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By Zachary Brumback

While searching for a study abroad program, there are so many universities to choose from. Since I had always dreamed of visiting Australia, I was able to narrow the long list of potential universities. After researching various universities in Australia, I decided to apply to the University of Sydney (USYD). USYD was the first university to establish the study of politics and international relations in Australia and continues to be a world-leading institution in political science. Since I am a political science major, I believed that the university had the best curriculum and overall environment to help me achieve my study abroad goals.

Courses like International Organisations, Emotions and Public Policy, Media Politics and Political Communication, along with Youth and Digital Culture were perfect fits for my interests and complemented my academic growth. By taking these classes, I was able to stay on track with my political science curriculum and had the opportunity to learn about politics from a different cultural perspective. Studying abroad at USYD was an excellent, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore career options, hone my academic and professional skill set, and embrace the vibrant culture of Sydney. During the semester, I was able learn more about politics in Australia and the rest of the world through classes, while simultaneously developing long-lasting relationships with a peer-network that shared my passion. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel and explore the East Coast of Australia.

If you are unsure where you should study abroad, I highly recommend that you choose a region and then begin researching the various universities that best suit your personal and academic interests. Once you have selected a university, it is time to decide where you are going to live. Will you live on campus or off campus? In a dorm or an apartment? If you decide to study in Australia, I strongly encourage you to reside in an academic residential college.

If you are interested in learning more about living in a “college,” make sure to read my final blog entry regarding my time and unique experiences at St. Paul’s College. Till next time.

By Taylor Garland

I’m reporting live, dear readers, from the other side of the semester. My final submission was last week, and I have to say that I’ve never felt like I’ve worked harder on anything else – and all the grades are pass fail!!!

To refresh, I’m a Marketing Major, with a Fine Arts/Art History dual minor. I’ve completed the majority of my business degree, with the rest of the classes required to be completed in my next, final semester. For this fall semester, I planned on completing my minor, so four out of the five courses I’ve taken here in Singapore have been either studio courses or art history…and let me tell you…I suffered for my work.

In my weekly schedule, my first class was Applied Drawing. I found it to be like an elevated foundation drawing class – for people who were familiar with drawing techniques to hone in on their artistic voice and methods. This was a bit above my technical level, but I tried my best to keep up, and ended up producing a lot of artwork that I’m generally quite pleased with!

The next class was my one business course, Social Marketing. It was about creating marketing strategies for social issues, which differs to traditional product marketing. I enjoyed conversations about ethics, learning more about the Singaporean social fabric, and getting a look at how different expectations are for business school students here versus in the states.

Next class was History of Photography. A delightful (and manageable) dive into the mechanics of the evolution of photography, as well as the people and art movements that were important to this timeline.

After this, one of the most interesting and intellectually challenging classes I’ve ever taken – The Expanded Field of Art: Public Spaces. This class was intended to interrogate the construction of “space” in the Singaporean art scene, as well as identify actors and relationships relevant to Singapore’s struggle with its identity and the art its people produces. The readings were, in my opinion, unnecessarily dense and required academic context that I definitely didn’t have. However, after several passes through the readings, and hours of discussion with my group mates (who became two of my closest local friends) there was a ridiculous 3am intellectual breakthrough, and we were able to piece together a new, cohesive argument, drawing on the texts and our experiences within the class. Our final presentation (and accompanying essay) is one of my proudest achievements this semester!

My final class was called Wearable Technology: Fashion and Design. While the Public Spaces class was the most intellectually challenging, Wearable Tech was the most time consuming and labor intensive. This class was essentially a three-hour studio in preparation for a end-of-semester fashion show, where we would design and create an outfit that featured some kind of technology in its context and execution. I spent a cumulative of about 200 hours (I wish I was kidding) designing, creating, breaking and then remaking my garment. The technical aspect, the sewing (which took the most of the time due to the design which in hindsight, was WAY too ambitious), and the research and coordination for the class’ show consumed my time deep into the night. Definitely a challenging course as an exchange student, but I had a lot of fun creating and discussing and spending long hours with my professor, who was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

In all, this semester was full of challenges and setbacks, as well as break throughs, congratulations, and moments of genuine pride when reflecting on my work that I’ve never felt before in any other college class (save for my African-American Art History course with Bibiana Obler, which I would highly recommend to any GW student thinking of studying art history!). I’m super happy with my work and the memories I made with those who were working around me.

