The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Lillian Nguyen

Welcome! 欢迎! My name is Lillian. I am currently a junior at LUC majoring in international business and minoring in sustainable management. This semester I am studying abroad in Beijing and would like to document my experience in hopes of reminding everyone the importance of taking their role as a global citizen. The world is such a big place, and most people do not realize this until they branch out of their comfort zone. This blog will include my personal journey through the people I will encounter, culture I will experience, and most importantly the food I will be devouring. Learning is through experience and that is exactly what I look forward to with this trip abroad.
A Night to Remember

A Night to Remember

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The photo you see on the top was taken during the very beginning of our tenure at TBC. Everyone from our group came from different backgrounds, upbringings, and lifestyles. I am happy to say that I have established at least some sort of relationship with every single person. That brings me to the photo on the bottom. It was taken  at Lina’s birthday party, one of my closest friends, here in China and back in Chicago. It is crazy to think of all of the memories we created from the first to our present pictures here in China.

There has been so much shared between everyone in these photos; laughter, struggles, and so much delivery food. Study abroad friendship is so much more than just your average one. Yes, it is temporary and everyone goes home eventually, but what you take away from that limited time will be with you for the rest of your life.

I feel like TBC is unique in a way because China is not just any place to study abroad. It is CHINA. It is a completely different lifestyle, outlook, and perspective than what we know and are comfortable with. Taking on China, with our very diverse group makes the bonds between us all so much stronger. Learning, exploring, and adventuring with each other has brought everyone so close together.


Lina’s birthday particularly was a memorable night for me. Lina is an international student who is studying at LUC. Her and her sister are from a tiny island close to Madagascar called Mauritius. I met her my freshman year and have since been trying to do as many “firsts” for her as possible! This night was her first surprise party. Our party planning group consisted of fellow babies Members: Moni, Yessi, Tessie baby, baby Jo, and Isabel. This was Lina’s 21st so we wanted to do something super special for her. We planned rushingly within a week to get all of the decorations, the venue, and the cake ready for her party. The best part about the entire night was that so many people came out to help us celebrate this night for Lina.

The night of, the babies and I were running around in panic getting last minute things ready. The TBC students and Chinese roommates gathered at the restaurant early with us and waited for Lina’s arrival. We screamed her name, popped confetti, and surprised her so much that she had tears in her eyes by the time she understood what was happening. It is great that you can get such a huge group together to spend a fun night celebrating our happy times in China.

I could not have asked for a more fun group to study abroad with other than TBC 2016.

Xiao Long Bao – The Hutong Center

Xiao Long Bao – The Hutong Center

Again, TBC staff has given us an amazing opportunity to gain cultural awareness through weekend activities. For this opportunity I was able to attend my first ever cooking class at a place called The Hutong. The cutest little gem inside the huge maze of old Beijing. I went with Sebastian, a fellow TBC student to make a special soup dumpling that is popular to eat in southern China.

As soon as Sebastian and I arrived we were warmly greeted into their kitchen with tea and snacks. Classes are small, ours only had 5 people, but this helped so that our teacher, Yao could pay more attention to our wrapping technique.

On of the great attributes to the Hutong center is their location. A bit difficult to find coming from the subway stop, but not far at all. A two story hutong that overlooks the vast jungle of other stone houses and structures. Quaint and relaxing, just what you need on a Sunday morning.

We exchanged stories about our Chinese proficiency and knowledge of cooking all in just a few hours. The Xiao Long Baos were so easy to make! The only thing was that they were time consuming. There is a lot of prep work to make all of the ingredients for these little bundles of juicy dumplings. Most of the prep work was done by our Ayi, and they even gave us a cute little packet on how to make them at home! The most difficult part if wrapping the dumplings. I had an easier time to wrap them considering I had smaller hands, as compared to Sebastian. All in all it was a great experience and they tasted delicious!!

Here is some of the process:

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Jimmy- TBC’s “Social Butterfly”

Jimmy- TBC’s “Social Butterfly”


Who knew that one of my favorite people here at TBC would be so similar to me in so many ways! Coming to TBC you have the option to live with a Chinese roommate, I chose not to have one because I had already previously lived with a roommate and figured that I would be fine if I was assigned to another international student. That was not the case. I ended up living by myself in one of the apartment dorms available on campus. My first week was so hectic and so scary because I had no idea what I was doing or who I could ask for help!

The Beijing Center Staff do their best to make the best environment for students to study abroad here at UIBE and they accommodate us for just about anything that we need. This included the TBC lounge: The place of gathering for many TBC goers. This is how I met Jimmy, and he has changed my entire experience here in Beijing.

If I recall correctly, I walked into the lounge one night and hear the very familiar sounds of Sam and Dean battling demons, ghosts, and other supernatural creatures on the television. I walk over to the couch to see Jimmy sitting there in his minion onsie, sprawled over the entire seat, and drinking the Chinese version of Arnold Palmer half and half. One look and I could tell that we would be friends. We stayed sitting and laughing on the couch arguing about who was the better brother between Sam or Dean, until morning.

10 seasons later into the series Jimmy had become, not just mine, but also everyone else’s go to man when it came to any help being needed. He is always always there for you no matter what, and all of the TBC students love him for that. I remember the one time it was “my time of the month” and I was stuck in bed, he came to my room and gave me candies and our favorite drink   and told me not be sad or sick so that we could go get spicy hot pot later in the week. He will do anything to help anyone and is such a sweet guy. If it is money, a recommendation, a plus one, ANYTHING- Jimmy will be there and even dress his best for the occasion.

