If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Candace: I would travel more. I would spend every weekend I could in a different city exploring China and Southeast Asia.
There is so much to offer when one is literally on the other side of the world. Not only would it help me learn the language even more and learn more dialects I could experience every part of the Chinese culture that is available to me as a foreigner.
As a student going abroad you never know when you may return, so use EVERY single second to your advantage. Immerse yourself into the culture, don’t be afraid to speak their language. The more you speak their language, the more they will help you to become better.
What is one piece of advice you'd give future students traveling with your program?
Candace: You get time to travel so DO IT! Also, get to know the Resident Director she will be you gateway to really getting involved into the local neighborhood.
I had the wonderful opportunity with other students in my program and other International students with the University’s International Department to perform a popular Chinese song at one of the largest arenas in Shanghai! I had the opportunity to perform on the same stage as Maroon 5 and Jennifer Lopez!!
This is just one of the many life-long memories I was given as a student and deciding to fully immerse myself into the Chinese culture. Do not be afraid to become the local. The food is great and being in China was one of the best things I could do for myself.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
Candace: During two of my semesters abroad I had the chance to celebrate Chinese New Year: once in Shanghai, and once in Chengdu. Being able to spend Chinese New Year setting off fireworks with the campus guards and locals celebrating the New Year is a memory I will never forget.
The fact that a city that has millions of people in it can be lit up due to the fact that everyone is celebrating the New Year. In preparation for the New Year, the entire city seemed to shut down.
All of the local restaurants and stores were closed for at least a week up to 3 weeks! The amount of time that they take to spend with all of their family gave me a new appreciation for all of the time I am able to spend with my family, immediate and extended.
Describe your favorite must-have food that you tried abroad.
Candace: Considering I was ( and let me emphasize the was) a picky eater before going to China, I realized that I was probably going to starve unless I opened my mind and tried new things. I have learned to travel by the food that is prepared in whatever region I was traveling in at the time.
While I was in Hong Kong for a few days, I was with some friends getting some Dim Sum and I had this amazing sweet custard bun that I absolutely fell in LOVE with!
The only place I have been able to find them is in Hong Kong until I was home in Houston and found a small, quaint Dim Sum restaurant that sold those exact buns! I never realized how much I missed authentic Chinese food until I came back to the US.