Skip to main content
All Posts By

Sasha John

The end is near but it is not over yet.

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

The end is near but it is not over yet.  You may be familiar with the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”, but I like to say, “Time flies; so have fun!”

Someone once told me that if you put time into perspective, you’d realize that time is man-made, a form of control, but if you take away the idea of time you just see things as either temporary or permanent. I mentioned that because being here in China, 12 hours away from home the concept of time has changed significantly for me. Usually we think we need ‘more time’ in order to fulfil particular goals but it is not time that we need, it is strength, willingness and desire, all of which is possible once we pay attention to our mental and physical health.

Living here for over two months thus far I have adapted to the Chinese way of life and found ways to maintain my healthy lifestyle in a totally different society. These are my top five recommendations:

  • Try eating mostly with chopsticks. This may be tedious at first but it helps you to not only eat slowly but to also eat smaller portions.
  • The canteens on campus do not sell beverages which at first I found was very strange but it allowed me to not be tempted to buy juice and instead carry my water which is always the healthier choice.
  • Walk as much as you can. China is very safe and the campus is huge! Take advantage of this because back at home walking was never a part of my daily routine but here there’s no option.
  • Focus on your goal not the price. Food is very cheap in China so do not get distracted by the prices and purchase more than you would usually just keep focused on your health goal and buy just enough of the right things to nourish your body.
  • This last tip is related to mental health. Remember to be present and be engaged! Soak it all up, you only have 4 months which for me was the best 4 months of my life! Take this time to grow, you’re on the other side of the globe, nothing is the same use the time to reflect and discover another version of yourself.


With that said, being mentally healthy also means doing things that make your mind relaxed and happy hence, I strongly suggest taking time to explore.  I visited Beijing with some of the other international students where we went to the great wall, Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City. It was a beautiful experience, my favourite place was the Temple of heaven; seeing that huge building stand tall as if it’s almost against the clouds was an awe moment. It’s amazing how much there is to see but as I mentioned above, the end is near but it is not over yet


Take it all in!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

If it is one thing I’ve learned in my life- it is to keep things simple; just enjoy every moment and embrace what is in front of you.

Golden Week was very different for me. Instead of traveling outside of Tianjin, my friend and I stayed and explored what the municipality had to offer. We visited the famous Porcelain House also known as the China House which is a house made up of millions of ancient porcelain pieces from porcelain wares. We did the Tianjin Eye, also known as the Tientsin Eye, which is a giant Ferris wheel built over the Hai River with a height of 394 ft, and at the end of the week, we visited the tallest mountain in Tianjin (Jiu Shan Ding).

All of these places were very interesting, but in the midst of being constantly active, I was reminded of how important it is to also be still. While it is good to explore, remember to be present, mindful, and aware of the “now.” Too many times we lose focus of the real meaning behind the things we do, especially as young people with the influence of social media. We are always searching for the best picture to post and the most unique places to put on our stories, when in reality, as global citizens, our stories should be the ones that we can tell people about based on real, genuine experiences we have had. In other words, do more than just the ordinary, truly immerse yourself with the culture, and aim for growth so you can have much more to say than to show.

With that said keep in mind, if you embark on this study abroad journey, and want to visit these places, remember when you step into the China House to pass your fingers on the walls and feel the art; at the Tianjin Eye instead of looking at the camera lens, look outside – a sunset may be passing you by; and at the Jiu Shan Ding Mountain, remember to just breathe… Inhale the untouched air, hold in the pure joy, and take time to exhale.


Find Motivation in the Simple Things

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Sasha Learning to Ride a Bike bike-blog-2-pic.jpg

It took me twenty-two years and a semester abroad in China to finally do something I never thought I would ever be able to do in my life; I learned to ride a bike!

Day 1. I was highly motivated, nothing could have stopped me at this point, or so I thought until I realized that I couldn’t even get my feet onto the pedal. In life, we get into things thinking that it will all fall into place, that everything will work out but life never goes to plan! It is in times like these, we must be able to adapt to change and keep pushing forward especially when doing something like a semester abroad. It’s a new country and a different environment; the best thing to do is to let go of all expectations and just enjoy each moment as it comes.

