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By minhsuanchen

  In addition to Old Town Alexandria and the Botanical Garden, there are two more places in my pocket list where I recommend you to go if you want to get away from the city life for a while.

  1. Arlington National Cemetery:

  Arlington National Cemetery is a place to honor American soldiers who sacrificed their lives to save their nation. Instead of horror, I felt a sense of tranquility and also a bit of sadness when thinking of so many families that were torn apart during wars. If you go there, you are recommended either to climb up the mountain on foot to visit the famous spots like Tomb of the Unknowns or John F. Kennedy Grave Site, or hopping on a trolley and listen to the tour guide’s introduction of the cemetery’s history. Remember to be quite and pay respect to others because it is a place for people to honor the dead and memorize the past.

  1. Washington National Cathedral:

    Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world and it is a Gothic style Cathedral built of Indiana limestone. The gorgeous architecture, beautiful stained glasses, chapels, and many others are worth visiting. I was really amazed by how huge and beautiful it is when I stepped in the building. No matter you have a religious background or not, it is a great option to sign up in the tour and listen carefully to the history and stories of the Cathedral. Although I paid the admission fee to enter the Cathedral, I feel no regret because it is really a must visit. The breath-taking decorations and architecture along with the religious atmosphere gave me a sense of peacefulness. I felt it was a pity that I could not share more pictures with you because it is not allowed to take photos in the Cathedral.

By minhsuanchen

  Washington DC is really a great place where I can enjoy myself exploring around. During most of my free time, I will visit museums or galleries to admire the works in exhibitions and learn American history. I feel excited doing so, but sometimes just want to get away from all those urbanized areas and “artificial things.” Therefore, I gradually collect some places in my pocket lists where I can get away from the city’s hustle and bustle for a second.

1.Old Town Alexandria:

  Old Town Alexandria is a lovely and beautiful place. Hopping on a free tourist trolley is a great way to explore the place because you can admire the streets and scenery there while listening to the radio on the trolley which explains the history of the place and introduces every tourist spot at the same time. After the tour, you can walk along the street and do some shopping in some exquisite stores until dusk. Just remember not to miss the extraordinary sunset at the waterfront! I believe you will feel refreshed after a day in Old Town Alexandria.

2.Botanical Garden:

  If you are a nature lover, I believe you will like the botanical garden near the capitol. There is a wide array of plants and flowers in the garden where you can get immersed in the nature and learn about some fun facts about the plants at the same time. It is a well-organized garden because every area has its own topic such as endangered species, tropical species, and so on. When you feel tired and want to grab something to eat, you can bring your meal to a huge area near the entrance with tables and seats. It might be a memorable experience to have your meal in the garden surrounded by a variety of plants!

By minhsuanchen

   

   Since I heard that there is a cherry blossom festival at D.C every spring, I have been looking forward to attending it. As a result, I have paid really close attention to the weather and any information about the time when cherry trees would probably blossom since March. It was still chilly these few weeks, so I was worried about whether I could successfully view the blossoms. Fortunately, this Sunday, I was able to spend a great afternoon with my friends walking to Thomas Jefferson Memorial to view the cherry blossom during peak bloom.

    It was my first time in life to view cherry blossoms, so I was astonished at the amazingly beautiful scenery. The pathways were covered by the pinkish and whitish cherry blossoms. I felt so relaxed strolling under those trees, taking photos of the cherry blossoms, and capturing all those precious moments. Although it was a little bit too crowded there, for the place was overwhelmed by hundreds of people, including American citizens and tourists around the world, I still believed that the cherry blossom festival was worth visiting.

    In addition to viewing the cherry blossoms, one can also buy some souvenirs at the shops there and perhaps get some food at the vendors nearby. That is, for those who are planning to go to the festival, you definitely will not feel bored at all. It is better to attend the festival before next week, or the blossoms might start to wither and fall. I guarantee that you will not regret attending this natural banquet, for the beauty is indeed beyond descriptions.

I did not have a spring break. That was completely my choice. Despite the absence of classes, I kept working at my internship, where business went on as usual in a quiet DC, depleted of students.

I spent the week seeing pictures of friends that were actually on vacation: Florida, Mexico, California, you name it. I came to the realization that maybe I should have taken some days off. D.C was cold and empty. Work was unusually little stimulating and fairly repetitive. Other than a cool event at the Organization of American States, where they served amazing Colombian coffee, I spent the rest of the week doing  mostly secretarial work.

I still managed to have fun after work. I tried a few food places that I had never tried, such as Founding Farmers, which I enjoyed.

I climbed up the rooftop of the Hepburn apartments, which has to offer one of the best views in all DC. Also, the Hepburn is an amazingly classy apartment complex. There is a pool on the rooftop and so many amenities. The Hepburn is the epitomization of wealthy, corporate D.C. Unnecessarily luxurious, in my opinion. Although it could be argued that Luxury is by definition unnecessary, depending on your understanding of necessity. I also did something productive and future-related: enrolled in Masters. Starting in August, I will be in the SciencesPo Economic Law Master in Paris. Cool, right?

Anyhow, going back to my spring break. I managed to have fun regardless of the city’s emptiness.

One thing, though, was occupying my mind over the past week.  An underlying sensation of an imminent, fast-approaching and unpredictable threat. The ancient romans would call this feeling “horror vacui”, which literally means fear of the void. Far from being scared, I felt some sort of uneasy feeling as if something was just not right. After a lengthy and thorough internal dialogue, I had an epiphany. Today, March the 19th, it is the beginning of the end.

I have been in the US since August. It will soon be 7 months since I’ve been here. And less than 2 months left of the exchange.

Spring break has been the turning point. 75% of my exchange year is now gone, and I don’t know how to feel about it. The second semester is literally running in overdrive mode, and it feels that I have no control over the things that I wanna do. My days go by very quickly, from a report to a memo, from a midterm to an essay, with little time left to stop and stare.

I have to find a solution to this: in the coming days, I will draft a bucket list of what I should do before I leave the US at the end of this academic year.

Stay tuned.

By minhsuanchen

    Taiwan is located between a tropical and subtropical area, so it does not snow in winter. Therefore, apparently, we lack exciting activities like ice skating or skiing to enjoy. If people want to participate in these activities, they might choose to go to countries nearby such as Japan or Korea for an one-day trip. Last year, when I went to Chuncheon, which situated in northern Korea, I seized the precious opportunity to learn skiing. Although it was extremely cold, I felt nothing but excitement and bliss. With the experience, I made up my mind to try any winter activities at least once. Fortunately, TRAILS has arranged an ice skating plan that is free for all students, so I registered right away.

    We walked to Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink, which is just a few blocks away from GWU. The admission fee for an adult is 10 dollars and if you need to rent the skates, you have to pay 6 dollars more. For me, the price is reasonable but a little bit expensive, so I decided to make full advantage of it. I was so nervous at the beginning because it was really hard to maintain the balance. I kept screaming and hold the penguin (a cute tool for beginners to keep in balance) still and tight to avoid falling. But after a few hours, when I tried to believe in myself and skated in strides, I could catch the tips step by step.

    It was an extremely memorable and exciting experience for me, especially when I skated with my dear friends. But time always flies! We had to leave the ice rink after hours of skating. With the beautiful sunset and harbor, I accomplished my first ice skating trip. For those who enjoy ice skating, Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink may serve your needs. You can also enjoy a great meal in the restaurant by the harbor, admiring the scenery at night with a sense of tranquility.

By geovolpe

As the new year began, I vowed to put an end to procrastination. One of my new year’s resolution was to stop procrastination and putting off things to do. The main goal is that of getting to the end of the day knowing that I did not waste my time.

It is very likely that you end up not doing much of your day when it’s cold outside, warm inside, and school deadlines are not pressing yet.

It was a beautiful day in DC, at least 15º(celsius). It felt like a pause from the crippling winter-like cold that haunts most of the East Cost. So I decided I would do something I have been procrastinating since I was a child. That is, going to the zoo. My parents have always avoided taking me to animals-related attractions such as to zoos or circuses. There was no particular reason, it just wasn’t a family thing to do.

At 21 one years of age I have the chance to catch up with this long overdue childhood experience.

Here’s some pictures from the Smithsonian zoo.

 

By minhsuanchen

    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.

    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.

  

    We had our lunch at a Spanish restaurant, Bodega, which my friend’s roommate strongly recommends us to go after shopping for a while. We ordered two sets of express lunch, including free bread, two starters and four tapas and they were really delicious (express lunch is only available Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM and each set is $16.)

 

    In addition to all those beautiful stores, Georgetown is also well-known for its cupcakes, so we went to one of the most famous cupcake stores, Georgetown Cupcake, to try one. There are a variety of cupcakes you can choose from and each of them is $3.50. I spent a long time pondering over which one to buy because there are so many flavors that I would like to try. Eventually, I got a confetti vanilla cupcake. It tasted awesome, but it was a little bit too sweet for me. For those who do not like to eat too sweet, red velvet must be your first priority.

 

    All in all, if you are planning for a tour not far away from campus, head to Georgetown and enjoy your time there. Just don’t forget to try a cupcake!

By geovolpe

I’m not coming back for Christmas, Mom. 

“I spent a lot of time reflecting about this, and I know I promised you before I left for the US, but I feel this is the right thing to do. 

 I don't think that coming back would be helpful to me in any way, and I think we both know it. I will be home in July, I will see you then. Or whenever you overcome your fear of planes and decide to come visit. 

I hope you understand and sorry for canceling the tickets.”

I cancelled my tickets to Italy a few days before my scheduled departure. Having been abroad for almost three years now, Christmas has become the only constant re-encounter with my parents. My parents were not super enthusiastic about losing the money, but they eventually supported me in this: “You know I would love to have you here. If I were selfish, I would have you fly home immediately. But If I were you, I would not want to come back either. Just try to go somewhere sunny over the break, maybe to California. You need vitamin D.” 

That was the beginning of my first Christmas away from home in 20 years. 

I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day in DC with some friends of mine that also remained in town. We were all excited and lonely. Three young men and one young woman on the other side of the Atlantic. We tried to emulate a family-like situation: went out for dinner on Christmas eve, cooked a full course meal on Christmas day. I guess it was the closest I ever felt to adulthood. 

