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Angelica Melendez

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Words cant describe how happy and grateful I am of everything I experienced and learned on this study abroad. I have completed a few study abroad with FIU. But this trip was by far the best one! China is everything I didn’t expect. Every bad image or scary feeling I had about the bathrooms, the food and even the people was proven wrong. I loved the food as well as the people, and well the bathrooms taught me to always be ready and now how to handle myself. Not going to lie, it was not easy living in China but it is an experience I will cherish forever.  It was hard communicating, but people were so willing to help it was never impossible to complete something or go any where. To get around town we used Didi which is like an uber. To pay instead of using our cards we used Alipay or wechat. But we can only use them if we had a Chinese bank account. And the only bank that allowed us to open on was the China Commerce bank.

I thought I loved Amazon but nothing like my love for Taobao!! And as for the food, my favorite was Haidilao hotpot. On campus the food was also amazing. Specially canteen 2, they made me a special chicken fried rice and I no longer had to tell them how I wanted because they knew!!  Life on campus was amazing, you would always see a friendly face and even thought the first week the gate of the main entrance seams crazy far. We learned to enjoy each walk or bike ride to it!

This trip also made me grow in my degree with my amazing profession. Specially Yungfei Li, my senior seminar professor; I truly learned to love her as a person and as a professor. But I also grew in culture and in my personality.

China not only taught me an amazing society, but also revealed to me a lot of personal facts I had no idea about myself. I have truly fallen in love with the Country, the people, and the strength I have found within myself. We had countless adventures, some good and some teaching opportunities. I have learned to live in the moment and to adjust because not everything can go as planned, sepecially when people do not understand you or you do not understand how things are done. A simply trip to the movies can be a tricky mission in China, but nothing stopped me from keep trying until I figured it out.

Additionally, I am Catholic and I found the most amazing church ever, they have an english group and mass every Sunday. This made me feel at home and honestly one of the best masses I have gone in my life! I truly thank FIU Hospitality for this opportunity and TUC (especially the GOLDEN PANTHERS CLUB) for receiving us with open arms!

China has been an amazing opportunity I would recommend to all! Just make sure to go to Delight City and eat in any restaurant – they are all delicious but especially Haidilao. Go to Happy foot bath, which is a spa by campus, visit canteen 2, and go to Joseph Catholic Church (even just to see it, it is a work of art!). And of course TRAVEL! China has so much to see and so many amazing cities rich of culture and love. I would not have changed anything in my trip, for anything in the world! I had an amazing time, but as all, it has to come to an end. Even though I cannot believe it’s over, it’s time to go home and just in time for the holidays! I had a great time and made friends I can now call family❤️.

Fam picture in the first snow!

Golden adventures

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019


            Golden week in China is the national holiday of the Formation of the China Republic. This year celebrating 70 years of formation. All of China is on Vacation for a whole week. Since I only have class on Tuesdays, I have a few extra days off. Not only did I take advantage of this, but I traveled all around south China and enjoyed every second of it. Not much sleeping during these 12 days and 8 cities, but totally worth the long days and short nights. I believe we did a great job planning the trip, since each city got better and better. The trip began with a plane ride the “worst” city (YET STILL SUPER AMAZING) Xi’an. A city that is rich of history and has a lot of story to tell the world. The Emperor Qinshihuang’s Museum- Terracota was our first stop. Not a very local place to go since it is top 10 tourist spots to visit in China but it is also a must see. But within the museum we did very local things. We ate in the museum food hall an arepa type with what I think was pork but I am not certain of it but it was amazing. After this we had planned on visiting the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. We did but really did not make it inside. You wonder why? Well since it’s all about living in the local’s shoes; we started walking around the area and found an amazing park across the street that was in a nutshell what China is. Not only was this park beautiful but it took us to a gorgeous fountain in which we are celebrating the beginning of Golden week. They had a light and music show to begin the celebrations of this national holiday. The show was a tribute to mother nature for giving Xi’an all that it has. It was right in front of the pagoda which gave the background of the show the amazing China Giant Wild Goose Pagoda. This was a great beginning to the trip but it simply only got better from here. The next morning, we traveled to Chengdu for the amazing experience of meeting the China only PANDAS! These cute animals did not only give us a day of fun, but it also brought us another friend. On the way to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda we met a family that guided us all around the park and gave us tips and tricks only locals would know. We had a great time seeing them play and breed. After the long day at the park we decided to go to a local street full of street food and China customs. Here we learned a lot about the Chinese culture and got to eat some amazing hotpot local style. This culminated a great day and the next day took us to LeShan. A City we were in only for 10 hours but enjoyed every second of it. Here we walked more than I have in years. It was a true journey getting to the top of the famous Giant Buddha. First, we are no longer Chinese tourist, which means we do not carry cash. We only have We chat and Ali pay, for the first time this was not a good thing. We needed a Chinese ID to be able to pay with We chat or Ali pay the other option was cash if we wanted our student discount or our tourist discount or tickets at all. The only problem was that the nearest ATM was 20 minutes away. Finally, we could buy the tickets with a local’s id help. When we got inside we had to go up so many stairs but it was totally worth it. We got to the top and had a lot of fun taking crazy pictures feeding and kissing the Buddha. Not only did we visit the Buddha in this park, but we were able to go all the way up to two pagodas and under a cave. This was an amazing day that started with a train ride and ended on a plane. Taking us to sleep in Guilin, my personal absolute favorite crazy local day. It was a long next day that consisted of the Reed Flute Cave, the Li river view and bamboo raft tour around the river, the elephant hill, the sun&moon pagodas, the many emperor residencies and even the local theater. I think I mentioned everything, but I have no idea how we did the whole city in a day but we did. It was one of the only cities that we had the opportunity of calmly enjoying everything local and tourist offered. The next day it was time to begin the garden, pagoda craziness. We visited Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Suzhou each giving it a special spin but all offered amazing skylines, pagodas and eye opening gardens. The highlight of these three cities was the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the canton tower, the intercontinental in Hangzhou (which is the sun of the city), and the Lingering Garden. These cities were amazing but in my memory, they feel like one giant city. Since they were very different yet extremely similar. After all these amazing southern cities of China we had the great opportunity of finalizing our trip in Shanghai. Where we visited the world’s second tallest building, amazing pagodas and temples and DISNEY. Disney was great, not only because of the people I was with the whole day, but because even though the park is small it gives you everything you need in a park. We had an amazing time, and not only was each city better than the one before but the people I was with mad my trip even the more special. In each city, we made new friends that helped us navigate the cities as locals and enjoyed local cuisine and fun. I would not change anything from this week and I will forever remember the great adventures we had in such a short time. 12 days that will be forever marked in my memory. Thank you China for such amazing landscapes and memories and happy national day!

