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

Nearly a month in

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

It has been nearly a month since we first arrived here in China. I feel as if this month has been so long but I know these 4 months will fly by and I will be asking myself where did time go?

I have done so much in these past weeks. I’ve gotten a bank account, made dumplings for the first time, and best of all, I finally saw snow for the very first time!!!!!!!!!!!!! You have no idea how many years I prayed that there would be snow in Miami for Christmas, I just wanted to see it for one second. I got something even better, I saw the first snow of the year in Tianjin. I wanted to stay outside all night just to see the little snowflakes fall, it was so beautiful.

Shortly after that classes started and I started to fall into a routine. Although I have been to China before there are still some things that shock me still. For example the “squatty potty,” I still can not seem to use these with ease. Luckily there are “regular” toilets as well. What really shocked me though was the facial recognition systems China has in place.

In order to get toilet paper at one restroom, we had to show our face into the camera and it generates a piece of paper for us (which would not have been enough for me). That was not the only surprising thing I observed either. On my way here I noticed there was actually a lot of foreigners on the flight. Compared to last time when I only saw maybe 0-1 foreigner on my flight. It seems a lot more people are going to China now more than ever before. One observation that did remain the same was the fashion. This time I made sure my airport fashion was not lacking as opposed to last time I felt deeply ashamed of my attire as I took notice of everyone else with their put together looks.

Considering my topic is fashion for this semester I have been taking note of the fashion trends that I am seeing. For the most part, I notice that long tutu dresses are in and jackets with sayings or words also appear to be worn quite regularly.

A Whole New World

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Nǐ hǎo/ Hello

It has been exactly two weeks since I have been in China, and so far I am having a wonderful time! I still can’t believe I’m on the other side of the world!

I’ve been to Downtown Tianjin, via subway and walked countless of kilometers. If you aren’t normally physically healthy, you will be in China. There is a lot of walking done here, so wearing comfortable, reliable shoes is important. I found that stretching in the morning really helps relieve soreness from the day before. Also eating the right foods helps with your body feeling good too! Light, portioned meals is something I see a lot of! But don’t worry, you will still be full. 

We are currently celebrating the Chinese New Year, where myself and a few others have decided to make the most of it by going to Hangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing. Traveling to these different cities has helped with not only my physical health, due to all the walking, but my mental health as well. 

One tip to mentally stay healthy is not let little things people say or do affect you. Some days people will do/say something that you may not like or agree with, but you have the choice on if you want that to affect you. Being a black female in China with braids, has gotten me a ton of questions and stares that I try to answer as politely as possible. I don’t let it affect me because it’s a different culture, so I have to mentally keep reminding myself that the native people don’t see someone like me quite that often. It is however, still weird when people blatantly stare and take pictures. It’s a part of the journey, and I take it all in stride. Having a positive outlook can really help your overall day! 

Another tip I have, is to read/write daily, before getting your day started, and at the end of the day. Whether that be reading the Bible, reading or writing a motivational quote, or even journaling. I find that it really helps set and end your day on a positive note. I personally read my Bible in the morning and journal my day at night, so that the next day, I can look back and see how I felt about my day, and see how I can make my current day better. 

Overall, these past two weeks have been eye-opening on my personal growth journey, and I’m excited to be here! I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here will hold. Until next time! 

A Shining New Year

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

It is officially 2020 and in less than 2 days I will be starting the year off in another country, China!

I remember in 2016 I told my friends I wanted to go to China. I even went up to a Chinese student while I was at the University of Miami and said “I love China” in my cringy mandarin. Surprisingly, he did not run away and actually seemed happy and asked where in China I wanted to go. I said Beijing and in 2018 Beijing is the first place I landed. It feels so weird seeing things I once thought about come to reality. I always wanted to go on a plane and ended up going on not only one but 6 all in a span of a month to go halfway across the world to China. This time I will be making that journey again, thankfully not as many flights, and for much longer than before.

As the days quickly go by I start to feel a roller-coaster of emotions. I know I will have to readjust and get used to the fact that I will be oceans away from my home, my comfort zone. Despite having been to China before, I realized I still hold some misconceptions about China which I hope to get rid of after spending a whole semester there. I just have to let people’s opinions about China stay their opinions and not my own.

When I first told one of my friends I wanted to go to China in 2016 her mom told me “Why go there, it is dirty and full of pollution.” At times I also ask myself this question, but not because I hold the same thoughts but because I would have never thought I would be going there. Now I am blessed to have the opportunity to go again and hopefully this semester I find out what my purpose for going is.

