08/2/16

5 reasons to love China

For some reason my old blog post, 5 reasons to hate China, has been widely read and misunderstood through the years. I thought it’s time to give my five reasons why I still love living in China.

Yummy oysters with garlic

1. Chinese food

I thought I liked Chinese food before but only until I moved to China in 2010 I realized how delicious the food can be. And every province has their specialities so you can use a lifetime trying them all! With Chinese food I’ve also started to eat more vegetables which has made my diet healthier, no one can do eggplant as tasty as the Chinese!

Chinese menu on the wall

2. Chinese language

It’s no secret that I came to China to learn Mandarin and I used my first 6 years going from non-degree student to undergrad and finally to Master’s degree in Teaching Chinese. China is unarguably the best place in the world to master this fascinating language. It’s my passion towards Mandarin that led me to a completely new life and I love it!

My teachers and classmates

3. Chinese people

Even though cultural differences create problems, there are many characteristics that I admire in Chinese. One is their care for their family, they will go out of their way to help you out if you are a family member. Now that we have a baby, I’ve realized how Chinese adore kids. No matter where we go, lots of people are always willing to help out and play with our baby girl.

At GWIC morning coffee

4. Guangzhou’s international crowd

Maybe I could get this somewhere else too, but by living abroad I’m getting a chance to jump in new circles and make new friends. I think it’s important for our daughter to have international and mixed kids, just like she is. Guangzhou isn’t as international as Shanghai or Hong Kong so you can decide your self which side of the city, local or international, you want to explore today.

A treat in a park while baby sleeps

5. I can be my self

When living in China as a foreigner, who looks like a foreigner too, I stand out and my customs are seen a bit strange at times. That gives me a freedom to be my self. I don’t need to fit into a box or compare my self with neighbors. I’m the strange foreigner living in the village anyway so why not enjoy it to the fullest!

+ I just have to add this final point: job opportunities. Sure I could perhaps find job as a Chinese teacher back in Finland, but right now China is offering me more interesting opportunities. I can be here developing the scene of teaching Chinese the foreigner way, build my business by helping others to fall in love with Mandarin as well. 

So here is the new top 5! What’s your reasons to love China?

10/17/15

A path to China

IMG_6496

The other day I was discussing with a friend of the different roads one chooses to follow in their lifetime, the crossroads where you need to decide if you turn left or right. I came to think of my own journey to China, to Guangzhou and to this house that I’m sharing with my husband and our cats (soon with a baby on top!).

I’ve always been a big fan of everything Chinese, a passion that started early on as my parents used to live in Beijing before I was born. It took more than twenty years and a nasty break up to finally take the crucial step forwards and move to China. Living here in he Middle Kingdom isn’t always “dancing on the rose petals” as we say in Finnish, but it surely has allowed me to go on amazing adventures.

One of the biggest journeys of life was to get married to Alan, to continue our path together next to each other. What I love about him is his feeling of responsibility towards his family and how he encourages me to evolve and grow as a person. He is always striving towards improving himself in health, skills or business.

During our discussion my friend mentioned regrets, what if the road you choose isn’t the right one? I think there is no insurance to tell you what you should do or that if you do this you will surely success. Sure I’ve wasted time in a company that wasn’t healthy for me, but I came out as a stronger person who knows herself a bit better. I’ve chosen to do the things I love and found out that teaching Chinese is my biggest passion career wise. I was afraid of failing, but after I started I realized it’s what I want to do and believe can do well.

Moving abroad is always a big decision no matter if you are coming alone or with your family. I’ve gotten many emails to ask me if it’s the right choice to move to China or what to do when the new future in China scares you. All I can say I was scared as hell too right before I moved! I think it tells us that it’s an important step for us and thus we might feel a bit intimidated by the chance. But in the end moving to a new culture teaches as so much about us and others, me and you.

