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By amrawi

Every time I sit down to write my final goodbye I just can’t seem to get myself past the first few words, before I find tears rolling down the side of my face. I guess because once this post is published, it will officially be the end of my exchange experience. The end of the most amazing five months of my life. The end of late night pizza delivery, and the end of midnight monument tours. Simply the end of GWU.

I know that my Gworld card will be deactivated and I will no longer be a resident of Philip Amsterdam hall, but the memories and friends I made here will forever be part of me.

From the Italian pasta party to the Korean birthday parties, to the amazing Latino music; we became a family. Never will I forget the feeling of sitting in a room hearing over 7 different languages at the same time and learning about everyone’s different cultures.

These 80 students have not just been friends but more of a family to me. We learned to face culture shock together, to accept everyone’s differences and by the end of the semester we had shared secrets, laughs, and tears. We become a family.

Going back home no matter what stories I share or what pictures I show to my friends and family, nobody will understand or know what I went through expect for my new family. We shared it together, went through it together, and now we only have pictures, blogs and our memories to remember those great days. I am certain though that we will meet up again, because as I said they are not just friends, but a second family.

While the experience may be over for most exchange student as they pack their bags and journey throughout the US or head back home, they have all said their goodbyes. However as for me I am traveling to Florida with a few exchange students and I’m back to DC for a whole new challenge. I managed to land an internship with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and will be staying in DC till end of June. Not able to stay in Foggy Bottom without my exchange students, I have decided to move out of the dorms and stay in Tennlytown.

A whole new challenge, an experience I’m ready for, I’m ready to enter the real world. Goodbye GWU, thanks for having us I will still be around, but this time call me a GWU Alumni.

By amrawi

Every time I sit down to write my final goodbye I just can’t seem to get myself past the first few words, before I find tears rolling down the side of my face. I guess because once this post is published, it will officially be the end of my exchange experience. The end of the most amazing five months of my life. The end of late night pizza delivery, and the end of midnight monument tours. Simply the end of GWU.

Kogan Plaza
Kogan Plaza

I know that my GWorld card will be deactivated and I will no longer be a resident of Philip Amsterdam Hall, but the memories and friends I made here will forever be part of me.

From the Italian pasta party to the Korean birthday parties, to the amazing Latino music; we became a family. Never will I forget the feeling of sitting in a room hearing over 7 different languages at the same time and learning about everyone’s different cultures.

These 80 students have not just been friends but more of a family to me. We learned to face culture shock together, to accept everyone’s differences and by the end of the semester we had shared secrets, laughs, and tears. We become a family.

Going back home no matter what stories I share or what pictures I show to my friends and family, nobody will understand or know what I went through expect for my new family. We shared it together, went through it together, and now we only have pictures, blogs and our memories to remember those great days. I am certain though that we will meet up again, because as I said they are not just friends, but a second family.

While the experience may be over for most exchange student as they pack their bags and journey throughout the US or head back home, they have all said their goodbyes. However as for me I am traveling to Florida with a few exchange students and I’m back to DC for a whole new challenge. I managed to land an internship with the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and will be staying in DC till end of June. Not able to stay in Foggy Bottom without my exchange students, I have decided to move out of the dorms and stay in Tenlytown.

A whole new challenge, an experience I’m ready for, I’m ready to enter the real world. Goodbye GWU, thanks for having us I will still be around, but this time call me a GWU Alumni.

 

As I’m laying on my bed with a severe fever, I’m desperately trying to find the capital gains and the present value of “Smith’s vehicle workshop”. You know it not a good day when you’re trying to study for a comprehensive finance final and French final scheduled for tomorrow, all with a fever and a mind wandering off. I’m not thinking about Mr. Smith’s vehicle workshop, or how to conjugate the verb “aller” in French, all I can do is sit around and wander how time passed so fast. Was last Wednesday really my last day of classes? Do I really have less than a week before I have to say my last goodbyes to the people I now call my family?

I promised myself that I wouldn’t make this a sad post, as this is definitely not my last one but, it really is a bittersweet feeling. Instead I’m going to push back tears and move away these thoughts, and begin by telling you about my first concert experience.

