Best of 2018 – Part 2

Best Thing I Did for Myself

After being inconsistent with working out for a LONG time, I finally decided things had to change and joined Pure Yoga & Fitness in the end of last summer. I hesitated for a while because of the 1-year commitment and fairly high membership price (plus the place feels a bit snobby at first), but joining has been one of the best decisions I made last year. Now I do yoga almost daily, switching it up with other classes at the Fitness side every now and then. Pure has actually managed to do something I thought was near impossible in my case, which is make exercise a daily event that I genuinely look forward to (ok, not EVERY day, but most days). Even though I’ve always liked working out, scheduling in a session and actually getting there has always felt like a pain in the butt. I’m not sure if it’s the yoga itself, the convenience of the gorgeous studio being so close to my house, the push from the monthly price tag, or all of the above, but I’ve finally managed to happily make exercize a part of my daily routine. Yeah! 💪

Best Photo

I’ve realized that I love taking photos of people the most, especially in natural light and in a natural setting. In 2019 I want to experiment much more with light and become a kickass portrait photographer. In need of a portrait? Get in touch and let’s schedule a shoot!

Shanghai portrait photography

Despite my love for capturing real moments of people, my favorite shot of the year is probably this one starring the Oriental Pearl Tower. The location is on Beijing East Road right in front of the Peninsula Hotel. I love the architecture of the buildings alongside of the road leading up to The Bund and eventually the Pearl Tower on the other side of the Huangpu river. On a clear day this also makes for an amazing backdrop for portraits, especially late in the afternoon with the softer light coming in from the west.

Shanghai photographer

This picture was shot with my Canon EOS 6D camera and 35mm lens, ISO 100, f/8, 6.0s.

Best Moment

The most memorable moment of the year lasted for about one week. The Golden Week. Robert and I decided to spend the October holiday in Shanghai for the first time, and despite it being incredibly painful to see friends’ Instagram posts from dreamy beaches all over Southeast Asia, it turned out to be a super nice week in China. The weather was gorgeous, so we spent every day outside either eating brunch, biking around, sunning on the roof or checking out new places and neighborhoods. We finally also had the time to visit some Shanghai sights that had been on our list for the longest time, like Zhujiajiao watertown and Longhua Temple, both beautiful historic places and well worth visiting.

Zhujiajiao watertown shanghai

Zhujiajiao is one of Shanghai’s famous watertowns, and actually the first one I’ve visitied. As one would expect on a public holiday in China, it was packed, but we arrived early in the morning and got about an hour of quiet-ish time before the serious masses rolled in. I’m not a huge fan of the crowds and stinky tofu stalls in every corner, but I did love the quieter alleys with charming cafés and restaurants out by the water, away from the main walking path going through Zhujiajiao. I’d definitely go again, but next time will be even earlier in the morning and preferably not during a major Chinese public holiday. I can imagine Zhujiajiao being the perfect place to find a cute little café right by the water, read a book or get some work done, and, for a moment, forget that we live in a city of 24 million people.

Zhujiajiao Watertown Shanghai

Longhua Temple was another pleasant Golden Week surprise. I didn’t even know about this place, Robert had just passed it on the way to a meeting and decided we should check it out. So we biked down 30 minutes from the French Concession and found the peaceful, thousand year old Buddhist temple with tons of cute kittens running around the grounds. I mean, anywhere with kittens gets two thumbs up from me, but the temple and grounds were definitely worth seeing, too. Somehow the place was almost empty despite it being the middle of Golden Week, which of course made it much more enjoyable. The area is pretty small, so about an hour on the temple grounds is enough. If you haven’t been yet, make sure to go. It’s perfect to combine with a walk or bike ride on the West Bund, which is one of my favorite outdoor areas in Shanghai.

Longhua Temple Shanghai

Best Book

I’ve had a very slow book year and only managed to get through 5 or 6 books in total (half of which I read on the beach in Vietnam during Chinese New Year). Nevertheless, my favorite was definitely “Leftover in China – The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower” by brilliant Roseann Lake. It discusses China’s women – single women in particular – and their massive role in the country’s economic future. Truly a great read: funny, entertaining and very informative, allowing the reader to get an understanding of the complex values and traditions of Chinese culture, which have been further complicated by the colossal generational difference between old and new China.

