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The Start of a New Decade.

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

I never thought that I would be going to Tianjin so quick and early for my second semester at FIU. Having just recently transferred from Miami Dade College, FIU welcomed me with open arms this last Fall 2019. Now, I have the opportunity to study abroad, and might I say, I am very excited and nervous at the same time! Hello! My name is Angely Garcia, I am currently a junior and I am a general Hospitality Management major here at the FIU Biscayne Bay Campus. 

Coming from a family of Cubans, we are notorious for having our families together, making it hard to leave the nest, but surprisingly my parents were very excited for me to have this new experience and explore a new side of the world that nobody in my family has been to. But, I will not be alone in this adventure. My partner in crime, also known as my twin sister Nicole is also a student and a hospitality major here at FIU! Together, we will be exploring, experiencing, and sharing a room together! (Because we’ve been together for the last 20 years!) Although I will be missing my parents and older sisters here in Miami, I am grateful that I have my twin with me.

When I tell you that I have done a lot of research, I’ve done A LOT. Initially, I was planning to take just one checked bag, a carry on, and my personal backpack. But after doing a “mock” packing session, I concluded that I did not have enough space for the stuff I wanted to bring. So instead, I am taking 2 checked bags and my personal backpack. One may never know what can happen, so it is always good to be prepared!

Now with the New Year about to end and my flight right after that, I am very excited to embark on this new journey in a brand new year!

Bittersweet Farewell

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Yes, another semester has gone by in a blink of an eye. I arrived to a warm and welcoming campus, filled with life, curiosity and willingness to learn all through out the campus. Students from all across China started to arrive eager to start their new semester – it was truly a sight to see. And now nearing the end of the semester with final projects and examinations, I realize what a wonderful school year I’ve had in China. It was a long year with new experiences, friendships, and knowledge for which I’m eternally grateful.

Of course, each semester has its difficulties, mine was finals. Finals came back to back all week with very little time to breathe to be honest, but I got through it all hanging by a hair. The funny thing is that Chinese students all around campus are also in the same boat, studying in rooms, reciting notes in the hallways, and it’s just a little chaotic in plain words. You can feel the anxiety in the air (okay, maybe that’s just me). Most definitely stress levels are on an all time high; students are determined to end the semester with their best performance. It fuels you and gives a sense of purpose to continue studying to meet self standards.

Along the way one day I woke to light snow outside, which caught me by surprise. In Spring 2019, I experienced one snow day as well but this time it was more than just one occurrence. It felt like Christmas spirit in China! Yes, I know, it doesn’t snow in Miami but it just felt right (picture is too big to enter on the site) .

The day arrived that my finals were over and I was on a train back to Beijing to grab my flight back for winter break. I was excited to return back to my family, but also felt like I was leaving behind a part of me in China. It’s normal now going back and forth (and I’m still not a fan of 14h flights), but it still feels bittersweet. Once again, I enjoyed my time here and await to come back after spending the holidays with my family.

Until next time!

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Words cant describe how happy and grateful I am of everything I experienced and learned on this study abroad. I have completed a few study abroad with FIU. But this trip was by far the best one! China is everything I didn’t expect. Every bad image or scary feeling I had about the bathrooms, the food and even the people was proven wrong. I loved the food as well as the people, and well the bathrooms taught me to always be ready and now how to handle myself. Not going to lie, it was not easy living in China but it is an experience I will cherish forever.  It was hard communicating, but people were so willing to help it was never impossible to complete something or go any where. To get around town we used Didi which is like an uber. To pay instead of using our cards we used Alipay or wechat. But we can only use them if we had a Chinese bank account. And the only bank that allowed us to open on was the China Commerce bank.

I thought I loved Amazon but nothing like my love for Taobao!! And as for the food, my favorite was Haidilao hotpot. On campus the food was also amazing. Specially canteen 2, they made me a special chicken fried rice and I no longer had to tell them how I wanted because they knew!!  Life on campus was amazing, you would always see a friendly face and even thought the first week the gate of the main entrance seams crazy far. We learned to enjoy each walk or bike ride to it!

This trip also made me grow in my degree with my amazing profession. Specially Yungfei Li, my senior seminar professor; I truly learned to love her as a person and as a professor. But I also grew in culture and in my personality.

China not only taught me an amazing society, but also revealed to me a lot of personal facts I had no idea about myself. I have truly fallen in love with the Country, the people, and the strength I have found within myself. We had countless adventures, some good and some teaching opportunities. I have learned to live in the moment and to adjust because not everything can go as planned, sepecially when people do not understand you or you do not understand how things are done. A simply trip to the movies can be a tricky mission in China, but nothing stopped me from keep trying until I figured it out.

Additionally, I am Catholic and I found the most amazing church ever, they have an english group and mass every Sunday. This made me feel at home and honestly one of the best masses I have gone in my life! I truly thank FIU Hospitality for this opportunity and TUC (especially the GOLDEN PANTHERS CLUB) for receiving us with open arms!

China has been an amazing opportunity I would recommend to all! Just make sure to go to Delight City and eat in any restaurant – they are all delicious but especially Haidilao. Go to Happy foot bath, which is a spa by campus, visit canteen 2, and go to Joseph Catholic Church (even just to see it, it is a work of art!). And of course TRAVEL! China has so much to see and so many amazing cities rich of culture and love. I would not have changed anything in my trip, for anything in the world! I had an amazing time, but as all, it has to come to an end. Even though I cannot believe it’s over, it’s time to go home and just in time for the holidays! I had a great time and made friends I can now call family❤️.

TURKEY TIME!
Fam picture in the first snow!

