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Marriott Tianjin China Program at FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

The Fall 2019 Students Have Arrived!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

This semester we’ll have eight students blogging from the Marriott Tianjin China Program about their experiences. Since so many will be sharing their stories, they’ve chosen topics to frame their discussions.

Roarys – one from US; one from China

Aaliyah – Cultural experiences
Ana Julia – Food
Angelica F – Small victories:  Accomplishments in your new life abroad
Angelica M – Living like a local while abroad
Mario – Student life on-campus
Melody – Arts & culture
Nicolas – Luxury hotels & innovation in China
Sasha – Being physically/mentally healthy abroad

We hope you enjoy this new format. If you have any comments, let us know what you think.


By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Where is home & what makes up home?

Home is said to be where your heart is… leaving Miami once more to explore a whole new world seems like a fantasy, like something that would only happen in my fake movies. But leaving the comfort of the United States is something long overdue!

America has been my home for my whole life and even though it is only a few months, I will be living for the rest of this year in CHINA! I am ready to submerge myself in the locals’ views and lifestyles to make sure I make the best of my trip! Never say never, but I did not think I could ever live outside the USA.

Let’s see how this experience comes along and if this American girl can live a whole new culture — and not only live it, but love it! Zhōngguó wǒ láile! (China here I come!) Stay tuned for my adventures around China! #fiuhospitality #fiustudyabroad WeChat:Angelicamm6

Departing for Season 2 (The Return to China)

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Hey everyone! Some might know me from my previous blogs (Marriott Tianjin China Program Spring 2019 semester) and others I am just meeting for the first time. My name is Mario and as you may have guessed, I studied last semester in the Marriott China Program for the Spring 2019 semester.

I’m currently a junior in FIU and love trying news things, especially out my comfort zone. And let me tell you right now, studying across the world in China would definitely fall into that category! I’m looking forward to creating long lasting relationships with the Miami students that will be accompanying me in this journey and also with the Chinese students studying in our program. I am very excited and curious of the new encounters I will face in China and how I will solve/manage them.

I encourage you to read last semesters blogs ( ) in your spare time to ease some curiosity or interest you may have.

Let me see…Passport, back pack, clothes ( lots of clothes ), shoes, American shampoo, formal suit (presentations/guest speakers), laptop, and of course, I can’t forget my pillow (the dorm gives you one but not the same in my book, yeah…DON’T JUDGE). My bags are packed and ready to go! Now the pre-departure thoughts kick in, hmm.. a whole semester away from my family…everything in Chinese…Can’t drive to Smoothie King anymore for $5 Fridays (I’ll miss my Mango Fest smoothie).

But then I remember the amazing thing in China – a huge variety of foods to choose from by ordering cheap takeout (order takeout on your phone, arrives in like 20-30 mins) that fills you up easily. The different dishes provided in the numerous canteens or restaurants accessible to you (I’ll cover more about student life in upcoming blogs). The new people you will meet along the way through your semester, students, faculty, & strangers wanting to take pictures with you (100% will happen at some point); and of course, the random stares, but overall you can know for sure it will be an experience not easily forgotten.

16 hours and 45 mins I’ll arrive in China once more!! Until next time! =)

Ready or not, Here I come!

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Getting ready to leave!!

I am beyond excited for my new journey to an entirely whole new world. This is my second study abroad program this year and as a full-time employee at Marriott International, one of my main concerns was making the decision to risk losing my job in order to go off and study again. The time needed for my upcoming full semester in China is no comparison to the time I needed to request off previously. However, after speaking to the General Manager of my property and explaining her the opportunity, she placed me on a leave of absence. 

With this, all my nerves went away! 

I will be going to China with a few people I already know which makes me more excited than anything. Prior to getting to China, I will be taking a week cruise with my family and a week trip to two other countries in Asia in route to this program. Due to these other trips and relocating to Tianjin – where we’ll be experiencing seasons!! – the packing process has been quite tricky because I do not want to overpack!

After making a full plan, I was able to fit a month’s worth of “warm” clothes in a small carry on, and I was able to fit a large luggage inside of an even larger luggage (allowing me to have a full empty luggage for my return trip back home which will allow me to purchase souvenirs for myself, family, and friends). Inside the large luggage I used space saving bags to pack for both fall and winter clothing. I packed a variety of shoes, from sandals to sneakers to boots, and all my personal products. With that large luggage inside of the extra large luggage, I was able to place all of my school supplies in the border surrounding the other luggage. This meant I was able to condense everything inside of what looks like two luggages. 

Within the past year, I have visited over 14 countries. With this fact alone, I did not have to prepare myself physically nor mentally because I am already so used to not being home. This, however, will be the first time I will be gone for so long during a few family and friends’ birthdays and holidays. With this, I know I will miss them; however, I know that I will be able to stay in contact with all of them when I am able to.

I am mostly looking forward to the strangers that will turn into life-long friends and the for those friendships to turn into a big family. With both my fellow Miami FIU classmates and the Chinese FIU students, I am very excited for the full experience and for the personal growth and development I know I will achieve.

I’m ready for you China!

Pre-Departure Feels

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Plane-Wing Housing-View Baggage

All packed and ready!!


As I take a look back on the last days before leaving for China, I find myself looking at days that seemed endless and dream-like. The whirlwind that comes before leaving for a trip is always the same – always chaotic, with a hint of excitement that consumes your body to a point of confusion. You don’t know what you are feeling… except you do; you are nervous.