The book is filled with anecdotes of people that Lake has met during her time in China working as The Economist’s China correspondent. I was fascinated to read about how learning the art of sajiao (撒娇) – a type of temper tantrum put on by a woman that allows a man to feel needed and manly – can be a crucial success factor for a Chinese woman in finding a partner; how parents create online dating profiles to their children or try to find partners for them at actual marriage markets (like at the one in Shanghai’s People’s Square every weekend); how silk reelers of the late 1800s preferred to stay unmarried in order to keep their job and relatively high income, and found ways to legally marry dead single men, to the point that women started complaining about the limited number of eligible dead men to marry. So interesting. So worth reading.

Thank you 2018!

Best of 2018 – Part 1

Wow, 2018 just flew by, didn’t it? (And so did half of January…) Many say it’s been a bit of a strange, quick year, and I couldn’t agree more. I wrote exactly 4 blog posts, which means there’s definitely room for improvement in 2019, but also that I didn’t share much of what I’ve been up to. So here comes the first part of a few random bests of my 2018!

Best trip

I’ve been traveling a bit less compared to the past couple of years, but still managed to get in a few good trips every 1-2 months. In March, Robert and I went to Kaohsiung, Taiwan for our friends’ awesome Polish-American-Taiwanese wedding, and had life-changing beef noodles in this simple little restaurant. In June, I spent a beautiful summer week in New York visiting my parents and some dear friends.

The best trip of the year, however, was to Osaka in December. It was my first time visiting Japan, and I LOVED it. It was a very short 2-day visit, so I didn’t really have time to do anything besides check out some must-see and must-eat places, but I stayed long enough to get a sense of the overall atmosphere. Paired with Japanese food and their wonderful service culture and hospitality, Osaka turned out to be one of the nicest places I’ve been to in a while. Can’t wait to go back to Japan.

Best professional moment

It’s been a very interesting year professionally. I’m still on the board and managing marketing for IPWS, and we’ve had a fab anniversary year celebrating 25 years of connecting professional women since the organization was first founded in 1993. If you’re in Shanghai and looking to expand your professional network while gaining valuable insight through quality content events, make sure to check us out.

I was also invited to join the board of Explore China, an organization that helps the Nordic region remain competitive in the global market by exposing top talent to the innovation, scale and speed of today’s China. Through Explore China, a batch of university students are invited to China for a 2-week inspirational programme to visit and meet with world-leading companies, entrepreneurs and experts. Last year’s pilot programme was a huge success with visits to companies like Alibaba, Baidu, Didi Chuxing and Mobike. Application for Explore China 2019 is currently open to all Swedish university students – go go go!

Aside from the day-to-day, two things in particular stood out in my professional year 2018. The first is that my passion and love for photography turned into a profession. How cool is that! I do more and more photography projects, mostly shooting portraits, Shanghai-cityscapes and events. I still have incredibly much to learn and tons of lenses to buy, but it’s pretty cool to be able to work with something that genuinely brings me so much joy and happiness. The second big highlight of the year was when, out of the blue, Nat Geo Travel reached out and wanted to work with me. I mean, again, how cool is that!

Best purchase

Without a doubt, my S’well water bottle. Who knew a water bottle could bring me so much joy, haha. That little thing is the best, it keeps water cold for 24 hours in the +40 Celsius summer heat, and vice versa in the winter. (Yes, I now drink hot water like a Chinese person.) Plus it’s environmentally friendly with gorgeous design. Ah and I’m so happy, I just got a second bottle from Robert for Christmas! Both are purchased through Baopals on Tmall from this seller.

Best dress

Every year in December, the Finnish-Chinese community in Shanghai throws a big black-tie party at the Fairmont Peace Hotel to celebrate Finland’s independence day. This year was no exception, and I was so happy with my outfit for the night. For the second year in a row, I had my dress made at Angela’s, a small tailor boutique specializing in evening gowns. I can warmly recommend Angela, she’s very professional and friendly, and speaks perfect English. Her prices are a bit higher than tailoring at the South Bund Fabric Market, but quality and results have also been significantly better, at least in my experience. Her location is also much more convenient with a shop in central Jing’an. Find Angela’s on 141 Maoming North Road, or feel free to reach out and I’d be happy to connect you on WeChat.

More 2018 bests coming soon!

5 Shanghai Instragrammers to Follow

I’m a big Instagram fan, surprise surprise! But for me, the platform is much more than pretty pictures and seeing what my friends are up to. It’s actually an excellent source for discovering local events, new restaurants, interesting neighborhoods and more. It’s also a great tool for researching and seeing “real” pictures of things like potential vacation destinations and hotels. And, as strange as it sounds, I’ve also made many good friends through Instagram!

