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Postcards: Vivian Mitnick’14 tells us about her time abroad in China

September 30, 2013

Name: Vivian Mitnick’14

Hometown: Venice, Calif.

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What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why?

Familiar food is what I missed most! I brought peanut butter, pancake mix, chocolate chips, and lots of spices. It was really useful because there are nice, big kitchens at Shandong University, and I cooked and ate with my friends a lot.

English books are a good way to pass the time, and a comforting break from Chinese. I like to bring expendable paperbacks that I can give away. This makes people happy and frees up space in your suitcase!

Medicine like cough drops, antihistamines, and antacids are really useful to have. They have medicine in China, but sometimes it’s more comfortable to have your own personal supply from home.

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What was your favorite place in your host city/country?

My favorite place in Jinan is “Hundred Flowers Park,” which is a natural green oasis about 15 minutes away from campus. Like many locals, I took evening strolls there, and used the public exercise equipment. I also love the natural hot springs downtown. Outside of Jinan, my favorite place is Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong Province. It is an extremely beautiful and friendly city with hills, beaches, and old European architecture.

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What is the best meal you’ve had abroad?

I can’t remember one particular best meal, but one of my favorite dishes, especially in cold weather, is hot pot. Hot pot is a boiled soup that contains a variety of ingredients, ranging from vegetables and tofu to quail eggs. The broth can be mild tomato or mouth-numbing chili. I also really enjoyed the meals I ate at Jinan’s outdoor stands and restaurants. You can go late at night and enjoy lots of fast food, like kebabs and noodle soups. The low prices don’t hurt either!

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What did you miss most from home/Beloit?

There are a lot of foods from home I couldn’t get in Jinan, like avocados, good cheese, berries, and Mexican food. I also missed clear, blue skies. The air quality in Jinan is really bad!

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What is the biggest difference between Beloit and your host city/university? Similarity?

There are so many more students at Shandong University than Beloit College. There were more international students at Shandong than Beloit’s whole student body. But we foreign students generally knew each other by sight and hung out on the weekends, just like students do at Beloit.

What was your proudest/most exciting moment abroad?

I was involved in a semester-long national competition. I was a member of Shandong University’s international student team that competed in sports, Chinese language and culture, and performing arts.  Amazingly, we won both the regional and national competition. It was extremely time consuming, but it was a memorable experience. I started out as an actor in a scene from Lao She’s “Rickshaw Boy,” but ended up in the Orienteering event, which combined orienteering and Chinese knowledge.

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What did you bring home as a souvenir?

Printed photos and gifts of tea and coffee that friends from all over the world gave me.

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