Living in Egypt, and especially after the January 25th revolution, not many celebrities would pick Egypt as part of their world tour. So unfortunately the idea of singing your lungs out and seeing your favorite celebrity live, is something extremely new for us. That is why the crowd sure did hear my voice, and must have been annoyed, at the sound of a tone-deaf, Egyptian girl singing her lungs out to Rihanna’s new hits. So if you missed Rhianna, as she rocked the stage at the Verizon Center last Monday, don’t feel too bad.

rhianna

But seriously can you blame me? A girl who has never been to a concert before and who has all of Rhianna’s songs memorized; can she really keep calm at her favorite singers concert? It was clearly impossible. I really had such a blast, as I was able to dance the night away and celebrate the last day of classes with other exchange students; Julie from Argentina, Rhiannon from Australia, and Dina from Egypt. Definitely, a night to remember.

girlsatconcert
Dina, Rhiannon, Julie, and Hanna

Apart from a crazy concert, my rest of the week consisted of work, work, and work, and as an exchange group we managed to squeeze in a dinner at Sequoia. Sequoia is a fancy restaurant that overlooks the Washington Harbor. With a reservation of 20, it was a nice dinner where we had a chance to reminisce about some of our hilarious memories. However, our dinner abruptly ended when we all realized we had to go back and study for finals.

            Exams week almost here, and I can’t even get myself around the fact that this exchange is almost over.

By amrawi

tech

 

You know that feeling when you are in Foggy Bottom and you assume that every student walking around is a Colonial? Or that every person wearing a sweatshirt is supporting our bluff and blue colors? Well that was exactly what it felt like being in Blacksburg, Virginia. Except that the entire town of Blacksburg was the size of our very own Foggy Bottom, and Georgetown, Adams Morgan, and DuPont circle where all covered with forest green trees and the woods.

Literally Blacksburg, Virginia is made up of Virginia Tech University and one main street with restaurant, and that’s it. I never believed my Hokie friends (Virginia Tech students) when they said that their whole town is literally the size of Foggy Bottom. So I decide to leave Foggy Bottom and head to Blacksburg Virginia, to prove them wrong.

I knew they were right, the minute I hopped off of  Megabus, in Christiansburg, Virginia. It was nothing like Union Station, or Grand Central Station, or even Newark Station. All I could see around me was the color green and a few small houses. That’s when I knew, that maybe they were right.

Having not seen my Egyptian friends for over a year, I was extremely excited as they pulled up in the middle of this green scenic view and we were ready to spend exactly 36 hours before I would have to head back to DC. VT

First off we took a tour of the campus, with purple and orange stripes everywhere (school colors). They had a very big bookstore that literally had everything from VT water bottles to VT tents; anything you wanted could be found her except with a VT logo on it.

I must say the campus was absolutely beautiful, it was very scenic and felt like an actual college, it was extremely different then GWU open campus.

After a walk down the main street (which was also covered in VT pride products), there really was not much do then to eat and then get ready for an 18+ lounge; Oz. Now the fun thing about Oz, is that you can be guaranteed that everyone there is a VT student. There is no other university in the area, and as I was often told in those 36 hours “ Are you crazy to leave DC and come here?"

hannahwaterfall

Heading back home, we needed a good night sleep before we would have to wake up at 9am to hike up to “cascades”, one of the famous waterfalls in Virginia. This 60 feet waterfall, which crashes down on a two hundred foot cliff, is absolutely breathtaking.  There were two different routes to take, the challenging lower one and the scenic down hill one; we of course picked the easy trail. It was a one-hour hike upwards but it was totally worth it once you reached the beautiful falls as they crashed down on the rocks.

After a whole lot of pictures and a week’s worth of workout, we were ready to head back for a nice lunch. Olive Garden, you are officially my favorite restaurant in America. With endless salad and amazing garlic bread, there really is no place I have been to that beats this awesome restaurant. Absolutely loved it. After our stomachs were completely satisfied we decided to have an Egyptian night with some cards and hookah and some Arab music out in the patio. It really did feel like home. hiking

However this feeling was soon interrupted when the next-door neighbors informed us that they were having a neon party; so we quickly changed and headed over there. With neon colors, and my white shorts shinning in the dark, it really was a fun night.

36 hours completed; 5 hours later we were at the nations capital. Even though Blacksburg was very small, I really loved the feeling that everyone around was a VT student and that everywhere you go it was filled with students and the university colors. However because I love to go out and explore; being in the city is definitely more ideal for me.

I liked you Virginia, but I would never give up DC for you.

