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By carlyfisher4

When I left off from my last blog, we had just had a fantastic weekend in New York, and after we got back to DC on the bus (after some horrible traffic), we pulled out from Union Station and looked to our left to find the glistening Capitol Building seemingly welcoming us back. Although the Capitol is under construction/repair at the moment and is therefore covered in scaffolding, there is something that is still so beautiful about it at night – it looks to me like a croquembouche decorated in spun sugar. Actually, that’s what I have been calling it since we first went on the tour inside it – the croquembouche building.

After a theatre-filled weekend in New York it seems that I was just not ready to have it stop as I headed back to the Kennedy Centre for another Tuesday night at the theatre. This time I went to see ‘Gigi’ with Nicola, another Australian exchange student, and Elif, an exchange student from Turkey. As this was the show’s preview before hitting Broadway, I was curious to see how it was – as much as I have seen at the theatre, this was my first time seeing an out-of-town preview, so that was pretty exciting, at least to me. I was also really eager to see ‘Gigi’ having seen the movie before and knowing that it is one of my grandma’s all time favorites.

The production was filled with seasoned Broadway veterans, some who I had seen before in other shows, as well as having Vanessa Hudgens as their celebrity name. On a whole the show was really well cast and, on a separate note, the set-design was great. I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the show and how well it translated from screen to stage. I hope it is as well-received by Broadway audiences as it seemed to be in DC!

After only a few short days (in which I crammed in four assessments!), Mads (Australian exchange student/my best friend from home) and I were off again for the weekend, keen to take advantage of it being a long weekend. We went down to South Carolina where one of my really close friends lives to visit and explore two states of the US I had never been to before. After flying into Charlotte, North Carolina we met up with our friend, Marissa, and drove down to Columbia, South Carolina.

Whilst Columbia isn’t known for being the tourist hub of America, we definitely enjoyed seeing the sights it had to offer on the Friday that we were there. The state capitol building was definitely an impressive structure surrounded by a variety of sculptures each symbolizing an important event or individual. We also saw the Supreme Court building as well as a couple really pretty churches. Next we went in search of a little district known for its boutique shops and once finished there we made our way to Finlay Park. Although too chilly to enjoy the park in its entirety, we saw some really lovely water features and enjoyed ourselves on the three person swing that sits above the park’s main water fountain.

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The next day we continued our exploration of the historically significant Carolinas but heading down to Charleston, South Carolina. We began our morning there by taking a carriage tour (with our driver Baba, and our two horses, Butter and Grits) from which we were able to get a lay of the land as well as a great introduction to the history and myths of Charlotte from our very knowledgeable driver. From the carriage we saw some lovely churches, gorgeous cobblestone streets, amazing mansions, the harbor, other historical structures and the much-anticipated Rainbow-Row.

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Having only ridden through the historic district, at the conclusion of our carriage ride we embarked on foot to see the rest of the town, as well as to revisit some spots that we wanted to investigate further.

We started with the slavery museum, which is housed in an old slave auction house, adding to the significance and horror of the information presented in the displays. Comprehending the information within that environment really enhances its reality as a horrific mistreatment of innocent people and a total violation of human rights. As we learnt, more than 40% of the African Americans brought to America as part of the slave trade went through Charleston’s port – that’s approximately 200,000 enslaved people going through the one, relatively tiny, town. The statistics meant a lot more to me standing within Charleston and especially within the museum than they have ever meant to me before.

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From the slave museum we walked up in pursuit of the Dock Street Theatre – the first theatre ever built in America. As a total theatre nerd, this excited me greatly and I was desperate to see the birthplace of American theatre! It is a beautiful theatre from the outside and if I find myself in Charleston again, I definitely want to go on a night that they are performing a show!

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We had a look around the beautiful mansions, as well as the harbor and the houses along rainbow row. We explored a nice market and had some lunch there and then later, at dinner, I tried she-crab soup and grits and therefore now consider myself a true Southerner- if only I’d had something monogrammed whilst there! All-in-all, Charleston is a really cute little town and a great day-trip if you are somewhere nearby – I would definitely suggest seeing it, although I don’t think that your stay there needs to be too long.

