Finally, after numerous hours of flight ( four movies, one bathroom break and several random power naps) I arrived in China. We were warmly welcomed by the GPT (Golden Panthers Tianjin), who traveled with us to the campus. And while traveling from Beijing to Tianjin, I realized I’m in for a true journey in a country where the language (everything is Mandarin, some English on signs as courtesy like McDonald’s and KFC), practices (smoking is very common), and traffic laws (think of street lights and turning signals as ONLY suggestive, not used ) are completely different.
Within the few days after we arrived, the GPT students helped us buy groceries, set up bank accounts, and download apps needed to be able to pay for everything.
The start of classes was basically the same as Miami in preparation. Now, of course, after several introductions in class or around the campus, the first school week ended. To start the weekend, Shiv (another FIU study abroad student from Canada student that is here for his second semester) introduced us to a Mexican restaurant called “La Bamba” for dinner where we had a great time. Eating quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, etc. while listening to Shakira songs and other latin music gave most of us a piece from back home. Then we left for a unique experience to sing our hearts out to Queen, Bruno Mars, Wrecking Ball, Despacito, etc. in a KTV (karaoke) room for a few hours. I have videos but my phone can’t send for size purposes (I’ll try to post them later on if possible). Definitely a very special weekend with the “squad.” I’m so happy to be sharing this journey with them all.
Last week, I wondered off and grabbed a DiDi (like an Uber) to try McDonald’s fried chicken. Yes, you read correctly, fried chicken. After some guidance by an employee at the self-order digital machine, I ordered my McChicken with two fried chicken pieces as a side, a Sprite, and a McFlurry. Let me tell you, I’ve never been a McDonald’s kind of guy but that was 9 out of 10 (not a 10 because no soda refills in China). After lunch, I just walked towards a nearby community park. I watched a game of Chinese chess (they didn’t notice me watching, ninja), and adults, elderly and children playing in outdoor activities from flying a kite to badminton. I can’t help but feel a connection to them in such a peaceful and cold day (60 Fahrenheit). It helped me open my eyes to how big our world is around us. In a random community park in China, I realized how slow and harmonious a place can be in a set moment. That experience will help me appreciate and understand the international differences I will encounter in our industry.
That’s it for now, tune in for my upcoming challenges and unique experiences on my next post!