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Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

Start of Classes and the Holiday

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

These past couple weeks have been very eventful and busy! We learned where our classes are, formed groups with the Chinese students for future projects, and I have found quite a few favorite dishes already. I definitely recommend the tomato and egg soup, and the egg noodles if you’re a vegetarian like myself! Also, we got our Chinese SIM cards and bank accounts set up, so we are now prepared for the semester 🙂

I usually take a picture of the menu and point to the one I’d like. I will remember how to say it soon!

The professors are all kind and go out of their way to make you feel involved, and many of the students are very shy (haha). If you can, I recommend studying some Chinese before coming here so that you can connect with people on a deeper level. Apps are certainly useful, but when you speak to someone in their common tongue (even if you aren’t that great at it yet) it means a lot more to them. Furthermore, there are a lot of mistranslations with the apps, so sometimes you may get wacky messages.

The translation is a little off, but it gets the job done.

As I am writing this, three friends and I have set off on a trip with stops in Hangzhou and Shanghai for the holiday. I was very nervous at first since we had not traveled without our wonderful and patient mentors yet, but everything has gone smoothly so far, and I’m glad we took the opportunity to travel! *More updates will come on this during my next blog*

First Week in Tianjin

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

After a long fourteen hour flight, I finally arrived in Beijing, China. When I arrived, the sun had already gone down, I was completely jetlagged, and in a daze so it hadn’t quite hit that I was on the other side of the world for the first time. As the week carried on and classes started, I began to get a feel for how my time in Tianjin would be. Everyone has been so welcoming, and willing to help as well as curious about us foreigners.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to try many different dishes, both on campus and in Tianjin itself. I’ve found that most canteens have several spicy options, which is perfect for me, and a couple vegetarian options for those who prefer it. I quickly learned that the Chinese culture entails eating in a family style setting, meaning all side dishes are placed in the middle of the table and as you crave an item you reach out with your chopsticks to place just a bit on your plate. This is completely different to the American way of eating as we typically serve ourselves all that we wish to eat in one sitting. I had the chance to take part in this way of eating at the TUC-FIU welcoming dinner, at a Hotpot restaurant, and a Korean Barbecue restaurant. Overall, I really enjoyed it as it felt really intimate amongst a group of new friends.

Korean BBQ

China…Ohh..My China =)

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

I loved my winter break back in the states with my family. I missed them greatly, especially my twin and mother. Those few weeks along side my family were precious.

One of the major events I’m grateful of witnessing was my twin brother’s wedding (he was waiting for me to come back from China). Of course, it was something truly special to be a part of (I was the ring bearer; I did a great job if I say so myself ). Mr. Disney got hitched, I feel for him (lol, I’m happy for him!), but at the same time, I missed all my Chinese classmates, true lasting friendships that have been forged by whips of academic work.

I’m happy of returning but also sad to leave my beautiful family. Eh, they have one twin; they don’t need double trouble… I always miss them…my $5 Smoothie King. Anyways, I know Spring 2020 will be filled with new experiences and friendships to remember for years to come.

Stay tuned for future posts!

New Adventures Loading….

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

It’s the night before my flight to Beijing and I cannot believe how fast the last four months have gone! I can only imagine how fast the actual experience in Tianjin will go.

Hello! My name is Kiara, and I am Junior majoring in International Business at Florida International University. I’m really excited to learn a bit of how hospitality works in Tianjin and see how it correlates with my major. I was born and raised in NYC, the melting pot of cultures, so I can’t wait to see how Tianjin has been influenced by the western world.

Over the last couple of weeks my family has made sure to feed me all my favorite Spanish dishes so I won’t miss them too much. I absolutely love exploring different cultures through their typical dishes as I feel it’s a piece of one’s culture that can be taken wherever you go.  I’m intrigued to find out how people prepare their foods, what foods are traditional for holidays, and what dishes are staples in every home.

I am forever grateful to be a part of a University that creates such great opportunities for its students. Stay tuned to see all the incredible foods & sights China has to offer!

