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The first day I couldn’t understand anything, there was no order, lots of people passing by and food I could not identify. I took all the courage I had and approached the vendor pointed at something that looked edible and hoped it would not give me a stomachache. It was scary but my first day at the UIBE canteen was an adventure. Now I lost my fears and I even made some friends at one of the little restaurants.

The first time I went to the canteen and tried to order anything without saying a word of Chinese was hard but I survived so did all my classmates. I have grown to really like Chinese food and now I cannot imagine going back home and eating “fake” Chinese food. The canteen now is one of my favorite places to eat, especially in a busy day at school. However, don’t get carried away by the convenience of the canteen and try to go experience all the little restaurants outside East or West gates. It is an essential part of living in Beijing to go eat in every corner, literally at the corner. Many delicious foods are just at the sidewalk corner of East gate.

Advice from a person that knew zero Chinese when she got here, the canteen might seem scary at first but it is an experience you should go through.

By Larissa Sales, Loyola University Chicago, TBC Communications and Social Media Intern and Fall 2015 Student