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Ada St. Victor

Ni yào zhīdào shénme

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

After a great trip to Shanghai and Hangzhou, we returned home. A few days after being home we were pleasantly surprised with snow. I have been looking forward to seeing it since we landed. It has been a while since I last got to enjoy seeing snowfall. I decided to take a stroll and let it sprinkle on my face and hear the crunching of the snow under my boots, this made me very happy. Sad to say it did not last long at all a couple of inches for a few days is all we got.  When it all cleared up the next was a visit to Ancient cultural street as well as Italian Style street. There were some great finds there. Before we leave I need to go back and explore some more.

The next stop on the tour is to Xian to explore its culture and history. With the flight and room booked we were ready to go. Our flight into Xian was late so we decided to get a goods night rest and start fresh in the morning. Xian is known for the Terracotta Warriors, the Bell and Drum Towers, as well as the Ancient City wall and many more sites to see. With four days and our trusty map we ready to visit all the great spots. Yes, we relied on a good old map not google or Baidu we went old school. Fortunately, our homestay was in walking distance of the Bell Tower which began our journey. Not too far was a stroll to the Drum Tower, where we were able to listen to a live drum session. Once we were done exploring we headed right below on the North end of the Drum Tower to the Muslim quarter. I felt like I was in Disney all over again with the number of people. I couldn’t even focus on that because of the wonderful smells that were coming from the food stands. There were so many stands, and shops in every corner, on every turn that it would take a good two full days to get through everything, but we only had a few hours.

Day two to the Terracotta Warriors had a lot to see and a journey to get there that it required a whole day. We had dinner at a restaurant at the end of the tour where I was able to try the famous Xian biang biang mian noodles and it was delicious. This was the best accidental meal that I had. I chose this dish because it was the only noodle dish on the menu that had only veggies that I could tell. I suggest that everyone should try it if they can at least once, you won’t be sorry you did.

We decided to take a night visit of the City Wall which was beautifully set up with lanterns for the New Year festivities.

Our last night we visited the Big Pagoda and the music fountain. As we explored the Pagoda we were able to see some beautiful artwork, a parade, and even a mini concert. This leg of the journey enhanced my experience in China.

I finally was able to schedule a time to visit Beijing which was great. I attended a women’s empowerment luncheon, where I got to also try an all-vegan menu. The talk was great, the women I met were wonderful, and before heading back to Tianjin, I stopped by the 798 district. This was a great spot to look at some wonderful artwork and enjoy some coffee at one of the cafes. It was an old factory area turned into an art district. A lot of cute cafes and tons of artwork everywhere. There was even a locomotive from a train where the built a café around it, Ace where I had a cup of coffee.  I do need to revisit Being and explore a little more, so I am looking forward to it. I did not have a chance to visit any other locations so I need to plan another trip before we leave.

Although my midterm trips were exciting, I am also sad because I know our time is coming to an end. I look forward to informing you all with my final steps through China. There is just so much more to see with so little time left.

Xīnnián kuàilè (Happy New Year)

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

Happy New Year! And it is off to Shanghai for the break, and I couldn’t be more excited. I already had a list made before even coming to China. The one place that I wanted to make sure to go to is Disneyland and the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.  We had 9 days to explore what we could in Shanghai, with a pit stop in Hangzhou. We strolled the streets of Nanjing Road where we visited the Jingan Temple also known as the Golden Temple, all the way to Yan’an Road where we visited the Shanghai Museum and everything else in between. In the museum, we viewed some of the rich histories of China experiencing beautiful artworks and collections.

Besides the enrichment of the history, we able to experience more of the culture through food. There were many dishes that I got to enjoy while on our stay but one of the best was a 3-course meal that I had the pleasure of eating from Maya, a Mexican restaurant that had a great vegan option. I finally got to try the pan-fried dumplings that everyone has been raving about. Although the best was the breakfast we had in the back alley. You read that correctly, the restaurant was so packed that they kindly set us up in the back, and it was worth it.