Saying Goodbye Isn’t Fun.

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Over the past four months, I have made Tianjin, China my own. The first month, I crawled with baby steps through China as I didn’t know what to expect but filled with excitement for the new experiences. As time went by, I was learning and enjoying my new way of life and now, it is time for me to go. I am feeling like I am leaving a part of me behind because China was not any simple new cultural experience, it was transforming. China has taught me so much and one lesson I will hold with me for life is to be content and be. We love to do and do and do but are we really present in all that we do? I do not want to continue just doing but be present in the things I am doing.

It is really a bittersweet time as I leave my second home, Tianjin China as I say goodbye to all the extremely kind and beautiful people I met and the friendship I have formed is for a lifetime. Actually, this is not a “goodbye”, but a “see you later”. I will be back. China will always have a place in my heart because it was so special. I must come back to reunite with my fellow friends.

This study aboard was more than academically and culturally fulfilling. It was the best memories I will hold on to and I cannot wait to share my stories about China with my family and friends home and to you, the new international students as you going to have more than just a study aboard experience but an experience that will most definitely change your life.

Last Days

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

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Now is the time to look back and see how time flies. I had a good time in China and I learned more than what I thought. A wonderful country with great people that are willing to help and make you feel at home. So many memories that I will never forget. The architecture, the hospitality, and the Chinese culture has so much to offer and to learn from. If you ever come to China, please go to Haidilao. For me, the best restaurant in the entire world. If you are part of the hospitality industry, you will understand why I love this place so much. the attention to the details is mindblowing and the food is amazing.

In terms of school, my semester had several difficulties due to health issues, but I was able to study hard and get good grades for my classes. It is very interesting to be learning surrounded by Chinese students. Also, if you ever take senior seminar, please take it with Yunfei Li. even though is not an easy class, I believe that among all my hospitality courses, this one was the one where I learned the most. She is incredibly experienced, and her way of teaching is very interesting so you will never be bored in her class.

Now that I am graduating, I am pretty sure that I have some qualifications than others doesn’t and that is key to get your desired job. There are so many things that you learn when doing a study abroad, that you will never be able to learn in a classroom at the Chaplin School of Hospitality. I am thankful for this opportunity and I’m ready to share it with my family and friends. Now it’s time to go back to where it all started. See you tomorrow America!

48 days until departure…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

In just 48 days, 7 study abroad students will embark on a semester-long adventure to the Marriott Tianjin China Program.  Stay tuned to read about their adventures on the following topics:

Amante – Language & Art
Angely – Cultural experiences
Jaylah – Being physically/mentally healthy abroad
Kiara
– Food
Mario – Language & Student life on-campus
Nicole – Small victories:  Accomplishments in your new life abroad
Summer – Fashion

Two moths later…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

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Its been two months since we started the program and I have learned so much about China and about myself. the first weeks were adaptation and everything was new. then, I had the opportunity to travel and now I’m used to the culture. Now that we are halfway there, I start to wake up feeling like at home. China doesn’t celebrate Halloween as we do. Moreover, we wanted to do something for Halloween and there are a few international restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe where they have this kind of celebrations to attract not only tourist but locals that want a western experience. From a hospitality point of view, this special celebration makes you feel at home and there are enough international people in Tianjin that are willing to celebrate at a western restaurant. The food was good but the service really slow. Even though they had enough employees, the language barrier made it a little difficult to communicate, the music was very loud, and there are some special requests from customers that made it very difficult for them. The average price for an entree and a drink was about 130 RMB and is usually what you pay at a good restaurant. now,  when you compare a 130 RMB  dinner vs a 20 RMB dinner on campus, you feel that you will be broke in less than a week. We have managed our money wisely now that we know the average costs of leaving and the price of some goods. Compared to the first days when everything looked cheap, now I am more aware of what the price should be like. It is going to be very hard when I go back to Miami and instead of paying 2-4 bucks for a meal on campus, I will have to pay 10-15.  I am looking forward to enjoying the other half of the trip and make the most out of this experience.

Visit to Beijing!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

This weekend I finally visited Beijing which was absolutely beautiful. It is definitely different from my “home” Tianjin as it is more cultural and touristy. As Beijing is the capital of China, it is very busy with locals and foreigners as they are both exploring the many attractions. On the other hand, Tianjin is a bit slower and is filled with buildings rather than touristy sites.

In Beijing, I visited The Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City and of course one of the wonders of the world, The Great Wall. They are all unique and magnificent as well as have an interesting history. Firstly, The Temple of Heaven is an imperial complex of religious buildings that was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for a good harvest. The entire place is breath-taking and extremely peaceful, especially in the park sections. Even though there were a lot of people, it still did not take away from the radiant view of the temple.

The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their household and was the ceremonial and political center for the Chinese government for almost 500 years. It is also an incredible and spectacular place to visit as I got to see live where the many various emperors sat on their thrones and also where they slept. Also, the garden is not the typical garden, it is filled with unique shape trees at added such beauty.

 Lastly, The Great Wall of China which is cross off my bucket list, six more wonders to go. Besides the long walk and many steps, the Great Wall is a MUST visit when you come to China. It represents so much of the Chinese history and the history is fascinating. It was built to keep out the Mongolian tribe and this wall crosses over 17 providences (states). What really exploded my mind was that the wall took 1000 years to build and it was built by hand. How amazing is that? I mean it must take long to build since it is so long and built by hand but WOW.

“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” – Elie Wiesel. I am grateful for this opportunity to explore China’s history and carry it along with me for the rest of life. Even though my culture back in Trinidad and Tobago is different from China, it allows me to appreciate deeply my experiences in China because of its great history.

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