My Life

My everyday life in Guangzhou

Usually I update about my daily life to my Finnish blog so my family and friends could read what is going on in my life. But yesterday Alexandra and Kelly asked me on Twitter how I have been doing these days. I decided to open a window to my boring life for all of you international readers and see if you fall asleep or want to hear more!

My life revolves around my studies at the moment. Like most of you know I’m doing my undergraduate degree at Sun Yat-Sen University in Chinese language. I’ll be deciding my major soon as I found out that I will be starting my third year next Spring, not next Autumn as I thought earlier. Teaching Chinese (汉语教育) or Business Chinese (商务汉语)? That’s the question.

I spend 16 and a half hours at the university each week at classes. Besides that I do my home work and study some extra at home. If I’m not studying I am usually surfing around the Internet reading your amazing blogs! Or watching Desperate Housewives or Gossip Girl or The Lying Game or Pan Am or… I know! I should watch Chinese TV and practice my listening skills.

Usually I spend my Friday nights and Saturdays at home doing nothing useful. Then on Sunday I start studying, finish my home work for the next week and prepare for classes. This seems to be a good routine for me as I also need some time away from all the studying. Still I can’t get away from Chinese, if you remember that I live with my Chinese boyfriend and I’m surrounded by Chinese people in this city that don’t speak English. (Well, both of these are a good thing!)

And then sometimes when I’m not studying, not watching American television drama and not doing nothing, I might be helping a friend to buy goods from here and send them to Finland. She was brave enough to open her own business after seeing the prices here at Guangzhou. Just remember that I am in China with a student visa and can’t work officially. So lets just say that I am helping a friend. (But if you want to hire me and pay me a lot of money, email me!)

Besides all of this I’m thinking about my future. What could my next big dream be? Which major could offer me enjoyable study time and later on an interesting job? Until now I have followed my dreams and interests and I don’t want to give up going that road. I want to show that you can have a comfortable life (meaning earning enough money) doing a job you really like. But there’s a problem! I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up! Any ideas?

Last, but not least, my life goes around my dear boyfriend who cooks pork cutlets for me when I’m tired of eating Chinese food. And then there’s my dear lovely cute Lucy (in the photo above) who must be the best cat in the whole world!

This is my daily life like here in Guangzhou. No fireworks, nothing fancy, just normal life that could happen anywhere in the world. A student’s life where I have to consider if I really want to pay 200RMB to eat meat, to meet fellow northern Europeans and to network.



  • Brandi

    Hi Sara! I hope you and your boyfriend are doing well. How are your Cantonese studies going? I enjoyed this entry quite a bit. Part of what is both fascinating and frustrating for me about reading blogs, is that you only understand the parts of the author’s life that the author decides to reveal. That leaves you (or just me?) wondering about things like what the author does for fun or thinks about what’s on tv or had for dinner yesterday. I guess I just enjoy mundane details just as much as big ideas. And speaking of ideas, if I ever think of what you should do when you finish school I’ll let you know ;) I’m also very curious about Lucy. She’s just too adorable! Did you get her in GZ? Does she live with you and your boyfriend? Hope to hear from you soon!

    Sara Reply:

    Hi Brandi! So nice to hear that you liked this post.

    My Cantonese studies are just in the beginning. The pronunciation is so difficult! The course isn’t that good because there are 50 students at class and it sounds more like a kindergarden than a university.

    Lucy lives with us here in Guangzhou. She first lived with a Chinese friend of mine but then his landlord said that he can’t keep her. So Lucy came to live with us! I’m very happy that I have her in my life.

    p.s. I ate tofu for dinner and some Finnish rice porridge after that :)

    aazaams Reply:

    Hello,sara, i wish i could get some useful information from you,do you live in guangzhou or out side of guangzhou?do u hve anyother net communication accounts? I do use qq, my qq number is 859823834,u do use fb or Skype? I think fb won’t work inside china,anyway my Skype id is aazaams.i hope can be good friends, see u in reply,

    mike Reply:

    Hello,sara, i wish i could get some useful information from you,do you live in guangzhou or out side of guangzhou?do u hve anyother net communication accounts? I do use qq, my qq number is 859823834,u do use fb or Skype? I think fb won’t work inside china,anyway my Skype id is aazaams.i hope can be good friends, see u in reply,

  • Justin Liu

    If you want an opinion from a total stranger (but one who has been reading your blog for more than a year now), I think you would be happier majoring in Teaching Chinese. You seem like a genuinely nice person and one with a good heart, and I think you would be much happier dealing with children rather than type-A business people.