By Taylor Garland

Learning languages has always really interested me, particularly learning each language’s slang. Since I’m only really fluent in English, I’ve had a wealth of different countries with English slang, but never did I think I’d love Singlish so much.

Singlish, Singaporean English, is easily one of my favorite things about this little island. It’s a mixture of primarily English and Hokkien Chinese (with a few Malay and Indian terms, so I’ve been told).

Here are some of my favorite terms:

  • Bo Jio (v) – to not invite ex. (when you see an Instagram post from your friend’s party that you didn’t know was happening) -in comment section- “Bo jio :/”
  • Shiok (adj) – great (has many different meanings, can be used as an exclamation or as an adjective) ex. Ooh-la-la. Wowie. Shiok. Jazzy, man. Beaut.
  • Chio (n) – pretty girl ex. She chio lah.
  • Smoking (v) – making things up on the fly, bluffing ex. Rose had no idea what she was talking about during her business presentation, she was smoking the whole time lah
  • Shag bawls (adj) – tiring ex. Have to listen to my friend complain about breaking up with her boyfriend….. wah shag bawls
  • Sien (adj) – annoying (because x has become a burden) ex. I’ve been studying for this exam all month, this is so sien.
  • Tabao (v) – to take away, food to go ex. I don’t have time to eat in canteen, so I have to tabao my lunch.
  • Can (v) – to be able to (similar in English, but different in sentence placement) ex. Can pay by nets? “Can, can”
  • Jialat (adj) – nothing is going your way ex. Wah jialat liao, look like it’s going to rain!
  • Aiyo (adj) – quick response to something bad or unpleasant ex. (cup of kopi is spilled on table) Aiyo, spill!

By Savita Potarazu

As a non-French speaker, I picked up on some interesting new phrases during my first few weeks here. Now that we only have 2 weeks left in the semester, I can safely say that I’ve adopted the following into my everyday vocabulary:

C’est chou! = It’s cute!

In beginner French, I learned that “chou” means cabbage. Before learning about this, I didn’t question it. Then I started to wonder why people were calling things “cabbage". I still don’t know the origin of it but I guess it’s just slang for “That’s cute!” or “S/he is so cute!” Now I say it all the time... but mostly as a joke because it still doesn’t make sense to me.

Cou cou = My dear

French is such a melodic language. The way people say Cou Cou actually sounds like a stereotypical cuckoo clock but it’s much cuter coming from a person. Usually elders say it to younger people, or, at least those are the contexts in which I’ve heard it said to me or to others. Just cute Swiss things…

Ouais = Yeah

Basically, Ouais is the english equivalent of “yeah” (oui is “yes”). After a while of me knowing what it meant I began to feel super formal saying oui. You could also say that I started saying it to sound cool but that’s up to you to decide… 🙂

By Rachel Blair

I just got back today to Paris from a long, but amazing weekend. As you all know, this weekend I went to Prague, Czech Republic and it was beautiful.

In mid-September one of my friends from school, Sydney, who is studying abroad in Florence, Italy asked me if I wanted to travel to Prague with her. Now me, not knowing anything about Prague but who wanted to explore said yes. One of the best decisions I made this entire semester.

Before I went to Prague, everyone told me that it was beautiful and had amazing architecture. All I knew about Prague was how pretty everyone claimed it was and Nicki Minaj’s “You b****** can’t even spell Prague.” So, I left the planning up to Syd, but was excited to mark this as my last trip.

However, I was the one that found us our Airbnb and let me tell you, it was the best Airbnb I have ever seen. We absolutely loved it. We loved it so much that every night we were excited to go back to it, and today we didn’t want to leave it.

But Prague is such a beautiful city, with so much to do, and easy ways of getting around. One thing that I was really fascinated with was that some of their subway trains were actually in the middle of the street. There would be cars driving next to you on both sides and sometimes even behind and in front of you at any given point while on those subways.

