Living in China,  My Life

Living in China, but am I truly immersed?

Tom wrote a great blog post last summer about how immersed you truly are when living in China. I left a comment on his blog about my own experience at the time, but I think it’s time to re-evaluate my immersion rate.

Chinese language

My classes are completely in Chinese and I speak Chinese with my classmates. Only on few occasions I speak English with my American classmate, but she also prefers to speak Chinese (She’s actually native Cantonese speaker). Outside classes I hang out with my classmates or with my boyfriend (whit who I speak Chinese all the time). I meet English of Finnish speaking friends once in a while and sometimes speak to my cat in Finnish.

Most of what I write is in English or Finnish, that’s an area I should improve. Just wait for Monday and my first blog post in Chinese!

For spoken language my immersion rate could be somewhere between 80-90%.

Chinese food

Because it’s a holiday now I’ve eaten more Finnish food than usually. When the semester starts I will probably eat out more and that means more Chinese food. I’m also lucky to have such a great cook at home who can cook delicious Chinese food for me!

So perhaps about 50-60% what I eat is Chinese food.


All of my teachers are of course Chinese and two of my classmates are originally Chinese. Other classmates come from many different countries, but we almost always talk in Chinese with each other. At home I have one Chinese boyfriend and one Chinese cat, but I’m not sure if my cat Lucy meows in Finnish or Chinese.

I’m still trying to find good Chinese friends, that could almost be my most important goal for 2012. I don’t make friend easily or quickly, I need time to get to know someone and let someone to get to know me. I don’t expect my friends to teach me Chinese and I’m not teaching English, but I still hope to make non-English speaking Chinese friends. I think my Chinese is good enough to be a friend.

It’s really hard to rate this one. 11% of my classmates (and friends) are Chinese (even though they don’t speak Mandarin fluently), 100% of my teachers are Chinese, 95% of people I see outside are Chinese.

Pop culture

This is the section I hope to improve this year. If I listen to music I do listen to Chinese songs, but most of the TV shows I watch are American ones. It’s hard to find Chinese TV series that I enjoy because all of them seem to be too fake and too dramatic. I do like 裸婚时代, are there other series similar to this one? And where are Chinese versions of Desperate Housewives or Gossip Girl? Or where can I find them dubbed into Chinese?

All the magazines I read are basically in Finnish because my mother sends me new ones every month. I’ve tried buying Chinese magazines, but then in the end I didn’t really read them.

For pop culture my immersion rate is only about 20% at the moment and I have to get it up. I’m thinking of a goal for this section, but I’m not sure what if could be. How many episodes of 裸婚时代 I should watch per week? How much American TV am I allowed?


Thank you again Tom for your great original postNow I just want to know how immersed are you, my Chinese learning reader?


  • Alex

    Great post!! I think you are really living an immersed life. I really love being able to enjoy both worlds for example have forks, knives and chopsticks! Or being able to eat Western breakfast and then delicious Chinese for lunch and dinner. I don’t normally watch TV and when I do it is Chinese Game shows hehe. This is a great Idea : )


    Sara Reply:

    You are right Alex, we can have it all :) If I would only eat Western food, I would miss Chinese food, at the other way around.


  • Kath

    This is a really interesting idea! Hmm let’s see…
    Language wise, it’s terrible. Mainly because Taiwanese hubby refuses to speak to me in mandarin and I don’t have time for formal study. I wish I did.
    Food wise, I’m really immersed. I will try everything once and love cooking Chinese style food. I cook Chinese style more easily than western style actually.
    Pop culture – I watch a lot of Taiwan tv on the bus to and from Taipei, some news at home but not much else. Hubby listens to a lot of mando pop, especially lately so therefore I do too by default.
    People – I think I have done okay on this score. Most of my friends are non Taiwanese but I do have a few good TW friends.


    Sara Reply:

    How great you can cook Chinese food! For some reason my boyfriend have learned to cook Finnish food, but I still haven’t cooked any Chinese.


