I finally arrived to my new home FIU-TUC, Tianjin, China. First, I would like to say that it was a great pleasure meeting all of my classmates at the airport. The excitement from everyone just arriving at their new destination for the next four months and with anticipation to see what was in store for us was pretty awesome. Hats off to China airports for providing free luggage carts throughout the airports. Our bus ride to the campus was a little longer than I had thought, two and half hours long with not much to see along the way except tons of tall gray apartment buildings that stood about 60 floors high each. The weather, very hot and muggy with a lot of smog. In China, it is wise to use a nose mask because the pollution really is that bad.
Well folks, I have to be true to myself and state the bad with the good. Once we arrived on campus, I was really, really disappointed when I walked into my new dorm room to find it very dirty and very drab. I asked myself, did anyone ever clean this room. All of the walls, light switches and floors were filthy. There was dust throughout the room and black bugs everywhere. I was so angry, and I still am, that I had to immediately go to the store to buy every cleaning product, mop, broom and sponges just to clean my room which took two days to finish. Not a happy camper when it comes to the condition of my dorm room which I paid an additional $750 for a single room. My initial plans were to return to Tianjin for the Spring semester. However, because of the condition of the rooms and because I also have to endure the strong smell of smoke throughout the halls from the cleaning staff smoking on my floor without any concerns, I don’t think that I will return for those reasons. In addition, I was also very disappointed to find how far our building was from the main gate of the campus, the small convenience store and the subway. It seemed to take forever to walk to those locations and the heat at times, unbearable. However, I am now happy for the long walks which allows for great exercise and the opportunity to run into fellow classmates along the way.
As for my classes they are great. The local students are so kind and are beyond helpful. They truly go out of their way to help in any way they can. The local students are very eager to know more about you and your interests. They want to learn how to speak better English and have a desire to visit the U.S. I have to admit that how they study in class in China is very different than how we study back home. During the first day, the professor requests that each student stands up and introduce themselves to the classroom. I have never seen so many shy people in my life. However, they seem to quickly overcome their shyness after a few classes. The second difference, in each of my four classes, Intro to Hospitality, Lodging Operations & Control, Destinations & Cultures, and Wine Technology, group projects are required. We have to form groups of 4 to 6 students and stay with that group throughout the semester. Lastly, the local students carry on personal conversations throughout the class session and the professor says nothing. It makes it very hard to concentrate when you have several conversations going on at one time.
Getting around Tianjin is easy and convenient due to the subway system which costs about $0.50 cents to ride, one way. However, getting a taxi is another story only because I don’t speak the language and you find very few people who understand you and speak English. However, I find it eventful and am happy for the experience. So far, I have enjoyed all of the foods I have eaten and I look forward to being more adventurous when it comes to trying new foods and exploring the local areas. In the next few days, I plan to make a schedule to take time to learn some basic Mandarin language. The locals seem to really appreciate it when you at least try to say a few words in their language. I’m also looking forward to making more friends and learning more about the ones I have already made. Tianjin is a huge, bustling city with a very fast pace. You can find almost anything here and visiting the local Walmart was a treat. The food is very inexpensive and I normally pay about 6 CNY equivalent to $1 to eat on campus. Throughout Tianjin, you can eat almost anything for a few dollars and be very satisfied with what you have eaten.
That’s about all for now. My next blog will post during China’s Golden Week Holiday – the country’s independence day celebration. Myself and fellow classmates from FIU will be in Thailand for about 10 days. Bangkok and the beautiful beaches of Thailand, here we come!