Also, the prices of everything in Prague were amazing! First of all, their currency is so much weaker than ours that $1 is about 20/25 of their money. So, buying things is very weird there because you would spend about 150 on a drink, which makes you feel like you’re a big baller, but in reality, you’re paying practically nothing. One night for dinner, I got a meal, alcoholic drink, side, and dessert and only paid $25. On top of those cheap prices, everything was actually really good. I would’ve been willing to pay more for everything I got.

I really enjoyed the amount of time I was able to spend there as well. Sydney and I for whatever reason decided to catch 7am flights that would get into Prague at 9am. In the end, I was very happy we did that because it gave us a full 3 days, but that Thursday morning when I had to get up at 3am I regretted that decision. Like I said, both of our flights arrived in Prague around 9am, and our Airbnb was only 45 minutes away by public transportation, so we started our day off around 10:30 and got to see Prague when there weren’t as many people around.

Sydney works for admissions and has been assigned the task of taking pictures with the GW banner. On Thursday, we went to this really nice bridge, but Syd forgot the banner, so we knew we had to go back at some point to take the picture she really wanted to get. We decided to go back Saturday. Wow, what a difference it made being there on Thursday compared to Saturday. As we were getting closer to the bridge on Saturday, the crowd of people just kept increasing and we knew we made the smart decision of actually seeing it on Thursday.

Without even meaning to, I believe that Sydney and I somehow managed to get all of the top tourist attractions done on Thursday and Friday, with very limited tourist, and then got to do cool adventures on Saturday, where we barely had to see tourists.

Prague is such a beautiful place and while there, it was amazing to think about how all of that was existing while I wasn’t there, and it will continue to exist while I’m gone. It’s amazing what little impact we have on the world, but it’s also amazing discovering new cultures and walks of life. While living our lives in the United States, we don’t think twice about the things going on in anywhere else in the world, especially someplace like Prague. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that people live their everyday lives in these places, and that they do exist, and we should take the time to get to know them. While we’re stuck in our ways in one country, a totally different life is happening in another.

I believe it is important to travel and to take in as much of the culture and experience as possible. No matter what you do, the cultures and lives in all of these other countries will still go on, so it’s better to appreciate and understand them than to avoid them.


By Zachary Brumback

With less than a month left in Australia, my friends and I decided to attend the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. From October 18th-November 4th, the scenic beach walk between Bondi to Tamarama Beach serves as the largest free sculpture gallery in the world. With 100 sculptures on display, there is a piece for everyone to enjoy. If you end up studying abroad in Sydney, this event is a must “sea.” With that said, I recommend that you do not make the same mistake that I did and go on the last day.


On the following day, a friend and I travelled by bus, train, and ferry to reach the Hornby Lighthouse. Instead of getting off the bus at the nearest bus stop, a fellow passenger recommended that my friend and I walk along the scenic cliff walk. As a result, we exited the bus where she suggested. Little did we know that we were 2.5 miles away from our destination. As we neared our destination, we were completely caught off guard when there was an Australian Department of Defence base blocking our walking path. Since the base did not appear on Google Maps or SnapMap we had to ask a military officer at the gate for directions. Luckily, we just had to turn on another side road. Along the way, we ended up walking past a nude beach. As you can see our journey to an ordinary lighthouse was full of surprises.


Later that evening I attended a play performed by students residing at St. Paul’s College and the Women’s College at USYD. The play was titled The Bold, The Young, and The Murdered. In order to provide you with an overview of the performance, I have included the play’s summary. “The long-running soap opera The Bold and the Young is in its last days: its hunky hero has self-esteem issues, its villainous old man is more interested in soup, and its heroines are slightly psychopathic. The executive producer gives the squabbling cast an ultimatum: Complete one episode overnight or the show dies. But when the director ends up murdered, and other cast members start dropping like flies, it seems like his threat might actually come true. Can these misfits discover the murderer before the show is literally killed off?”


Since many of the performers are friends of mine, I was on the edge of my seat. Would one of my friends be murdered next or was one of them the killer? The production had the entire audience guessing who the culprit was until the final minute of the production. I never saw the ending coming; three actors conspired together and killed their cast members to advance their careers. Ironically, three of my friends were the murderers. If the three decide to pursue a career in acting, they will not have to “kill” anyone to succeed.