We spent the next morning in Columbia before driving back to Charlotte (perhaps with a slight detour to a couple malls on the way) to spend our last night and day there. Charlotte definitely came across as more of a business hub than anything else. Unfortunately, as we were there on the public holiday, the city seemed rather empty and the cold disrupted our plans of seeing the parks that Charlotte has to offer.

churhc and friendsfriendsz

And so ends another wonderful week in DC! I can definitely feel that the cold is about to kick in even stronger which I can’t say I’m looking forward to! I just hope it passes soon – so ready for spring and sunshine - I am Australian after all!

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

8When I picked DC as my city of choice to live in during my exchange semester, I definitely did not overlook the city’s proximity to other major cities and its many offerings to go and explore other parts of America. Having been in DC for a month now, I decided it was time to begin those weekend travels I had been so looking forward to and thought that there was no better place to start than the most exciting city in the world in my opinion, New York.

Boarding the Greyhound bus after class on Thursday night (we are all really lucky and don’t have classes on Fridays – perfect for weekend trips) with two other Australian exchange students – Mads and Sophie – our excitement was palpable, all being big fans of the big apple! The bus, although not the most glamorous form of transport, is a really good way to get from DC to NYC at a more budget-friendly cost than other forms of transport, and still within four hours. We arrived late Thursday night and were immediately excited by the bright lights and city atmosphere.

This was far from my first visit to New York – in fact, I was there as recently as last month – but entering the city never gets less exciting in my opinion. Walking the couple blocks to our hotel from the Port Authority and passing by the many brightly lit signs of the enumerate theatres that lined the streets along our way, certainly reminded me of why I love this city so. As a theatre major/fanatic there really is no place quite as magical to me.

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Friday morning we were eager to get going, determined to squeeze in as much into our weekend as possible. We were able to fit a lot into the weekend and so I will therefore include just a snippet of the highlights in this blog. We started off the morning with an experiment with the subway – the experiment being whether or not we would be able to make it from our location in Times Square up to the Guggenheim museum. We did (eventually) and made our way into the museum to look at both the art and the amazing architecture of the building. The selection of art within the Guggenheim is rather diverse, allowing for everyone to find something that they like. The architecture of the building certainly overshadows the art in this gallery and whilst the works were not all to my taste, the spiraled interior of the Guggenheim is definitely worth seeing!

After a jam-packed afternoon that evening we went to see the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of ‘Cabaret’ starring Alan Cummings and Emma Stone. As a massive Broadway fan, seeing this production was a major reason for needing to go to New York so early in the trip (before the scheduled cast change date) and the show certainly did not disappoint. Although a particularly heavy piece of theatre thematically, the performances were fantastic and we left buzzing with the wonders of Broadway. We got to meet Emma Stone and have her autograph our Playbills, which really ended the experience on a high note.2

Saturday allowed for a little bit more relief temperature wise than Friday had although it was still absolutely freezing. We began the morning with brunch in Hell’s Kitchen before heading over to Fifth Avenue to stroll along the shops, see Rockerfeller Plaza, enjoy the Plaza Hotel and eventually end up in the snow-covered Central Park. The Park looked like a winter wonderland covered in snow and although cold, we were definitely able to forget about the temperature and enjoy the gorgeous surroundings. We split up for that evening’s Broadway experiences and I headed off to see a new revival on Broadway called ‘On the Town.’ As a particularly dance heavy musical, it is certainly a show I would only recommend to others, like myself, who are particularly interested in choreography and ballet.

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Finally, Sunday – our last day of this particular New York trip – and we decided it was time for a foody NYC experience. Accordingly, we headed down to the Flatiron area for lunch at Eately at the pasta bar. It was absolutely delicious and Eately is certainly worth going to look at – it’s adorable. I spent that afternoon squeezing in one more show before we had to leave, this time seeing a play entitled ‘Disgraced.’ Seeing this show was a last minute decision that I am so happy that I made as it was absolutely fantastic! At the conclusion of the play I also got to meet Josh Radnor who plays Ted Mosby in ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ and was one of the actors in the play – very cool!

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Having had an amazing weekend we headed back to the Port Authority to board our bus back to DC. As I had hoped, travelling from DC was really not difficult and this weekend definitely marks the first of many trips I hope for me as I continue to explore America.