Shahd_Hanna

By amrawi

So clearly I was fooled yet again. Spring fling surely did not mean that spring was here in my book 10 degrees Celsius, or as Americans refer to it as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, is clearly not spring. Wearing a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie and pants, doesn’t seem like spring, am I right? I’m sorry spring fling u failed to bring spring to the DC district. I should have known that instead of signing up for spring semester abroad, I must have in fact signed up for winter semester abroad.

You see, this my be warm for most people in the east cost but coming from the coastal city of Alexandria Egypt, this is nowhere as warm as the month of April should be. Back home its almost 86 degrees Fahrenheit, now that’s seems more like spring to me!

Even though the uneven weather had me trading in my knee length floral dress and flip flops for a sweatshirt and boots, I still managed to get out and finish crossing some items off my bucket list. Paddling on the Tidal basin was definitely one of those things that I had to do before departing back home. With an orange life jacket wrapped around me; paddle boat turned out to be more of an adventure than a simple stroll on the lake.
rowboat

“Okay mam’am, this is a special edition for you, right, left and back,” said the man, as he noticed the blank stare on my face when he handed me a whistle and told us to go.

Once you get the hang of the steering wheel placed in the middle of the blue and white paddleboat; it all begins to feel right. Circling around the tidal basin and capturing what is most likely the last photographs of the disappearing cherry blossoms; did turn out to be a good Saturday afternoon. However once you step out of the paddleboat, that’s when you begin to realize how much of a workout that really is, one hour on a paddleboat sure does equal a day at the gym.

Longing for some Egyptian food, I was finally satisfied when I went to Zakerayat a Middle Eastern restaurant, lounge. There I finally had some Egyptian shawamra as well as some of my favorite Middle Eastern salads “fattoush” and “tabouleh”. Just like the area’s name, it really felt like I was in Alexandria, except this time Alexandria was a lot colder, and it was in Virgina!

salad

Maybe this time I will be heading to southern Virginia! Anybody know if the weather is better over there?

By amrawi

When you think of Americans, what is the one sport that crosses your mind? Let me give you a hint: there is a bat involved in the game. Its no other sport than baseball, and I can gladly say that my weekend was filled with baseball ,baseball, and baseball!

Nationals Stadium
Nationals Stadium

Last Thursday, the study abroad office took the exchange students, to what was many of our first, baseball game. With our red, blue and white shirts on; over 30 exchange students were ready to cheer on the Washington Nationals. I cannot begin to explain how cold it was up in the 10-dollar row. So with a few shivers and a sad face, we managed to squeeze ourselves into the front row.

While most people around us could clearly tell we were not Americans, we still knew exactly what was going on with the game. That is because about 7 of us are members of the intramural baseball team in GWU called “ Sons of Pitches”. With Ashleigh, our former orientation leader, as our captain we had many practices and drills, so at least we knew the basic rules of the game.

Softball

 

Following the Nationals defeat, we also lost both of our matches at GWU, but it was still such an awesome experience. As exchange students we got to meet and play with other GWU students, which we wouldn’t have normally met. Not many people can say I played on a baseball team in GWU right across the Lincoln Memorial! I bet my friends back home will be jealous!

 

 

Taking off our knee long socks and our blue team shirt, we were ready for the Indian color festival called “ Holi on the Quad”. This festival is used to signal the beginning of spring. What do u get when you mix college students with colorful powder and then top it off with water balloons? Yes, absolute chaos! It really was but it was totally worth the spoiled clothes!

An awesome weekend, and now a week full of work ahead of me!

 

Holi at GW
Holi at GW

By amrawi

Remember those days when glow sticks and temporary tattoos were so cool?Hanna and Dina How about when the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys dominated your MP3 player? Well this weekend was definitely a blast from the past, when an Amsterdam dorm room was quickly transformed into a 90s themed party!

With a jean jacket on and a ponytail tied to the side, I was ready for a flashback to the good all days. Posters of “Full House” pinned to the wall, and Spice Girls music in the background; it sure did feel like I was doing a semester back in the 90's. It was such a great feeling dancing the night away to some of the 90's best hits with your new exchange family! With a Hula Hoop competition and lime punch and a tattoo booth; it definitely did make me feel like I was back in my childhood! I believe my 10-year-old self would have never predicted that I would be here in DC 10 years later.