There are tons of great Shanghai Grammers to follow. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. @shanghaivlogger
Behind Shanghaivlogger is Magnus, a Swedish expat living and working in Shanghai. In addition to posting interesting and entertaining lifestyle content from China and his travels around the world, Magnus runs the fantastic YouTube Channel, Shanghai Vlogger, and a podcast called Kinapodden. On all platforms, I love Magnus’ positive vibe and commitment to quality content.


2. @keint_shanghai
I don’t know much more about Keint than what his Instagram bio reveals, but what I do know is that he takes absolutely spectacular photos. I love the content in his feed, which mainly consists of stunning masterpieces, as well as his Insta stories with more casual, lifestyle related material. Keint posts a variety of portraits, nature, architecture, travel and cityscapes. His account is particularly interesting for photo geeks and just anyone who appreciates beautiful images.


3. @shanghaicoffeedaily
Shanghaicoffeedaily roams through Shanghai’s endless cafés, posting lovely pictures with her wonderfully entertaining impressions of the establishments she visits. As expected, she offers followers great tips on where to get a nice (and not so nice) cup of coffee.


4. @nomfluence
Nomfluence is run by Rachel, a Shanghai based writer, photographer and food critic who so kindly provides us with excellent restaurant tips accompanied with gorgeous food photography. This account is worth following for the mouth-watering food pics alone, even if you’re not based in Shanghai.


5. @shanghaicomune
Shanghaicomune is a feature account, which means it posts other Instagrammer’s Shanghai shots, including my pic below. By tagging photos with #shanghaicomune, you have the chance to be featured and showcase your images to a larger audience of Shanghai lovers. There are many Shanghai-themed feature accounts, but I particularly like this one because of the variety of images and styles.


Honorary Mention: @gerhard_official
Gerhard is an expat living and working in Shanghai, and his breakfast pictures are some of my absolute favorites on Instagram. I love the minimalistic style of his feed in general, but his overnight oats and other food “art” is just too good. Bravo Gerhard!


There you go, a few fun, inspiring and informative Shanghai Instagrammers to follow! And while you’re at it, don’t miss my account @shanghaistablog as well. Cheers!


5 Reasons Why I Love Shanghai

Shanghai Skyline Shanghaista Blog

It’s probably obvious that I’m very fond of Shanghai, but it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. When I first visited in 2010, I pretty much went by the tourist guidebooks and saw what visitors were recommended to see. Sure, the Bund was pretty, East Nanjing was crowded, and it was fun riding up to the observation deck at the World Financial Center. But to be honest, nothing really stood out, and Shanghai didn’t seem that special. But man, was I wrong.

Over the years, I somehow became more and more fascinated by Shanghai, especially after talking to people living here and just loving it. It became my “if I could live anywhere in the world”-city, and bam, in 2016 Robert and I suddenly got an opportunity to make it our new home. And that’s what it really feels like now, home.

Here are five reasons why I absolutely LOVE this city:

1. The People

Shanghai has an amazing mix of people from all corners of the world and all walks of life, all contributing to an amazing and exciting vibe in this crazy city. Since arriving here two-plus years ago, it’s been surprisingly easy to meet likeminded people, build a network, and find friends who will be a part of my extended family for life. I’m sure any place with good people easily becomes the best place in the world, but what I haven’t seen elsewhere is the amount of interesting and inclusive communities providing extremely valuable platforms for connecting, learning or just doing stuff together. Here’s a link  to China Classifieds’ WeChat post about a few big Tech and Business Communities in town, and for fitness people, don’t miss joining the free workouts with very popular fitness community, FitFam Shanghai.

Personally, I found my tribe with IPWS. IPWS provides a platform for international professional women to connect and develop, mainly through monthly content and networking events, panel discussions and mentoring opportunities. And once a year, IPWS organizes the best leadership conference in town, the IPWS Leadership Summit. I eventually became a Board Member and the Marketing and Communications Executive for IPWS, and it’s been such an amazing journey growing our 8000+ community of absolutely incredible women. If you’re a professional woman living in or visiting Shanghai, make sure to join! We’re on a summer break right now, but will be back in September with new events.