This nervousness doesn’t stem from not wanting to go, but rather knowing you don’t know what is waiting for you. What an exciting and absolutely terrifying moment! The idea of doing my study abroad trip to China was once a plan for the future; something I’d do as my time for graduation approached… and it finally arrived.

Leaving home never gets easier:  leaving family and friends, the comfort of homemade meals, the endless bickering, and the heartwarming moments you share with the people you love are things you always miss.

I spent my last few days in Costa Rica meeting up with friends and family I wanted to have some time with in order to recharge energies before going to a place completely unknown to me. As I arrived to Miami, for what seemed like a blink of an eye, I also met up with people I cherish and found myself doing far too many errands before I left for my trip.

As I lay turning back and forth on my bed with the anticipation building within me as the minutes go by, I remember the days and meals I shared my family and friends during the last couple of days, and I look forward with as much excitement as I have certainty that this experience will be the one of a lifetime.

I’m eager to share with you all one of my biggest passions:  food and the culinary world.  I’ll be keeping you all posted with updates as I explore China, particularly the city of Tianjin and all it has to offer. My name is Ana Julia Arguedas Rodriguez, a hospitality major in FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and my semester in China has finally arrived!

Arriving in China!
Our view in China!!!


By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Dirty, weird food, pollution, and unfriendly people. I thought things like this about China, and to be honest, it was the country I never wanted to go to.

However, as a hospitality student, I thought it was important to know about China since it is one of the most populated countries in the world and where everything is made. You see groups of Chinese people everywhere in the world, and I asked myself if we are so different and they come to this side of the world, why are we so scared to go there? At that moment, I decided to join the Marriott Tianjin Program and experience eastern culture.

I am open to anything and everything in China. Hotels all around the world are extremely different and are a great way to understand a culture. China is so unique that I am pretty sure there are many things we can learn from them. I have heard that those hotels do not even have air conditioning (a/c) due to the weather. Many cities in the world follow these guidelines, especially cities that have colder weather such as Merida, Venezuela.

Even a chain hotel might adjust to the city’s standards and change some features, such as a/c. This is something I am extremely curious to explore and to learn how the hotel can accommodate different guests’ needs in a luxury environment where a/c is, for us, part of the essentials. During this trip, I will be blogging about Chinese hospitality in 4-5 star hotels and see what we can learn from them.

Getting ready for China

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

Nǐ hǎo,

Hey, my name is Melody, and this is my first study abroad trip. I’m very excited to be half -way around the world and to experience this new culture.

I really enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and doing new and adventurous things. My initial thought was getting to China and how being on a 15-hour plane ride was going to be very difficult. I set myself up so I had many things to keep me busy on the plane including movies, shows, video games, books, and coloring. Even with all these things I still had a lot of anxiety about the flight.

I am someone that needs to be moving around and in fresh air. But my excitement for this new adventure is what pushed me to moved forward. I am very excited to meet new people, experience this new culture, and eat things that I have no idea what they are. I am a little worried about the language barrier and using the “squatty potty,” but hey, it’s part of it all!

Fuel up! The Journey is near.

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019



Nǐ hǎo/Hello, 

My name is Sasha John, and I am an international transfer student at FIU from the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I am a firm believer in the quote, “Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood” -Helen Keller. After all, if you think about it, experiences are the best gifts we can ever give ourselves; For it is through experiences that we learn, grow, network, gain wisdom, and equip ourselves for the future. 

This year, I have focused a lot on-physical and mental growth. In fact, my decision to participate in this study abroad was linked to my yearning for personal development. This program for me is going to be more than just an opportunity to travel, it’s all part of my personal journey. 

Surprisingly, I am not nervous about going to China. I feel very relaxed and ready for what’s ahead. The challenge is now, how do I prepare to maintain this state of fearlessness and peace throughout the semester.

The first thing I did was I tried to immerse myself with the culture although I wasn’t actually in China. By this, I mean looking at videos about Tianjin, researching the lifestyle, and also, changing some of my habits that I knew I’d have to stop once I get there. For example, before, I would never drink room temperature beverages, however, knowing that in China they hardly ever use ice, I decided to start practicing this by drinking warm water/juice for a month before departure so that when I get there I would already be accustomed. 

I also tried to lighten up my diet by eating more fruits and choosing healthier options to sort of detoxify my body after I had eaten so much junk during the vacation. 

Along with this, I started taking my vitamins, drinking teas, and getting in a lot of natural products as I know in China they eat relatively healthy. 

In addition to preparing myself physically, I started doing guided meditation every morning as this is something I plan to continue doing in China. I found a 10-minute video on YouTube from Headspace which is perfect for students as we are always on the go! This has helped me to have a great start on a day, and I know it will definitely help me to cope with my emotions in China. 

Reading is something that I started doing as well. I bought a book titled “What did I learn today” by Akosua Edwards. This book encouraged me to do personal journals and ask myself that very question daily, what is one thing that I’ve learned today? So…

One thing that I learned today is that reflection is good for the mind. Journaling is even better, and no matter what strategies or methods you may have, one of the most important keys to both physical and mental health abroad is by actually making it a PRIORITY. 

With that said, I am excited for this journey and I hope that you are as well!

Let the adventures begin! (Pre-Departure)

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019

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. 

30 days until departure…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2019
FIU’s mascot, Roary, on-campus at the Marriott Tianjin China Program.

In just 30 days, eight students will depart for a semester-long adventure at the Marriott Tianjin China Program in Fall 2019. Bookmark this page to read about their experiences. To learn more and to sign up for the Spring 2020 program, visit Scholarships are available for this life-changing opportunity.

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