I’m Sara Jaaksola from Finland and I have been living in Guangzhou, China since March 2010.
The short version of the story goes that I came here to study Chinese, did my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees here, have a family of my own, and run a Chinese language center called Expat Chinese. In 2023 I started my Ph.D. remotely at the University of Turku in Finland, researching Mandarin Chinese study motivation of adult students.
Welcome to follow my journey!
Are you moving to Guangzhou?
Also check out my new website: guangzhou-expat.com
The long story
My parents lived in Beijing in the 80s and a few months before I was born they moved back to Finland, therefor I was born in Finland, but already had this connection with China. It took me more than 20 years to “return” to China.
I took my first two weeks short course in Mandarin Chinese back in 2005, but only started studying more systematically when I enrolled in a university in 2008 in Tampere, Finland.
End of 2009 I saw a notice about exchange programs to China and Guangzhou still had available spots, I decided to apply right away!
Last day of January 2010 I landed in Beijing and started my 5-week road trip across China. Besides two weeks in Beijing, I also visited Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Guilin before finally arriving in Guangzhou.
In Guangzhou, I studied Chinese half day five days a week at Guangzhou University from March 2010 until June 2011. I got a solid foundation in Chinese and passed old HSK level 5.
In September 2011 I enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree at Sun Yat-Sen University, to study the Chinese language with other foreign classmates. During our third year, I chose to concentrate on teaching Chinese.
I felt that a BA degree wasn’t enough and applied to continue to a MA degree which I started in September 2014. That was also the month when I started teaching Chinese to foreigners living in China. The idea of my own Chinese language center started to form.
After my graduation, I continued teaching Chinese and going around Guangzhou to teach at the homes of my students. I was now certain that this was the profession I was meant to do. I founded Expat Chinese in January 2017 and rented our office in Zhujiang New Town where we are located to this day.
After being a Chinese teacher for more than 6 years, I decided to pursue further study and starting in January 2023 enrolled as a Ph.D. student (or doctoral researcher) at the University of Turku in Finland. I continue to live in Guangzhou, now balancing my life between research, teaching, and family.
To know more about me, feel free to look around my blog and check out my Youtube Channel.
Contact details: email@example.com