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By audrey

Be warned: this is a post dedicated exclusively to food.

My ability to cook has been severely restricted; got a really bad cut on my finger after my very valiant attempt at multi-tasking - cutting potatoes and watching Youtube videos at the same time. Big mistake.

So, besides 2 assignments and 2 tests due, I had a pretty relaxing week that saw me on a desperate hunt for food after Thursday.

Food stop 1: Kung Fu Tea

It really wasn't easy finding bubble tea in DC - I had to take the metro to Virginia and finally found the object of my dreams: Kung Fu Tea. Being the glutton that I was and keeping in mind the huge distance, I bought 2. 1 was for drinking immediately, the other was for the fridge at home. (Tip: if it's to-go, separate the beverage and the boba, and ask for no ice).

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Food stop 2: DC Noodles

Huddled in a cozy corner on U Street, this place serves South Asian noodle dishes. I got the store special: Red Miso Ramen (despite what the menu says, it's really not spicy) while my friends ordered a mix of Pad Thai, Curry noodles and Beef bowls. They were all really good! The restaurant has a really unique decor and ambiance - oriental-influenced, but also a fusion of Mediterranean and American styles as well. There's also an in-house bar so be sure to visit during happy hour to get the best deals!

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Food stop 3: Eastern Market

After 2 days of cold spells in DC, the sun finally emerged on Saturday. I decided that was the day to visit the hyped Eastern Market. Situated in the scenic Capitol Hill neighborhood, everything in Eastern Market was exceptionally colorful and quaint, even during the walk there. Upon walking in, you'll be greeted by a variety of vendors selling very different crafts and fresh produce. Many of them even put out mini samples for visitors before committing to their purchase. Continue walking, and you'll see an old red-brick building - this is where they keep the food. You'll be able to buy fresh poultry, vegetables and a wide variety of cheeses all in one place. There is also a cafe in the building: The Market Lunch. Be sure to get the Blueberry Pancakes and the Crabcake Egg Benedict (Note: these are only available on the weekend).

A reminder though - many stalls in the market only accept cash, so you can make use of the ATMs located at the building entrance to withdraw some cash before going all out on your shopping spree.

To be really honest, we made a detour back to the market because the brunch spot where we were hoping to dine at had a wait time of an hour. This makes for an important lesson: if it's a weekend and it's a popular brunch spot, definitely be sure to make a reservation several days in advance to avoid waiting outside in the cold. Brunch hour in DC is serious business.

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Hang tight everyone...President Day weekend is near!

Ciao!

By audrey

I think it is fair to say that the 51st Super Bowl is one of the most exciting I've ever watched - or the second half at least. Today, the New England Patriots played against the Atlanta Falcons and came out on top.

It wasn't a smooth victory though; the Falcons had an excellent first half, leading 28-3 before Lady Gaga took the house down with her halftime show. Magic happened midway in the third quarter, with 2 touchdowns by the Patriots before bringing the game to an eventual tie in the 4th quarter, thereby going into overtime.

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Besides watching the game, I was feasting delightfully on the different dishes brought by the exchange students. There were tons of cakes, cookies and pastries as well as tacos and a magnificent tray of Mac and Cheese. In fact, the food distracted me so much I didn't really know what was going on till Lady Gaga took the stage. (Yes, I have no self-discipline when it comes to food).

 

This week went past pretty quickly - classes are beginning to increase in intensity and pace. Assignment deadlines and midterms are round the corner and I have barely started studying for those. It was great meeting up with the other exchange students and orientation leaders though; I got to know about everyone's plans for spring break and the President Day weekend and everything seems really exciting!

For now, I'll be starting my rounds in the different libraries and be on the hunt for great studying spots (will keep everyone informed if there're really good ones). I think it's safe to say my room is filled with too many distractions aka my bed and there's no greater motivation than watching others study. Hoping to survive the next 2 weeks of classes and club activities!

Till then, counting down to the long weekend and spring break!

P.S Apologies for the lack of pictures as my iPhone has failed me this week by turning itself off constantly in the cold weather.

By audrey

While DC has been loads of fun, with the excitement of inauguration and protest marches still lingering in the air, I decided to make use of my long weekend to travel to Seattle for the Lunar New Year.

This would be my fourth time here, and yet it never ceases to amaze. Seattle is a seaport city and is the largest city in Washington state. People often get confused between Washington DC and Washington state — the former, also the nation's capital, is on the east coast while the latter is in the west. Upon exiting SeaTac International Airport, I was greeted by a rush of crisp, fresh air and the omnipresent rainy weather. Definitely Seattle, alright.

It's unexpected, but my favourite part of Seattle has got to be food. I religiously go to Pike Place market, a public market that overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront. It is one of the oldest farmers' markets in America and you can always expect to find ultra fresh groceries and handmade crafts. My favorite shops would have to be the Piroshky Bakery and Ellenos yoghurt - 2 homegrown brands that are simply phenomenal in taste and price. For the former, I usually go for the salmon one, and the Marionberry flavoured yoghurt for the latter. Oh, and the market is also home to the very first Starbucks! (Heads up though, there's always a long line, even during off-peak hours).

