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By gwblogabroad

Nineteen years old… I thought reaching that age would make me an adult. Actually, I thought being eighteen would magically transform the little girl that I thought I was into the responsible and independent woman that I have always aspired to be. Well, it didn’t. These are just numbers; numbers that help us cope with the harsh reality we live in. We think we want to become independent and stop relying on our parents. The truth is nobody wants to have such heavy responsibilities as our parents’. At least, I know I don’t, not right now. My name is Salma, I am nineteen and I cried like a baby when I realized I was all alone in the United States of America.

I am an exchange student coming from Morocco. I know what I’m about to say might sound cliché but it really is a beautiful country that deserves to be visited. Anyway, one of the nice characteristics of Morocco is that everybody cares about each other. There are no such things as special houses for elderly people because Moroccans care too much about their parents to put them in houses where they won’t be able to see them every day. Also, there is no such rule as “leaving the house as soon as we turn eighteen” because parents could not possibly get through life without seeing their children every single day. So, I hope that you understand now why coming to George Washington University was both the best decision I took so far, but also the most heartbreaking one.

The main reason that drove me to make that decision was the chance to meet new people from so many different places. This is still the main reason why I am not depressed right now. I am sitting in this big empty room (where I can’t even manage to turn the heat on!) and the only thing that keeps me from bursting into tears is the hope of seeing this place full of people. I don’t mind whether they are happy or sad, angry or joyful. All I want is to feel that I am not alone, and I think I came to the right place for this. However, since I am a very sociable person, it is hard for me, right now, to look at my situation from a different perspective, a more cheerful angle. I knew the first days would be hard, so I like thinking that I was prepared enough for this. The truth is, you can never expect how great and hard this experience is at the same time. I am afraid, I admit it, but only because this is all new to me and not because I regret coming here. I would make that same decision over and over again despite my fear because I know it will disappear soon enough.

My name is Salma, I am nineteen and I am done crying! Of course I miss my family and friends. So what? I mean, it’s not like crying is going to make me see them any time sooner. I want to enjoy every single moment of my time here. I know nothing here so of course the unknown is scary, but I hope it soon won’t be unknown anymore. Actually, I went by myself today to buy different things from various stores. So, I can proudly say that today, everything seems less unknown and scary than yesterday. I managed to keep a composed face when I got lost even if deep inside I was totally panicked. Can you see how this amazing experience is already performing miracles on the usually impatient person that I am? Anyway, I want to visit the city, the country… everything. I want to share new experiences with new friends with whom I won’t lose contact when I come back to Morocco. I want to keep speaking English until it becomes as fluent as my Arabic or French. I want to learn new languages, new habits and discover new cultures to better understand them. I want to become this independent and strong woman that I have always aspired to be, and I think coming to GWU is a great first step towards achieving this goal.

By gwblogabroad

I know what you’re thinking; “who does this guy think he is, doesn’t he know blogs are like sooo 2008?” But here’s a truth bomb for you, I’m bringing it back. All the cool kids are doing it, it’s literally all the rage. All of it. As with any autobiographic literature, however, it is proper to start with an introduction of the author, so here’s first order of business.

I’m Arnþór, but if you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around those letters feel free to call me Thor. I am 21 years old, Icelandic and bearded. I study Industrial Engineering at my home institution, the University of Iceland and I am incredibly lucky to be able to study abroad for the full academic year at GWU.

I’m writing this sitting next to a fireplace in a wooden hut in the Colorado Mountains where I’m on a weeklong skiing trip with a friend from Iceland, who incidentally is studying abroad in San Diego. This, really, is a great example of why I chose to study abroad. I think most of us foreign exchange students basically share the same philosophy on life in this regard. We’re not here for the classroom but rather the adventure of it all. Being able to meet new people and make new friends, visit exciting places and experience new adventures as often as we can. I routinely encourage all of my friends to do this because now, for most of us, is the perfect time and age to experience something like this.

Back to business; I was born in Iceland but moved within a few months to Denmark where I spent the first 10 years of my life (if any of you speak Danish, feel free to say “hej, hvordan går det?”, I need the practice). I love movies, music, photography and a whole host of other totally cool stuff. I also love astronomy, physics and anything with Sir David Attenborough in it. Also, if someone made a movie about my life I would like Philip Seymour Hoffman to play me, although we’d have to implement a plot-twist of epic proportions to explain the age difference.

For the sake of introduction I should also note that I’m an Atheist, bisexual and politically nonchalant although strongly opinionated. Basically I’m the opposite of the stereotypical foreign image of Americans. I am incredibly stubborn and highly reluctant to admit defeat or worst of all; that I’m wrong. That being said, I do really enjoy debating heated topics so by all means engage in conversation with me if you meet me at a party or whatnot.

Describing someone adequately in 500 words is somewhat of a challenge, so naturally I’m leaving a lot out. If anyone reading this would like to know more feel free to say hi, making new friends is always fun. If you could use someone to join to go see a movie, a concert or pretty much anything fun, I’m most likely your man.

Queue slow strings while I wave goodbye in ultra-widescreen B&W slow motion, fading to black, my figure disappearing into the distance.

FIN.

By gwblogabroad

If someone asked me to introduce myself five months ago I would have said that I was a young socialist and aspiring journalist. After spending a certain amount of time in the United States, I would add that I am French. As a matter of fact, more than making me American, moving to Washington DC made me French. It is really hard to admit for someone like me who was scandalized by our President’s debate on French identity and who claimed to be a citizen of the world. Yet, last November, after spending around three months at GW, I started to miss French brioche and baguette and I still couldn’t understand why Americans were against universal health care.

To make it simple:

I am a socialist, which means that I support the Occupy movement, I am progressive, I read Marx and grew up in a city that used to be communist. I don’t know the French anthem but I know the Internationale by heart.

I want to be a journalist, which means that I always carry my camera with me, that I am writing all the time and that I have a photo of Bob Woodward above my desk at home.

I live in City Hall, which means that I can certify that it looks like the hotel in The Shining and that I have been locked out my room several times since the beginning of the year. I am also the one who plays ukulele at 2:00 AM (sorry).

I am French, which means that I complain all the time (about food, about advertising, about drivers…), that I always blame others when I make a mistake, that I love sarcasm and that I already knew who Marion Cotillard was ten years ago. Yet, I don’t drink wine and I don’t like cheese, which doesn’t mean that I was adopted.

I am European… which means that I am soon going to be in serious financial difficulties.

Otherwise there is really not much to say except that I am not a good cook, nor a good musician, nor an athlete…

And that I will be blogging about all this during spring semester.

By gwblogabroad

Welcome to our blog that we've created to share the experiences of some of our inbound exchange students. This blog has that fresh new blog smell. As we move forward with this new venture, we hope to share more from our bloggers about the trials and tribulations of being an exchange student at GW.

Though this blog is administered by the Office for Study Abroad, the submissions are entirely of the authors own work and opinions.

Stay tuned for more Postcards from DC!

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