She is Satu from http://www.saaradesign.com.hk/
1. Where do you come from originally? What brings you to Hong Kong?
I am from Finland, brought to Hong Kong more than 20 years ago (1992). My story is the usual story. I came here as an intern to visit factories in HK and the mainland (I am designer), fell in love with the city, landed at an interesting job, found my love and settled here. I do feel that I have been here in one of my past lives; how else could I feel so comfortable here in a totally distinct environment from where I grew up.
I have studied Mandarin on weekly basis for 2+ years
3. What do you enjoy the most while learning?
Learning itself! To me life is lifelong learning, it just never stops. And it is fun and rewarding. Learning Mandarin is a real brain twister; it is something I have never experienced before. I have learned many languages when young but it seems that they just happened without much work whereas with mandarin, at adult age, I am really learning how to learn, finding my methods. For some it is about talking, for me it is about writing everything down and simply practicing to use words/characters I have learned. And, to practice a lot.
4. What is the most challenging part in learning?
Most challenging to me are the sounds of Mandarin. I am tone deaf and really have to train my ears to hear the different tones. Needless to say I sound terrible in speaking Mandarin too! Not being understood makes you feel plain stupid sometimes but it is important not to be too conscious how you come out, it is about finding how to express yourself correctly and learn step by step. Easy for kids but not always so easy for us grown-ups. Many mistakes we learners make are hilarious but they teach you the most. The moments when getting it right, are the most rewarding and keep you trying harder.
5. Any advice to a new learner?
One: Learn writing too. I have found great help from learning characters along with conversation lessons. Characters are not as difficult as they first seem. They open up another world around you. I greatly enjoy that even in HK I can read some signs I see rather than ignoring them as I did before. My personal goal is to be able to read newspaper one day. As part-time student it might take another five years…but what's the rush, I have time )
Two: Discipline. There is no myth in hard work. No matter how many lessons you sit in on, the only way to really absorb a new language is to get practice. In Hong Kong, chances for talking Mandarin are limited but everyone can practice on their own at home. That is how little kids learn Chinese too. That is how I often spend my evenings when hubby is away and daughter asleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat!