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By recueroraquel.

During the fall semester I spent most of the time around my fellow exchange friends. We all lived in 1959 E St and that created such a great community that was like a bubble. I had dinner every single night at my apartment in the 7th floor or in the 5th where most of my friends lived, and each of us cooked one night. We went out together and we visited the city, traveled the country and even did our groceries together. It was a really nice time in which I felt like I had my own family here. However, when I came back from the winter break and most of them were gone I tried to force me to step out of my comfort zone and make more American friends. Now that my time here is so limited I’m trying to spend as much time as I can.

As every Friday or Sunday evening, we went to do our two-weeks groceries to Walmart
The guys of the 5th (Javier, Amine and Angus) being especially social
Still jet lagged, my ex-roommates and I went to Ikea and bought pretty much everything (believe it or no, that plant is still alive and looks wonderful)

On Friday I had dinner with some friends. Miren cooked Spanish croquetas and I made Spanish salmorejo. It was so good! I had to work 8am to 6pm on Saturday so I went straight to bed.

On Saturday night I went out with Steven, a friend from California I met in my last semester’s Human Trafficking class. Some of his friends where hosting a party in an apartment close to the campus. We went there and since the weather was so good we chatted and had some drinks in the yard. Later, we went to Shenanigan’s, an Irish pub in Adams Morgan which was so much fun.

Carmen, Steven, and me!

Then we went to the classic Johnny Pistolas, however we were a majority of Latinos and the music was not our favorite, so we decided to walk all the way to El Centro D.F. in 14th St. On the way some of my friends grabbed a jumbo slice, so the whole walk to the club including the pizza stop took sooooooo long. Finally, when we arrived we danced salsa and reggaeton until 3 AM, when the lights were turned on and we basically closed the place.

There are no words to describe what is like to walk 1.5 km like this

On Sunday, I went to the Georgetown campus with my friend Luca, because even though I’ve been in Georgetown many times, I never went to see the university (Georgetown recommendations). We walked around the streets of the neighborhood that were SO BEAUTIFUL with all the tulips and the petals everywhere. Finally, we went to a library that is at the beginning of the neighborhood (straight after the bridge and the Four Seasons hotel) that has the coolest books. We stayed for like an hour?!

I want to live here so bad

In the afternoon I went to see this soccer match in which some friends were playing. They scored 10 goals while the others scored just 2. Oops.

In the evening we played some music, cooked some couscous and had dinner while watching GAME OF THRONES (!!!!!) and making sure we were safe of any possible tornadoes. I was so scared I took a 4RIDE back home (hey, I’m sorry, there’s no tornado alerts where I’m from!)

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By anthonyscheergwu

My weeks are getting busier and busier because of a few factors. First, the end of the semester is near, therefore all my presentations, finals and papers are quickly approaching their due date and I have to keep up with all of them. Second, summer is coming and I since I got my flight back to Paris on the last day of my 30-day grace period, I have to plan my 30 day summer in the US. Unfortunately, prices of flights only get more expensive, therefore I have to book them as soon as possible but as I’m meeting up with a couple of friends, plans aren’t made easily and therefore it takes time planning. I wish I could do this after my exams but I can’t because I’m not a billionaire. Third, I’ve met great people during my exchange here and all the farewells are coming up and I want to go to all of them to see these people as much as possible. Fourth, I still have to eat, clean and work out (hoping to have my summer body ready by mid-may because I’m going to Miami). Fifth, DC is awesome and I’ve been visiting various places and the more I see the more I want to see, and therefore when I can I go tourist mode and visit the things I still haven’t seen in this amazing city. All those together have made me go crazy. So for this blog post I will talk about how a typical week used to be (I won’t talk about how they are currently because they mostly involved me working at Gelman and hearing the announcement that non GWU students must leave the library at 12:00).

