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By ilakes2015

It’s been a month since I arrive in the U.S. A MONTH. If someone told me that, I wouldn’t believe it. 31 days already? Where did my days go? Everything seems to have happened yesterday, not weeks ago! Looking back, I know I did a million things but still do not seem so long ago. Some people believe that the time runs faster when you are having a good time and runs slower when you are not, even though they now that is not possible. In this case, I’ll believe it too, because everything I did until now has been great and I enjoyed each minute of my life here in DC.

As a hyperactive person, I need to do something almost all the time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like to rest and watch TV, but in general, I love having my schedule as complete as possible. Because of that, I’m attending 4 business classes and other 3 relaxing classes. One of those is meditation and this week I attended the class for the first time. It was definitely not what I expected. The professor made us relax the body while trying to do some abs and even if it was a bit confusing and complicated at first, it turned to be really amazing. At the end of the class we had to do some exercises in groups and because I didn’t know anyone and because the games were really weird (like staring at the other person and sticking our tongues out or just laugh without reason) everything became awkward and super fun at the same time. I’m really glad I add that course to my weekly obligations 🙂

On Tuesday, my friends and I went to The Kennedy Center to attend a concert of The GWU department of music Camerata. Artist playing Piano, drums, viola, violin and cello plus the singers, gave us a beautiful performance that left us wanting to hear more. Also, it was my first time at the center and it is marvelous! It is a beautiful theatre with mirrors in the wall, red carpets in the floor and some huge chandelier lamps that makes you admire the luxury of the place.

millenium stage

This week I also had a nostalgic moment when all my friends back in Argentina got together and call me by Skype. They were having dinner there and I was having dinner here so we kind of made us company. We spoke more than 2 hours and those were definitely the best two hours of my week. I realized I miss them a lot and that I wont see them for a long time so I got really sad but at the same time Skype reunite us and made me feel closer to them than I really am.


The next day I also spoke with one of my best friends and he told me he is coming to visit me in March!!! I’m so so so so happy and I can’t wait until he comes!! It’s going to be his first time in DC and I’ll be the tour guide so I should go to more museums before he comes 🙂

Sunday was a really long day. I woke up early in the morning to finish a paper I had to write and around 10am my friend Vicky (the other Argentinian that came here with me) and I went to Mount Vernon to have pancakes with the provost. After having a great conversation about culture differences, politics, weather and trying to help a deer that was lost, we got back to Foggy Bottom. An hour later we walked to Wal-Mart to buy some food and after that we went back to watch the Super bowl! Back home the Super bowl is not as important as here. Not only because any of the teams is our team, but also because Football (or how we call it: American football) is not a popular sport. I think we only practice Rugby, which is similar, but not the same game. I watched the game with my roommate and her friends. She also cooked a great meal for all of us and then it was all screams, drinks and joy because “we” won! #GoPats? After that we went to a bar to celebrate the victory!!! We had a fantastic time together until we got really tired and run back home to conclude our week with a delicious ice cream.


Again, this exchange is exceeding my expectations.

By carlyfisher4

When we were first accepted to GW we were encouraged to consider the cultural differences we may expect to find when arriving in DC. Since arriving I have striven to ensure that I indulge in any and all cultural activities that would be considered ‘out of my Australian comfort zone’ so as to make the most of the experience of living here and attending school at GW.

However, this weekend the tables were somewhat turned as Sunday saw the Australian exchange students pulling out all the green and gold we could find as we prepared to both show off our holiday to our non-Aussie friends and enjoy a typical Australian celebration ourselves. Except, it was anything but a typical way to celebrate this occasion for us as our sandy beaches were replaced with snowy streets.

Australia Day, celebrated on January 26th in Australia, marks the landing of the English in Australia and is a national holiday at home. For us, it is perhaps most similar to the 4th of July celebrations that Americans are accustomed to with our Australia days usually consisting of soaking up some sun, enjoying a barbeque and hanging out with friends in the pool. But with such a high contingency of Australian exchange students, we certainly didn’t want to let the moment pass without an opportunity to enjoy it together, similar to the way we would have done at home.

Straya Day

We overcame the initial debate as to when to celebrate – Australia Day this year fell on a Monday and as its obviously not a public holiday here, celebrating when we had classes was not going to be an option. We deliberated over the moral dilemma of celebrating it a day early until we decided that it was probably best to have our Australia Day fiesta on the Sunday so as to best align with the time difference and partake in the festivities on the 26th. Next though we had to work out how to make it as Australian as possible. We had packages coming in from Australia (thanks mum for all the stuff!) filled with plates, napkins, temporary tattoos, flags, banners, beach balls, and most importantly…Tim Tams. The boys took care of the food ensuring that, despite the obvious lack of barbecue, sausages and other meats were still available for all.


Although it was colder than any Australia Day I have ever celebrated, this was certainly a very special Australia Day as, not only did we rally together to go to extra lengths to ensure that it was as authentic as possible despite being on the other end of the globe, we were able to share our customs with new friends that we have made from around the world as we filled the room with other exchange students, EXO leaders, roommates and GW friends. We had the Brits requesting Kylie Minogue songs, the Germans correcting our sausage cooking techniques (seriously, none of us were going to argue – they are pros!), the Americans putting on Australian adverts on Youtube to add to the authenticity and the students from all around Asia participating in the Australia day fun too. Everyone was tattooed with Australian flags and we even tried to introduce a few typically Aussie games into the afternoon.