Sometimes it is frustrating to live in a completely different country and coming from such a privileged one like the US, it could make our perspective on the world different. A lot of times when I have a hard day at work and I am upset over a cultural barrier I call Jimmy and he takes me out to eat to talk about it. He is such a good resource to speak to because he understands enough of where I may be coming from in a certain situation, but then explains to me why, over here the thought process is another way. Getting his perspective on ideas have opened up my eyes and relieved the frustration. I am forever grateful for him.

Routinely, Jimmy and I like to take walks to the 7/11 across the street from campus for our “green tea” talks. We have very different schedules so this is our time to talk about our days and go through highs and lows. It is our unspoken stress reliever. We also like to make it a point to try a new place to eat at on his secret list of the best of the best joints! I have never eaten so much than I have with this man!!

In conclusion, Jimmy is the pickachu of the Chinese roommates. Everyone loves him and he is what brings people together. If you ever see him on campus, you will know right away who he is. Constantly surrounded by people, holding a togo order of dumplings, and in his comfortable blue slippers. It is a shame that no other future TBC students will get to meet him as he is graduating this year.


The American Chamber of Commerce

The American Chamber of Commerce

Lately, I have been on the ride of my life. So much going on! Isn’t a semester abroad supposed to be the “easiest” of all your semesters while in college?! I thought I was busy back in Chicago, but that does not compare to here aIMG_1020t all!I recently started my internship at the American Chamber of Commerce, located in Beijing! AmCham is basically a resource for companies from the United States (and beyond) to gain access to Chinese markets and business. They assist in all aspects crossing borders internationally. I work specifically under our Senior Director- John Zane. He is actually also on the board of directors at The Beijing Center as well…essentially he is my boss in every aspect of my life at TBC. He is the best! He challenges me at work and tells everything to me straight. My first day he gave me a stack of papers to IMG_0960examine and then told me that I would be writing a policy paper for him! That report would be sent to the American Embassy to be reviewed! That was nerve wracking because I was only used to writing papers andreports for class!
My latest work related event was a program that Amcham, the first in the series. It was called: Inter-Chamber Series- Career Women Forward. It was a joint task that consisted of the American Chamber, Australian Chamber, European Chamber, and many more. It is an initiative of dialogues from successful women from all around the world to share their story. Along with their awesome insight, they also spoke to the public about policies that they believe will promote gender diversity in the workplace. I got to visit the American Embassy here in Beijing and network with many people from all different industries. Although it is stressful, this internship has been the greatest opportunity I have had yet. It has taught me so much in so little time and I can finally say I have internationalized myself for my future career.


Day One Acquaintances

Day One Acquaintances

On the very first day that I started this journey I met two very special people in my life. I did not know it at the time, but these two would soon become my very close friends here at TBC. They get special recognition as my very first (very late) blog post! I want to introduce to you Sebastian Tobar Arce and Monica Contreras. I met these two during our first few “ice breaker” days during orientation. We all shared the same love for reggeaton music and instantly connected. They found it so amusing that I listened to Latin music, but did not speak a word of Spanish except for “Hola”. I continue to joke to my family that I came to China only to learn Spanish due to the amount of Spanish speaking students in our program. Any who… these two amigos have placed themselves in a very special place in my heart. They both are a part of my support group as we all take on the daring adventure of “CHINA”.

Let me introduce you to my Pequena bonita bebe, Moni. She is this little sassy chicka from El Salvador and I adore her so much. As of now she is a double exchange student {El Salvador –> Chicago –> China}. When I am around Moni I am always outrageously laughing, we cannot help but just laugh at all of the silly things we do together. A funny story actually: While we were on our Silk Road excursion, Monica and I accidentally stumbled upon a restaurant that catered to homosexuals while trying to grab a bite to eat! From outside of the venue all we could see was pretty lights, live entertainment, and people looking like they really were enjoying themselves there! We walked in and were ushered to a table right away by very friendly waitresses. As we sat down and ordered we noticed that every couple around us was of the same sex and were all having such a romantic meal! We sat through our meal laughing hysterically at our innocent mistake of finding that little gem in Xi An. My favorite person to talk to because she always knows exactly what I need to hear and she does not play around with sugar coating things- honesty is all she is about. I learn new things from her everyday and cannot wait until we can have adventures when we get back to Chicago!IMG_0780

Sebastian Tobar Arce, or as everyone else calls him- TOBAR, is a senior from Pontifical Xavierian University. Coming here to China was his FIRST TIME LEAVING Colombia! He encountered many “firsts” while coming here and continues to experience so many new things as well. We were bunkmates while on the overnight train so I had the opportunity to
learn so much about him! Tabor loves to have a good time with anyone and will never turn down an invitation. He also is such an old souled nerd and I love that about him…I’m talking so nerdy he can recite every line from movies and shows in both English and Spanish! My favorite thing about Tobar is that he is the sweetest and kindest soul you could come across on this Earth. I think he has a sixth sense where he can detect when someone is anything but happy because he is always there when you need him.

If you are looking for a good time…look no further than these two amigos. BESOS Y ABRAZOS