  • Aurora85

    I’m not sure how helpful, but I heard Korean dramas are pretty popular in China and a lot of them will have Chinese subs. Maybe try those?


    Sara Reply:

    Well, those Korean dramas I’ve seen my boyfrien watching are even worse than Chinese dramas! And the benefit of watching Chinese TV is to also learn something about the culture here. But I’ve heard Taiwanese shows are quite good, do you know anything about those?


    Aurora85 Reply:

    I’ve only had glimpses of Taiwanese shows to be honest. I have tried watching a few of them but I guess it didn’t work out for one reason or another :( Taiwanese dramas, as far as I know focus heavily on using idols as actors and most of the ideas they have are borrowed from Japanese manga. There was one Taiwanese show that I was dying to watch and finish but unfortunately no one subbed all eps in English. The show is an interesting one called Pawnshop No 8 which has supernatural elements. (There’s a myth of this pawnshop where you literally can pawn ANYTHING to get what you desire, and as I’m aware, there is an overall arc but its also a story within a story.) I’m shocked your boyfriend watches Korean dramas. I dated a Korean guy and he wouldn’t touch Korean dramas with a ten foot pole haha. (Ones I enjoyed are actually unusual; I liked The Devil for instance, Sandglass, Bad Family and Eyes of Dawn.)


  • Shu

    Hi Sara,
    Nice website you got, the flowers are pretty bright, very Chinese like.
    you are doing very well as far as immersion is concerned. I only have two little suggestions:
    1. Chinese newspapers would be helpful with learning current issues.
    2. Sing more Chinese songs – singing is fun and once you memorize the lyrics, then it will stay in your mind for a long long time.
    Happy New Year to you.


    Sara Reply:

    Hi Shu, thank you for leaving a comment! I do sing once in a while, but only in private. My voice is too terrible for others to hear! Your recommendation to read Chinese newspapers is a good idea, I just need to find a way to make it more fun so I can make it a habit.

    Happy Chinese New Year!


  • Ihcnawleong

    pardon me  leave a message, if you interested in manga(comics),there are a lot of manga or comics that was written in chinese subtitle


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you for the tip!


  • Miranda

    我知道你特别喜欢中国文化。你的Finnish朋友想什么?我是美国人(我的外公外婆从香港来美国 (他们会说广东话和英文),可是我爸爸妈妈普通话,广东话 都不会说)。我不会说韩文,可是我最喜欢听的音乐是韩国”kpop“。我的同学们和家人想我很奇怪 >_<

    有时候我也喜欢听台湾 “cpop” 音乐。你也喜欢听中文音乐吗?如果你喜欢,我要告诉你 Jay Chou,Jolin Tsai,Vanness Wu,和五月天 很好听!台湾也有许多好看的电影。“下一站,幸福” 是我最爱看的drama!你一定要看看!

    上大学的时候,我希望我可以学中文,韩文,西班牙文,和 物理课!You are such an inspiration! 加油!


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:



    我也喜欢有些韩国歌,现在比较喜欢Super Junior,你能不能介绍别的韩国歌手?我完全听不懂,但是没问题,我觉得音乐不一定需要听得懂。好听就行。




    Herro! Reply:

    OMG TY! I cant read a lick of that, but I saw your Cpop recommendations!

    I am SO in need!!!♥♥ It’s been hard for me to find artists I like that are upbeat and such, like I find so easily in Kpop. I’m not too into slow love ballads :)P I want party music! hehe

    btw, Khalil Fong (jic you didnt know ;)) is awesome ^O^! (hes on in the background right now! ^^)

    …Would anyone be able to recommend fun&poppy Canto artists?! I’m moving to GZ soon ^^ (and my bf speaks canto & hates that he cant understand my mandarin songs -_- haha im like dude, neither can I! XD)
    OH! And where can I catch a Kpop concert?!?!?!! (Just for future reference) Are they only held in HK/Shanghai? Is there a website in english for venues?
    XO thanks guys!! ^^


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