Guangzhou,  My Life

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?


  • Becky

    Perfectly said, I can totally relate to what you said. Especially the part where you wake up and realize you are living in China. That happens to me every now and then. I’ll walk by a table of guys playing cards, or a big steaming plate of food is delivered and I’m like, “Holy S%$&T I live in China!” and it almost surprises me.

    My city is very small, about 1 million, but it also feels like home to me. When my bus pulls into the station after a month or so of traveling my shoulders relax and I sigh contentedly. “I’m home,” I think.

    It might not be home forever (in fact I know it won’t be) but it is for now, and that’s all I need.


    Sara Reply:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Becky. Those feelings of being home and forgeting you’re in China are great feelings that only someone who has been in a similar situation can relate to.


  • Jules

    I can totally relate to this post! It surprises me quite often at how much China feels like home to me, and how much I can’t imagine leaving my city!


    Sara Reply:

    I know, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want to work when I graduate. Somehow the best option would be to stay in Guangzhou, because it’s already a home to me.


  • ordinary malaysian

    @Sara, Becky and Jules good for you guys that you feel the way you do about the city you live in. At least, this way you won’t feel so homesick. I myself have never lived the expat life so I won’t know.


    Sara Reply:

    Actually I’ve never been homesick even when I was a kid. I was always ready to go summer camps alone without my friends or visit relatives without my parents. I do wish I could visit Finland and my family more often, but luckily I’m not homesick.


  • T

    Heh, this is a great post. What I’ve heard over and over from foreign expats is that China has this quirk, a je ne sais quoi, that drives them nuts while they’re in the country but makes them miss it terribly once they’ve left.


    Sara Reply:

    That sounds just about right!


  • Pizzashapes2011


    I moved to Guanghzou to start a new life. I moved here from Australia and it has only been 2 months.

    I too am learning Chinese and am finding it extremely difficult. I came here because I achieved a goal back home of never working for a someone else. With the freedom I gained I decided to move to GZ as it is linked with my business.

    It has been a great experience so far. The best part for me is meeting people form all over the world. I hope that I can understand the Chinese way of thinking and doing things in the next 2-3 years.

    I have been to Beijing and Shanghai and must say that I like Guangzhou more. I don’t know what it is it about this place. I think it has something to do with the weather. When it is so hot, people don’t have the chance to be uptight, which is why it is laid back here. If you think about any other country with this sort of climate, they are laid back. Australia and South America are the same…

    Anyway, good luck in Guanghzou!



    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Welcome to Guangzhou! I’m really glad to hear that you like the city, I’ve heard so many opposite opinions so it’s refreshing to hear yours. I also agree that Cantonese people are really laid back and the feeling of the city is relaxed and local.

    Good luck with your business and Chinese studies. If you have any questions about studying Chinese, let me know and maybe I can help.


    jerry Reply:

    lol, I am a local in Guangzhou, glad to know that you people love GZ so much like I do, and become part of our big family… good luck with everything in here… If you have any troubles,just send me an email, I would like to give you guys some advices ^_^ haha, hope you guys enjoy living here


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