10/21/17

Week of a Chinese Teacher Entrepreneur

I was just reading a blog post by a Finnish blogger where she listed all the work related things she did that week, I wondered it would be fun to do the same! Recently I’ve also noticed that many people are quite surprised to hear that as a foreigner I’m teaching Mandarin Chinese full time here in Guangzhou.

Lets see how a typical week of a Chinese teacher and entrepreneur is like!

 

Sunday and Monday

 

My husband’s very first carved pumpkin!

These are my days off and I spend them with my family. I occasionally prepare for lessons in the evenings after our daughter is asleep, but most weekends I feel asleep the same time as she does.

 

Tuesday

 

Learning Chinese characters

8:00 I arrive to the office every day between 8:00 and 8:20, I eat breakfast and prepare for the lessons.

8:45-9:45 I have my first lesson of the day, a private lessons with a beginner level student.

10:00-11:00 Chinese Characters 2 course with three students. We review the character components we have learned so far. As a homework I give them a short story to read.

11:00-12:15 Lunch hour while preparing for the coming lessons. Usually lunch takes half an hour and the rest of the time I can prepare classes.

12:15-13:15 First lesson with a new students. We do a HSK mock test to determine her level.

13:30-15:00 Surprisingly I have a Finnish lesson every Tuesday! Two students, one of them married a Finn and another one has a Finnish boyfriend. Finnish lessons always takes more time to prepare than Chinese lessons.

15:30-16:30 Last private lesson of the day with a HSK4 level student.

After lessons I hurry to the daycare to pick up Anna or if my husband picks her up, I use the last hour to prepare for lessons.

 

Wednesday

 

Lots of HSK3 students on Wednesdays

8:00 I arrive to the office and have breakfast.

8:30-9:30 First private lesson of the day, we are studying characters because she wants to take HSK3 in the future.

9:30-11:00 Second private student is soon reaching HSK3 level and we are progressing fast with the textbook.

11:00-12:00 Early lunch

12:00-13:30 A HSK3 group class got cancelled and I use the time to write my blog and prepare for other lessons.

13:30-14:30 Wednesdays are full of HSK3, another private lesson with level three student.

14:45-15:45 Private lesson with a HSK4 level student. She tells me good news in Chinese, she got a job offer!

After class I again prepare for coming lessons. Our daughter is sick at home with my husband so I go straight home.

 

Thursday

 

Professional Women Night Out

Thursday mornings I often participate in Guangzhou Women’s International Club (GWIC) events, if no events that day, I use it to prepare lessons, write WeChat articles or blog posts.

13:30-14:30 Private lesson with a HSK4 student, she has two lessons every week.

14:30-15:30 Private lesson with a beginner student, also two lessons each week.

15:30-16:30 Another private lesson with a student. Today we learned how she can communicate with her ayi (cleaning lady)

I stay at the office preparing for lessons and go to an evening networking event organized by GWIC.

 

Friday

 

Most of my students take HSK to reach goals

8:15 I arrive to the office and have breakfast as always, then I prepare for lessons.

9:45-10:45 Beginners group with three students, we started learning how to order coffee at a coffee shop.

11:00-12:00 A group lessons was cancelled so I use the extra time to have early lunch.

12:15-13:15 Group class of two students who have passed the HSK1 and are planning to take HSK2.

13:30-15:00 A private lesson with student at HSK3 level, she also takes lessons twice a week.

After classes I prepare for lessons and go pick up our daughter from daycare.

 

Saturday

 

GWIC Shoe and Bag Sale

8:00 I arrive at the office and have breakfast.

9:00-10:30 First private lesson of the day with a HSK4 student, she will be taking the exam in December.

Between lessons I rush to the bakery to get something to eat.

11:00-12:00 A group of teachers studying beginner level Chinese, usually their lessons is later on the day, but tonight they have special plans. We learn how to take a taxi in Chinese.

12:00-13:00 Second private lesson today where we learn time words in Chinese.

13:30-14:30 A second group of teachers, we learn how to order coffee in Chinese.

After classes I visit another GWIC event, this time a charity market. After the event I buy lunch/dinner from the supermarket and come back to the office to rest, prepare for lessons and write this blog post.

Later tonight I have another networking event organized by InterNations, after that it’s finally a weekend for me!


Besides what I listed above, I also use time to write lesson feedback of all the lessons I have taught and also make sure that the part time teachers working for me have written their feedbacks as well. I also keep an eye on the progress of the students that I don’t teach personally and offer guidance to the teachers. Lots of time goes to lessons planning and creating extra exercises for students according to their needs. Answering questions of old, new and possible students takes time as well. Luckily my husband is now helping me with management and finances of the company so I can concenterate on teaching and improving the quality of education.

That’s it! Next week is gonna be even busier, so lets have a good rest this weekend!

10/19/17

There is no place I’d rather be

I’ve been living in Guangzhou since March 2010 and it’s often been a rollercoaster ride with ups and downs. I’ve gotten my dream wedding day here, I’ve stayed in a hospital for over a week. I’ve struggled to make long term friends and then found my place with amazing women who share the joy and struggle of living in another culture.