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

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This week introduced us to yet another American phenomenon as Sunday night marked the 2015 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. Having never watched the game in its entirety (or, if I’m being honest, watching the football part at all), I was excited to experience it amongst those passionate for the teams and the sport in general. Wanting the ‘real’ American experience, we decided to head to a local sports bar to watch the game amongst hard-core fans, desperate for a Patriots win! We headed off to bar three hours before the game began as we were told we would need that amount of time, so we settled in, got comfy and enjoyed trying to figure out as much as we good about the game before kick off time thanks to our waiter’s knowledge and google. Whilst waiting for the game we also watched the Puppy Bowl – a definite highlight of the evening – it was so so cute!

Finally, the broadcast began with the pre-game interviews, spurring on the crowd within the bar and exciting them to begin their cheering. Every time any player or coach from the Patriots was so much as mentioned, the crowd went wild, leaving no question as to who the crowd favorite was. With the same enthusiasm the Seahawks were booed endlessly by the crowd, something I just couldn’t bring myself to participate in.

As a massive Idina Menzel fan, the real highlight of the event in my opinion was the national anthem – especially because she was absolutely amazing, as always! And then finally, after hours of anticipation, the game began following the coin toss and introduction of all team members. The crowd’s enthusiasm did not die down for even a second and it was really exciting seeing people so excited and proud of their team.

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Wanting to experience the super bowl in a variety of ways, I left the others at the bar to head back to E street to meet up with my roommates and their friends for a pizza and Super Bowl watching evening. As well as the game, here I watched Katy Perry’s half time act (which, in my opinion, left a lot to be desired!) and enjoyed learning some of the rules of football from those in attendance.

For the final quarter of the game the exchange crew rejoined to watch the win together and celebrate the victory of the team we had only found out we were rooting for that morning. Despite having not known the Patriots before that day, the victory was still sweet and our excitement was palpable (mainly because we had real Patriots fans amongst us).

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Whilst sport games are not really my thing, this particular evening of sport watching was a lot of fun and definitely gave me a taste of the enthusiasm, pride and dedication that people have towards their favorite football teams. Maybe Ill even watch the game again next year back at home in Australia…or maybe, I’ll go back to just sticking to the half time act 🙂 .

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This week I also went to the Kennedy Centre to enjoy a dance performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company – a group that I have wanted to see for years since taking classes at their institution a few years back in New York and learning about their work and artistic beliefs. Having not been to the Kennedy Centre since around 2008, I was very excited to be back in the beautiful centre surrounded by history and a celebration of the arts. It really is a gorgeous theatre and I am already excited to go back to enjoy more performances there (for example Gigi which I am going to next week!).

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The Company performed four different pieces, each artistically so different that the talent of both the choreographers and dancers was truly mesmerizing. The first piece was based on the Civil Rights movement and in particular, celebrated the achievements, the courage and the importance of Odetta Holmes – ‘the Queen of American folk music’ as declared by MLK Jnr. This piece was really beautiful and truly demonstrated the significance of her contribution both to the American music scene, and more importantly, to the American Civil Rights efforts. Following ‘Odetta’ was a beautiful ballet piece entitled ‘After the Rain’ which really highlighted the incredible discipline and strength of these dancers through challenging yet breathtaking choreography. The artistry demonstrated in the third piece ‘caught’ was mind-blowing as not only the dancer (who was phenomenal and easily one of the strongest male dancers I have ever seen) but also the lighting designer (what a genius!) created a piece unlike anything I have ever seen before. Finally, the crem-de-la-crem of Alvin Ailey’s works, ‘Revelations’ concluded the evening with a piece of theatre I have been waiting years to see and was not in the slightest bit disappointed by – the entire performance was sensational and it was an absolutely brilliant way to spend a Tuesday night. If the Alvin Ailey company is performing ever in a city that you are in, I would highly recommend snatching up the best ticket you can get and going to witness their incredible talents and grace on stage.

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All in all, it’s been another wonderful week here only to be topped off by what I am sure will be a fantastic weekend as a few of the exchange students and I head up to New York City for the weekend. Broadway, I’m coming for you!