 

 

It was Chinese New Year's Eve the day after I arrived. On this day, families get together to have a reunion dinner. Being the typical Chinese and lazy college students that we are, my friends and I decided to have hotpot, which is basically a huge pot of soup with raw stuff like fish cakes and meat thrown in and cooked to a boil. The post dinner food coma was just magnificent.

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On my last day, we drove 3 hours to Mount Baker. Alas, the picturesque view was short-lived as a snow storm hit soon after we started hiking. Thus, we didn't have a good picture of the summit. We were, however, lucky to be able to rent snow shoes on short notice as it was a popular weekend destination for the residents of Seattle, with its dual identity as a popular ski and hiking resort in the region. I honestly thought my ears/nose would fall off due to the biting wind, but thankfully, they were still intact when we trekked back to the car. Note to self: DEFINITELY BRING A BEANIE NEXT TIME.

 

Catching a flight back to DC tomorrow - in light of the recent immigration bans, I do hope my boarding process at SeaTac goes smoothly.

Adios!

By audrey

I don't think there has been a better time to be in the heart of DC than this week.

On Friday, classes were cancelled, blockades were set up all over campus and security officers were on nearly every street in town, enforcing order and safety for those attending the inauguration. The wintry cold and rainy weather did not stop residents from all over America from turning up. Among a crowd of Trump supporters, we felt strangely out of sync and grew uncomfortable when the crowds started booing and displayed bouts of anger at other politicians and past presidents.

While the election outcome was fairly controversial, I was very glad to be able to see the inauguration up front, instead of laying on my couch behind a TV screen.

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Post inauguration and after a hearty lunch of ramen (and defrosting our fingers), we walked right into a protest on K Street. Placards, posters and flags were raised high as people marched down the street, and things gradually turned nasty as the police were called in. Lucky for us, we were near the back of the clash but were still ultimately at the receiving end of the tear gas.

Saturday saw one of the largest protests ever in America - the Women's March. Men and women descended on the mall early in the morning in glorious pink p*ssyhats to stand up for women's rights. It was also their way of sending a message to the new administration, that they would retaliate if other basic rights such as racial equality and freedom of speech are threatened. And it was not just in DC - sister marches occurred all over the country: New York, Utah and California among many others. What I enjoyed a lot about the march was also the witty and humorous signs made by protestors, written out in colourful language that would not be appropriate here.

Protests were not common back home (they're actually illegal) and while my eyes and legs were sore from 2 days worth of protests, it will definitely be an experience to remember.

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The events of the weekend has taught me that things don't always go the way they should. However, joining arms in solidarity and marching towards a common goal regardless of individual differences goes a long way in making a difference. It may not change the outcome of the election, but the craziness and unity exhibited by the thousands at the National Mall certainly swerves it onto a new course: the men, women and children of the world have their eyes on the White House and its new inhabitants.

For now, tension remains high and I'd like to remind everyone to be cautious of their actions and words in public to avoid needless risk and conflict.

Till then!

My first week of orientation at GW has came to an end and the semester officially commences next week. Last week saw my schedule packed to the brim with numerous orientation activities and the highlights for me were the visit to the US Capitol and the Monuments by Moonlight walk.

The Capitol is home to the United States Congress and sits atop the Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. Once inside, we were greeted by wall murals and statues of presidents past. Having being born and bred in Singapore, I was unfamiliar with most of the individuals who were carved in stone (or rather, bronze and white marble). However, hearing names like Jefferson and Lincoln and standing in the same spot where they fought for rights and pushed groundbreaking policies was simply surreal. Our guide was really politically charged and always ready with a joke or a piece of political trivia to inject humour into the tour.

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Besides a journey to the past, we were treated to a glimpse of the future. Preparation works were in place for the impending presidential inauguration in a week and we walked the floors soon to be graced by an incoming president.  If you think structures look great in the day, you'll be stunned when you see them bathed in moonlight. During the Monuments by Moonlight walking tour, I’ve never felt more fortunate to be in GW because of its accessibility to landmarks like the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. We covered the entire journey on foot under 2 hours, including stops for monument trivia and breaks along the way. The convenience was simply amazing and I definitely foresee myself taking long walks (or even runs) along this route.

Back at home in Singapore, food is synonymous with culture. Upon arriving in DC, I was pleasantly surprised to find a huge offering of diverse foods. Having landed several days prior to orientation, my roommate took me to several cafes and showed me where to get groceries. We were extremely lucky to get reservations at Founding Farmers for Sunday brunch - the chicken and waffle was simply divine. Along downtown DC and in the Foggy Bottom district, there are many Korean and Mexican food stalls. Food trucks lined the streets in Farragut Square, creating affordable options for students. The GW Campus itself is a foodie’s dream come true and I see my previous resolve to cook regularly crumbling slowly as time passes.

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We ended off orientation week with an NBA game - my very first. Washington Wizards beat the Philly 76-ers 109-93 amidst loud cries and sonorous cheers. While I had some trouble at first following the game and its scoring rules, Wikipedia took care of that in under a minute. Everyone in the stands were cheering and shouting for the Wizards — I followed suit and felt a surge of team pride even though I barely understood the game.

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Well, that’s all for now. It’s time to recharge and get ready for school!

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