Now that I’m soon starting my ninth year in Guangzhou, I feel I am coming to a peace, I have found my place. My small family is healthy and happy, our daughter is in a great daycare and in the weekends we enjoy taking her out to explore or just stay at home cleaning together. Now at almost 2 years old she is such a fun person to be around!

Me and my husband are working together in our business. He is in charge of management and finances, I’m in charge of teaching and promoting. We have grown from teaching at coffee shops to having our own office in the center of Guangzhou. A small office, but an office nevertheless! We are approaching our 50th student any time now.

Regarding friends I have found other long-timers who are married to Chinese men and have young children as well. We have all lived in Guangzhou for years, some of us over 10 years. And most likely will stay in for the foreseeable future as well. When moving to a new place, especially into a new culture, it really makes a huge difference to be able to meet friends who are in the same situation as you are.

For making friends I’ve found GWIC, Guangzhou Women’s International Club, to be huge help! I’ve made so many new friends through coffee morning and afternoon teas. I’ve explored new places in Guangzhou and even started my own club inside the community.

The best season has started in Guangzhou, the Autumn. Temperatures are between 23 to 28 degrees, it doesn’t rain that much and the sun isn’t as scorching as during the Summer. If one wants to travel to Guangzhou, October to December is definitely the best time to come!

There are always new challenges coming when living in China, but right now Guangzhou is the best place to be. For me at least.

Until next time!

08/5/17

Change through the years

Photo with a Chinese girl in 2010

Living a Dream in China is a 7 year old kid already and even though blog’s birthday was two months ago already, a friend inspired me to look into the changes that have been happening.

On of my first posts was Are they looking at me? and it discussed the problem of being watched no matter where you went. Now 7 years later more and more foreigners live in Guangzhou and I don’t get nearly as many looks as back then! Perhaps I’ve grown older, but it’s true that seeing a foreigner on the streets in Guangzhou isn’t as big of a deal anymore.

The first apartment I rented defintely wasn’t the average expat home in China. It cost 600rmb per month and in the end I had to move out because foreigners weren’t allowed to live in that village. What has changed? 7 years later I’m living in another village just 5km from the first one! At least our new home is a lot nicer and we are renovating it bit by bit to build a dream house of ours.

Back in 2012 I was wondering how immersed I truly was in China. Back then I estimated I spoke Chinese 80-90% of the time, right now it might be a bit less as I need to speak more English when I teach beginners. Perhaps 70-80% is still a good number. Eating Chinese or Western food was 50/50 back then and after that I’ve eaten more or less the same amount of Chinese food. With people I’m denitely spending a lot of time with foreigners now, being a teacher and all.

I also touched the topic of being a poor westerner in China. I came to China as a student and I know what it’s like to count your coins even though I still consider my self lucky. The amount of money I use for eating out in 2017 would have terrified me back in 2012.

Finally in 2013 I met my future husband, visited Hengshan snowy mountain with him and the rest is history.

During the years Guangzhou has changed a lot, but even more I have changed as a person. I have finished my degrees, started my career and business, got married and started a family.

I best the next 7 years are gonna be even better!

07/26/17

Back in Guangzhou


During my seven years in China, I go back to Finland every Summer. Just once had a longer stretch in between when I didn’t go. In many senses it’s the highlight of the year. It’s Summer holiday, visiting family, seeing friends and breathing fresh air.

This Summer me and Anna spent 3 weeks and my husband 9 days in my hometown. Not nearly enough to see everyone, but I needed a week before work to battle jet lag.

Summer was full of love. My little sister got married! First weekend we arrived, second was bachelorette party and third the big day. My husband got to experience a traditional Finnish wedding. We never had a wedding in Finland, only a small one in China back in 2014.

Being back in Guangzhou is great too, it’s nice to come home no matter how humid it is. We’ve spent time as a family, which is a rare opportunity for us as we worked such a long hours during the Spring. Even started upgrading our small backyard!

Next week it’s back to business! I’m very excited to see where my company Expat Chinese will go this Autumn. So many big things happening! If you want to know more check Expat Chinese.

Anna has exciting news too! After being at home with a nanny, she is now at the age of 1 year and 9 months going to daycare! She is so active and we hope she can have more activities and friends at daycare. I’m eager to see how this new chapter will go.

August, we are ready for you!

05/1/17

Spring 2017 Greetings


I have been blogging for over 10 years, this blog started 7 years ago during my first Spring in Guangzhou. There have been quieter times, but the blog has survived through them. Hopefully will survive our crazy busy balancing a toddler and business life -years as well!


I rented an office in the beginning of the year and registered my Chinese teaching business. I’ve really been enjoying working for my self and having a dedicated work space! 

At the moment I have 12 private students and 7 small groups each week. The newest groups are Chinese Characters and HSK3 which is starting soon.


Anna is 1.5 years already and running around. She has just started speaking and can say a few words. Her two favorite words are baibai (bye bye) and Lucy (one of our cats).

We still have the same ayi with us since September and Anna has a great bond with her. Anna will most likely stay at home for another 1.5 years, because the kindergarten won’t accept kids until 3 years old.


It’s been a very busy and hectic Spring. Now I know why they call these years “busy years” or “traffic jam years” in Finland!

But no matter how busy, it’s very exciting time as well to see our daughter and both of our businesses grow day by day.