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China, you were amazing sweetie…

Before getting to the sad teary-eyed stuff, this past month has been full of surprises.

I first went to Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province with one of the other study abroad students and it blew my mind. We stayed there for 4 days, full of non-stop hiking and sight-seeing. We went to their national forest park (the inspiration for Pandora in the movie Avatar – also I did feel one with the Na’vi), the Grand Canyon (yes, this one blows the one in Arizona outta the park and has a glass bridge), Tianmen Mountain (they have the longest cable-cart ride in the WORLD and a 999 step-staircase to heaven), and the Yellow Dragon Cave (quite lit)! Not to be a drag, but if I got cremated, I would want my ashes to be spread in Zhangjiajie lol. If you’re planning on exploring China, I highly recommend you make a pit stop here to witness the natural wonders that lie within this city (:

Coming back from paradise, I also started my job as a writing tutor for the Chinese freshmen and sophomores at TUC. Not only was it a great work opportunity, but it was a cool experience to interact with Chinese students 1-on-1 and learn more about them. Even though I was with them for only a month, they made amazing improvements in their writing and gave me the perfect “professor” name: Mr. D (my name was too difficult to say haha)!

Also, our study abroad group finally got to climb the Great Wall in Tianjin. It was epic ngl, even though half of us died climbing it (not me)! Plus, I got to celebrate my 21st birthday on the same week… having hotpot is the best birthday present anyone could get.

Onto a more serious note, finals, shminals. Bleh. So glad that’s done with. Never had so many group papers, presentations, and exams all due in one week. There was one positive that did come out of this suffering, I had the actual last week of school off since all of my finals were completed beforehand!!! What did this call for? Last minute traveling to a new area in China.

Ni hao, Chengdu! Chengdu is located in the Sichuan Province, popularly known for having some of the SPICIEST FOOD in all of China. Not my cup of tea if you ask me… but, Chengdu was calling my name for one reason. Pandas. I spent a full day at the Dujiangyan Panda Base volunteering (cleaning up panda poop is one thing to cross off my bucket list), feeding pandas, and learning more about their significance to the Chinese culture and their people. I also did a food tour to explore the local cuisine, and man was it delicious. The spiciness actually wasn’t too bad, it acted more as a numbing agent haha. Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I would pay a visit to the Lashen Buddha statue, which is the largest Buddha engraved on a mountain in the world. I’m so glad that I got to explore another area in China right before I leave. I guess finals were on my side this time, huh?

Man, these last 4 months sure did go by fast… Studying and living in Tianjin has honestly been one of the best experiences in my life that I was initially unsure of doing in the first place. I’ve made amazing friends (American and Chinese) and they made this stay even more memorable. Specifically, I want to thank the Golden Panthers for making the study abroad students feel like we were back home and introducing us to their Chinese culture. Ya’ll have a special place in my heart. With this experience, I feel better prepared to have a career abroad and embrace new cultures without the added shock value. Also, these trips outside of Tianjin made me even think more about taking an interest in environmentalism and sustainability, seeing more evidence of how precious the natural landscape of this world really is. I can call Tianjin another home away from home now. I’ll miss the street food, fake markets, and the amazing public transportation systems. Until we meet again. As Fall Out Boy once said: “Thnks fr th Mmrs”.

Zai jian (bye bye)!
Miami, estoy yendo a casa

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