages too small. Kittens looking sad and waiting for someone to offer them a better home.

After living in China for all most two years now, I know that animal rights aren’t quite on the same level than they are in Finland. Are there even any laws in China concerning having pets or treating animals? I was happily surprised that the pet market wasn’t as bad as I thought it to be. It was quite clean and  lacked the strong smell I was prepared for.

Yuehe is a pet market, not a food market. Even though Chinese people eat dog meat for example (you can even get it near where I live), pets and food are a different thing. There are cases when pet dogs have been stolen for restaurants, but I still believe that no one intentionally wants to eat anyone’s pet.

The pet market is not just for buying animals, there are also many shops for pet products. So if you are a pet owner in Guangzhou, this is the place to buy climbing trees for your cat (I bought one and you can see the picture here!), toys for your parrot and everything you need for your fish aquarium.

Have you visited a pet market in China? Was it worse or better than Yuehu market in Guangzhou? Are there pet markets like this in your home country?


My everyday life in Guangzhou

Usually I update about my daily life to my Finnish blog so my family and friends could read what is going on in my life. But yesterday Alexandra and Kelly asked me on Twitter how I have been doing these days. I decided to open a window to my boring life for all of you international readers and see if you fall asleep or want to hear more!

My life revolves around my studies at the moment. Like most of you know I’m doing my undergraduate degree at Sun Yat-Sen University in Chinese language. I’ll be deciding my major soon as I found out that I will be starting my third year next Spring, not next Autumn as I thought earlier. Teaching Chinese (汉语教育) or Business Chinese (商务汉语)? That’s the question.

I spend 16 and a half hours at the university each week at classes. Besides that I do my home work and study some extra at home. If I’m not studying I am usually surfing around the Internet reading your amazing blogs! Or watching Desperate Housewives or Gossip Girl or The Lying Game or Pan Am or… I know! I should watch Chinese TV and practice my listening skills.

Usually I spend my Friday nights and Saturdays at home doing nothing useful. Then on Sunday I start studying, finish my home work for the next week and prepare for classes. This seems to be a good routine for me as I also need some time away from all the studying. Still I can’t get away from Chinese, if you remember that I live with my Chinese boyfriend and I’m surrounded by Chinese people in this city that don’t speak English. (Well, both of these are a good thing!)

And then sometimes when I’m not studying, not watching American television drama and not doing nothing, I might be helping a friend to buy goods from here and send them to Finland. She was brave enough to open her own business after seeing the prices here at Guangzhou. Just remember that I am in China with a student visa and can’t work officially. So lets just say that I am helping a friend. (But if you want to hire me and pay me a lot of money, email me!)

Besides all of this I’m thinking about my future. What could my next big dream be? Which major could offer me enjoyable study time and later on an interesting job? Until now I have followed my dreams and interests and I don’t want to give up going that road. I want to show that you can have a comfortable life (meaning earning enough money) doing a job you really like. But there’s a problem! I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! Any ideas?

Last, but not least, my life goes around my dear boyfriend who cooks pork cutlets for me when I’m tired of eating Chinese food. And then there’s my dear lovely cute Lucy (in the photo above) who must be the best cat in the whole world!

This is my daily life like here in Guangzhou. No fireworks, nothing fancy, just normal life that could happen anywhere in the world. A student’s life where I have to consider if I really want to pay 200RMB to eat meat, to meet fellow northern Europeans and to network.



Grade my Chinese essay!


Update: My teacher gave me 89 points!

Last time I wanted you to rate my spoken Chinese, now I let you to take a look at one of my essays in Chinese. I was really surprised when I got 89 points from my first essay at writing course (写作课). And even more surprised when I heard that the best essay was written by a French girl who got 90 points. Even teacher didn’t guess that the best essays would come from two Europeans!

That essay’s topic was quite boring for you, just ideas what I wanted from our course. That’s why I’m letting you read my second essay (in the picture above!) which was written based on a few pictures on our textbook. The first essay was written at home and I used about two or three hours to write it. The second one had to be written during class and we only had 45 minutes. I used 50 minutes and still the essay is too short!

I’m not telling you just yet how many points my teacher gave me, but I would like you to grade this essay! How many points you want to give me? Remember that 100 points is the best score and if it’s lower than 60, I guess it’s failed.

Let the grading begin!

Just to note we had our books and dictionaries infront of us when writing, but there wasn’t too much time to use them!


Applying and registering to the Sun Yat-Sen University

In China if you have to apply or register to something, it usually includes a lot of paper work and going from place to place. Getting into Sun Yat-Sen University isn’t hard for foreign students, but it can be a hassle. Here’s how it happened with me this summer when I applied to the undergraduate degree of Chinese as a foreign language.


The application deadline was June 5th (if you apply for the spring term it’s December 5th), but I handed in my application already in April. I went to the international office and along with the application form gave them copies of passport, copy of my high school diploma and self made unofficial translation, certificate from Guangzhou University and my current HSK certificate.

You can check the admission guidelines from the website of Office for International Students’ Affairs.

Because I had studied Chinese before at Guangzhou University for a year and a half, I was hoping to skip at least year one. They told me to contact them again after one month to hear to which year they will put me in. After that month had passed I sent then an email and heard they decided to let me start from the year two.

I went to the international office again in July and August, first to get my acceptance letter and then to get the JW202 form I needed to get a student visa from Hong Kong. (I had a tourist visa during August at China.)

Notice that these steps might be different for you if you apply from abroad. I had the advantage to be in Guangzhou already and could just visit the office anytime I had questions or needed some documents.


Applying to the university was the easy part. The great hassle begun when the registration week started on 5th of September. Because of the huge amount of students it took me three days to register and pay my tuition fee. The most important thing is to follow the steps they give you, always have all the documents with you and be at the office early at the morning. If the office opens at 8.30am, there’s already a line of at least 20 students at 7.30am.

Because I was already in China I had registered at the police station and already had done my medical check-up. After registration I only had to take all my documents to the exit and entry bureau, wait for two weeks and got my passport with residence permit (which is valid until March).

During registration I gave my newest HSK certificate to the teacher in charge of undergraduate degree students and manages to talk my self to a more advanced class (from 本二上 to 本二下). Before I had hopes to start from year three, but those hopes were set too high.

There are a lot of things to do and remember during registration, but don’t worry, the staff at the international office will help you. Just follow the steps in the document they will give you and you’ll be fine. Also remember that if you study less than 6 months then F visa is enough, if you study longer then you need to enter China with X visa and then change it to residence permit. If you pay the whole year’s tuition fees at once, you can get a residence permit for one year. If you pay one semester like I did, you will get a residence permit for half a year.

Important websites and email addresses

English versions of the university’s websites are quite dated, so if possible, follow the Chinese ones.

Main site: http://www.sysu.edu.cn/2010/

School of Chinese as a second language: http://scsl.sysu.edu.cn/

Office for International Students’ Affairs: http://iso.sysu.edu.cn/index.htm

Emails: tanjx(a)mail.sysu.edu.cn and violet_wong(a)126.com