2. The Food

Ahh the food. So many amazing places, so many delicious choices. A few of my current favorites are:

  • For brunch, my long-time fave is Liquid Laundry (their smoked salmon potato rosti in the picture below), but I highly recommend Pelikan and Highline as well.
  • For lunch, Egg is consistently fantastic, and so is Boom Boom Bagel and Little Catch.
  • For dinner, I love The Commune Social, Hatsune (a big favorite since my Beijing days), Gemma and Pelikan.
  • For Chinese food, I like the popular “foreigner-friendly” Chinese places Sichuan Citizen and Di Shui Dong. Shameful, I know (many in the expat community are judging me right now, haha), but what can you do, I still think the food is delicious! Din Tai Fung also never disappoints.
  • For home delivery on Eleme or Sherpa’s, my go-to’s are Nepali Kitchen, Saigon Mama, Mostexpress and Holyhigh.
  • Places that I can’t wait to try soon are Mercato, Taian Table and the brunch at the W Hotel.

By the way, a wonderful thing about Shanghai’s food scene is that many of these incredible places are very affordable. You don’t have to break the bank to have spectacular dining experiences (although you can easily do that, too!).


3. The Energy

One of the most addictive things about Shanghai is its stimulating energy. It’s probably similar to what New York was back in the day – development is super fast and you never know what the day will bring. Things are happening. Anything is possible. But somehow in the middle of all the fast-paced craziness, the city also feels warm and cozy. Shanghai is one of the world’s largest cities with over 24 million people, but it still manages to give me a wonderfully homey vibe, especially in my neighborhood, the Former French Concession (which is right smack in the middle of the city). The contrasts of old and new, east and west, rich and poor, all contribute to a pretty fascinating atmosphere.


4. The Opportunities

With all this amazing energy, massive development and awesome people, Shanghai of course offers unique opportunities to professionals. You truly never know who you’ll meet and what projects you could be involved in tomorrow. It’s a very exciting place to be in, and once you get a taste of it, it’s hard to let go. Every week there are interesting events and activities going on, offering great opportunities for networking and professional development. You can get pretty far just by being active, curious and open minded.

Personally, Shanghai has brought me tons of opportunities. Through IPWS, I have met amazing, influential people, while working in my field and developing especially as a China marketing professional, which is exactly where I want to go. I’m now also speaking, reading and writing Mandarin, which was a huge goal of mine and has opened many doors. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten so much inspiration and energy to pursue my passion for photography and content creation, which in turn has brought me amazing projects with NatGeo Travel, Kempinski Hotels, the Finnish Business Council and Explore China, to name a few.

Version 3

5. The Convenience

Move to Shanghai and say goodbye to spending time on mundane tasks like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. When I buy groceries, I do so from the comfy couch in my living room by logging in to Epermarket and having everything delivered the same day (free if you order before 3 pm!). If I want to stay in, but don’t have time or energy to cook, I order takeout through Eleme or Sherpa’s where I can choose from hundreds of restaurants and cafés, and receive it at my door 30-45 minutes later with barely any delivery fee. If it’s Friday night and Robert and I want to have a glass of chilled rosé on the rooftop, I can get a cold bottle delivered by BottlesXO within an hour. Beautiful, right? Additionally, China’s dockless bike sharing companies have made getting around town a breeze. In a city with congested traffic, it’s a dream! Grab a Mobike and zoom around for 1 RMB, and when you’re done, just leave it anywhere (well, ideally on the part of the street that allows parking). Additionally, China is going cashless and cardless, fast. I’ve heard from friends who have left China that the biggest adjustment is not being able to use WeChat Pay or AliPay anymore. That it’s like going back years in time and development. And I totally understand, mobile payments are vital here in everyday life, regardless if you’re getting a cup of coffee, paying for a dress at Zara, going to the dentist or buying a house. I barely have cash or cards with me anymore, and with our apartment door working with a fingerprint scanner, I don’t even need keys when leaving the house.

Chinese ecommerce is of course also contributing to a very convenient lifestyle in Shanghai. You can get pretty much anything and everything at, Taobao and Tmall, and have it delivered in no-time. If you’re having trouble navigating the platforms in Chinese, Baopals is an excellent option to do your Taobao and Tmall shopping in English.

And what would this post be without mentioning WeChat, the “messenger-gone-everything-app”, as Jing Travel so eloquently put it. Life here is not only convenient because of it, but in fact it would be awfully difficult, near impossible, without it. WeChat is my email, phone, messenger, social media feed, notice board, wallet and so much more, all rolled into one. And it’s awesome.