Happy New Year and see you all in Tianjin!!! Also, I found some good videos about Tianjin and food, (What it’s like to be a vegan in China),

There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story…

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

Words cant describe how happy and grateful I am of everything I experienced and learned on this study abroad. I have completed a few study abroad with FIU. But this trip was by far the best one! China is everything I didn’t expect. Every bad image or scary feeling I had about the bathrooms, the food and even the people was proven wrong. I loved the food as well as the people, and well the bathrooms taught me to always be ready and now how to handle myself. Not going to lie, it was not easy living in China but it is an experience I will cherish forever.  It was hard communicating, but people were so willing to help it was never impossible to complete something or go any where. To get around town we used Didi which is like an uber. To pay instead of using our cards we used Alipay or wechat. But we can only use them if we had a Chinese bank account. And the only bank that allowed us to open on was the China Commerce bank.

I thought I loved Amazon but nothing like my love for Taobao!! And as for the food, my favorite was Haidilao hotpot. On campus the food was also amazing. Specially canteen 2, they made me a special chicken fried rice and I no longer had to tell them how I wanted because they knew!!  Life on campus was amazing, you would always see a friendly face and even thought the first week the gate of the main entrance seams crazy far. We learned to enjoy each walk or bike ride to it!

This trip also made me grow in my degree with my amazing profession. Specially Yungfei Li, my senior seminar professor; I truly learned to love her as a person and as a professor. But I also grew in culture and in my personality.

China not only taught me an amazing society, but also revealed to me a lot of personal facts I had no idea about myself. I have truly fallen in love with the Country, the people, and the strength I have found within myself. We had countless adventures, some good and some teaching opportunities. I have learned to live in the moment and to adjust because not everything can go as planned, sepecially when people do not understand you or you do not understand how things are done. A simply trip to the movies can be a tricky mission in China, but nothing stopped me from keep trying until I figured it out.

Additionally, I am Catholic and I found the most amazing church ever, they have an english group and mass every Sunday. This made me feel at home and honestly one of the best masses I have gone in my life! I truly thank FIU Hospitality for this opportunity and TUC (especially the GOLDEN PANTHERS CLUB) for receiving us with open arms!

China has been an amazing opportunity I would recommend to all! Just make sure to go to Delight City and eat in any restaurant – they are all delicious but especially Haidilao. Go to Happy foot bath, which is a spa by campus, visit canteen 2, and go to Joseph Catholic Church (even just to see it, it is a work of art!). And of course TRAVEL! China has so much to see and so many amazing cities rich of culture and love. I would not have changed anything in my trip, for anything in the world! I had an amazing time, but as all, it has to come to an end. Even though I cannot believe it’s over, it’s time to go home and just in time for the holidays! I had a great time and made friends I can now call family❤️.

Fam picture in the first snow!


By Marriott Tianjin China Program

I can’t belive how time flies…  this is about to end, and I don’t want that to happen.. 

At the end of February I made a trip to Xi’an an amazing city full of history and delicious food!  

As you may know, every time I travel and I have the opportunity to buy tickets for a food tour I take it .. I think that is a very good source to discover the local food from the city without making mistakes. This tour also gave me another experience that was the transportation that they use in the Muslim quarter the “Tuk tuk” is a little bike that looks like a small car that is only allowed inside of the Muslim quarter ( a place that they have an enormous variety of different foods and flavors) Just as a little fact, Xi’an has a large Muslim population. 

Biang biang mian is a local type of noodles incredible amazing. And as a fun fact it has the most difficult Chinese character


I can’t explain how amazing they were. I came back to Tianjin looking for them 

This is a sour and spicy egg soup. I loved it because the sour and the spicynes were perfectly balanced ! 

Babaozhou cold and sweet porridge. It is a cold rice pudding with dry fruits, nuts and seeds. Something very different from what I’m used to eat , but super tasty! 

Lamb and beef kebabs are sticks with lamb or beef made in BBQ style spread with cumin and mix of chili and served with bread! 

This is an interesting local soup made with pieces of bread and beef. 

And here are some other pictures..  

And here is some of the local Tianjin food 

This experiences of traveling to new places, eating new food, meeting new people, and learning more about other cultures have enhanced me a lot in my personal and social life. It is an amazing opportunity to open your mind and to see what the world has to offer you ! 

