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Francis Perez

The End of the Journey

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

The end of this study abroad experience was extremely bittersweet. On one hand, I was finally going home to see all my friends and family and spend time with them again. On the other hand, I was splitting up from the family we had formed in Tianjin. This semester long trip was extremely life changing. I was able to grow as an independent person, make strong friendships with people I had never met before in my life, and experienced things in different places that people can only dream about doing. From the classroom to our travels, every little moment was new as well as enlightening and I have FIU and TUC to thank for this.

I’m not going to lie, this trip was extremely challenging for me. The living standards were different, the culture was different, the people were different. I can barely find a similarity between Miami and Tianjin. However, I can definitely say that all this strengthened me and it is a time I’m never going to forget.

This experience also sparked a love for travel in me. Traveling makes you more humble and allows you to see that not everyone lives like you do, and you should always appreciate what you have. I was also able to engage with students from China, and directly ask them any questions I had about their customs and traditions, which was something I was looking forward to in this trip.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend going on this journey. Apart from all that I’ve mentioned, this study abroad has given me an experience that will help with my future career. I now feel that I have the skill to be willing to understand others and see everything with an open mind. Not all people are the same, which means not all businesses will be carried the same way. This trip has given me the ability to adapt to a changing atmosphere, which in a changing world will be extremely useful to have. So if you have the chance, go on this study abroad journey, and continue to travel after that!


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Enjoying China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

As the days go on, I get more and more accustomed to living in China. We’re traveling through the metro like locals, riding the bus, we know where to go for groceries, and know some basic Chinese words like bathroom, water, how much, make it cheaper, and even the name of our school. In addition to all this, I was even given a Chinese name by my accounting professor! So from now on, you may call me 小芳 (Xiǎo Fāng), which means “little flower.”

After our very eventful Golden Week, we have just been traveling around Tianjin sight-seeing and enjoying our time. In fact, recently, a few of our Chinese classmates, Karen and Rebecca, invited us to go out for dinner, then attend a Chinese Post Rock concert at a local bar. This was very nice because we were able to experience this type of music and also talk to our classmates out of the school environment. We got to learn about where they’re from, where they have traveled to (whether within or outside China), and what they plan for their future. It’s interesting to see how even coming from different cultures, studying and traveling seem to be what both the American and Chinese students want to do.

As for Halloween, the Chinese don’t really celebrate it as much as we do. Only bars and restaurants really decorate for the holiday. However, one of the on campus English clubs invited us to a Halloween party where they played games and carved pumpkins. A lot of the Chinese students kept asking if we had done this before, because they definitely haven’t, so it was nice to share this tradition with them.

This exchange is definitely opening my eyes to something completely different than what I am used to and I am forever grateful for allowing myself to go through this journey. I’m learning to live a different lifestyle and realizing that not everyone enjoys the luxuries we have at home. It’s all making me appreciate so much. For instance, something as simple as a clothes drying machine. Here we don’t have access to one, causing us to hang our clothes to dry. Because of this, they kind of dry hard and wrinkly. It’s not a complete inconvenience, but who doesn’t like putting on nice, soft, and warm clothes?

However, the trip is not over yet, and I’m sure I will be learning a lot more soon!

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Golden Week in Thailand!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Hello again! We are back from our Golden Week break, and I’d like to say it was one of the best weeks of my entire life! Seven of us decided to take advantage of this mini vacation and visit various cities in Thailand. So on the Sunday starting off the week, we flew out to Bangkok from Beijing. We did a lot of walking and visited the Grand Palace, the Reclining Buddha, and Little India. I was so impressed by how detailed everything is, and in such a large scale. I couldn’t help but think about how much hard work it took to build it all. After Bangkok, we took a 14 hour night train to Chiang Mai where we then rented motorized scooters and just rode around the city and did some shopping. However the next day was an unforgettable one. We spent the day at an elephant sanctuary where we fed the elephant’s bananas, made and fed them medicinal snacks, gave them a mud bath, and bathed with them in the river. After that, we caught a flight to Phuket, where we explored some more and saw the Big Buddha, and then took a ferry to Phi Phi Islands. Here we spent a night aboard a boat on Maya Bay, something I never thought I would say, and was able to swim at night with the bio-luminescent plankton. Once we woke up, we got on another ferry and headed out to our last destination, Krabi. Here we just relaxed by the beach and enjoyed a traditional Thai massage.