For these, and so many other reasons, I love calling Shanghai home. Did I miss anything? Add in the comments below!


Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @shanghaistablog here!

Sunrise on The Bund

Shanghai sunrise the bund

Happy new year! We’re two weeks into 2018, and I just accomplished one of my new year’s resolutions – seeing and photographing the sunrise on The Bund. Yeah!

I got up super early this morning, put on my warmest clothes and fluffiest pair of Uggs, got a Mobike on the street, and enjoyed a 30-minute brisk bike ride down the dark, quiet streets of Shanghai. And it was so worth it.

Being one of Shanghai’s biggest attractions and best-known landmarks, The Bund is usually packed with people. But early mornings are very different. The waterfront walkway is quiet and peaceful, with locals coming out to exercise, practice tai chi and fly kites. And the view is spectacular with the sun rising behind Pudong’s iconic skyline.

This morning, the atmosphere was amazing. So much calmness and energy at the same time.

I arrived at about 6:15, approximately half an hour before sunrise. I wish I’d gotten there about 15-20 minutes earlier to catch the moments of first light and color behind Pudong… oh well, next time! And I’m definitely coming back – I’ve been dying to see masters practicing tai chi with a Pudong sunrise backdrop, but couldn’t find any this morning.

What a good start of a new, productive week. Happy Monday!

Shanghai sunrise the bund

Shanghai sunrise the bund

Shanghai sunrise the bund

Shanghai sunrise the bund

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more pictures!

Shanghai Healthy Eats

Shanghai is so ridiculously amazing when it comes to food and restaurants. It’s so easy to accidentally let your eating get out of hand, haha! Luckily, restaurants with healthy concepts have been popping up for a while now, making it easy and fairly affordable to eat consciously. Home cooking is of course an option, but when you’re short on time, it’s just hard to resist eating out or ordering take-out, especially when it’s often cheaper than buying ingredients for the things I like to cook myself.

Here are a few of my favorites for delicious healthy Shanghai eats:

1. Topping the list is Wheat Healthy Eatery. I used to only get home-delivery from Wheat (not that that’s a bad option), as their restaurant was located a bit off from where I live in the French Concession. Then, a couple of months ago, came the best news ever: Wheat was opening a second branch in the hot corner of Fumin Lu and Changle Lu, only minutes away from my house! This has been my new everyday lunch and hangout spot since the soft opening a few weeks back (so much that I now call it “the office”). The interior is gorgeous, making it such an inviting and nice space to meet up friends or get some work done.

Some of my favorite dishes at Wheat are 1) black rice and salmon protein bowl, 2) beetroot hummus with veggie sticks, and 3) grilled salmon + brown rice, broccoli & cherry tomatoes from the Create your own -option. And the Immunity booster juice is fantastic. Simple dishes, quality ingredients. Perfect.

Wheat Shanghaista


Wheat Shanghaista

2. Another big, big healthy favorite of mine is Little Catch, which is a friendly urban fishmonger and poke shop on Wulumuqi Lu in the FFC. The super cute little place is run by two sisters from Hong Kong who are third generation fishmongers, selling high quality seafood and Hawaiian Poke bowls. I love their Classic Hawaiian Salmon poke bowl for lunch, and I often pick up some salmon for home cooking or sashimi. (Can you tell that I love salmon??) The food is consistent, and the fish and seafood always safe and fresh.

3. A third healthy and satisfying option is Sproutworks. With a few locations around town, Sproutworks has a great variation of soups, sandwiches, salads, healthy sides, grains and proteins that rotate daily, and can be mixed and matched pretty much in anyway you like. I go for the healthy sides, tossed salads and proteins, which are very filling, fresh and tasty. Highly recommended!

What’s your favorite healthy spot in Shanghai? Let us know in the comments! And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @shanghaistablog.

Cheers for the weekend!

Back from Radio Silence

I have been the worst blogger lately. My last post was over two months ago, eep! But I’m still here, alive and kicking, just significantly busier than I was in the beginning of the year.

So here’s what’s been going on: In January, I joined the board of directors of an absolutely amazing organization called IPWS – International Professional Women’s Society. IPWS is a non-profit organization for – yes, you guessed it – international professional women. We offer different platforms to connect, build networks, and foster personal and professional growth here in Shanghai. We organize 1-3 events every month, varying from content-driven workshops to networking events. Our community reaches more than 5000 professional women, and we’re growing every day!