If you decide to come to China I won’t promise that you’ll love it, but I can promise you’ll be in an adventure that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

02/26/15

5 Years in China

Guangzhou by Night

About five years ago I stepped on an airplane for the very first time since I was two years old and moved to China. A Chinese phrase 回家 huíjiā came to my mind. In Chinese you can’t go home, you can only return to your home. And in a sense I was doing just that, returning back home where I had been in the safety of my mother’s belly when she was expecting me in the late 80’s in Beijing.

Recently I realized that Guangzhou has been my home the longest, if you don’t count my hometown, small city in the Southern Finland. I went to high school in an ever smaller city, after graduating I worked and studied at Tampere, the third biggest city in Finland. I stayed in Tampere for four years and still feel likes it’s the best city in the country.

But now Guangzhou has been my home longer than that, for five full years.

I was 22 years old when I came to China. Out of a long relationship that ended badly. Traveling on my own for the first time, starting this adventure in a country I always wanted to visit. In a way these years have passed by very quickly, but on the other hand it feels like I’m been here for ages. It’s a saying that there is a seven-year itch in a marriage, lets see if that includes being married to China.

During these years I’ve graduated from university, started my master’s, learned a ton of Chinese, started teaching Chinese, met the man of my dreams and married him, made new friends and lost them when they went back home, moved a few times from apartment to apartment before making home here with Alan.

Of course there have been tears and sadness inside these years as well, that’s just life, but I prefer remembering all the good things that have happened. Hope that my next five years in China will be even happier!

02/14/15

Our First Anniversary

Wedding Cake

One year ago in 14th February 2014 it was no ordinary Valentine’s Day. On that year the Chinese Lantern Festival fell on the exact same day, being held on the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar. As Lantern Festival is also considered a Chinese Valentine’s Day, it was a double lucky day, the perfect day to register our marriage.

Even though we had our Wedding later in May both with Chinese and Finnish characteristics, we still consider the Valentine’s Day as our anniversary. Easy to remember too!

After our wedding we finally moved to our own house, the old family house, and started our life together surrounded by history and four cats. I’m probably the worst person to be given a big house to live as I’m not the housekeeping kind, but it’s been great to have a real home where you can decorate and arrange furniture just the way you like it. I hope we will have lots of happy years in this Chinese house with a lot of character.

The Autumn was so busy we barely even saw each other. I was at the university from Monday to Friday, sometimes from morning till late night. Alan was taking English lessons on the Saturdays so Sundays became our only time to relax and have fun together. Our first year as a married couple ended with our honeymoon to Malaysia, from where I will share more photos later on.

All in all it’s great to be married to a man like Alan who understands and supports you when you pursue things that are important for you. Alan is a husband who always puts his family first. The other day when I told him to always be by my side, he replied: “Of course I will always be by your side, and our kids too.”

01/31/15

Honeymoon in Malaysia

Honeymoon

Its been almost a year since me and Alan got legally married in Guangzhou. In China you get a short marriage holiday that you can use during the first year and we decided to save it to the last month. After our first married year together, it is now the perfect time to explore something new together. Our destination was decided in a less romantic way, choosing discounted tickets!

This is our fourth day at Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and we’ve been loving it! Coming from a huge city like Guangzhou, it’s so refreshing to be in a small town that you can walk from one end to the another in half an hour. The airport is just 7km away and many times per day we can hear and see the planes coming and going.

It’s not a high season here at the moment and that’s even better! It’s peaceful and quiet and even the busiest beach has space for everyone to enjoy the sun and the sea. In the photo above we are watching the sun set at Tanjung Aru Beach, the colors were amazing!

One of the highlight of this honeymoon was to try scuba diving together and we enrolled to the beginner scuba diver open water course. Unfortunately I got very afraid and panicked when practicing our skills in the sea, but luckily Alan found himself a great new hobby. I already plan to take hime horse riding when we go to Finland this Summer! Its an old hobby of mine that I started in primary school. Or if we go during Winter, then it would be snowboarding!

Sun and my white skin doesn’t go together that well and even with sunscreen I managed to get burned. The perfect excuse to rest a day and chill out at the hostel Lavender Lodge where we are staying. Tomorrow new adventures awaits us!

p.s. If you want to see more photos during our honeymoon, follow my Facebook Page.