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Shivam Sharma

Farewell China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

I want to start off by saying how amazing and life changing this trip has been; there were so many memories and learning experiences I have gained through this study abroad experience. My last couple weeks were bittersweet, and unlike last time, I knew I wouldn’t be coming back to China with this program because I completed my courses. The people I shared my experience with were nothing less of amazing and all very easy to get along with.

This semester was completely different from last semester in many ways. I had a better understanding of the environment, so I got settled in very quickly when I arrived. I was able to assist my colleagues with different things to help them get initiated.


I was more focused on local travel this semester as opposed to last semester where I went to different provinces and got to experience different landmarks like The Great Wall, and Summer Palace. I was more in tune with getting around on a bicycle and getting very familiar with the city. While exploration is a big part of who I am, I was busy with school work throughout and giving my best effort towards my grades. This semester was also unique in terms of the weather, last semester I came and it was very warm throughout the semester until it was closer to December; this time it was the exact opposite.

This semester I was able to experience my friends in China walk across the stage during graduation; this feeling was very heartwarming at the same time it was a time of reflection, as I will be doing the same in the following semester. I was super proud of my friends for achieving their goals and sent them with well wishes. I will meet some of these graduates in Miami as they continue their education overseas. I am ready to continue my next journey and see what the future holds for me, I know for sure I will be back to visit China, but until then, Farewell Tianjin!

We’re Half-way there…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

Time is flying faster than ever, as I approach the other half of our program I am finding myself involved and busy than ever. Classes just finished with midterms so I got a chance to relax and get ready for the next half. These past couple days have been very busy, as a group we students signed up to help sophomore and freshman students with their essay writing, to help improve their english. I am very excited about this activity and getting to help out as much as I can. I have signed up throughout the week where I am free so I can balance this with school work. My colleagues and I will begin this next week, and get to work with multiple students each. 

        For the upcoming weeks I have planned to visit the city of Qingdao, this city is full of rich history and beautiful architecture. The city is located along the yellow sea and home to some delicious seafood. I did get a chance to visit last semester but it was such a great time that I want to visit it again. This time I plan to explore of the historic sites and see more of city as I will spend a little more time in the city. We plan on leaving in the next couple weeks, I am hoping for warm weather that way we might be able to go to the beach there. 

           The last couple weeks have been full of celebrations as we celebrated on our friend Celine’s birthday. We went out for some mexican food in the city, it really is some of the best mexican food I have had. Surprisingly you can find many different types of food. I have a favorite shawarma place and along with a fantastic burger place called Paku-Man burger, they serve the most unique style of burgers. Being a return student, I have come to understand the city in terms of directions to places and where certain places are located generally. This is very convenient when walking around the downtown area as most streets are becoming familiar to me. I have focused more on exploring Tianjin this semester and looked into more depth of its culture and it never fails to amaze me.

Chinese New Year of the Pig

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

Where should I start, the last couple weeks have been nothing short of amazing. We got to take some time off from our school schedule and were on a break for two whole weeks! These two weeks were just the perfect length to get in the spirit of Chinese New Year and get prepared for school, this is the year of the pig. I had originally planned to go to Shanghai during the break, but due to unfortunate events, I had to stay back and take care of some business. Even though I didn’t travel throughout the break, I still had a great time. I got to hang out with some friends around the city. I even got to a chance to become more familiar with the city. I had brought my film camera from back home, and it’s been a blast shooting around the city, although I have yet to get the reel’s developed.

Also, because I have an online classes this semester, it would be difficult to be traveling while having to stay up with the course work. I have no regrets about staying back – it was a very well needed time for me to relax and just be free of mind. Now we are back in school and back to getting to the course work so I will probably be traveling less; it doesn’t help that it is still pretty cold out. The next few weeks will be packed with midterms and upcoming projects, but I still hope to get out and visit new places and partake in activities. This semester has been very different than my previous one. This could be due to the new season, also the new faces of my colleagues. I have had such an interesting time with the people around me and look forward to building that connection throughout the semester.

Back In Tianjin!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2019

After a life-changing semester, I made the decision to come back once again to Tianjin! This time, I hope to take advantage of more resources around me and become more familiar with the language. Coming back this semester was different than when I initially arrived in August, one major difference being the climate. This semester I don’t have as a heavy workload as last semester, but the classes are more challenging to me at least. Being back, I have interests in exploring more of places I didn’t get to experience last semester and learn more about customs and cultures of China.

Welcome Back Dinner with students and Golden Panthers

The first week of classes was just becoming familiar with the syllabi and simple formalities. The professor for my accounting class is very energetic and passionate about what she teaches, which makes it all the more interesting. The group of study abroad students I am with this semester are all very outgoing and friendly; they are always available if I need help or assistance with anything. We are all going to be visiting Shanghai for the two week long break we have coming in the following week! This time of year is the Chinese New Year celebration, the coming year is the year of the pig.

Familiar Routes on Campus

    For the break, we have got an airbnb for about a week. We have pre-planned some definite sites to see such as Disney — this is a place I’ve dreamed of going since I was very young and to experience it in Shanghai will be a great opportunity! There is a chance of us all visiting one of the known food tours which showcase the popular and special foods in Shanghai. For now, I’m sure my colleagues and I have assignments and homework we need to finish before heading out on our break.

Morning view from my room

Farewell China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

Farewell China! The last couple months have been nothing short of amazing, the experiences and the people have made this study abroad unforgettable. Firstly, the time went by like a blink of an eye.  The fact that is over is still crazy to think about. The memories that have been made with the people around me will be everlasting and we all will continue to be in touch no matter where we all end up. The first couple weeks I got used to the culture shock and the lifestyle I was going to be living in.  Slowly but surely I became accustomed and started to feel like a local.