Mackelmore StageAdding on to our Friday night groove, we had a one-day resting period before we would have to recharge our energy for the annual Spring Fling festival at GWU. This year however, a special guest was to take the stage, at the universities U-Yard. “ Same love”, “Thrift shop”, does “Ceiling Can't Hold Us” ring a bell? Well for me, I had no idea what people were talking about.  I was just hoping that by Spring Fling, it would mean that the weather would be warm!

“Dude Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis! You don’t know them?” questioned Christian, a GWU student. I had a blank stare on my face until he proceeded to sing “ I’m gonna pop some tags, I got $20 dollars”. That’s when I started getting excited! Mackelmoredude

The festival started at 2pm and with a long line of people waiting to get free food and giveaways it took us a while to get in. However the line was totally worthwhile; when we were given free Domino's pizza and free red Spring fling t-shirts that had “Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis” names imprinted on the back. With the sun shining bright, I was just happy sitting on the grass and soaking up the sun! Then at around 6pm “Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis” decided to take the stage, that’s when the GWU students went crazy! Even though I only knew one song! It was totally worth it!

With such a hectic weekend of grooving and dancing, I believe the next few days will be filled with work and relaxations.

Macklemore

By amrawi

If there is one word that describes my weekend, its definitely reunion! With my pink polka dot bag wrapped around my shoulders and my pre-paid bus tickets in hand, I was ready for a road trip down memory lane; first stop Newark Penn Station, New Jersey.Coffee Counter

My 14-year-old self  (with my pigtails in place and my obsession for Hillary Duff growing at an unexceptional rate) would have never imagined returning to New Jersey six years later. Memories started flashing by as my childhood best friend Shereen, came beeping by! “We are going to the luncheonette” she called out (The luncheonette: is their family restaurant). Walking in I was greeted by my second family; the Elkhazendar family. Everything seemed and felt the exact same way, except from the fact that  we were no longer kids spinning around on the chairs on the counter or collecting stickers from the booth. We were in fact adults ready to graduate from college.

After meeting up with the family and having some of the Luncheonettes specialty Greek wrap we headed for some adventure.  Shereen wasn’t my only childhood best friend I was reuniting with; next comes Yaseen, flying all the way from Louisiana for a reunion on the east coast. With the three of us back together it just felt so different, memories of Egypt and our high school came flashing by, again wake up call, we have all grown up and we have all moved on with our separate lives. After way too much talking and catching up we decide to head over to the Melting Pot. On our way there we saw the most beautiful view of the New York skyline, we couldn’t help ourselves and had to stop over for some pictures.

mekltingpotcheeseI bet you have had chocolate fondue! But have you ever had cheese fondue? How about meat fondue? I really have never been to a place like the Melting Pot! I took way to many pictures and was way too excited that the staff gave me a balloon with chocolates so that I would calm down. But can you blame me? This awesome feast started off with a spinach and cheese fondue, where you can dip biscuits and different bread assortments in it. Then came a fine cut salad, Caesar or house, your choice, followed by a few pieces of raw meat, chicken and shrimp. No its not sushi, you get to cook it in the fondue in front of you. After battering your meat and shrimp with various dips you are now ready for the chocolate fondue. Correction, Oreo cookie, double chocolate fondue, it was hMeltingPoteaven. With our stomachs satisfied and an update on each other’s lives, we were satisfied.

Next Stop; Penn Station. New York City. I never knew New Jersey was that close to New York until I took a 10-minute NJ transit train that takes you directly to Penn Station, New York. There I took 5 subway stops and voila I was waiting outside one of the top schools in the country, Columbia University, for my friend, tennis champion, Nada to come out! Making too many noises and squeals as the excitement kicked in of finally reuniting, we put down my pink polka dot bag and rushed to catch up while indulging in some frozen yogurt (Have you ever heard of green apple flavored frozen yogurt? Got to try it!) After our yogurt and some catching up we were ready to explore the city! Times Square you never fail to amaze me. No matter how many times I have walked around this world-renowned area I always find something new! My heart really is in New York!. After walking down times square and again taking a whole lot of pictures, we made it to 5th avenue just in time for the Easter parade!Rabbit Bunnies passing by and women dressed in Easter bonnets and funky seasonal outfits; we soon added about 100 more pictures to our reunion album. However, our day was definitely not over yet, you can’t come to New York City and not go to a Broadway show, Mamma Mia was definitely on the list.  With most of the songs memorized, you bet Nada and me were singing our lungs out to Abba’s top hits! It was such a spectacular show, that we were thinking of going again, but then realized we would just be plain stupid and plus we were extremely hungry so we decided to go for dinner at Mel’s burger, definitely a good choice! I must say the burgers there beat GWU's very own BTS. Tough competition though!