Day 2. I’m back again, my feet made it onto the pedal, but now, I cannot find my balance. No matter how I try, I’m either leaning too much to the left, or to the right and when I try to move, I’m wobbling. You see, I was too afraid to fall. Many times when we start something new, a new journey, a project, job whatever it may be, we doubt ourselves, we hold back and that’s why we wobble. We can’t see straight, so we lean on others, on our past, on our own understanding of things but what we really ought to do, is look at the road ahead of us! Get that balance and don’t look back.

Day 3. I can feel it, I’m nearly there, my feet are up, I have balance, now all I need to do is just push off! There I was trying over and over to get moving, my friend Aaliyah who has been by my side from the beginning motivating me, Jamin, one of the FIU faculty members giving me advice on what to do and out of nowhere, this old Chinese man came up to me and starts trying to help. We could not understand each other because of the language barrier, but we knew we had a common desire and that was for me to push off! It was at that moment I knew that I had to learn to ride this bike today! Because this man who had never seen me before, who could not even communicate with me wanted to see me succeed! This is what life is about… pushing off!, doing things we never thought we could, believing in ourselves, and believing in others!

I took a deep breath, I looked straight ahead and before I knew it, I was riding!

The joy I felt at that moment was unlike any joy I had ever felt in my entire life! That joy represented hard work, determination, consistency, and support; the key things we need to achieve.

Without the will to change, we can’t move; without the courage to continue, we can’t move; without the support of others, we can’t move; but with these things we can, and I did!

Now, from this day forward anytime I’m asked the question “What would you say is your biggest accomplishment in life?” The answer would be, the day I learned to ride a bike.

I encourage you to learn from the simple things as you embark on your own study abroad journey. Mental wellness is not always about meditation, it’s about appreciating the little things and recognizing the lessons in them. Being in China, I was forced to get out of my comfort zone because everyone here rides bikes to get around, but whether it’s learning to ride, or learning a new language, just do it! Because as the saying goes, “If not now, when?”

Learning to ride with a little help from my friend, Aaliyah.

Fuel up! The Journey is near.

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019



Nǐ hǎo/Hello, 

My name is Sasha John, and I am an international transfer student at FIU from the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I am a firm believer in the quote, “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood” -Helen Keller. After all, if you think about it, experiences are the best gifts we can ever give ourselves; For it is through experiences that we learn, grow, network, gain wisdom, and equip ourselves for the future. 

This year, I have focused a lot on-physical and mental growth. In fact, my decision to participate in this study abroad was linked to my yearning for personal development. This program for me is going to be more than just an opportunity to travel, it’s all part of my personal journey. 

Surprisingly, I am not nervous about going to China. I feel very relaxed and ready for what’s ahead. The challenge is now, how do I prepare to maintain this state of fearlessness and peace throughout the semester.

The first thing I did was I tried to immerse myself with the culture although I wasn’t actually in China. By this, I mean looking at videos about Tianjin, researching the lifestyle, and also, changing some of my habits that I knew I’d have to stop once I get there. For example, before, I would never drink room temperature beverages, however, knowing that in China they hardly ever use ice, I decided to start practicing this by drinking warm water/juice for a month before departure so that when I get there I would already be accustomed. 

I also tried to lighten up my diet by eating more fruits and choosing healthier options to sort of detoxify my body after I had eaten so much junk during the vacation. 

Along with this, I started taking my vitamins, drinking teas, and getting in a lot of natural products as I know in China they eat relatively healthy. 

In addition to preparing myself physically, I started doing guided meditation every morning as this is something I plan to continue doing in China. I found a 10-minute video on YouTube from Headspace which is perfect for students as we are always on the go! This has helped me to have a great start on a day, and I know it will definitely help me to cope with my emotions in China. 

Reading is something that I started doing as well. I bought a book titled “What did I learn today” by Akosua Edwards. This book encouraged me to do personal journals and ask myself that very question daily, what is one thing that I’ve learned today? So…

One thing that I learned today is that reflection is good for the mind. Journaling is even better, and no matter what strategies or methods you may have, one of the most important keys to both physical and mental health abroad is by actually making it a PRIORITY. 

With that said, I am excited for this journey and I hope that you are as well!

Skip to toolbar