I Love Chinese Food

Chinese food for blog

Before I had the opportunity to visit China I frequently ate asian foods at ethnic restaurants in the United States. However, those experiences pale in comparison to going to China and eating traditional Chinese cuisine. In Nanjing I tried many foods I had never heard of or thought I would be eating. I enjoyed eating the dumplings, buns, noodles and rice dishes that had new flavors which were often quite spicy. I went to hot pot one night with a student volunteer and ate stomach intestine that I cooked myself in a hot soup. Nanjing also had a variety of soup dumplings that were made of shrimp, duck and pork. I learned the art of holding the dumpling with my chopsticks and sucking out the hot liquid before taking a bite of the delicious insides. The desserts were vastly different and often less sweet than American style treats. I had sesame ice cream, matcha frozen yogurt (frozen to pieces with dry ice) and hawthorn fruit coated in sugar. I also had a wide variety of boba teas that were all unique and I learned that people often go out and purchase milk tea and bring it along to food places to accompany their meals. At restaurants people would rarely drink any drinks from the actual restaurant especially not cold water like Americans have at every meal. I drank ginger milk tea, strawberry ice cream tea and lime kumquat tea. Then there were snacks. Never thought I would say that I love spicy dried tofu, sweetened dried plums or Chinese rice cakes covered with a glaze. I cannot do justice in describing how much eating your way through China is an essential aspect of traveling there. I cannot wait to go back and try more. The photo is shrimp soup dumplings and I hope it inspires you to head to China straight away to try these foods for yourself.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018


Learning Mandarin

Bell for blogI think the biggest barrier for people learning Mandarin and attempting to communicate with natural born speakers is the different tones. In English we do not use tones as extensively and in China one voice inflection creates a different meaning. In class on the trip when we would practice tones it also seemed as though some of my classmates could not pronounce the Chinese tones because they could not hear the subtle differences. When I first began learning Mandarin someone told me that if you do not learn Mandarin before the age of 5 you will never be able to correctly hear and speak the tones like a fluent speaker does. I whole heartily believe this. On the trip there were times when I knew a Chinese word and would ask a student volunteer about the word and they would look at me with a blank face. I would repeat myself a few times and then they would finally repeat the word themselves with the correct tones and ask if that was the word that I intended to say. Overall, before the trip I knew that tones were an important part of the Mandarin language but after going to China and witnessing real time communication I saw just how vital they are to speak.
Since high school I have been interested in Asian culture and the Mandarin language but having the opportunity to visit China heightened that interest. Eventually I hope to be fluent in Mandarin even though I know that will be a tough task to accomplish. However, seeing the student volunteers be able to communicate effectively in English makes me believe that I have the capability. One of my biggest realizations from the trip is how far away I am from being fluent in Chinese. When I took Mandarin classes the hardest part for me was speaking and pronouncing the tones correctly. After spending a lot of time with fluent speakers I know that in order to accomplish my goal of being fluent I need to work on speaking the most if I truly desire to be able to communicate effectively. I would like to go back to China in the future when I am a strong speaker and be able to navigate the cities by communicating with locals in Mandarin.

-Samantha Bell, Faculty-led at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, Summer 2018

Making the Most of Traveling While Abroad

Esther Goldstein

People have different preferences for traveling, and you might discover yours while abroad. I realized that I like a combination of going on trips by myself and going with a small group of friends. I enjoyed traveling to places like London, Amsterdam, and Brussels by myself, but I realized that it’s less stressful to have a friend with me. This is because we can look after each other’s stuff at places like the airport. They can also help in researching sites to visit as well as how to get there. My travel buddies were my friends from China and South Korea that I met during my time in Liverpool. I was also fortunate that my friend from UT was studying in Edinburgh, Scotland at the same time I was in England!

Since I lived on campus, I was able to take part in trips organized by the residence halls for a discounted price. I went to Cambridge, The Beatles Story museum, and the Lake District on these trips and enjoyed meeting new people. A bonus of studying in the UK is that the universities’ spring breaks tend to last longer than in the US. Mine was three weeks long, and I traveled for almost all of that. While I got to see some great places in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and Ireland, it was also exhausting! I went with some friends on student tours in Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland I came down with strep throat and had to go to an urgent care center. My international insurance through UTD really came in handy here, because I was able to get reimbursed me for the medical care that I needed.

