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Dawn Seed

Last days FIU-TUC

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Where did the time go?  I can’t believe it is December 6th, with one last exam to go and fall semester 2106 is finished.  I truly enjoyed my study abroad program here in Tianjin, and I learned a great deal.  The courses that I took were interesting and the professors are both passionate about what they teach as well as making sure their students gain and retain as much information as possible. There is something to be said about living in a different country, learning it’s culture, and simply being comfortable in its environment.

As I mentioned previously in one of my earlier blogs, classroom participation here in China is much different from that of the US.  Students participate in many group projects, including oral presentations. At first, the idea having to schedule group meetings and choosing specific sections of a topic to write about did not appeal to me.  However, once I got past the first group project and learned how to work and study along side of my teammates, I found myself enjoying them. One group project, I enjoyed most was from my Introduction to Hospitality course. I was teamed with three other students, and we were given the task of writing a paper about current issues affecting the hospitality industry. We had to choose and make a site visit to a local hotel.  We chose The St. Regis Tianjin Hotel and were able to meet with both the General Manager of the hotel and the Director of Human Resources. What an experience!  I learned a great deal and was able to make some great contacts from the hotel for future opportunities.   In addition, I was able to build some great friendships with individuals of whom I hope to remain in close contact after I return home to the US.

This study abroad experience in Tianjin, China, humbled me in many respects.  The culture, the language, the cuisine, and above all, the kindness of the people with whom I came across, humbled me. This included the Chinese students who were in the FIU hospitality program and from the ones who were regular TUC students, to all of my professors and even the maintenance employees at the FIU building.  All were amazing, and were beyond hospitable towards me, and I sincerely thank them all. Having said that, I can only encourage more FIU hospitality major students to take advantage of such a great opportunity to study abroad and experience first hand all that the FIU Marriott Tianjin program, the city of Tianjin and its people has to offer.

Lastly, I would like to end by saying I am certain that FIU Marriott Study Abroad program has prepared me for a brighter future within the hospitality industry.  It has given me an insight as to how the industry works internationally and what I can expect moving forward as I enter into my career.  The things that I will miss most about China is its people.  They showed me the true meaning of hospitality and how to enjoy a culture, language, and environment that is much different than my own, and for that, I am grateful.  I was also able to take many trips outside of Tianjin and one of my favorite was a visit to Thailand.  I was able to visit yet another great country and was able to enjoy its warm weather, Thai food, and swim in crystal clear waters. China has so much to offer and each province is different.  Therefore, all of your experiences will be different.  For the above reasons, I highly recommend the FIU Marriott Tianjin program and all that it has to offer.  I promise you, your overall experience will be grand.

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4th Post Tianjin

By Marriott Tianjin China Program


It’s true, good food makes the world go round, and Tianjin’s cuisine is no exception.  Today, I joined two of my local classmates, Rebecca and Lindsey for lunch, and I was introduced to Korean Hot Pot.  When they say hot, they mean hot. WOW! what a wonderful dish.  Korean hot pot is one of many East Asian variety of stews, consisting of a boiling metal pot of red spicy stock placed at the center of the eating  table.  As the hot pot continues to simmer, a variety of ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.  This is a shared dish to be enjoyed by friends and family sitting at the table.  Normal hot pot dishes include all types of seafood, thinly sliced meats, chicken, leafy vegetables, mostly cabbage and bok choy, mushrooms, tofu, small boiled eggs, wontons, and a variety of different type of noodles. Today, was the perfect day for me to experience Korean hot pot because the weather was freezing cold.  I’m more used to the warm weathers of Hawaii and Florida.  Below is a picture of the Korean hot pot that I had for lunch with my two classmates.


As you may know, China is well known for it’s local street food.  Again, the city of Tianjin is no exception and is famous for its street food, otherwise commonly known as “specialty snacks.” You can find almost any type of food your heart desires in the narrow alley ways and busy streets of Tianjin. The snacks that are most popular are edibles such as steamed buns filled with minced meat and/or veggies, fried dough twists that are lightly spiced and then deep fried.  You can also try other types of fried dough filled with red bean paste that are slightly sweetened.  Anything involving dough and oil sums up Tianjin’s street food. The best part about snacking around town in Tianjin is that, even if you try a snack that isn’t so great, the cost is so minimal, usually no more than a dollar or two at the most.   I say, so why not try it? Below, I’ve attached for you a picture of a food street vendor selling a large variety of fried seafood.  The large one propped up on a stick that looks like something from the movie Aliens is a flattened deep fried squid.

Tianjin Street Vendor

Lastly, what would we Westerners do without our fix of a good, tasty burger.  Well, if you are ever in Tianjin and in need of a good burger, TJ Tex-Mex restaurant in downtown Tianjin is the place to go. TJ Tex-Mex really serves up some fantastic food, and the menu just shouts the word “Delicious”!
My own experience there have been fantastic with the staff providing top notch service and are willing to do their best to make sure you leave happy and satisfied.  Just take a look at the mouth watering burger I had.


