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Too soon to say goodbye – Reflecting on my semester abroad

By: Muzna Hatmi

Brace yourselves, because this post is about to get a little emotional (as I can’t think of happy times without filling myself up with a whole lot of nostalgia, duh). Ok so, here I take a deep breath. I don’t know where to begin.

It only feels like yesterday that I got here, after what seemed like forever (yes, months of planning, working, applying, accepting, and not to forget the 24 hours of travelling). After all that, it’s almost uncomfortable to think that there is only less than a month left of my time at GW. And I’m probably not ready for this to end so soon.

I don’t know when blazing hot summers days turned into winter cold evenings, and when Peet’s iced latte’s turned into peppermint hot mochas (extra hot, please). It’s funny to think that American students I have met here dream of going to Europe for their semester abroad, whereas I, a European student, dreamt all this time to come to the US – to Washington DC. And I’m so lucky to have had that experience. I have to say, I worked hard for it, which is why I wanted to make sure to enjoy each moment.

As I have said before, I’m originally a Pakistani citizen studying in the Netherlands, and so obviously, Urdu and English being my first and second languages, Dutch posed to be an automatic barrier when I first moved abroad for university. And it’s safe to say that some of that still exists. So, when I came here, I felt thrilled that everyone around me spoke English and every website ever didn’t require me to fight my computer for the translation widget to literally do its job (study abroad 101). I’ll probably miss everyone understanding everything I ever said without asking me to wait while they got someone else who knew the word “drain opener,” only that they didn’t know and handed me dishwashing soap instead (student sharing problems 101). Trader Joe’s didn’t play me like that. Also, while we’re speaking of the best grocery store in the world, let’s take a moment to appreciate Trader Joe’s dried mangoes. And also thank America for flaming hot Cheetos; which I have totally not stocked up on to take back home (I should probably do a post on my favorite American junk food because that list is worthwhile, trust me).

Oh America, how I love you. As I’m writing this on a road trip to Chicago, passing by Pennsylvania, glaring at fall trees around me; red, yellow, orange, I’m thinking of the opportunities this place has given me. Studying and courses have been somewhat of a challenge because of differences in education systems, but I have truly learnt from a diversity of professors, students, and teaching styles. DC as a city and GW prides itself for its diverseness, which I admire so much as an international student. From offering prayer rooms on the 4thfloor in Marvin Centre, to hosting thanksgiving dinners in dorms of our orientation-week leaders, I have always felt incredibly welcomed and right at home. Not to forget the incredible shopping and black Friday sales for my shopaholic soul, also the perfect time to buy presents for friends, family and let’s not forget yourself – so that you can tell them you got something for them from the greatest cities in the world, Washington DC.

 

To be continued…

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