Exactly one week ago, we had our biggest event of the year, our annual IPWS Leadership Summit. The Summit is an awesome, modern leadership conference for women and men on all professional levels, with high-profile speakers and engaging content revolving around a leadership theme, this year “Power”. The Summit also works as a platform to celebrate the annual Women Leadership Awards, which is the longest running international award for women leaders in Shanghai.

Preparations for the Summit turned out to be A LOT of work, so pretty much my every waking moment for the past weeks outside of school has gone into it. My main job has been to drive the marketing and comms, but also working with everything from graphic designers to event producers, finding sponsors to facilitating finalist interviews with the Women Leadership Awards jury. It’s been hectic to say the least, but with the hands-on team of superstars that makes the IPWS board of directors, it has also been one of the most memorable professional experiences I’ve had so far.

I’m still going strong with my Chinese studies at Jiaotong University (which btw still is my #1 thing), but after some years in the professional world, it’s not always easy going back to being “just a student”. But now being a part of IPWS, I feel my professional development is totally back on track: I get to do challenging things both within my area of expertise and way out of my comfort zone, I’m meeting tons of fascinating people and building a unique international network, and I get to make awesome things happen in the Shanghai community. IPWS has definitely elevated my Shanghai experience to a whole new level.

Leaving you with a few pictures from the Summit (photo cred to V.Photos!). Have a great weekend and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @shanghaistablog for more pics! X

ipws leadership summit shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista


IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

IPWS Leadership Summit Shanghaista

FAQ – Studying Chinese at Shanghai Jiaotong University

I get a lot of questions about studying Chinese full-time at Shanghai Jiaotong University. I’m currently there in my second semester, but last year before starting the program, I remember how extremely difficult it was to find any kind of information about it online. The university’s website is not very helpful, and forget about finding real reviews or experiences. So this post is to all of you guys who are contemplating whether or not to invest your time and money in really improving your Chinese at Jiaotong. Hope it helps!

How good will I be after one semester?
Honestly, considering that I’ve been studying full-time for about 6-7 months now, I would have expected to be at a much higher level. But at the same time, I think I actually know more than I realize. Every now and then I have these amazing Chinese-breakthrough moments when I become of aware of how far I’ve actually come. I had a moment like that just the other day when Robert and I were watching the movie Lion (which by the way is like the most beautiful movie EVER!). The movie only had Chinese subtitles, which was a bit tricky since the first half hour is in Hindi. But turns out I was able to read most of the Chinese subtitles, instant-translate to Swenglish (Swedish-English) for Robert, and fully enjoy the movie topped with an awesome sense of Chinese-accomplishment!

Anyway, back to the question, I’d say one semester probably equals 1-1,5 HSK levels. I started at an HSK level 2 (or a bad 3 tops), and after this semester I should be able to do the HSK 5 according to my teachers.

Where do you see the most improvement?
The biggest improvement is definitely in reading and writing characters. It’s so difficult and time consuming in the beginning, and although I doubt it will ever become easy, it does get better the further you get. And it’s so rewarding too, because it’s almost instant gratification when you suddenly start to understand the writing all around you. So the more you learn, the more motivated and hungry you become to learn more. According to my Pleco statistics, I know 1409 characters at this point, and I think I was at around 300 characters a year ago. For you fellow statistics lovers, that’s a 369% increase!

And the least improvement?
That would unfortunately be with speaking. This seems to be a common problem for many students (phew, it’s not just me), and I think there’s a couple of reasons for it.

1) Of course we practice speaking in class, but it’s usually about a specific structure or vocabulary that we’re going through at that moment. It’s a class of 25 students where the pace is fast, so we move on to the next thing before becoming fully confident with what we just learned. Then when we’re out having conversations in the real world, we hesitate using the new stuff, and easily revert back to the well-established and comfortable vocabulary.

2) I’m also not pushing myself as much as I should when spontaneously speaking in daily life. If I encounter a challenging situation that I have to handle in Chinese, I often go into slight panic mode and try to get out of it as fast and easy as possible. I should in fact welcome these moments when I’m completely outside my Mandarin-comfort zone, because that’s the only way to improve.

3) For this one, I’m also gonna put part of the blame on Shanghai. Everyone here speaks English (except when you get a call from Didi or Kuaidi), and most locals immediately switch to English even when you initiate a conversation in Chinese. Many say Beijing and other Chinese cities are much better learning environments for Mandarin, as you’ll never have the option to use anything else.

