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Let the adventures begin! (Pre-Departure)

China are you ready for me? China are you preparing for me? The real question is, am I ready for China? 

The time is finally here. One more day. I can’t even believe it is Thursday already and tomorrow for my first time I will be boarding a plane to Tianjin, China. I am overwhelmed with excitement as I prepare for it, as I talk to others about it and as I think about what to expect. 

My name is Aaliyah Espinet, and I am an international transfer student from the beautiful twin island of Trinidad and Tobago studying Hospitality Management. 

At first, I was hesitant about going to China. As it is so far, I can’t speak Mandarin, I don’t have any family there and overall it is a completely DIFFERENT culture. I thought to myself, why would I put myself in such an uncomfortable living environment for an entire semester. It made no sense to me. 

One may think, ‘Then how did I transition from Trinidad and Tobago to Florida to study?’ There are several factors that came to that decision. Easy, I can speak English, I have family in Florida, it’s only 4 hours away from my home country, Florida is also diverse and to top it all off I came with a very good friend from Trinidad and Tobago as well that I can relate to and remind me of home. Florida even has doubles, which is a Indian dish — that’s my favorite! These are little things I cared about and appreciated to feel comfort to study in Florida.  

China on the other hand, is not like Trinidad/Florida.

Staying in my comfort zone is one of my weaknesses, as anyone would know, that leaves no room for improvement. Taking that step to study in Florida has 100% boosted my confidence, elevated my mind-set, improved my organizational skills and just an all-round growth in who I am as a person. 

After acknowledging this growth, it dawned on me that this is the perfect opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and take advantage of what this China program has to offer. I even thought about how beneficial it would be to have a new perspective of the hospitality industry for my future career. Secondly, this would allow me to challenge myself with the cultural differences and appreciate their way of living. 

I’m not saying that there are not going to be times where I wonder why I came to China, but that’s exactly the point: to challenge myself; to enhance who I am. Even though Florida had similar aspect as Trinidad and Tobago, it didn’t change the fact that I missed my home. 

I prepared myself for China by having an open-mind to anything whether big or small/good or bad, I’ll be willing to try and be accepting of their norms and their culture. Also, a great way I have been preparing is researching about the traditions and lifestyles of China. These are the best ways to prepare for a trip like this instead of what clothes you should think you’ll need to pack. I think just as I would like anyone to respect and appreciate my culture, I should do the same. 

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