Welcome to Living a Dream in China!
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, fell in love, did my Bachelor and Master’s Degrees here, have a family of my own and run a Chinese language center called Expat Chinese.
Welcome to follow my journey!
Are you moving to Guangzhou?
The long story
My parents lived in Beijing in the 80’s 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 my 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 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 weeks roadtrip accross China. Besides two weeks in Beijing, I also visited Pingyao, Xi’an, Chengdu and Guilin before finally arriving to 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 Degree at the Sun Yat-Sen University, to studdy 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.
During my MA studied I also married the love of my life and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. When I graduated my daugher was 8 months old.
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.
With the help of my husband I founded Expat Chinese in January 2017 and rented our office in Zhujiang New Town where we are located to this day. In December 2018 we opened another location in Clifford Panyu.
At the time of writing this I’ve been in China and Guangzhou for 9 years and it’s been an amazing journey!
学说粤语学做广东菜芬兰媳妇古村结良缘 (Information Times 2014)
Living a Dream in China: Sara’s wonderful world (Chinese-Tools.com 2014)
A Finnish Challenges and excitement in Learning Chinese: Sara Jaaksola (nihaohello 2013)
Sara: Living a Dream in China (InterNations 2013)
5 common questions Chinese ask foreigners in China (China elevator stories 2013)
Studying Chinese at Sun Yat-Sen University (CUCAS 2013)