First adventures in China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

The-View Red-Dress-Gang In-hat Food

Trying to be a local in a country where you do not understand the language and you are starting to learn the culture, is not an easy task. Hotpot, metro, VPN, local parks, getting lost, didi, taxi drivers, bullet trains, 13 hrs of sun, pictures with strangers ,and much more can truly sum up what I have experienced my first month in China. Let me explain…

Food: It has been amazing. Like any other country, even though they have different mixtures of plates, its all the same food and has the same taste to it. It is really good, just hard to order since they do not understand me and all the foods and condiments are the same therefor they taste THE SAME. This is not a bad thing, it is very delicious; it just gets a little tiring. I have found local restaurants specially in the cities we have visited (Beijing, Dalian & Panjin) that have their own city spin to the food.

Transportation: We started using didi’s (China’s version of Uber or Lyft) since it is simple to order a car; just plug in both addresses and you don’t have to try and explain to the driver where to go. But we quickly realized distances are not short, and even though each rides are $3-$8 max it adds up pretty fast. Additionally, when trying to get a didi before 7am or after 11pm, since the side gates are closed, the drivers do not understand that they must go to the main gate and that has also been an issue.

We started asking our new classmates how to use the metro and it was not as hard as we thought it would be. Now we are all set to use the metro ALL around China and have all the maps downloaded to our phones.  This way we will no longer spend on unnecessary didi’s or waste time with confused drivers. It is truly a win-win situation even though, some drivers have really tried to communicate with us.

One of our weekend trips was to Dalian, a small city on the coast. This is not a very touristy city, meaning that when the driver picked us up she was excited to meet us and started talking to us with an amazing app. We were told prior to our trip to download google translate, but it does not work unless we have wifi, so we can not always use it. BUT, this driver showed us this amazing app that has alleviated the communication with locals that do not speak English!

Travel:  Traveling like a local in China is a very easy task actually. We have stated to do our research, and every time we are looking for a place to go or even eat, we first look at Chinese webpages not only travel pages. In Dalian, as we were talking to the didi driver, she recommended this amazing ranch which we visited and spent the day like locals. It was an amazing experience; it was amazing sceneries and beautiful people all around.

We saw more than just the ranch in the middle of nowhere. As we were leaving there was no way of going back to the city, for we were in the middle of the woods; only public transportation was available. Without really knowing what we were doing, we hopped on the bus and tried talking to the driver to explain where we were going. He actually understood us and told us what stop would be closest to our hotel. We were truly living in a local’s shoes. Not only was this mini adventure in Dalian, but a week later we visited Panjin to go to one of Chinas local attractions, The Red Beach.

We bought a same day ticket on a regular train, giving us 6 hours of fun on a train bed. We slept Saturday night on the train bed, which was truly an experience. We arrived Sunday to the best tour guide ever.

We spent the day in Panjin, thinking we would only visit the Red Beach and go back home that same night. Little did we know that we would fall in love with the best hot spring in China. Our tour guide took us to a hot spring that gives you 24-hour access for only 140 RMB (just over $20) — it even offered a room to sleep and a movie theater. It was truly a place we are looking forward to going back to.

All these places were local recommendations and ended up being the best places we have ever been. Tourist locations are overrated, BUT, still fun! I can not deny that the temples and palaces we have visited so far in these 4 cities have not been extremely amazing and breath taking. Just a little too main stream for my taste. Street food and crazy adventures are more my forte.

Dalian, Beijing, Tianjin, and Panjin have been the cities we have visited so far, where we have experienced local custom and local food. We have been in China less than a month and already understand so much about them. I’m truly looking forward to visiting more of China in the upcoming weeks and knowing everything there is to know about the culture, for each thing we learn is more amazing than the previous.

#FIUHospitality #studyabroad #lovingit

For Daily recaps or live stories please visit my IG blog to get a closer view of our daily adventures and fun the oriental way: @travelingwithAngelica.


By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Where is home & what makes up home?

Home is said to be where your heart is… leaving Miami once more to explore a whole new world seems like a fantasy, like something that would only happen in my fake movies. But leaving the comfort of the United States is something long overdue!

America has been my home for my whole life and even though it is only a few months, I will be living for the rest of this year in CHINA! I am ready to submerge myself in the locals’ views and lifestyles to make sure I make the best of my trip! Never say never, but I did not think I could ever live outside the USA.

Let’s see how this experience comes along and if this American girl can live a whole new culture — and not only live it, but love it! Zhōngguó wǒ láile! (China here I come!) Stay tuned for my adventures around China! #fiuhospitality #fiustudyabroad WeChat:Angelicamm6

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