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Sharing Is Caring: A TBC Love Story

It’s been twelve years since Chris Roithmayr and Kasia Kordas went on their first date in the Spring 2011 semester at TBC, although the two of them disagree on which meal they shared for it. Now married for over five years and with two children, Chris and Kasia Roithmayr chatted with TBC about their study abroad experience, their love story, and their passion for food.  

What brought you to Beijing? 

Kasia studied at Loyola University Chicago, where she’s from, and Chris at Elon in North Carolina. Both of our universities have a relationship with TBC and sent a group of students every semester. Kasia traveled a lot with her family, but had never been to Asia before, and she thought that TBC sounded like a great way to explore and experience China. Chris had long known he wanted to study abroad, and chose Beijing because he knew it would be an unforgettable experience. And it was! 

What was some of your favorite places in China?  

We definitely loved the two-week excursion to Yunnan Province at the beginning of the semester. It’s not only where we met, but it was a part of China we would never have been able to see if we had tried to arrange the trip independently. We will always be grateful to TBC for showing us that side of China! 

As for in Beijing, it’s a tough question to answer! To name a few: a jiaozi (dumpling) spot outside of UIBE’s West Gate, Smuggler’s Bar in the Sanlitun area, Mix/Vicks near the Worker’s Stadium area was certainly memorable, and any hot pot restaurant! Also, Annie’s Italian Restaurant and the Birds Nest in the Olympic Park because of our memorable first date in Beijing there.  

You mentioned your first date. How did you meet? 

The first time we met was at a random rest stop during the two-week excursion in Yunnan at the start of the semester. There were over 80 people that semester, and Chris noticed Kasia get off of a different bus and immediately thought she was really cute and that he wanted to get to know her. We talked a few times on that trip and during the semester, but we really got to know each other more during our spring break trip to Guilin and Chengdu.  

We were at the hot springs and started talking, and before we knew it, everyone else was gone and getting ready to leave on the buses. We had such a great connection, we didn’t even realize that everyone around us had left. Later during that trip, we were at a pub in Chengdu and shared an order of nachos. Well, Kasia asked to share, and Chris told her that if they shared, then it would count as their first date, but she didn’t hear anything besides that she could have some.  

In Kasia’s opinion, their first date was when they had returned to Beijing. They drove on Kasia’s scooter from campus to Annie’s, an Italian restaurant, and then up to the Olympic Park to stroll around.   

After the semester ended, we weren’t quite sure what would happen, but we made plans to visit each other less than a month after returning. We quickly decided to give long-distance a try. Kasia returned to TBC for the Fall 2011 semester and Chris stayed at Elon to continue his studies. After two years of long-distance dating, Kasia moved to Chris’ home state of Pennsylvania for law school in 2013 where we have lived since. We got married in June 2017! 

What do you do now? 

We live and work in Philadelphia and raise our two boys Jacob (3) and Connor (1). Chris works in pharmaceutical data analysis and Kasia works in US tax compliance with both US and international companies. Although daily life means neither have kept up with their Chinese language skills, Kasia’s China experience has helped her connect with coworkers from her China offices.  

We will definitely encourage our boys to study abroad. Travel is so important and learning that the world is so much bigger than your everyday environment is something we hope to pass on to our kids. Kasia’s parents moved to America in the mid 80s from Poland and definitely pushed her to travel from an early age. 


Have you been back to China since leaving TBC?  

Yes! For our honeymoon in June 2017, we traveled to China. It was great to go back and revisit a lot of the spots that we went to during our semester at TBC. On our honeymoon, we spent one week in Beijing and then one week in Hainan. We visited TBC again, caught up with friends, and went to Annie’s. The area around UIBE had changed so much! Outside of West Gate used to be so many more hole-in-the-wall places for meals, but now it’s more commercial with larger restaurants. We felt like cabs were harder to get in 2017 than in 2011, and it was harder to get around. But that could have been because our Chinese was so much better in 2011 and so was our confidence to flag down a cab! Plus, there were new developments on campus, such as the huge new dorms where TBC students now stay.  

We definitely missed the food the most, but also how nice and welcoming the people of Beijing are.  

What was your favorite or most memorable class? 

Kasia: I took Chinese film and it was the best class. I wouldn’t say I was a film person before the class but every film we watched was so moving and just incredible. I wish I remembered the movies so I could rewatch them now! 


Are you still in contact with friends you made from your study abroad semester? 

We do keep in contact with friends from our semester! Mostly on social media these days but we’ve seen each other over the years. There was something crazy like 11 couples that dated in or after our semester, out of eighty or so kids. We had some TBC friends at our wedding, including two couples that are also now married. 

What advice would you give students interested in studying abroad? 

One piece of advice is try to memorialize your experience while you are there, whether it’s through a journal or pictures. A lot of other students journaled throughout the semester to remember where we went and stayed or what we did. It was one of the greatest experiences we’ve had in our lives and we thought there was no way we would forget those kinds of things. But as time goes on, we wish we kept a journal of all the places we traveled!  

Also, this is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. You already traveled across the globe, no reason to hold back now.