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.


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


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?


Sara’s Mandarin Monday: 最近怎么样?


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。



Sara’s Mandarin Monday: 吃惯中国菜吗?



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。