During STUVAC, a week-long break to “study” for exams, I decided to go with a friend of mine from Australia to the 360 Bar and Dining. The restaurant is located in the Sydney Tower Eye and is elevated a thousand feet above Sydney. While dining, the restaurant slowly revolves and provides customers with a 360-degree view of the city. On a clear day, individuals can see up to 60 miles away. Due to the spectacular view of the city, I highly recommend this to anyone studying abroad or just visiting Sydney.

By Taylor Williams

3 weeks left. As cliche as it sounds, it's amazing how incredibly quick time can fly. In three weeks exactly I’ll be back at home in Philadelphia and I’m assuming I will be experiencing a wide array of emotions. First and foremost the inevitable sadness I’ll feel from being away from London, and this little flat in Islington that I’ve begun to feel at home in. I’ll miss my roommates, the tube, the fact that everyone around me speaks so eloquently and with amazing accents and I’ll miss this moment in time. Because although I’ll return to London one day and look back with fond memories, I’ll never be able to return to this exact moment and the fondness I’ve grown for this city. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a rocky road. Living in London has been incredibly interesting, as it’s similar enough to home where I don’t feel as though I experienced any major culture shock, and then something will happen, maybe something small like a sign saying “toilet” and not “restroom” and I’ll suddenly feel reminded of how extremely far away from home I actually am. London is an extraordinary city, and even though I hate to be one of those people claiming that “abroad changed me”, it truly did in ways I didn’t expect. And so for that I thank London, and the people of London who will always have a place in my heart. xx

By Stefania Tutra

Nine out of ten times that I walk out my door here in Barcelona, the first destination I go to is my local metro stop. I live close to two metro stops; the main one I use is called Marina on the L1 line and the other one is Bogatell on the L4. I live a quick five-minute walk from the Marina metro stop which in three stops (about 10 minutes) takes me to the center of Barcelona, which is also where the IES Abroad center is. The other stop, Bogatell, is also a five-minute walk and in just 10 minutes the metro can take me to the Barceloneta beach. The transportation system in Barcelona is very well designed and accessible, as there is a metro or bus stop close to anywhere I would like to go within the city. It is also very cheap, efficient, and safe.

The best purchase I made when I first came to Barcelona was a T-Joven card (pictured below). It was 100 euros which sounded a bit pricey to me when I first bought it, however it is incredibly worth it and I would recommend it to anyone studying abroad in Barcelona. It is a 3-month metro pass that comes with unlimited rides either on metro, bus, or even the TRAM. I think one of the biggest benefits of the T-Joven card is that it also allows you to take the metro to Barcelona El-Prat airport without any extra charges, which has saved me a great amount of money considering an uber ride to the airport is almost 40 euros. You can also use the card to get to the outskirts of Barcelona for free. Last weekend, my friends and I decided to go hiking at the beautiful Montserrat mountain range. It is about an hour away on the metro so we were shocked at the fact we did not have to pay anything and could just use our T-Joven cards to get there.

Navigating the transportation system in Barcelona is very easy and convenient. There are rarely any metro delays, which is something I am going to miss when I return to living in DC where I sometimes have to wait 15 minutes for the next train to come. In Barcelona, you almost never have to wait more than 5 minutes for the metro. I also appreciate that on Fridays the metro is open until 2am and on Saturdays it runs 24 hours (in DC it closes at midnight every night, which means I never take the metro on the weekends). Overall, I have taken an uber or taxi very few times in Europe because the public transportation systems here are a much more efficient and cheaper way to get around the city. America, you need to step up your public transportation game.

By Taylor Garland

Being so far away from home for an extended amount of time brings on a multitude of challenges – how will you go through your daily life the same (hint: you won’t)? You start to cultivate what it means to live somewhere entirely new, you learn new languages, eat new foods, maybe wake up earlier (or later!) or joined an activity you would never have back home. All of this is done with so much excitement, but that doesn’t mean you forget about the people back home.

In my first semester in Shanghai, I was super bummed out that no one could visit me. Flights were expensive, the timing wasn’t ideal, and visas were kinda hard to work out on short notice. Of course, I understood that and didn’t hold it against anyone for not visiting – I was just sad I never got to share such an amazing city with anyone back home.

