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Ana Julia Arguedas

Golden Week!!!!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Without even realizing how fast time goes by, in the blink of an eye, Golden Week was upon us all. A special week for China, it commemorates the birth of the People’s Republic of China. Golden Week was particularly special this year, as it celebrated its 70th anniversary. This week gave us the opportunity to travel around China a bit and get to know some of the many wonders this impressive country has to offer. After planning an exciting week of adventure with my roommate Angelica, Saturday morning came and I found myself sitting in the Tianjin West station waiting to board my train towards my first destination.

After a 10 hour train trip, Chengdu welcomed me with open arms and plenty of pandas to go around. (Important note: I’m a panda FANATIC!!) Fulfilling my lifelong dream was so surreal, I still can’t actually believe it happened. I know, I know, I am meant to take you all with me through a food journey so incredible it will make your mouth water and your senses explode with the imagery I provide you, but alas, I wouldn’t do anyone any justice if I don’t share what I did this past week.

After spending a perfect day looking at, feeding, and admiring pandas, I came out of the research center more knowledgeable about pandas than when I went in. A diet made up of bamboo, carrots, and special panda cakes are what these gentle and amazing giants eat. They also emphasize the importance of the care of these animals and how, through thorough research, the panda population has successfully gone up and strengthened over the past couple of years.

Chengdu and its amazingly spicy culinary world is incredible, but what took the cake for me was most definitely my trip to see the pandas. Without much time to act after a day of euphoria, Angelica and I were already on our way to our next stop for Golden Week: Zhangjiajie.

If you’ve ever watched Avatar (the movie with the blue people, not the award-worthy tv show), then you’ve probably been in awe at the amazing views the movie has to offer. As with many things, it turns out those views were inspired by the amazing mountain formations in Zhangjiajie and the Tianmen Mountains. With many tourist attractions at your disposal, Zhangjiajie was a whole experience. Opting for the amazing Heaven’s Gate, the Tianmen Mountain path, and the daring Glass Bridge, our adventure day in Zhangjiajie proved to be anything but boring.

After arriving at the base of Tianmen Mountain and enduring a crazy 99 turn bus ride, we were met by a small 999 step staircase that led us to Heaven’s Gate. From there we would take some 8 escalators to the very top of the mountain and walk around the mountain top to see breathtaking views and challenge ourselves with the world known Glass Bridges.

Our last stop in our Golden Week travels was Shanghai! AMAZING food with the Lost Plate Tours, Disneyland, and many other attractions awaited for me during the last days of this special week. I became very familiar with the metro system in Shanghai and was able to travel easily up and down the city to visit those well known tourist traps as well as other smaller, more intimate historically rich locations.

The Pearl Tower and the Jade Buddha Temple received me warmly and amazed me equally while further fascinating me more and more with Shanghai. As I boarded my train back to Tianjin, I had no idea I would be received warmly by part of my Tianjin family — Angelica (who had left a day early) and Mario. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new and different places in China, but it sure felt nice coming back and being met with those who, in such a cold climate, warmed my heart up.

A Foodtastic Time

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Korean-Barbecue Hot-Pot Hong-Kong-style-noodle-restaurant

It seems almost absurd that nearly a month has gone by since arriving to China… The experiences, the emotions, the people we’ve met! What an indescribable reality!

Hot Pot

Not only have I found a restaurant that fulfills my Costa Rican need for beans (a true delicacy if you ask me) thanks to my friend and FIU-TUC veteran, Mario, but I have also delved into the world of flavor offered to me by Hot Pots and Korean Barbecues (true life changers and definitely my personal favorites).

Hong Kong Style Noodle Restaurant

I have been mesmerized by the aromas, sounds and flavors I have been surrounded by, and my curious mind has been satisfied to no end in the myriad of conversations I have been able to have with my two amazing professors. The four classes I’m taking allow me to delve into the culinary world like no other classes have ever done. Introduction to Food Production, International Baking Confectionaries and Desserts, Wine and Food Paring, and Food Service Trends and Challenges are the four classes I’m taking at Tianjin, and I couldn’t be happier. Learning and discussing about foods, and flavors, and combinations has been amazing, and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming weeks have in store for me inside and outside of class.

Korean Barbeque

I have always admired and loved the communal nature of Asian cuisines and meals, and being able to experience it with such amazing people as I have the last couple of weeks has definitely reinforced that love. To Angie, Celine, Mario, Li, Barbara, Tessa, Jamin, Miranda, and everyone else who has helped me deepen my fascination for food and culinary arts these last couple of weeks while also sharing delicious food and tea with me:  I appreciate you greatly and I am excited for what’s to come!!!!

Pre-Departure Feels

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Plane-Wing Housing-View Baggage

All packed and ready!!


As I take a look back on the last days before leaving for China, I find myself looking at days that seemed endless and dream-like. The whirlwind that comes before leaving for a trip is always the same – always chaotic, with a hint of excitement that consumes your body to a point of confusion. You don’t know what you are feeling… except you do; you are nervous.

This nervousness doesn’t stem from not wanting to go, but rather knowing you don’t know what is waiting for you. What an exciting and absolutely terrifying moment! The idea of doing my study abroad trip to China was once a plan for the future; something I’d do as my time for graduation approached… and it finally arrived.

Leaving home never gets easier:  leaving family and friends, the comfort of homemade meals, the endless bickering, and the heartwarming moments you share with the people you love are things you always miss.

I spent my last few days in Costa Rica meeting up with friends and family I wanted to have some time with in order to recharge energies before going to a place completely unknown to me. As I arrived to Miami, for what seemed like a blink of an eye, I also met up with people I cherish and found myself doing far too many errands before I left for my trip.

As I lay turning back and forth on my bed with the anticipation building within me as the minutes go by, I remember the days and meals I shared my family and friends during the last couple of days, and I look forward with as much excitement as I have certainty that this experience will be the one of a lifetime.

I’m eager to share with you all one of my biggest passions:  food and the culinary world.  I’ll be keeping you all posted with updates as I explore China, particularly the city of Tianjin and all it has to offer. My name is Ana Julia Arguedas Rodriguez, a hospitality major in FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and my semester in China has finally arrived!

Arriving in China!
Our view in China!!!
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