When traveling around Europe, I tried to plan things ahead of time to save money. Train tickets in the UK especially are less expensive if you buy them online and in advance. The catch is that you have to buy them for a specific time, which can be stressful if you’re not good at being early. I used a website called the Trainline to look at train times and prices throughout the UK, which is a great resource. In addition, when I flew on planes I always figured out how to get from the airport to my accommodation in advance. It can be disorienting when you’re in a place for the first time and have to navigate the public transportation there. One thing I learned from staying in England is to always pack an umbrella, because it can rain at any time!

When I first began to travel, I went to London for the weekend and came up with a long list of things I wanted to do there. I ended up packing too many things into my schedule and felt exhausted. As a result of a few trips like this, I realized that it’s not about the quantity of places I visit, but the experience. I began to appreciate the places I was able to see. It is okay to leave things “for next time,” even if that I might not get to visit again. Traveling is about enjoying whatever you get to see, and not about trying to shove everything you can into your agenda. After incorporating this idea, I felt less stressed out and was able to enjoy my travels more in some amazing cities.

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program, University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

London’s Calling

Sarah Kraman

I went abroad to Oxford and Cambridge to present my research. I want to start by saying, when I first found out about the opportunity, I scoffed. I thought there is no way I was going to get up in front of a room of people at Oxford or Cambridge and present my research. However, the harder I worked on my paper and the more time I thought about it, the more I thought when else in this life am I going to have this kind of opportunity? So, I decided to put my feet in the water and apply for a scholarship which would seal my fate, going or not. A few weeks later, my professor reached out and said I would be awarded the scholarship… there is was, I’m going.
A few weeks after that, my research was finalized, and I was heading to the United Kingdom for the first time.
The trip changed my life. I met some of the smartest people I have ever met on the trip. I learned from my peers, made new friends and most importantly discovered things about myself I didn’t know. Before the trip, I didn’t know that I could pack lightly. I didn’t know that I could present research and warrant applause from it. I didn’t know that I love London, I am fascinated with Oxford and Cambridge on a Saturday night can be a little dodgy. I am forever grateful for Dr. Carraher for organizing the trip and making each and every experience so memorable. Thank you and as they say in London, Cheers!

– Sarah Kraman, faculty-led program, Regional Management Area Studies – UK, Summer 2018

Seville Complete Blog

Carolyn Nguyen

Studying abroad in Seville, Spain was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever partaken in! I went with a group of friends from UTD using a program called GlobalED. This program was able to set up a custom wintermester program and provided an internship that rotated students through a hospital in Seville. We got the opportunity to shadow doctors, learn about the healthcare system in another country, as well as watch surgeries! The Office of Education Abroad was so helpful in setting up a way for us to receive credits for our study abroad internship!

Besides the internship in the hospital, we also got to take an intensive Spanish course. As a pre-med students living in Texas, medical Spanish is quite essential for proper and efficient patient communication. Even learning just conversational Spanish is enough to establish a sense of rapport with your patients. I can guarantee you that at my medical school interviews, my interviewers were looking for personal growth in the candidates. This program was always a conversation starter, especially since it shows a love for learning in order to better yourself as a future doctor. What better way to do so than to learn medical Spanish in its country of origin?

My favorite part about my entire study abroad was the cultural immersion! I got to live with a host mom that took care us as if we were her own children. She cooked us home-cooked traditional meals, packed us sac lunches for school and even got us gifts for the holidays. She was the one of the sweetest and kindest soul and I’m so glad I got to meet her during my trip. Experiencing Christmas in another country was also a wonderful experience! In Spain, they celebrate 12 days of Christmas. December 25th only marks the beginning of the festivities! On January 6th, the children receive their gifts from the Three Wise Men, thus marking the end of Christmas. But before that, there are beautiful parades where the children get to submit their wishlists and candy/toys are throw into the crowds. These parades were so exhilarating! Even though I am not Catholic, I attended mass during Christmas. It was one of the most beautiful processions I have ever participated in. The Seville Cathedral was otherworldly and it is the resting place for the remains of Christopher Columbus. It was so amazing to see the way the Spanish celebrate and worship during the holidays.