So this year we may not have had our typical barbecue and pool party, but we surely did make the most of sharing our culture and bringing just a little bit of Australia onto the GW campus.

Whilst our Australia Day celebration was a lot of fun, I would have failed my own task had I not also explored something new, as per the challenge I set myself a couple blogs ago. Accordingly, this Friday a group of us set out to explore the Arlington cemetery, and in particular to visit the grave site of President John F. Kennedy. The internet had warned of swarms of crowds around the grave but it being both an absolutely freezing cold day and a Friday, obviously worked in our favor as we had much of the podium to ourselves to really take in the amazing view and the meaning of visiting the resting place of a president.

Our tour guide for the morning informed us as to why the position for JFK’s plot was decided upon – mere weeks prior to his assassination, JFK had been visiting the mansion at the top of the hill in Arlington when he said he could stay here forever looking at the beautiful view of the nation’s capitol. And so, when he passed, it was decided that they would honor this wish, following much protest from the Kennedys (against JBKO) as they wanted him buried closer to their family home, and so now the Kennedy family now lay to rest overlooking the gorgeous skyline of Washington, D.C.

Having studied JFK a fair amount in high school, I had for some time wanted to visit his resting place and pay my respects and I am incredibly glad that I now have. The eternal flame, combined with the amphitheater inscribed with one of the greatest speeches ever given, really set the tone and make this experience an incredibly powerful one.


But this cemetery acts as the final resting place for many, not just the Kennedy's, as is evident by the rows and rows of headstones visible in all directions. Primarily a military cemetery, bar the few civilians whose contribution was so grand their deserving could not be overlooked, it is both saddening to think of all those lives lost, and amazing to think of how meaningful it must be to all these families to have at least received the bodies of their loved ones to bury.This point truly hits home when you arrive at the enormous tomb of the Unknown Soldier that stands as a stark reminder of all those men who sacrificed their lives and never made it back to American soil in any capacity.


This tomb is manned consistently, night and day, by guards who both protect and honor the memory of these soldiers. We waited until the hour hit so that we could watch the changing of the guard ceremony – an intricate and highly detail orientated series of movements that highlight the discipline and training of these guards. The ceremony was interesting to see and I am glad we were able to witness it before our time at Arlington was up.

All in all, Arlington Cemetery provided us with a powerful view of some of America’s history as we paid our respects to all those who have fallen in the line of duty whilst trying to protect the freedom of this country.

And so another wonderful week in Washington has passed, which only means that it is time for another inevitably fantastic week to begin.

Until next time…

By train1110

The memory of 9/11. It was the deep crack and wound in the sky-reaching pride of Americans and the turning point of numerous changes in US politics, diplomacy, society and the civil perception of Americans. Last weekend I've been to New York, and our visit to the 9.11 memorial left a deep impression on me. More accurately speaking, I could not take my eyes apart from the sentence on the wall of the 9.11 memorial, "I love NY(or maybe it was US) more than ever".

What Americans seemed to focus on after the 9.11 or at least, when making the 9.11 memorial, was the aftermath of 9.11 rather than putting more emphasis on what went wrong on countering terrorism and what they could have done maybe to prevent or try to predict the catastrophic crisis. All such photos taken from the scene, video tapes that showed the details about 9.11, quotes and sayings, objects and analysis, explination tried to direct the visitor to see how US could reconstruct from the ashes of 9.11, find hopes from the sadness, to finally, seeking victory from the tragedy.

Still, in spite of all such efforts, 9.11 was the result of the shortcoming of national security and defense. Although the government was working on counter terrorism, and 9.11 was quite unpredictable, the innocent lives of the nearly 3,000 victims of the disaster attributes to the lack of security ensurance in the government. The reason Osama bin laden, islamic fundamentalist forces triggered such a crisis was to drive away american influence - political and economical, societal - from the islamic territory.

Overall, the impression I got from the memorial was that I could really feel and appreciate the positive effort of the US people trying together, to overcome the hardship the tragedy brought, through hope, love, comfort and patriotism. How people reacted in response to this catastrophe really showed the admirable attitude and mature citizenship of Americans, and I found a lot could be learned of the aftermath dealing of the US government too. Still, after reading the quote on the wall of the 9.11 memorial "I love NY more than ever", one of the small questions that arose in my mind was, how the government could actually try to 'ask of' US citizens to love New York or US more than ever. Although in respect to the achievement of social integration, could a state demand patriotism from its people?

Adding to this story is what I once heard about, the prejudice many europeans have about US. That Americans are full of pride and patriotism to their country. You can really detect this once you walk around the streets in the US - obviously including the DC - and see that a lot of US flags are hung on the shops or buildings, even when it is not a national holiday or anything related. The national image of US seems very much branded even through the daily life stuffs, such as through cups, hats, bags or shirts.

What does 'patriotism' mean to Americans? How much importance does the social integrity have and the most desirable way in which it could be achieved in America, the melting pot of various cultures? The essay I wrote today might have turned out to be quite serious and contentious, but I believe answering these questions might point out one of the routes to an in-depth understanding about American culture and society, and the Americans.

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