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

When we were first accepted to GW we were encouraged to consider the cultural differences we may expect to find when arriving in DC. Since arriving I have striven to ensure that I indulge in any and all cultural activities that would be considered ‘out of my Australian comfort zone’ so as to make the most of the experience of living here and attending school at GW.

However, this weekend the tables were somewhat turned as Sunday saw the Australian exchange students pulling out all the green and gold we could find as we prepared to both show off our holiday to our non-Aussie friends and enjoy a typical Australian celebration ourselves. Except, it was anything but a typical way to celebrate this occasion for us as our sandy beaches were replaced with snowy streets.

Australia Day, celebrated on January 26th in Australia, marks the landing of the English in Australia and is a national holiday at home. For us, it is perhaps most similar to the 4th of July celebrations that Americans are accustomed to with our Australia days usually consisting of soaking up some sun, enjoying a barbeque and hanging out with friends in the pool. But with such a high contingency of Australian exchange students, we certainly didn’t want to let the moment pass without an opportunity to enjoy it together, similar to the way we would have done at home.

Straya Day
Superbowl

We overcame the initial debate as to when to celebrate – Australia Day this year fell on a Monday and as its obviously not a public holiday here, celebrating when we had classes was not going to be an option. We deliberated over the moral dilemma of celebrating it a day early until we decided that it was probably best to have our Australia Day fiesta on the Sunday so as to best align with the time difference and partake in the festivities on the 26th. Next though we had to work out how to make it as Australian as possible. We had packages coming in from Australia (thanks mum for all the stuff!) filled with plates, napkins, temporary tattoos, flags, banners, beach balls, and most importantly…Tim Tams. The boys took care of the food ensuring that, despite the obvious lack of barbecue, sausages and other meats were still available for all.

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Although it was colder than any Australia Day I have ever celebrated, this was certainly a very special Australia Day as, not only did we rally together to go to extra lengths to ensure that it was as authentic as possible despite being on the other end of the globe, we were able to share our customs with new friends that we have made from around the world as we filled the room with other exchange students, EXO leaders, roommates and GW friends. We had the Brits requesting Kylie Minogue songs, the Germans correcting our sausage cooking techniques (seriously, none of us were going to argue – they are pros!), the Americans putting on Australian adverts on Youtube to add to the authenticity and the students from all around Asia participating in the Australia day fun too. Everyone was tattooed with Australian flags and we even tried to introduce a few typically Aussie games into the afternoon.

So this year we may not have had our typical barbecue and pool party, but we surely did make the most of sharing our culture and bringing just a little bit of Australia onto the GW campus.

Whilst our Australia Day celebration was a lot of fun, I would have failed my own task had I not also explored something new, as per the challenge I set myself a couple blogs ago. Accordingly, this Friday a group of us set out to explore the Arlington cemetery, and in particular to visit the grave site of President John F. Kennedy. The internet had warned of swarms of crowds around the grave but it being both an absolutely freezing cold day and a Friday, obviously worked in our favor as we had much of the podium to ourselves to really take in the amazing view and the meaning of visiting the resting place of a president.

Our tour guide for the morning informed us as to why the position for JFK’s plot was decided upon – mere weeks prior to his assassination, JFK had been visiting the mansion at the top of the hill in Arlington when he said he could stay here forever looking at the beautiful view of the nation’s capitol. And so, when he passed, it was decided that they would honor this wish, following much protest from the Kennedys (against JBKO) as they wanted him buried closer to their family home, and so now the Kennedy family now lay to rest overlooking the gorgeous skyline of Washington, D.C.

Having studied JFK a fair amount in high school, I had for some time wanted to visit his resting place and pay my respects and I am incredibly glad that I now have. The eternal flame, combined with the amphitheater inscribed with one of the greatest speeches ever given, really set the tone and make this experience an incredibly powerful one.

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But this cemetery acts as the final resting place for many, not just the Kennedy's, as is evident by the rows and rows of headstones visible in all directions. Primarily a military cemetery, bar the few civilians whose contribution was so grand their deserving could not be overlooked, it is both saddening to think of all those lives lost, and amazing to think of how meaningful it must be to all these families to have at least received the bodies of their loved ones to bury.This point truly hits home when you arrive at the enormous tomb of the Unknown Soldier that stands as a stark reminder of all those men who sacrificed their lives and never made it back to American soil in any capacity.