    The coming years are going to see Chinese taught more in other countries and would offer a stable job market. You would have to live outside of China to teach Chinese but I suspect in 2-3 years you would get itchy feet and want a change.

    Well good luck in your studies

    From Canada.

    Sara Reply:

    Justin, I am looking for opinions from all of you! I’m touched that you and Nathalie (comment below) know me well enough through my blog that you think I would be happier with teaching Chinese. I think that the business world is not quite for me, even though I could do some kind of business. I also think that no matter which major I choose, it doesn’t mean that I absolutely have to do a job that is strictly related to my major. Right?

    Lets see what happens in the following two years, because right now I don’t know if I want to stay or go back to Finland after graduation.

  • Nathalie

    I really enjoy reading about what you do on a daily basis and what life is like for you in Guangzhou. It’s also nice you get to live with your boyfriend and ended up adopting Lucy.

    I would agree with Justin who mentioned you would be happier to teach Chinese, especially to children. Are you planning on staying in China after your studies?

    Sara Reply:

    I really don’t know if I’m going to stay in Guangzhou or go back to Finland. There are so many things to consider when doing that decision. Right now it feels like I could stay and perhaps first work in the Finnish consulate here for a few years and see what it’s like. But surely my mind can change during my study time.

    I think if I teach Chinese in Finland, it would be adults. There aren’t so many children studying Chinese in Finland yet, but it’s slowly changing.

  • ordinary malaysian

    Sounds like a nice “routine” day nevertheless. I would agree with both Justin and Nathalie on teaching Chinese major. And your own wish to work for a time in the Finnish embassy sounds good too; especially when you become fluent in Mandarin I am sure they will be very happy to have you work there!

  • Sam

    I think it will an awesome idea to work at the Finnish Consulate in Hong Kong or Guangzhou, since you can use your Chinese and Cantonese skills. And you will not be so far away from your boyfriend.

    By the way, i really enjoy your blog.

    Sara Reply:

    It would be great to work at the consulate and also stay near this area. There are more Finnish people in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but not so many at Guangzhou. I hope that to be an advantage for me in the future.

  • Jack

    I think if you want to pursue a more “comfortable” life with a lot of freedom, you need to seriously consider taking some course on international business, maybe if you can, do double major before you graduate. Being able to read and write chinese, and with a business degree will offer you the freedom of choice where to work, and the salary for a very comfortable living. You can be working for Finnish corporations as local liasons, or working in Finland. It will pay a lot better than teaching Chinese, plus if it doesn’t work out you can still fall back on teaching Chinese. But without a business degree, you will not be able to get your feet in the door.

    Sara Reply:

    I think I don’t have the time or money to do a double degree. I will be 26 when I graduate and feel like that an age when i want to start working and slowly concidering having a family of my own. I’m also not a hard core business person, my interests are more in the history and culture side.

    Many people have adviced me to study Business Chinese and I can well understand why. But still I hope I can find a way to make a living by doing work I truly enjoy.

  • seija

    Hi from Melbourne, I just talked to my son in Dalian where he is studying medicine and wrote some of his news in my blog. He seems too busy to do so himself!
    Looks like studying in China is very different from Finland.
    It was nice to read about your daily life, I might peep into your Finnish blog also! I have noticed you sometimes visit my blog, thank you!

    Sara Reply:

    Thank you for visiting my blog Seija! Studying at a university in Finland and in China is very different. There’s more independence to students in Finland. In China studying in a university looks a lot like studying in a Finnish high school.

  • Josh

    Hi guys i would like to learn of Guangzhou’s daily lifestyle, the average job in Guangzhou, and other details that are worth sharing. Thankyou.

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Hi Josh, I will put this on my to do list and hope to write more about the daily life of foreigners in Guangzhou.