Thanks to this experience, I was able to see a different culture, helping me enhance my knowledge of different kinds of people. With this on my back, it will definitely help me in the hospitality industry because I will know that not everyone reacts the same to different things. I will be able to adapt to various kinds of situations and be able to solve any issues that may arise. This week was most definitely an unforgettable one, and I will recommend it to anyone.

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My experience so far

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Arriving to China was very bittersweet. I was excited for my new journey, but I was not as prepared as I thought I was. It is a huge culture shock. Everything is absolutely different from what I’m used to and it just hit me that I was going to be away from home and away from my comfort zone for four months.  I didn’t think homesickness could be so real. However the thought of what I was doing and how great of an opportunity this was kept coming back into my head and making me feel better. And of course, once you begin traveling around the city and making friends to take you around, you realize how big this world is and how fortunate you are to be exploring another country.

We visited very nice areas such as the Riverside, where there is a beautiful river surrounded by astonishing buildings and cute little restaurants. We also passed by JoyCity, a huge shopping mall filled with half Chinese stores and half American stores, as well as a section outside of it where there were a lot of buildings with the traditional Chinese structures. It was all absolutely beautiful.

As for the classes, it is very interesting because you get to know more about the Chinese hospitality industry alongside the American one. You find differences in the industries you would not imagine since you have it at home, so it should be similar everywhere else, right?  Thanks to these classes I’m finding out this is not correct, and that, not only in China, but other places probably have different customs when it comes to hospitality.

Apart from the actual class material, I’m meeting new people who were raised very differently than how I was and I’m becoming more appreciative of what I have at home. This will all definitely come in handy when I finally have my career in hospitality because I will be able to cater to different people’s likings and not assume everyone finds comfort in the the same way Americans do.

Even though I’m still trying to adapt to this very different lifestyle, I’m very glad and fortunate to be here. I already know that by the end of this trip, I’ll be a stronger and more knowledgeable person, and I’ll be so grateful to have taken on this journey.

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Preparing to leave for China!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

With only 8 more days until take-off, there is no way of hiding all the emotions I’m feeling about this new experience. Thanks to FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and the Tianjin University of Commerce (TUC), I along with 7 other students will be embarking for Tianjin, China! The realization that I was leaving to China didn’t actually hit me until today when I noticed I was still missing a few things I needed for this trip. All the thoughts just came running into my mind: only 8 days left to finish packing, only 8 days left to spend time with family and friends, only 8 days left to enjoy the oh-so delicious Cuban food I’ll be missing for four months, only 8 days left until I move to China.

Regardless of all the anxiety, I’m extremely excited to take on this new adventure in my life. Though I have traveled a lot with my family, I have never lived anywhere else other than my childhood home. This trip will help me find a new independent side of me I have not been able to discover yet, all in addition to visiting a new country! I look forward to learning more about the Chinese culture, their traditions, and their food, but more importantly I can’t wait to learn in class alongside the Chinese students. This all will expose me to the diversity I will encounter in my future work, and how to approach individuals from cultures different than my own.

We’ve purchased our flight tickets, we’ve decided our roommates, and we’ve registered for our classes, so wish us all luck and I’ll talk to you from China soon!

A colorful change from our green bills.

A colorful change from our green bills.

One of two suit cases packed and ready to go with my passport and visa!

One of two suit cases packed and ready to go with my passport and visa!

This is the building we will staying in during the semester.

This is the building we will be staying in during the semester.

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