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This tomb is manned consistently, night and day, by guards who both protect and honor the memory of these soldiers. We waited until the hour hit so that we could watch the changing of the guard ceremony – an intricate and highly detail orientated series of movements that highlight the discipline and training of these guards. The ceremony was interesting to see and I am glad we were able to witness it before our time at Arlington was up.

All in all, Arlington Cemetery provided us with a powerful view of some of America’s history as we paid our respects to all those who have fallen in the line of duty whilst trying to protect the freedom of this country.

And so another wonderful week in Washington has passed, which only means that it is time for another inevitably fantastic week to begin.

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

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In last week’s blog I decided to commit to doing something new each week that would either be outside the norm for me, uniquely GW or typically DC. This week began with the perfect opportunity to extend this to include doing something that would not only enhance my experiences here, but also help someone else in need. This was to be my first MLK day and whilst some may have seen it as a good opportunity for long weekend travels, I decided that the only appropriate way to observe the event and honor the significance of the day would be to complete service, as is called on by the day itself. And so alongside over 500 GW volunteers, I reported for service at 10am on Monday morning with a group of the other exchange students, eager to help and participate.

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Quickly decked out in our new t-shirts provided to us for the day, we entered the ballroom to hear speeches from some incredibly inspiring, insightful and interesting individuals. Not only did they explain to us the importance of MLK day (which we of course knew, but it was really wonderful to hear it from their points of view as African American women who told us of the changes they had witnessed), but they evidently rose the level of excitement in the room as it dawned on everyone the importance of the work that would be completed throughout the day.

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After hearing from the speakers and reciting the pledge of enthusiasm (which I desperately want to get a copy of – it was fantastic!), we had some lunch and then the large group of hundreds of volunteers split into smaller projects, each to complete a task for a different organization. The first organization that we were assigned to assist was Project Linus who serve children in need by providing them with warm blankets. The blankets, which are no-sew blankets and therefore are simple for everyone to make, are distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies or anywhere else that children are in need. The idea is to provide them with warmth but also with a big hug and some security in knowing that someone is thinking about them. Learning about this organization was truly touching and is something that I would love to see implemented at home in Australia in some sense as I think that, although simple, their work is, evidently, incredibly meaningful and required. Furthermore, I think that the simplicity of the actual task allows for everyone and anyone to get involved which makes it an amazing project for people to get involved in.

Mia and I made a cute bright pink and yellow blanket that we hope will provide a little girl with the warmth, comfort and support she needs. So, to the recipient of the blanket we made, there is a hug from Sydney and a hug from London hidden within that blanket just for you!MLK4

After completing our blanket to be sent out with Project Linus, we moved next doorto make cards for hospitalized kids. We wanted to make stacks of cards and so we exerted every creative ounce of our beings in order to make the most colourful, imaginative and fun cards to brighten up the days of the children receiving the cards. There were lots of kangaroos and koalas drawn, games created and sketches of Big Ben included (you could definitely spot the international table!). We used all the stickers and coloured markers we could get our hands on and together created quite a collection of cards to be distributed throughout DC hospitals.

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Reading the instructions before beginning the activity, it was interesting to note the organization’s preference that we not use the term ‘Get well soon’ or make any mention of them being sick or feeling unwell. Rather our cards were filled with encouraging messages like ‘you are awesome’ and ‘you shine like the sun.’ Whilst we think that this was obviously to take into consideration the emotions of those patients who unfortunately aren’t in a position to ‘get well soon,’ I really like the fact that asking us to include these phrases reminded us to think of them as children first and patients second. We weren’t meant to make these cards for the sick and injured, we were meant to make them for the fun loving children that would be the real recipients.

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Deciding to join the movement to serve this MLK day was easily one of the highlights of my time at GW so far. Knowing that a few hours of our time would help brighten up some kids’ days was an amazing feeling and I am so grateful to GW for presenting this opportunity to get involved! To anyone coming in the Spring semester on exchange here in the future, email as soon as you get here to ensure that you get a place and make sure not to miss out on MLK day – it is well worth your time!