How much time do you put into studying?
I have class Monday through Friday, 4 hours per day. On top of that, I probably use another 4 hours a day on homework, review and practice. So if you’re committed and serious about learning, you’re easily looking at a 40 hour week in total. Now, of course there are many students that use far less time than that, but it usually shows further into the semester when keeping up becomes a real struggle.

I recently started working a bit on the side, and therefore I’m not putting as much time on studying as before. And I can already tell a big difference. I’m still doing all my homework and getting full scores in my weekly dictations (nerdy humble brag, haha), but I’m not using as much time on reviewing as before. And it shows, as reviewing is so incredibly important. I’m sure I’ll find a good balance between work and school eventually… But my point here is, that working and studying at the same time is obviously hard, so keep that in mind if you’re considering signing up for a semester.

Would you recommend Shanghai Jiaotong University?
There are many universities in Shanghai offering similar language programs, but I originally picked Jiaotong because it’s a world class university (global top 100 if I’m not mistaken), and because of their extremely convenient location in central Shanghai (Xuhui District, right on metro line 10). As I mentioned, it was super difficult to find good information about the program (or any other school’s program for that matter), so I didn’t have much else to base my decision on. And for the most part, I’ve been pretty happy with my decision. The only thing that has bothered me is the occasional inconsistency in the quality of teaching. Most of my teachers so far have been great, but some of them have also been either very inexperienced, or just not engaging or motivating. I also had one that actually had a great method of teaching, but she treated the class like a bunch of badly behaving children. I can tell you it’s not fun as an adult, and obviously not appropriate. In my experience, the calibre of teachers gets better and more consistent the higher your level.

So all in all, I’m happy with Jiaotong and do recommend the program for someone who wants to study Chinese in Shanghai. The program I’m in is The Long-Term Chinese Language Course (Xuhui Campus), General Track. You can find the website here.

On a completely unrelated note, yesterday finally felt like summer with beautiful sunshine and temperatures well over 20 degrees! Below are some pictures from our stroll on the West Bund waterfront area – the perfect place for a walk or run on a lovely day like this!

Shanghaista Blog West Bund Shanghai

Shanghaista Blog West Bund Shanghai

Shanghaista Blog West Bund Shanghai

Shanghaista Blog West Bund Shanghai

Shanghaista Blog West Bund Shanghai

Happy Monday folks! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @shanghaistablog for more pics! x

Sip ‘n Paint Shanghai

Last week we finally wrapped up the fall-semester at Jiaotong University. To celebrate good results and success in the final exams, me and a couple of classmates went to do some sipping, painting and relaxing at Sip ‘n Paint on Shaanxi South Road.

I’ve been wanting to try Sip ‘n Paint for some time now as it’s become increasingly popular all over the world. The concept sounds so good: You spend a few hours at a nice art studio where you can let your artsy juices flowing and paint away either with or without the help of a teacher. And of course there’s wine. Not bad, right?

We booked a 3-hour Friday afternoon “freestyle” session, which means painting without a teacher. The space isn’t too big, probably good for about 20 people tops, but we happened to be the only ones there so we could spread out very comfortably. The studio is cozy and bright, and really fits the purpose. It’s at a great location right behind the IAPM mall on the top floor of a classic Shanghai lane house.

We could choose between painting with oil paint, watercolors, colored pencils and more. Oil paint seemed to be the most popular option, so that’s what we went for too. Painting was fun and challenging, but the hardest part by far was deciding what to paint. I hadn’t thought about it until the start of our session, and luckily there were loads of inspiration at the studio to help us get started. Books and prints were available for browsing, and works of others’ were hanging all over the walls. We spent around 30 minutes trying to come up with what to paint, which is precious time you’ll probably need for finishing your masterpiece in time. I’ll definitely be more prepared next time!

The whole experience was super fun and relaxing, almost like meditating (but with wine and friends), and I definitely want to go back. If you’re the least bit interested in painting, drawing, being creative with your hands or just want to try something new, I’d very much recommend Sip ‘n Paint. And if it turns out you’re not too into the painting, you can just focus on the sipping, haha.

A 3 hour Freestyle session costs 180 RMB including canvas, access to brushes, paint and everything else needed. A glass of wine is 40 RMB and a case for carrying home your painting is 30 RMB. Find more details here!