Monday: Wake up at 11, clean my room till 11:30 to start off the week well organized. I eat a bowl of cereal and get ready for class. Go to class from 12:45 to 2:00. Walk from Elliot to Duques, and work on whatever homework needs my attention till 3:30. From 3:30 to 6:00 I have another class. After my class I stay an extra hour to work some more, and then go home. By 7:10 I’m home. I get changed into my gym clothes, I turn on the oven and put frozen chicken in it. From that moment, I have 1 hour and 15 minutes till my chicken is ready. I run to the gym, work out for an hour, and run back. I get back home and add vegetables on top of my chicken. I shower for 5 minutes and when I get out, my food is ready. By now its 8:45, I eat my food and chill with my roommates. I then cook my meal for lunch the next day, and go to bed by 10:30. I can’t sleep, and therefore this is usually when I complete non-school related task that need my attention (applying to jobs, speaking with friends and family). By 12 I’m asleep.

Tuesday: Wake up at 9:00, get ready for class. My class lasts from 9:35 to 11. I get back home at 11:10, eat cereal, and take a quick 30 minute nap. I wake up, go to the gym, get back home, and eat the lunch that I got ready the night before. By 2:00 I’m at Gelman, I work on whatever needs my attention till 6:00 pm. I go to my last class of the day from 6:10 to 8:40. I get out of class and go eat dinner. By 9:30 I’m back at the library and I work till 1:00 am. I get back home by 1:30 and I’m asleep by 2:00.

Wednesday: I wake up at 10, eat, work or complete chores that need my attention. I go to class from 12:30 to 2. After class I got to the library. Work till dinner, go eat at home, by 8:00pm I’m done with dinner. I take 30 minutes to rest and then I go to the gym. By 10:00pm I’m done with my work out and I’m in the shower. I try to get to bed by 12:00pm.

Thursday: Go to my 9:30 class and right after I go home, pack my bags and go on a trip, or relax and enjoy the start of the weekend in DC.

Thursday to Sunday: Enjoy my trip or hang around DC. Usually I didn’t have too much work because I completed most of it during the week, but if I did I would manage to make time during the weekend to work on what was needed.

Of course, all my weeks did not look exactly like that. I did stay in DC some weekends and enjoyed the great things this city has to offer. Some weeks, especially the few weeks after my mid-terms were very chill and I spent less time at the library. However, some weeks were so busy and I didn’t have time for anything else but work, and during those weeks the library would become my home (I don’t have a desk in my room so I always completed my work at the library). This was a very simplified version of what my typically week looked like, but the truth is they were never exactly like that because the various activities that happen around DC and at GWU kept me on my feet throughout the semester.

Although my exchange semester isn’t done, I would like to mention that I love it here and I really appreciate the energy people at GWU have because since January, I don’t think I’ve spent more than an hour being bored with nothing to do!

Now, for the next 20 days, if you would like to support me through my preparation for my finals and final assignments, a cupcake is always appreciated (I will be on the third floor of Gelman most of the time).

By anthonyscheergwu

Everyone has different reasons for traveling, for me, I usually travel for food. This is why I'm going to dedicate this post to American cuisine.

But before I would like to talk about this little promise I made to myself when I was about 10. Myanmar at that time had no internationally recognized fast food chains in the country and therefore, to eat McDonald's I would have to leave the country; and as a 10 year old, persuading your parents to leave the country for a burger usually had the same outcome as talking to a wall. Therefore at that age I promised myself that the minute I arrive in the US I would try as many American fast food chains as possible.

And so here it is my critic of the great American cuisine.

McDonalds:

Rating: 2.5/5

In France Mcdonald is simply delicious. You can see families going there to enjoy the good food and atmosphere. In America, Mcdonalds is not the same. It's super cheap compared to France but I realized why. The beef patties area super flat and dry, the bread seems stale and overall, even though America is the birthplace of the Big Mac, it’s probably the country that makes the worst one. I wouldn’t recommend Mcdonald's here unless it's 3 in the morning and you want to eat a 1 dollar McChicken which actually isn't so bad.