With classes keeping me occupied, I got to learn many things with the great professors’ teaching and with them being extra helpful and taking the extra step to reach out to me when I needed them. The semester was a major learning experience as I got to learn about the field of hospitality, along with cultural values of China. The students at this campus were the best people you could ever meet, never denying the chance to help me out or my colleagues whenever we needed some assistance with anything!

This is one of many countries I wish to visit, but going to China definitely opened up that door for me personally. Knowing that being in such a foreign place knowing little to nobody and still having a life changing experience is reassuring that I can survive anywhere, almost. This trip has been nothing but positivity and learning and I can recommend this to anyone willing to step outside their comfort zone.

Countdown Begins

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

As time starts to pass, we slowly start to approach the end of our trip. The last couple weeks were filled with mid-term exams and ,which is why I mostly stayed in to prepare. I got the chance to explore many different styles of food through various restaurants. Firstly, one restaurant I experienced was CoCo, this was a restaurant that focused on curry dishes and had many other options as well. This was an amazing curry, it was spicy and had so much flavor!

Around Halloween time, I got to celebrate with my colleagues by attending a student organized Halloween party. We got to play games like musical chairs. It was very refreshing to be a part of it. The students did a great job of organizing the event, and they made it for us because Halloween isn’t a common celebration here compared to other days like the Autumn Moon Festival.

Recently I got the chance to visit a smart restaurant, this restaurant was based around robotic service. It was a hot pot-style restaurant so the the ingredients come raw and you prepare it in your choice of broth; there are many options. I went to the same restaurant in tianjin but the difference was that all the food was being delivered by robots! It was very interesting to see that work, the materials in the back were also prepared by robotic arms.

The ambiance of the restaurant was very pleasant, they had screens all over and they would display settings such as mountain views and cherry blossom trees. Overall, it has been a busy time, but I’m making the best of my last couple weeks in Tianjin!

Golden Week

By Marriott Tianjin China Program, Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

In China there is a national holiday that takes place during the first week of October, this week is referred to as Golden Week! It is very typical for students to travel to various places, some of my classmates went to Thailand while others explored Shanghai. My experience was a little different!

Prior to Golden Week we had another week off due to school activities. During this week I visited Beijing!  Beijing was filled with many historical sites and great moments. We went to many sites such as Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and the famous Great Wall of China! All these experience were exhausting but all worth it after seeing such beautiful views of nature and deep rooted history. After coming back we were all ready to relax and study for exams.

Finally when Golden Week arrived, initially I was planning on staying in studying and completing assignments, instead I ended up taking a train with a local friend and visiting their hometown in the countryside.

The countryside was a very unique experience as I got to experience rural China. The scenery was surrounded by mountains and natural beauty.  During my time here I got in touch with other students and got together in the countryside. One of my classmates celebrated her birthday here as well.  We had great food and great company! Overall my experience during Golden Week was very adventurous, and I got to experience the true culture outside the city.



Tianjin First Impressions

By Marriott Tianjin China Program, Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

Tianjin Eye Experience


During our stay in China, it seems as if the weeks are going by really fast. Since we first landed we have come a long way, at first we couldn’t do much because of barriers such as not having a phone with data or having a Chinese bank account set up, which made things a little harder for us. We got all these things sorted out and after that everything came easy, getting transportation, ordering food, and paying through mobile. I got all these things sorted out as fast as I could, so my journey would be as convenient as I could make it.

As a group we have become very close and I am glad that the people around me have the same intentions of making the most out of this adventure. We have gotten to see things such as the Tianjin Eye and the Tianjin Library. We have tried various different, local, popular restaurants such as Haidi Lao, and another place called the Old Ship Bar, which was primarily Chinese barbecue. Even with classes, all the students who attend here are very friendly and helpful.  They go out of their way to help us at any chance they have. We have gotten to travel to many places because of our newfound friends that guide us.

The transition for me personally was not a rough one at all.  Because of the setting and the people around me it was easy to grasp the way things work around me. In terms of the classes, I enjoy all my professors’ teaching styles; they are all very interactive and like to include students in conversation. The material is well-presented and I haven’t found it difficult to study the content from each of my classes. And now that the midterms are approaching it’s time to hit the books…

The Journey Begins

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

Hey, my name is Shivam Sharma. I was born in India, in the city of Dehradun. When I was 4 years old, my family and I moved to Canada. I had many questions about my new surroundings and that curiosity is what brought out my interest in exploring new places. My family would move to different cities around Toronto. Although at the time I despised having to start all over and make new friends, but it made me realize home isn’t just a physical place, it’s the feeling of comfort you get around loved ones.

When I graduated high school, I felt comfort in knowing I would be happy no matter where I was, and I looked at new opportunities as adventures. Little did I know that my enthusiasm for getting out and exploring would bring me to Iowa. When I first moved to Iowa, it was definitely a culture shock, coming from a heavily populated city in Canada to the town of Grinnell, Iowa, which has a population of around 9,000 people. Having that contrast in environment really helped me form a view from an alternate perspective.

Once I finally got accustomed to living that Iowan lifestyle, my professor at the college I attended brought up this opportunity to learn in the field of hospitality while gaining cultural experience abroad in China. Soon as I heard about the program, I could already imagine myself being submerged in the culture and began seeing myself in a brand new environment. Once again my mind was filled with curiosity about all the things I have no idea about.

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