Then, when I was in Milan, I felt like every other weekend was filled with people I knew from school or home. My mom visited twice, once with my sister, I traveled Europe to visit friends from school who were also abroad, hosted a handful of Americans for an extended amount of time, and that almost felt like too much. Everyone around me had a common background – how was I supposed to learn how to live authentically here?

Now in Singapore, my mom has come to visit once at the end of my semesters. So, I’ve effectively been on my own for the full three and a half months of schooling. What I’ve learned about that, about missing the people back home, is that sometimes it’s best to miss them. They’ll be there when you return. But you must work hard to make and cherish the new relationships right in front of you, because those will be the ones you miss in the long run. And now I’ve spent enough time here to introduce my mom to spoonfuls of my Singaporean life in a way that feels real, and not repetitive.

Here are some of my recommendations for when people visit you abroad:

  • You don’t have to do tourist-y things just because that’s what tourists do. Bring people to where you spend time, introduce them to the people you spend time with. Let them see your new home through your lens.
  • It’s ok to indulge, if you can. Is there a bar you’ve been meaning to go to but the drinks are a bit more expensive than you like? If there a day trip, a ticketed experience, something almost too far by transit that you were really meaning to go to? Try now! Experience something new together with someone that knows you well.
  • Be real about your time. Don’t build up where you are and then feel like you’re lying about what you enjoyed and what you struggled with. If hanging laundry for three days because they’re never fully dry with the humidity and rain sucks, then say it sucks. If you really like food at a certain canteen, or if you really liked some dive bar you went to twice, just say it. This all contributes to letting who is with you see where you are through your lens.
  • Have fun. You aren’t responsible for covering the most ground, spending the most money or having the most “efficient” trip. You’re there as a host, to someone who probably missed you, and it’s ok to take time and move slow if that’s what you enjoy more than a jam-packed schedule. Do what you think is best for the both (or all!) of you, and I’m sure whoever has come to visit will have a good time.

Here are some pictures of me and my mom:


By Beatrice Mount

I am constantly surprised by how quiet it is here. That, on my walks to class or get groceries, all I hear sometimes is the sounds of the wind and the seagulls flocking near the boats. At first, it was odd--the absence of sound was foreign to me. After two years in D.C., I think I forgot what quiet sounded like. There's always an ambulance, a group of tourists, or politicians taking phone calls to interrupt the silence. D.C., while it can be peaceful, can never be quiet. It, like all American cities, has too much to say.

To some extent, the loud buzz of city buildings and Ubers jetting off to their next destination had become a type of comfort to me. Silence, especially in the dead of night, was ominous. It served as a kind of warning--that you were alone, so tread carefully. It was the absence of peace.

For women, this warning is extremely prevalent. It undercuts why my friends don't run after certain hours, or why we travel in groups from event to event, or why we'll hold keys in our hands if we do wind up alone in the dark. D.C. is less menacing than some cities--less chaotic and more friendly than Los Angeles or San Francisco--but that ominous warning is still present.

Safety is such a small concept, one those who are privileged to have it as a guarantee take for granted. When you have something is your "natural condition," It is difficult to see the unnatural nature it holds for others. It's easy to point out to my male friends, especially since at this point most people are aware of those tropes, but to actually let them experience what I and other women experience is impossible. How do you explain the fear you have in concrete terms? Will they really understand why you avoid certain hours? Why you travel in groups? Why you clutch your keys until your knuckles turn white? It all seems like an overreaction. After all, D.C. is safe. The likelihood something will happen to you is low. Those lived experiences are so easy to toss aside. But when they are ingrained into your skin, how do you toss them aside?

While I could argue that free health care, the obsession with mayo on fries, or the blunt, friendly attitude the Dutch have is the greatest difference between here and there, that would be a lie. The greatest difference is this--the existence of peace and quiet and its effect on my own freedom.

Here, I cut through pitch-black parks knowing that no one will hurt me. I don't feel as though I have to look over my shoulder when I walk back from the library late at night. The small amounts of bikes that do whirr past me don't necessitate intense focus and feelings of dread. As I look at the fishermen reeling in their nets after a late night session, I feel safe. Calm. Happy.