So that was this week’s new experience – and its only Monday!

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

Today marks the end of the second week that I have been in DC and it is amazing to me how quickly this city, and in particular GW, have come to feel home-like and comfortable. With that in mind, I realized quickly that although the goal here is to feel at home, it is important to ensure that we don’t take for granted the opportunity to live in DC and to get to know the city in great detail. Accordingly, I have decided to set a different goal for myself, which is to experience something new every week, which I will then be able to share with you in this blog 🙂 .

This week has been filled with new experiences and therefore is the perfect week to act as an introduction to my new challenge. Apart from starting classes at GW (and surprisingly not getting too lost – which was beyond exciting because I still get lost all the time at my home school), I enjoyed my first college basketball game, visited U-Street and took some time over the weekend to indulge in the sights of DC. So far my classes have all been great – and strangely enough they have been both very similar and incredibly different from what I am used to at home. The fact that the classes are so small are a big change, but so far I have liked all the classes I have taken, so lets hope that remains true throughout the semester.

One of the best parts of this week was going to the GW v. Richmond Basketball game. Although I am generally not a big sports fan, I ended up getting really into the game and had a really fantastic night. I have heard many GW students mention the lack of school spirit that is usually demonstrated by the student body, (I’ve heard a number of people say that internships are to GW students what sport is normally to college students) and so I went in with some hesitations. I don’t know if I was expecting a below par team or sub-standard spirit as a result of these statements, but what I witnessed certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. If this is a school that ‘isn’t all that into sports,’ they sure did a good job of fooling me! The entire court was electric, excitement was drowned out only by the chants of screaming GW fans and the stalls were filled with everyone in matching Buff and Blue supporters’ shirts. The game itself was incredibly engaging and was easily one of the most exciting basketball games I’ve ever been to – probably because we were so invested in their win as we wanted our first GW game to end a success.

L to R: Mia, Neil, Myself, Mads, and Sophie at the basketball game!
L to R: Mia, Neil, Myself, Mads, and Sophie at the basketball game!
L to R: Mia, Dion, and Me
L to R: Mia, Dion, and Me

 

 

When the game, in its second over-time, was finally down to its last 10 seconds and it looked like we had it in the bag, the floors and walls began to shake with excitement as GW supporters stomped, chanted, sang and cheered. After a rather long game of basketball (it was such a tight game!) the GW team won and made our first time to the basketball here a thrilling experience, one that we are already all planning on going back to together. It was awesome too meeting up with a large group of the other exchange students as obviously during the week we don’t see each other all the time as we are all off meeting our own friends in classes and hanging with our roommates, etc, so it was a great opportunity to meet back up as a group after a couple days apart.

L to R: Ella, Sophie, Mads, Me, Dion, and Mia
L to R: Ella, Sophie, Mads, Me, Dion, and Mia

Aside from the basketball, the other highlight of this week was having my friend from Ohio visit for the weekend, and sightseeing with her. We started the weekend off with breakfast at the Old Ebitt Grill as we were told that it was iconic here in DC, before beginning a long stroll down the National Mall enjoying the sights of the monument, the World War II memorial, the Lincoln memorial and the Vietnam memorial. The grandeur of all the sights, especially the Lincoln memorial, certainly did not disappoint and were as magnificent as my memory served based on my visit years ago. The weather definitely set the scene this visit, especially as we were able to step onto the semi-frozen reflection pool and essentially ‘walk on water.’

My friend from Ohio (Marissa) and I!
My friend from Ohio (Marissa) and I!
Marissa, Mads, and I
Marissa, Mads, and I

Eager to indulge our collective sweet tooth, our next stop for the day was a visit to Georgetown Cupcakes – and indulged we were 🙂 . With cupcakes in tow, we continued our day down on the banks of the Potomac, where we went ice-skating. Realizing my lack of skills on the ice (and that of my friends), we found ourselves eventually needing to move on once again…after embarrassingly being overtaken numerous times by the small children on the ice.

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And so the fun in DC continues, and with more of the long weekend to look forward to, I cant wait to take advantage of all the new opportunities and experiences that come my way.