Even though it was two very hectic days it was great meeting up with some of my favorite people! With some recharged energy and some time away from DC, I’m now ready for  this weeks study mode!Easter

By amrawi

21 and Under

“Dude your going to be 20 when you’re DC”, “You will be so bored! You will have nothing to do”, were some of the phrases my friends back home where telling me when they found out I was going on exchange to DC!  20 and I’m loving DC; I have decided to devise a list of fun things that other under 21 people can do.

1) Comet Ping Pong: Haven’t been there yet, simply because every time I go its packed! You may think it’s your ordinary pizza place, but once you step inside you realize that your “ordinary” pizza comes to you on top of a ping pong table! You get to customize your own thin-crust pizza while enjoying a game of ping-pong or foosball.

2)U Street Music Hall: This late night venue hosts many great performances that allows, us under 21 people to attend! It‘s a great atmosphere with amazing music. Lots of performances are held here.

3) UltraBar: Now for those of you who are really eager to go clubbing in DC, by far the best under 21 club is ultra bar. You should definitely dress to impress for this four-level club located in Chinatown. With each floor boasting a different type of genre you are bound to hear something you like.

4) Café Japone: If you love to sing out to your favorite tunes but don’t want to have to do that in front of everyone; at Café Japone you can rent a room with your friends and sing out loud to your favorite tunes while eating some delicious Japanese food! Definitely worth a visit!

5) National Zoo: no matter how old you are, everyone sure enjoys a visit to the zoo! Come to the National zoo and get to see the giant pandas and great apes! It definitely is a fun day out when the sun is out and you have nothing to do in the morning!

Above is just 5 places under 21 people can go, but as I make my way throughout the semester I will definitely be sure to update the list!

U Street Music Hall
U Street Music HallUltraBar

Panda

By amrawi

Done. Done and Done! With my finance exam all written up and my public communication speech delivered, nothing was going to stand in the way between me and the 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) temperature of Cancun, Mexico!cancun_pool Shorts, swimsuits, tanning and Pina coladas; I was ready to leave my winter coat and heavy scarf and get ready for the typical American spring break destination. What more can an exchange student want then to travel to an exotic location with 10 other multicultural students?

“Arriba!” “Hola!”, was all the ten of would say as we would race down the hotel strip of Cancun. Our mornings consisted of tanning by the beach and soaking up the blazing Mexican sun. “ I must get tanned! I have no time to waste!”- Yelled Diletta, senorfrogsan exchange student from Italy. Deprived of the sun and the beach from being frozen in the cold for too long; you can bet you could not get the ten of us out of the crystal clear water.

Tacos. Burritos. Nachos. Never in my life would I have imagined getting tired of chips and salsa. But yes after eating crunchy tacos almost everyday for 8 days you grow sick and tired of Mexican food. Even though Mexican cuisine is delicious. too much of it just doesn’t work (Imagine eating Chipotle for 8 days straight.).pineapple Later in the week we swapped tacos for exotic seafood. Yes exotic. Have you ever heard of a pineapple cut in half and then stuffed with cheese and seafood? Well I didn’t until I went down to a Mexican flea market. How about shark enchiladas? “ You eat me and I eat you,” read the sign. Let me tell you though, shark enchiladas, yum! It was so good, it tasted very similar to tuna fish.

With our stomachs almost always stuffed with exotic food, we knew we couldn’t go to Cancun without visiting one the new seven wonders of the world; Chichen Itza, "Chicken Pizza" , as Mike an exchange student from new Zealand likes to call it.

Chichen Itza was a significant monument in the Mayan culture, and stands today as one of the most visited structures in the world. It was really interesting to know that the pyramid like structures are aligned with the moon. Other than that it looked very similar to the pyramids I am familiar with in Giza, Egypt.chichen itza

You know you're in Mexico when you hear the famous song “La Bamba!” and turn around to find a big sombrero ( over-sized Mexican hat) in your face! No trip to Mexico is complete without the Mexican men singing their tunes for you or what they refer to you as “my senorita”.

Stomachs filled with tacos and lips mouthing the words to La Bamba,  we put on our sombreros and headed home; we definitely wont forget such an amazing spring break!

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