Chik-Fil-A:

Rating: 4.5/5

For years now, I’ve seen post about the chik-fil-a signature burger with just bread, pickles, chicken and sauce, and for years I kept thinking that a burger that simple can’t be that good. And well, I was right. Their signature burger is not special it has no remarkable flavor and I was disappointed and ready to give this chain a bad rating. But I give it another chance and ordered some different types of burgers and I must say those are delicious (royal spicy sandwich). Also, the fries dipped in the chik-fil-a sauce is probably the flavor I will miss the most when I leave the US, so yeah go to chik-fil-a, get fries and anything but their signature burger, and you won’t regret it.

Shake Shack

Rating: 4.5/5

Shake Shack has the best burger in terms of taste. The burger is a great mix of juicy and crispy, the cheese is completely melted and it just makes a super savory burger. The first couple of bites are delicious, but the burger is so packed and oily that by the end it’s too much and I never enjoy the last bites. All in all, it is definitely the best beef burger you can find compared to all the other fast food chains I’ve tasted.

Burger King:

Rating: 3.5/5

Good burger and fries, but nothing exceptionally different. Worth noting that you can get 10 chicken nuggets for 1 dollar.

Five Guys:

Rating: 4/5

Go-to fast food chain when I’m super hungry. The food is great and doesn’t feel too oily. I love that they let you personalize the burger to your liking with the extensive choice of toppings they offer.

In-n-out

Rating: 4/5

In-n-out just felt like a better and more old school version of McDonald's. I was expecting so much from this chain, and flew to the West coast to try it, but I was relatively disappointed. The whole meal was very basic, and because I was expecting something exceptional I was disappointed by my over-expectations. However I liked the short menu (it felt like the old school American experience) and taking prices into account, In-n-out definitely has the best price to quality ratio.

Dominos

Rating: 3/5

The type of pizza you eat with ketchup.

Other worthy mentions:

KFC: 3/5

Arby’s: 3.5/5

Jack in the box: 3.5/5

Taco Bell: 2/5

I wanted to keep going and trying more of these chains, but I’m officially not a fan of fast food anymore. I find myself craving food from Roti more than any of the chains mention above nowadays, so I’m happy that I did this experiment because I am now sick of fast food.

*I know there is more to American food than Fast Food, but for this post I wanted to focus on these chains because America is where they were all created.

By recueroraquel.

Last Wednesday I went to New Orleans with my friend Miren. It took me just a few hours to realize NEW ORLEANS IS MY FAVORITE CITY IN THE US SO FAR! I’m so glad I had the chance to visit it before leaving in May.

So we took the MARC Train to Baltimore around 2 pm, getting to the airport at 3. Our flight departed at 4:30, and we landed in New Orleans around 6:30 pm. We got into our hostel at 8, straight after taking the StreetCar, a really old but cozy tram.

First impressions

We were staying in a hostel, called India House that was supposed to be 10 minutes far from the French Quarter (the old city downtown). However, 10 minutes were more like 25. The place was pretty weird, and the nicest guest was probably this obese cat.

The first thing we did was getting some seafood, poboys and walk around the famous Bourbon Street. I had so many oysters (Miren feels pretty disgusted by them, so even more for me!) and seafood and crab poboys, that are basically sandwiches with real bread. It was so good I wish I wasn’t so full to keep trying everything.

Happiness at its finest

Then, we went out and we were surprised about all the people drinking in the street. Apparently, New Orleans is the only city in the United States were public consumption of alcohol is allowed, to the point you can even order a drink and bring it to another bar. Also, it’s so warm and humid that most bars are completely open while there’s live music being played inside, so many people just walks around Bourbon street drinking, to the point that there is more people in street that inside of the bars. We had a grenade, one of the typical NOLA drinks, while many people in the balconies threw the classic Mardi Gras necklaces to the pedestrians.