Don’t forget those hot, crispy french fries.  Way to go TJ Tex-Mex. In closing, if you are ever in Tianjin don’t be afraid to try the foods that might seem unfamiliar to you.  I can assure you, the experience alone is worth the trip.

Third Post Mid-Term Half Way Finish

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

The time seems to be flying by without slowing down.  I can’t believe that last week was mid-terms, and I’ve already returned from a wonderful trip from Thailand.  Yes, that is how I spent my mid-term break.  I joined six of my classmates on a beautiful journey through Thailand.  First, let me start by saying that mid-terms in China is the exact same as in the U.S.  – although it has been some time since I last took exams, some sixteen years to be exact.  It is still daunting as ever, but I made it through.  As time goes on it seems as though I am getting more and more comfortable with living in China.  Yes, the language barrier is nerve racking but I try my best to at least learn some basic words and phrases.  I hope soon to join a small group of local students in hopes of picking up more of their language for mine.

My trip to Thailand started off with a long journey from Tianjin to Beijing where I spent two relaxing nights a wonderful hotel, all thanks to Marisa for her super employee discounts.  Our flight was early in the morning, so we had to take a taxi since the trains were not running yet.  Our flight from Beijing was delayed and we missed our connecting flight in Guanzhou to Bangkok.  No worries, China Southern Airlines was more than accommodating.  They arranged for us to stay in a hotel in Guanzhou until it was time to catch our flight which was rescheduled from 10am to 11pm.  In addition, our transportation to and from the airport was arranged, including dinner.  Hat’s off to China Southern Airlines!

Arriving in Bangkok was another ordeal.  We already missed one full day of our vacation and my taxi driver from the airport to my hotel got lost for hours, driving around in circles throughout Chinatown in Bangkok.  No need to fret, once I arrived at the hotel at 6:00am, I quickly checked in, unloaded my luggage and I was off exploring the narrow streets of Chinatown at 7:00am.  It was thrilling and I was blessed to be able to take in all of the sights, sounds and smells of all of the small food vendors lined up in alleyways ready for business.  The following night, I was back at Bangkok Int’l Airport to fly to Phuket.  The picture attached is of myself and a local Thai restaurant owner I met during my stay.  I ate at her restaurant every night.  Great food, great service, and I made a new friend.  The remaining stops that I made in Thailand were to Phi Phi Island, Krabi Island and back to Bangkok.

Thank you, Thailand, for your wonderful country and hospitality. Happy I returned safe and sound as well as all of my classmates.

Kind Regards,



Arrival FIU/TUC, Tianjin, China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

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!


Beijing Peking Duck from Campus Cafeteria


Downtown Tianjin

Pre Departure Marriott Tianjin China Study Abroad Program 2016

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

holiday inn expressHello to all, well the time for me to start my journey in Tianjin, China for the Marriott Tianjin study abroad program fall 2016 is finally here. It is Tuesday, August 16, 2016 and I’m finally relaxing in my room at the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites Airport Hotel in Miami, FL before I have to wake up early in the morning to catch my 6:45am flight. I will fly from Miami to New York on United Airlines where I will transfer to Air China for a very long flight to Beijing. The first mistake that I made was booking a flight on Air China. I say that because, although the airfare was very cheap they only allow one luggage for check in and one carry-on. Not the best when you have tons of shoes to take. The good news is that I will arrive in Beijing two days earlier than my classmates. I will stay yet again at a Holiday Inn Hotel which is very close to the airport and for a very good price of only $65 per night (as opposed to the Hilton Hotel at $145 per night). My plan is to catch up on some much needed rest and get an early start on my culinary quest for some good authentic Chinese food. I’ll finally meet up with my classmates at the airport on August 20 where we will all board a bus for hour and half bus ride to our final destination Tianjin, China.

This is actually going to be my second visit to China. Many years ago, I was brave enough to travel solo to Beijing, Xian, Guilin and Shanghai for a three week vacation. I loved it then and hopefully I will love it now. During my stay, I had the opportunity to meet some really great and friendly people who made my vacation that much more enjoyable. It’s my hope to once again meet and befriend as many locals as possible and to learn as much as I can about their culture, likes and dislikes, the food and the different regions and landscapes within China. However, this time around, I will push myself to learn at least some basic mandarin language. In addition, I’m looking forward to all of my courses and learning as much as possible about the hospitality industry as a whole and the role China plays within that industry. I will be taking a total of 12 credit hours and I’ve purposely scheduled all of my courses to fall on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The courses that I have registered for are: Intro to hospitality & tourism, Operations control, Destinations & Cultures and Wine Technology. The class times will start at 11:00am and end at 4:00pm with the exception of wine technology which is from 8:00pm to 9:15pm. This schedule will allow me to get out and about to explore the nearby and not so nearby surrounding areas of China. Not too bad if I do say so myself.

I guess that’s about all that I have for now. It’s about 7:40pm and it’s close to bedtime after I reorganize some of my luggage and take a quick shower. I hope my journey will be flawless and I can’t wait to meet the other students and learn about their desires and plans for a future within the hospitality industry. Until later, I thank you for your time and wish you a good night.


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