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Sip n Paint Shanghai

Don’t forget to follow me @shanghaistablog on Instagram for more pics! x

Best of 2016

I know it’s already 2017, but before really kicking off the new year, I wanted to take a quick look back at the highlights of my past year. Here come the Best of my 2016:

Best moment
The day in early March when Robert signed his new contract and our move to Shanghai was confirmed. We had a special champagne bottle saved in case life-changing events like this would occur, and that night the cork was certainly popping. Shanghai had been our “if you could choose any city in the world to live in” -place ever since we moved away from Asia the last time in 2013. You can imagine how crazy happy we were when that was suddenly becoming reality. Consequently I also became a huge believer in law of attraction!

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

Best trip
It’s been an awesome year for me travel-wise. Very hard to choose the best one, but the cake goes to the perfect Golden Week beach vacation in Phu Quoc, Vietnam with Robert. Beaching, eating, reading, exploring, drinking drip-coffee and mojitos while enjoying each other’s company in gorgeous surroundings was definitely a highlight of my year.

shanghai expat blog

An honorable mention goes to my spontaneous trip to New York in May to visit my parents. I had an unexpected extra couple of weeks before the move to Shanghai, so I decided to head out to the US where my parents are currently living. Just spending casual quality time with them is such a rare treat these days, so this was definitely the best bonus. Home cooked meals, watching SNL with mom and dad, shopping with mom… Perfect.

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

Best decision
To study Mandarin full-time at Shanghai Jiaotong University. Becoming awesome at Chinese has been a goal of mine for some time now, and it feels crazy cool to be able to pursue it 100%. It’s been way more intense and time-consuming than I expected, but I’m making good progress, which in turn gives me lots of energy and motivation to keep going. Final exams for the fall semester are next week, and I just signed up to keep going for at least another semester in the spring. Yikes and yay!


Best party
My goodbye-party with my girlfriends in Copenhagen before moving to Shanghai. Oh what a night, we went all in and had one of those girls nights you’ll remember forever (or kind of remember…). I miss my girls like crazy, but I feel that these are the kinds of friends that will always be close no matter how far apart you actually are. (The picture is not from the party, just from beautiful Copenhagen.)

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

Best purchase
Definitely my camera, Canon PowerShot G5X. It’s a small but powerful camera that I bring with me pretty much everywhere. I’ve gotten more and more into photography this year, and I definitely plan to keep at it in the years to come. Right now I’m considering making a GoPro the first big purchase of 2017, since so many holiday photo-ops are missed without a waterproof camera… What do you think, is it worth it?

Best food
This is a really tough one, but I have to go with the Salmon Benedict on Kabb’s weekend brunch menu in Shanghai. Kabb is not a very special restaurant in general, but I just find myself craving for this amazing dish of theirs quite often. The runner up would probably be Chicken Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung. Yum.

Best drink
Hands down the fresh Passionfruit Mojito at Peppercorn Beach Resort in Phu Quoc, Vietnam. A little sweet, a little sour, so refreshing. Not the best picture of it, but you can take my word for it (the one on the right). It was heavenly.

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

Best book
For some reason this was a really slow book year for me, but the best of the 5-6 books that I managed to read would be Stalker by Lars Kepler. Kepler’s books are always terrifying page-turners that I can only read when it’s light out, preferably in the summer time. Stalker didn’t disappoint.

shanghaista shanghai expat blog

Best dress
My maxi-dress from Marks & Spencer (on the left). This was the most comfortable summery evening dress, and one of my favorite outfits all year. I love the simple cut in a fabric and color that makes it stand out. I’ll definitely be taking it to the tailor market in spring to have it made in other colors.

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

Best workout
My hike up Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. A perfect one hour workout with a killer view. Besides that, 2016 was also the year when I discovered Zumba. I know, I’m about 10 years late, but OMG how awesome is Zumba!? The most fun workout ever!

Hiking Victoria Peak Hong Kong

Best song
Thanks to going to Zumba every other day, my absolute favorite song of the year is La Bicicleta by Shakira and Carlos Vives. La Bicicleta always equals dancing feet and a smiley face!

All in all my 2016 was a year of big changes, new beginnings, pursuing passions and traveling. The best of all was that I got to share it with the love of my life. And despite being far away from family and friends, I got to spend much more time with them than expected. Lots of feelings of gratitude here now when I think back on it all.

Can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring. Happy New Year to you all!

Shanghaista Expat Blog Shanghai

My Instagram #bestnine2016. Don’t forget to follow @shanghaistablog for more pics!