So touristy

The morning after we were planning to take a free walking tour around the French Quarter and the Mississippi River. However, we woke up at 7am because of the noise of a thunderstorm. It was raining as I never saw before and we kept hearing the sirens of the firefighters driving back and forth. Of course, the tour was cancelled, but we were encouraged to sign in for the one at 2:45 pm, and so we did, being hopeful. We went downtown to have breakfast Cafe du Monde, probably the oldest cafe in New Orleans, famous for its cafe au lait (people started having it because of war rationing) and beignets (like doughnuts, but way better). During breakfast the tour was again cancelled because of the storm, so we decided to go to the National WWII Museum, the 3rd most visited museum in the US!

One of the buildings was a recreation of the route of the Ally troops freed Paris and then Berlin

During the evening we went to have some more amazing food and listen to live jazz. We explored some Voodoo shops, where we found information about the religious tradition and its origin and we finally went home hoping the weather would get better the day after.

The weather didn’t really improve, but the show must go on! So we went on the walking tour (after 20 minutes Miren’s shoes were already flooded) and when we got to the Mississippi river I was so amazed by it! Then we went to a “Hot sauce shop” were we tried even one we had to sign a waiver for, and of course we ended crying and spitting all over the place. Disgusting. We also visited the Garden District, famous for its colonial architecture, and we finished our night taking a really funny tour about ghosts and vampires in New Orleans in which even the tour guide was having a drink! We had dinner and Frenchman Street, where the locals go out. The weather was finally good, so we were able to put our raincoats and umbrella in our bags and party like we didn’t have to catch a flight the morning after!

By anthonyscheergwu

March and February were very busy months; with all the traveling in addition to classes and homework, I realized that so far I had visited more of the US outside DC than DC (I’ve visited more things in LA then I did in DC). In DC I have become very familiar with GWU’s Gelman Library and the rooms on the ground floor of Marvin that offer the most undisturbed and quiet study sessions ever. But outside of that I hadn’t seen much of DC.

Therefore I decided to spend the whole month of April in DC and visit this beautiful city — and what better time to start than at the beginning of the cherry blossom festival?

I started my discovery of DC by doing something people here talk about every day — “brunch.” In my 2 years in Paris, I don’t think I’ve been to a single brunch. I did hear people talk about it, but it wasn’t as big. In DC it's probably the thing people talk about the most after politics.

I heard great things about Agora so I went there with my cousin who was in town. We were quite hungry and decided to go for the unlimited option of the brunch. The food was great, the restaurant was full and lively and yet the service was efficient and fast. I won’t talk about it too much, but I did take pictures of everything him and I were able to eat and so I’ll let those do the talking:

*As I said we were quite hungry!

We then went to the Washington Monument for the kite festival. The weather was great, and therefore everyone looked much more happy. There were tons of kites and people running around in attempt to untangle their kites. The atmosphere was great and it was truly appealing to see the sky full of colorful kites flying around.

At the end of the festival I decided to walk around the Tidal Basin to see in real life all the picture I have been seeing online of the cherry blossoms covering the shores of the water. The blend of pink, white and blue with the Jefferson on the other side was a great view. Taking a picture was a bit complicated because the path around the basin was stacked with people but I did manage to get a few pictures of the landscape and myself.

During this walk, I saw the Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Both of these places were impressive and rich in history. I eventually found myself following a Park Ranger who was talking about the history of DC, which helped me learn a lot about the history of this place.

On Sunday, I went to Union Market where throughout my time there, I kept asking myself why I hadn’t come before. The variety of food there was amazing (there was even a Burmese inspired restaurant). I ate oysters, a few Burmese dishes, and got ice-cream. I got full pretty fast that day which annoyed me cause I wanted to keep eating, but that just means I will go back there soon. Definitely recommend going here if you're ever in DC and hungry.

To continue my exploration of DC, throughout the coming week I will be going to different museums I’ve heard great things about!

By recueroraquel.

Just kidding. It lasted a day. But that day was Saturday, I didn’t work and I had the chance to go both to the Kite Festival and the Cherry Blossoms around the mall and the Jefferson Memorial. I went with my friend Miren and we spent the morning going around families and kids playing with
their kites. We tried to go make one ourselves but the line was infinite. Then we went around the Martin Luther King Memorial to take the same pictures that flooded Instagram that same night. It was a really nice walk, however it was pretty crowded.

