03/31/12

Poor China Expat

Living in China as a s Westerner broughts up things you never considered before.

Chinese people think foreigners are rich. Foreigners think that all of us have a lot of money. Welcome to the reality check.

Life is about making choices. Do I take a taxi once or ride the bus 10 time? Do I go to an international meeting and buy a 30RMB can of coke or drink 12 cans at home? Do I go to a Nordic BBQ event (next month) or eat lunch for 15 days? (Ticket to the event is 200RMB, one delicious lunch with potato, tofu and cabbage is 13RMB).

The hardest question of all is: Do I want to live a comfortable life in a nice apartment near the university or do I want to go home once a year?

I’m lucky to be a Finn and my government have supported my studies and life (in Finland and in China) for the last four years. The final year is beginning and after that, well, I have no idea. I’m trying to get a scholarship in order to finish my studies (Jan 2014), I’m trying to work part-time in order to make a living. Both of them not so easy to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I am living my dream. But living a dream doesn’t always mean it’s a rich dream.

03/27/12

Mandarin Monday: Rate my Cantonese!

It’s still Monday in United States so here comes my Mandarin Monday, but this time with a little twist. Some readers have asked me to record my Cantonese and finally I managed to do so! My Cantonese is still very limited, I only know some phrases. Also my tones and pronunciation are quite terrible.

But still here it goes, listen to this short clip of my Cantonese and let me know what you think.

Listen to my Cantonese

If the player above isn’t working, you can also get the mp3 here: Cantonese

03/20/12

Guangzhou feels like home

I’ve visited more than ten Chinese cities, but only lived in Guangzhou. It’s hard to compare different places when you haven’t lived in all of them, but I would still say that Guangzhou has a personality of its own. Compared to Beijing, where I stayed for two weeks two years ago, Guangzhou feels more laid-back, relaxed and unorganized. Guangzhou and Hong Kong share the Cantonese language, but besides that they are totally different worlds. Hong Kong is international city, but Guangzhou feels more local, more like home.

During these two years in Guangzhou I’ve started to call Guangzhou home. It’s the feeling that I have when I get back to Guangzhou from Hong Kong for example. Even though this city is huge and there are numerous districts I haven’t visited, but I still feel like I know this place. This is my place, my Guangzhou.

Besides Mandarin I’m also studying Cantonese. Even though my progress is painstakingly low, but I hope that in the future I would be able to have at least simple conversations with the locals in their own language. That would get my roots deeper into the soil of this city. But by settling down in Guangzhou I make it harder for my self to leave. What is I have to move to Beijing or Shanghai to work when I graduate? What if I have to go back to Finland?

Living in China might sound exotic, but it’s full of ordinary daily tasks like washing the dishes and doing homework. Only once in a while I wake up and remember that I’m actually living in China, I actually did accomplish my dream. That dream have just changed into daily life with it’s own annoyances.

Right now when thinking about all of this, going over the last two years, it feels weird to say out loud that my life is in Guangzhou now. It’s so normal and extraordinary at the same time. There are lot of things I don’t get in China and it can be frustrating at times, but when I look at my boyfriend and my cat Lucy, I know, that there’s no place I would rather be.

Have you found your new home abroad? How does it feel like?

03/19/12

Sara’s Mandarin Monday: 最近怎么样?

大家好!上个星期我感冒了,所以没办法写博文,希望你们会理解。我也发现了这个学期比较忙,我有五门选修课(上个学期只有两门),还有很多作业。我真的觉得除了学习以外,我没有时间做别的事情。有时候觉得很累,但是同时觉得我的课很有意思。我学习古代汉字,对外汉语教学和现代汉语,我对都(这些)感兴趣。我觉得这个学期我会学到很多新的东西,也希望我的水平会提高。

最近我开始看一个新的电视剧,叫夫妻那些事。这个节目告诉我们一对丁克夫妻的故事,他们有怎么样的压力生孩子,照顾老人他们在生养孩子,照顾老人上有些什么压力)。在中国如果你结婚了,你应该马上生孙子,让父母满意。如果你选择丁克()生活方式,中国父母一定不同意。如果你没有孩子的话,那你老了谁照顾你呢? 在芬兰没有这么大的压力生孩子,但是我觉得我妈妈也会失望如果我决定不要孩子。

除了学中文和看电视以外,我还培养我的孩子,我的白色的,有毛的孩子,我的小猫。我的男朋友很嫉妒,是因为小猫最爱的是我,不是他。小猫,叫露西,每天都陪我,在我的旁边睡觉。她真的很可爱!对不对?

03/5/12

Sara’s Mandarin Monday: 吃惯中国菜吗?

有的人是为了活着而吃饭,但中国人是为了吃饭而活着。跟他们见面的时候他们会问“吃饭了没有?”。来中国之前我以为“吃饭了没有?”这句话不是真的,怎么会用这样的话来问别人他们怎么样?但是来到广州后我发现了,这个就是真的(真的是这样)!

中国人对吃的东西特别感兴趣。他们常常问我有没有吃惯中国菜,其实这个问题很难回答。什么是中国菜?在芬兰中国餐厅的菜跟真真(真正)的中国菜完全不一样。在中国每个地方每个民族()有他们的特色菜,所以回答不了这样的问题。那我吃惯了粤菜呢(那我吃惯了粤菜了吗)?我不好意思地告诉你们,我还不太清楚粤菜包括那些菜。

广东人什么都能吃,比如说狗肉是很容易找到的(比如说狗肉是很容易找的到) (猫肉我没看到)。他们认为没有一个动物比别的动物重要(, 所有的动物都是平等的),如果我们能吃牛肉那为什么不能吃狗肉呢?(所以)从我的家走路不到五分钟,就可以找到卖狗肉的餐厅。我自己狗肉吃过两次,第一次是在阳江,跟我男朋友的家里人见面的时候,那时候他们带我去狗肉饭馆。可能他们想试一试这个老外是谁呢!第二次也是在阳江,我跟男朋友和两个芬兰朋友旅游时,男朋友问那些芬兰人想吃什么,他们回答“随便”后,我的男朋友带我们去吃狗肉火锅。

芬兰菜和中国菜完全不一样,中国人会觉得芬兰菜没有什么味道!在芬兰我们一般一次吃一()菜(可能也有沙拉),不是跟中国那么丰富(不过不像中国菜那么丰富)。如果你想尝一尝芬兰菜怎么样,那你可以去IKEA吃土豆和牛肉丸,那()瑞典菜跟我们差不多。有味道吗?