During the weekends, we took the opportunity to travel to other cities within Spain. I got to go to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada. Planning the trips were kind of stressful but completely worth it! My advice is to download the expedia app before leaving the US. That way you can get airplane tickets and hotels with US Dollars rather than having to deal with the exchange rate and foreign currency charges on using cards internationally. Each city had it’s own culture, traditions and atmosphere. Each was breathtaking in it’s own way. Seville felt safe, homey and traditionally Spanish. Madrid was like the Washington DC of Spain. It was filled with city life, lights and historical monuments/museums. Barcelona didn’t even feel like Spain anymore. They spoke Catalan and it was so artistically metropolitan. And Granada was a predominantly Arabian area with a lot of Moorish Empire influence still present. We tried to maximize our time in Spain and traveled like mad women. My feet were pretty much destroyed after the whole ordeal, but I can not emphasize enough how worthwhile each trip was. From the museums in Madrid to Park Guel in Barcelona to the underground Arabic spa in Granada, everything was life changing from start to finish.

If you get the chance, please study abroad! It is so eye-opening. If you choose to go to Spain, I highly suggest doing so in the winter. You’ll get to see the holidays and can even go skiing in the Sierra Nevadas. The summers can get up to 120 degrees so be aware! Take advantage of scholarships provided by the Study Abroad Office and have fun!

– Carolyn Nguyen, Independent Study/Third-Party Program, Fall 2017

From Culture Shock to the Best Semester Ever


Esther Goldstein

When I arrived in Liverpool, I exited the train station and got hopelessly lost trying to find a place to convert some money. After that, I found a place to buy a British SIM card and went off to find my new home for the next semester. The day was a whirlwind of getting lost several more times, moving into my residence, and meeting my new flatmates. It wasn’t an easy first weekend because I had to find a bunch of new things for my place, such as bedding and groceries. I wondered if I was cut out for life in Liverpool. I just needed some time to adjust, however.

The day before classes started, I met some people at the study abroad orientation session, and things started to turn up. I continued to explore the city more, and I really enjoyed how compact and walkable the city center was. Along with all of The Beatles attractions and strange accents, there were tons of shops, pubs, and restaurants to visit. I navigated my way through Albert Dock, which has an amazing view of the River Mersey on a sunny day. Although it was usually windy and cloudy in Liverpool much of the time, it made me appreciate the sunny days even more. Throughout my time there, I became friends with people from around the world. My closest friends came from China and South Korea, and I was able to learn more about those countries’ cultures through them. In addition, the University of Liverpool assigned all of the exchange students a study abroad buddy. My buddy introduced me to life there and was an awesome resource during my time abroad.

I loved how I could easily walk to the train station in Liverpool, and from there I could travel just about anywhere by train or plane. During the semester I went to the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland! I had never been to Europe prior to my semester abroad, and I saw lots of amazing places through my travels. Overall I had a great semester, and I cherish all of the memories I made with my friends and while travelling.

Some of the things I learned were…
•   Take advantage of travelling to different countries while in Europe, because many of the countries are close to one another
•   Traveling can expensive between bus and train rides, plane flights, and eating out, so make sure to budget accordingly
•   Try to make friends with locals so you can learn more about the people living in your area
•   Take a light course load so that you have enough time to make travel plans and are not bogged down with homework

– Esther Goldstein, exchange program at University of Liverpool, Spring 2017

From“Hi” to “你好”


“Welcome to China” I was officially 7,350 miles away from anything I have known. In a new country, a new culture, and a new language. Inside of me, there was a mixture, of excitement and terrifying emotions, but there was no turning back. I knew whatever would come I knew my new home would be overall an adventure.

Throughout my courses, I was able to learn about business in China and also internationally. It was incredible learning how China’s business relations are important and how it works with different countries and companies. I was able to experience in person Multinational Corporations (MNC) global strategy such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Forever21. Looking at the bigger picture made me realize how connected we are a planet. For this past century, we have increased connectivity more than any era before not only in business but politics, negotiation, social media, art, and other essential ways.

Interacting with students around the world and from China, with professors, and local individuals in the country showed me despite the differences we may all have at the end of the day we are all humans and how connected we are. Building friendships and relationships with people of a different culture and language opened my mind that we have to stay together to have an impact on global issues.

This journey was a growing path, an adventure of a lifetime and one of the highlights of my college career. This opportunity exposed me to a different part of the world, and this exposure challenged me to know more about the world. A Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Jennifer Garcia, exchange at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Fall 2017