Miren giving me her best influencer face.
In my head I was like “Is that kite abandoned? Shit. No.”
There was a line to take this picture.

I went home for lunch and then I realized I didn’t want to study at all, so I texted my friend Luca to have a picnic in the mall, since he had already invited me to have dinner and grab some drinks later with Conor, his roommate, best friend, and definitely, my favorite American so far. We brought some drinks, prosciutto and bread, cookies and we played Uno and pet a dog that was around until it got dark. The weather was so nice I didn’t want to leave at all! After dinner and another Uno battle that of course I won we went to Johnny Pistolas (I know GWU students love it, but still, I need Latino music!) After a few gintonics and pretty much done for the day we walked all the way home enjoying the good weather that of course, didn’t last. Anyways, I'm heading to NOLA today! I'll keep you updated!

“Why on f*****g Earth I'm playing this stupid game?”
The most beautiful sunset in DC ever.

By anthonyscheergwu

As I was in my bed Friday recovering from my Spring Break, I realized that the closest ski resort  was closing, and that the last skiable day was tomorrow (Saturday). I therefore got a ticket to spend the day on the slopes snowboarding. 

I booked my snowboarding day through a company called Sourced Adventures. I definitely recommend checking out their website and booking a trip with them because they have great customer service and are super organized. They have partnerships with companies around the area and as a result, offer very competitive prices.

I booked the day trip at whitetail resort and I absolutely loved it! My day started at 6:00 am since I had to be at their bus stop by 6:45 am. The bus was comfortable and I personally slept the whole way so it seemed very fast. By 9:15 am I was already sliding down my first slope (checking out my snowboard and receiving my lift pass took less than 15 minutes, and there was absolutely no hassle, everything was taken care of by Sourced Adventures).

So the first observation I had was that ski resorts are very different in France than in America (of course this doesn’t apply to every single one of them). To begin in France you can only go skiing in the mountains where there is natural snowfall. In America there are many small snow resorts around the area which are maintained by artificial snow which makes skiing much more accessible. Although this is great, it made snowboarding at Whitetail more challenging. The snow was much harder and therefore I was more careful in attempting tricks here than I was in France. The falls I had here hurt me much more than the ones I remembered in France last year.

Whitetail has 25 trails, of which the longest one was 1494 meters (4,900 feet) which meant that I usually completed most trails in about 5 to 8 minutes. It sounds fast but I actually liked this because it gave me time to rest on the chair lifts as I got back up. I was lucky because there weren’t too many people that day and therefore I never spent more than 10 seconds waiting for a seat on the chair lifts.

The snow-park was full of obstacles and had jumps for every level, therefore if you are a beginner or not you’ll have fun here. The runs had a great range too which was great because I started on the easy ones as I felt rusty at first, but then I got used to it again and moved to the harder ones and didn’t get bored throughout the day.

Since the bus left the resort to head back to DC at 4:30 I kept thinking that I should not eat and enjoy the slopes as much as I can because I only had 7 hours. By 1:00 pm I was exhausted and therefore took a half an hour break to eat. The food there wasn’t too bad but was pretty expensive. I got two hot dogs for 10 dollars and they really weren’t that good. But I was so hungry that it made it worth it. By 1:30 I was back on the slopes and by 4:00 I was drained out of energy and was all bruised up which meant that it was a great snowboarding day (if you don’t have one or two bruises after a day of snowboarding, you’re either a professional or you didn’t attempt anything new).

I slept through the ride back and by 8:00 pm I was in bed and I actually fell asleep before 9:00 pm for the first time in a few years. I definitely recommend doing a skiing or snowboarding trip with Sourced Adventures when the season starts again, I enjoyed every minute of mine and the only regret I had was not booking a trip with them sooner because I would have loved to go back there at least once or twice!

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