With a few days left till our return home to Tianjin, I was able to take a final tour around for an up-close view of some of the must-sees in Shanghai. We visited the Jin Ma Tower, Shanghai Financial Tower, and the Oriental Pearl Tower. Taking our journey to the serene beauty of the Yuan Garden was very calming. It did rain that day, but it was still a great experience. Ending the day with the lighting of the lanterns at the Yuyuan Garden, where we also visited the infamous teahouse.

As our night came to end after a great dinner, we took a stop for coffee. As an avid coffee drinker, it was exciting to visit the Starbucks Roastery. I have never been to a Starbucks where I had to select the coffee for my Americano. Although the coffee experience I had at Shimmer, was the best. Thanks to one of my compadres noticing a sign for a soft opening, some of the members got to have a coffee fusion that they said was awesome.

Shanghai Roastery

I really enjoyed my experience with the group during our break. Looking forward to my continued adventure in Tianjin. There are more places that I have left to visit, and days are winding down. Till next time.

Wǒ yào shūcài (I want vegetable)

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

Well, we made it to Tianjin and the first couple of weeks has been great so far. When we arrived, we were greeted by some of the members of the Golden Panthers that gave all of us personalized welcome gifts.

Our first morning we met up at 8 am to have breakfast in the canteen, the first dish that I had was steam buns called Baozi. It had mushrooms, and doufu (tofu), and a green veggie, delicious.

While I was waiting for everyone to come down for breakfast, I was looking outside and saw that the sun looked weird; it turned out it was I was able to see the solar eclipse. What a wonderful welcome to China.  We were able to get our phones, money, and school stuff situated before classes began on the 7th.

Being a vegetarian was something that I thought would be difficult, but I have found a lot of dishes so far. Thanks to my Chinese friends, I now know how to ask for vegetables. Wo yao su cai.

Thanks to the Golden Panthers, we have already participated in several activities. On January 13th, the Chinese students were celebrating the Laba Festival; also on this day we had a dumpling making soiree. During the festivities there were games, and then we split into groups where we learned how to make dumplings. Once the dumplings were prepared, each group was rewarded with a gift and certificate. My group won for “best-looking dumplings.” The best reward was eating the dumplings. Thanks to the GPT for accommodating me and making veggie dumplings.


We also participated in a paper cutting activity with Mr. Zhao. I am so happy that I was able to participate in this Chinese culture activity. This is an activity for persons of all ages. I felt like a kid again, and it was awesome. I think that everyone should take the time to learn how to cut paper. This is a great way to relax, especially during the stressful times of midterms and finals. If you have nieces or nephews as I do, this is a great activity to keep the kids busy. As a gift of thanks for coming in, Mr. Zhao gave us each a paper pig in recognition of the year of the pig. 

The next couple of weeks is the holiday break for the Chinese New Year. We will be heading to Shanghai for our next adventure. Check back to see what road we have traveled on our excursion. 

Ni Hao China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

Hello to all!  One day remaining till my departure on my new journey. What better way to bring in the new year than traveling to another country? The nerves are kicking in now and reality is settling in. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Ada St. Victor, and I am currently a senior here at FIU. I am not a Hospitality major, although I will have the opportunity to receive a minor while abroad. I am grateful to be accepted as a participant in this Spring study abroad program. I will apply what I learn towards advancing my degree.

Fortunately, I have traveled out of the country before, but this will be the longest time away.  My family is not thrilled that I will be away for so long, but at the same time, they are excited about this adventure that I am about to participate in.  I have been researching all the places that I would like to visit while in China.  Top on the list are the temples, Disney, and the Tiananmen Square. Most importantly, I am looking forward to sampling the local cuisine. 

I am registered, bags are packed, last minute items are picked up, and I am ready to go. I cannot wait to keep everyone updated as I enjoy this voyage. Stick around and you will be glad you did. Next time you hear from me I will be in China. Hépíng (Peace)!

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