“The World Is A Book And Those Who Do Not Travel Are Only Reading One Page”

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020
left to right: my sister (Randi), younger cousins (Cameron, Shannon, and Knoxx), myself
left to right: younger cousin (Stonie), sister (Randi), myself, younger cousin (Ocean)

Above are some of the people who mean the most to me in this world! There were a lot of tears shed while saying our goodbyes, but after promising to Facetime and text as much as possible, I felt better about the temporary split. My family and I are SUPER close, especially my sister and I, so I know that the separation will be tough. However, I also realize that this is a huge step in my life, so I intend to embrace the experience and bring back stories to tell them that might inspire them to study abroad one day, too.

Distance from my town to Miami

The drive down south took quite a while, and it was our first time ever visiting such a large city! My hometown is extremely small and primitive when compared to Miami. I couldn’t believe there were so many pedestrians everywhere, and people drove much faster than I had expected given the number of vehicles in close proximity. My hometown consists of a meager 2 gas stations, a Dollar General, and the woods–you can imagine my shock and how many exits we missed. Admittedly, I am a bit anxious to visit China, because I know that the cities will be similar to Miami, and likely even more intimidating. It will definitely be an interesting experience!

As for a little information about myself, I am a 20 year old Senior at FIU. This coming Spring will be the last semester before I graduate with my B.A. in East Asian Studies and minor in International Hospitality! Way to end things with a bang, am I right? While I am here, I plan to find inspiration for my writing–one of my hobbies. I can’t wait to immerse myself in China’s language and culture, and build a foundation in the field of hospitality as well. Since I come from a rather small town, this semester abroad will undoubtedly allow me to grow as a person and see the world through a broader lens.

Cheers to a New Year!

Amante Tolbert

Goodbye Rainy Miami, Hello Cold Tianjin

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020

Hello! My name is Nicole Garcia and this is the first trip I am taking without my parents, and this is also my first time to travel to Asia! A few months before the trip, I started purchasing winter clothes, medicine, etc. I will be sharing my journey and experience alongside with my twin sister, Angely, who I am very happy to share my experience with.

Since my theme is small victories, I will be sharing my experience pre-departure of the trip. After submitting all of the important documents, I began purchasing necessities for the cold weather in China. Now, looking for the right winter coat was the hardest for me to find. Since I live in Miami, it is not very common in buying winter clothes since we are known for having hot or rainy weather. But luckily, after searching for weeks, I was able to buy most of my winter clothes and coat online, what a victory! I was able to pack 2 checked bags and my backpack (as a personal item) and I am ready to go and start the New Year in China!

New Year, New adventure

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Spring 2020


Nǐ hǎo/Hello,

My name is Jaylah Goldson, and I am a junior at FIU. This is going to be my second semester at BBC / Tianjin China since I transferred from Broward College. I am very excited to study abroad, as I never traveled this long and far by myself. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture and advance myself in my major in hospitality management.

This past year, I have dedicated a lot of time to my mental and physical health. Taking the steps to participate in this study abroad program was all in part of my continuous personal growth journey. This semester abroad will allow me the opportunity to challenge myself and think in a completely different way.

In preparation for this trip, I have dedicated time when I wake up, to do yoga or write down how I am feeling and what I want to get done for the day/week. I found that writing out my thoughts and planning my time efficiently, really helps settle any nerves I may have and helps me focus more. For yoga, I find a quick 10-minute video on the different poses and stretch out my body before I sit down to write anything. Personally, doing yoga clears my mind and helps relieve and extra stress I was feeling the night before.

Keeping with the theme of better health, I have researched A LOT on how the Chinese eat and drink. Room temperature water, teas, a lot of fruits and vegetables and overall eating light, proportioned, healthy meals. I have been incorporating more fruits and vegetables into my diet to help get accustomed to that way of eating. I’m still a sucker for sweets though!

I am very excited about this new experience. I have researched a lot, and I know I am mentally and physically prepared for China. While I will miss my family and friends, they are all excited about this new journey, just as I hope you are. Come along and follow me on this trip of staying mentally and physically healthy. Are you ready? New Year, New Adventure. Taking off in 4…3..2..1…

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!

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
– Food
Mario – Language & Student life on-campus
Nicole – Small victories:  Accomplishments in your new life abroad
Summer – Fashion

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