Golden Week

By Marriott Tianjin China Program, Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

In China there is a national holiday that takes place during the first week of October, this week is referred to as Golden Week! It is very typical for students to travel to various places, some of my classmates went to Thailand while others explored Shanghai. My experience was a little different!

Prior to Golden Week we had another week off due to school activities. During this week I visited Beijing!  Beijing was filled with many historical sites and great moments. We went to many sites such as Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and the famous Great Wall of China! All these experience were exhausting but all worth it after seeing such beautiful views of nature and deep rooted history. After coming back we were all ready to relax and study for exams.

Finally when Golden Week arrived, initially I was planning on staying in studying and completing assignments, instead I ended up taking a train with a local friend and visiting their hometown in the countryside.

The countryside was a very unique experience as I got to experience rural China. The scenery was surrounded by mountains and natural beauty.  During my time here I got in touch with other students and got together in the countryside. One of my classmates celebrated her birthday here as well.  We had great food and great company! Overall my experience during Golden Week was very adventurous, and I got to experience the true culture outside the city.



Tianjin First Impressions

By Marriott Tianjin China Program, Marriott Tianjin China Program – Fall 2018

Tianjin Eye Experience


During our stay in China, it seems as if the weeks are going by really fast. Since we first landed we have come a long way, at first we couldn’t do much because of barriers such as not having a phone with data or having a Chinese bank account set up, which made things a little harder for us. We got all these things sorted out and after that everything came easy, getting transportation, ordering food, and paying through mobile. I got all these things sorted out as fast as I could, so my journey would be as convenient as I could make it.

As a group we have become very close and I am glad that the people around me have the same intentions of making the most out of this adventure. We have gotten to see things such as the Tianjin Eye and the Tianjin Library. We have tried various different, local, popular restaurants such as Haidi Lao, and another place called the Old Ship Bar, which was primarily Chinese barbecue. Even with classes, all the students who attend here are very friendly and helpful.  They go out of their way to help us at any chance they have. We have gotten to travel to many places because of our newfound friends that guide us.

The transition for me personally was not a rough one at all.  Because of the setting and the people around me it was easy to grasp the way things work around me. In terms of the classes, I enjoy all my professors’ teaching styles; they are all very interactive and like to include students in conversation. The material is well-presented and I haven’t found it difficult to study the content from each of my classes. And now that the midterms are approaching it’s time to hit the books…

This Journey has come to an End

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

It has been unreal how time passes. This trip has been the best I have ever had, and I cannot wait to return next semester. I had a lot of fun, made many friends, and ate delicious food. The last few days before leaving I was going insane trying to buy as many gifts as I could. Packing everything was crazy, trying to see what I would leave behind and things I would take back home. Also, during that week before leaving I went to eat at different places, trying to take in everything before leaving. I went to eat hotpot 2 days in a row, that was delicious; they have really good fried bread that I will never forget. I cannot wait to have it again.

The time I had spent in China was amazing — out of this world great! The group that I spent these 4 months with were friendly, nice, and gave me good advisce. I miss them already, and I think we will continue to be good friends after this trip. I am glad that I decided to go back and continue to experience more adventures next semester!



The End of the Journey

By Marriott Tianjin China Program

The end of this study abroad experience was extremely bittersweet. On one hand, I was finally going home to see all my friends and family and spend time with them again. On the other hand, I was splitting up from the family we had formed in Tianjin. This semester long trip was extremely life changing. I was able to grow as an independent person, make strong friendships with people I had never met before in my life, and experienced things in different places that people can only dream about doing. From the classroom to our travels, every little moment was new as well as enlightening and I have FIU and TUC to thank for this.

I’m not going to lie, this trip was extremely challenging for me. The living standards were different, the culture was different, the people were different. I can barely find a similarity between Miami and Tianjin. However, I can definitely say that all this strengthened me and it is a time I’m never going to forget.

This experience also sparked a love for travel in me. Traveling makes you more humble and allows you to see that not everyone lives like you do, and you should always appreciate what you have. I was also able to engage with students from China, and directly ask them any questions I had about their customs and traditions, which was something I was looking forward to in this trip.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend going on this journey. Apart from all that I’ve mentioned, this study abroad has given me an experience that will help with my future career. I now feel that I have the skill to be willing to understand others and see everything with an open mind. Not all people are the same, which means not all businesses will be carried the same way. This trip has given me the ability to adapt to a changing atmosphere, which in a changing world will be extremely useful to have. So if you have the chance, go on this study abroad journey, and continue to travel after that!


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