“It’s not goodbye it’s see you later”. This is best way that I can overall express my feelings about departing for what has been my home for the last 4 months. I will never forget my first semester at Florida International University, when I started as a transfer student from Broward College and how I came in not knowing anyone and was overwhelmed by this enormous university. My mother used to drop me off at the Biscayne Bay campus at 6 a.m. since I didn’t have any transportation. The campus was a ghost town. I remember sitting by myself on the sofas in the Carnival Student Center, and thinking about my future here. It was in that moment that I promised myself that I would make a name out of myself, leave my mark, and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities this university had to offer. When the Marriott Tianjin China Program was presented in my IT class I felt like I was the only one in the room and that this was a life changing opportunity I had to take.
How did you do it Kim?
Before I begin to explain the difference this program made in my life, I believe that talking about how I could make this opportunity happen is just as important. I want other students to remove the obstacles and excuses that they have made for themselves; this was also the most asked questions I got from my family and friends. As a college student, we are anything but stable in where we want to be in life, and that’s part of the adventure itself — learning how to figure it out. One of my biggest concerns in doing anything in college was the financial burden that it may cause me. I knew that if I wanted to do anything, I had to work very hard, make sacrifices, and excel in my academics. I was working at Chili’s restaurant 4 days a week and was a full-time student going to school three days a week. Paying bills, helping at home, saving money, and studying were my priorities. With my current academic standing I began applying to all the scholarships that I was eligible for. Of course, there were days that I was frustrated, stressed out, and exhausted but I always reminded myself why I was doing this. One evening when I was working at the restaurant, I received an email from FIU AcademicWorks [FIU’s Scholarship Database] stating that I was the recipient of the Carnival Bridge Scholarship. I was overwhelmed with the joy that I could make the Marriott Tianjin China Program come true. Sometimes these opportunities may seem impossible to achieve, but they are not. With drive and focus, I believe all students can achieve these opportunities, and I encourage those who have had their doubts to reconsider these obstacles and excuses and focus on their dreams.
I can honestly say that moving to China was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. Being comfortable or settling in your everyday life may seem safe, but it does you more harm than good in my opinion. Being stuck in the same routine, working in a job that makes you unhappy, and living in a town that you are used to can prevent you from self-growth and removing yourself from your comfort zone. China was the change I needed because it was so vastly different from what I was used to. It forced me to adapt to my current living situation, having to make new friends and dealing with my emotions and feelings in a positive manner.
During this study abroad, I met amazing professors and Chinese students that I worked in group projects with. I joined In- Club, an English speaking interactive club, that hosted several events on campus. I was an English tutor for the speech and writing center, where I was not only able to help these remarkable students perfect their English but I made new friends. I had dinner at various school canteens where I tasted amazing Chinese cuisine such as hot pot, noodles, dumplings and more. On the weekends, I could travel with my close friends. Overall, I traveled to seven different cities across China. There were moments in which I missed my family back home, but I was extremely grateful for the international family I had made. There is no proper way to prepare yourself for these adventures, no matter how many videos or books you read. It is an experience within itself that every person should experience for themselves. China and its people will forever hold a special place in my heart. I hope these blog posts have helped students to have a better understanding of my experience. If you have any other questions and wish to contact me in the future please feel free to email me Krive083@fiu.edu. Till the next adventure!