On December the 26th I was leaving for Sevierville, Tennessee. A small town next to Knoxville. I know, pretty random place to go on vacation, but that’s where my heart was riding me to. And I was happy to be along for the ride:  I spent a week with a fantastic girl I met in GW and her family. This love among the school desks brought deep into the South. Despite being only a 9 hour bus ride from DC, Tennessee did not feel like the America I had known so far. The thick southern accent, the food culture, both so rich but so exaggerated, the interminable mountains surrounding the town. I hopped on a bus in a fairly European-styled place and I drop off in the middle of America. Real and genuine America. The one we choose to ignore as visitors but that is there and has a lot to offer. I will elaborate on this in my next post. For now, I’ll only say:

I had a great time, but as soon as January the second, I felt I needed it was time for me to follow my mom’s advice. I stayed for three days in DC, running errands and moving into my new apartment, bracing myself for the golden state.

Landing in Los Angeles in January the 6th felt more than just good. I was ecstatic. Not being very used to DC-cold weather, being catapulted to the beach at 70º really thrusted life back into my body. I was staying on UCLA campus at a friend’s place. The equation is very simple yet infallibly effective: friends + good weather + beach + January and winter break = Happiness. I dare you find a better recipe.

I came back the morning of January the 14th. Waiting for me, 10 degrees and another semester to start. D.C does feel like home now. Despite the unappealing weather. And I’m sure my last semester here will be so great I will forget California pretty easily. Although, as much as I like DC, I have to admit to the inarguable fact that the West coast is the Best coast. And that my mom gives good advice.

By sarajebbar

This is it, the end of my journey in GWU. I can’t believe it’s already here, the end of one of the best semesters I had so far. But yeah, we all knew this time will come sooner or later. Here I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight and writing my final blogpost for the semester. I never thought this moment will come by this fast, but time flies here in GWU. Last week was such a hectic week. From finals to the last goodbye parties, it was so emotional to live the last days of the semester.

Studying abroad was an experience that I enjoyed so much. For me being an exchange student meant experiencing a new culture, traveling a lot, meeting new people, and adapting to a new environment that is very different from the one I live in my home country Morocco. Washington DC was one of the greatest places to live in. I really enjoyed living in the city center of the capital of the US and visit all the monuments, museums and touristy spots whenever I felt like: late at night, on sunrise or on sunset… One of the things that I’m very glad I did this semester were all the trip I did around America. Starting from Baltimore, to New York to Florida, to Mexico to Canada to Cuba and finishing with the West coast. I’m so grateful I had the chance to travel around the continent, discover new cultures and take more and more pictures. I believe that being in the US helped me visiting new places I never thought I will visit from Morocco.

Travel was great but the most precious thing I earned this semester were the friendships with people from all around the world. Before coming to the US, I knew I will meet people with whom I will have fun and spend good time. But I never expected that I’ll meet people that will become family in such a short period. I met people with whom I laughed, cried, danced, cooked (mostly pasta and ramen), traveled to exotic places, sang, chilled at dorm on lazy days, spent hours in Gelman procrastinating, and more and more. And I’m grateful I shared the best moments of my GWU journey with them. I think the worst part of the study abroad is the fact that these people will not be around on a daily basis. But memories never fade away and I’ll never forget about all what we lived in GWU. I believe that we will meet again somewhere in the world, maybe in Morocco (such a great country to visit lol) *coughcough* or maybe somewhere else. I know we might be in opposite sides of the planet, but I know for sure our friendships will not end here. The boarding time of my flight to West coast is here, which means I need to end this blogpost here.

GWU was great, the US was great and special thanks to all the people who made my semester memorable. Can’t wait to come back to DC again. It was a BLAST.

IG:@Sarajebbar

By sarajebbar

The countdown to the end of the semester is here and I can’t believe we reached that point where only two weeks are left to the end *CriesCries* Time really flies in GWU and I feel like orientation week was here days ago.

Having two of my exams really early made my week an intense studying week in Gelman library. Even if the library is really big compared to what we have in our home university, you need to go early to find a table especially when you’re in a group which I never do since I always wake up late and procrastinate a lot before actually starting to study.

The weather in Dc is getting colder and colder and this week was the first snow of the winter. I usually prefer warm weather and hate snow and rain but the first snow of the year is always exciting especially in Christmas time. We usually don’t celebrate Christmas in Morocco so it was really nice to experience the holiday vibes in the US. From Christmas tree, to free hot chocolate and cookies to all the Christmas lights decorations and lights, Washington DC and its weather were really welcoming the holiday season. And to really get into the winter vibe, we decided to go ice skating in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. It was my first time ice skating and I was really bad at it, my only goal was not to slip and break my bones. But it was fun to start learning how to ice skate, maybe one day I’ll be good at it.

We ended the week by a final Christmas party where we had cookies, brownies, candy canes, made ginger bread house and danced to Christmas songs. Since most of us are busy with finals and some will be leaving soon, it was nice to gather one last time and spend great time before we get hit hard by finals.

One more week left in GWU. Stay tuned.

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