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

The week that has just past has been an incredible, albeit an insanely busy, week filled with orientation activities, moving into our dorms, numerous trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond and the opportunity to meet a whole new group of friends made up of people from all over the world, as well as some GW students. Consequently, this has been the first moment I have had to sit all week and so I thought this would be a perfect time to reflect on my first week here in DC, and then of course to share it with you!

Since arriving a week ago, I have definitely been trying my best to get the lay of the land – and to get used to some changes between DC and Sydney, namely the cold! Arriving for the second day of orientation activities in ankle deep snow was certainly something that I realized I would quickly need to adapt to. Then later being evacuated due to a fire alarm, also in said snow, was something that really was beyond my range of weather familiarity. However, after my absolutely necessary investment in snow boots, I feel I have tackled the snow adjustment as best as possible.

Snowy Day in DC
Snowy Day in DC

Another major change has been moving into a dorm shared with four other girls. In Sydney it is rather unusual to move out of home, especially for college, and therefore this is my first on-campus/dorm experience, and also the first time I have ever shared a room in my life…or lived in a house of five people for that matter. Whilst this could have required a major adjustment or felt really uncomfortable or strange, I have been so incredibly lucky and have absolutely lovely roommates who I cannot wait to get to know even better throughout the semester.

Apart from a lesson in how to deal with the cold and live with others, this week has definitely taught me a lot more about what to expect throughout the semester and how to make the most out of my time here – so thanks Study Abroad office!

I guess really the highlight of the week has been meeting so many new people and starting to really get comfortable with life here! My best friend from Sydney and I were actually both assigned together to GW so I walked in on Monday knowing someone but also knowing that we were both so keen to make new friends and share experiences with them too. The Australians seem to make up a relatively significant percentage of the exchange student cohort this semester and so we were immediately attracted to each other, keen to find out what schools and cities we had all come from.

As well as us Aussies, we have students here from almost every corner of the globe and I have really enjoyed getting to know people from countries all around the world and learning elements of their culture from them – some of these conversations have been really enlightening as I have yet to visit the countries from which they are from, and others have been really fun to share my experiences with natives from a country in which I was a ‘foreigner.’

Meeting Martha
Meeting Martha the Hippo!
Alice (Italian) and I before the Capitol Tour
Alice (Italian) and I before the Capitol Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know everyone throughout the week was really enjoyable – especially because we had the opportunity to both meet in a more formal or educational environment, as well as in a more social capacity. As well as that, this group provides us all with friends eager to partake in many of the same things we are during our time here – for example, touring DC and travelling on weekends. In fact, again courtesy of the Orientation week planned by the Study Abroad Office, we have already begun exploring the city and some of the monuments and museums it has to offer. One of the highlights of this week was definitely the group tour that we took around the Capitol – especially because we had an amazing tour guide whose knowledge and interest in the Capitol was immediately engaging.

Capitol Tour!
Capitol Tour!

Despite the construction currently underway on the dome and within Rotunda, the artwork and sculptures were beautiful and seeing the original home of government, even with some of the structural elements and artifacts from before the attack by the British, was definitely exciting – especially for the history-lover within me. Particularly interesting was the unquestionable yet gradual development in who could be featured within the Capitol building and seeing the bust of Martin Luther King Jnr and the statute of Rosa Parks certainly acted as a reminder of the progression that has occurred and a reminder of the changes that are still required. It certainly was inspiring hearing the stories of some of those featured within the Capitol however, even more so was the fact that it was immediately noticeable that, although in the past perhaps only the contribution of white men was considered significant enough to deserve recognition in the form of representation, the presence of women and those of other races was finally recognized equally. Unquestionably, for me, that tour was the stand-out activity of the week.

Meeting all the Exo leaders too was really fantastic! Having been in their position in Sydney before, it was definitely different to be on the receiving end, however, all of the leaders were fantastic and so easy to quickly befriend! As all of our first GW friends, they definitely made a good impression :).

Me, Nick (ExO Leader, Madeline, and Sophie (Right to left)
Me, Nick (ExO Leader, Madeline, and Sophie (Right to left)

On our final orientation day we were instructed to go and see an assigned place that perhaps we wouldn’t otherwise see during our time here. My group received the national postal museum which, although we were initially disappointed to get (sorry!), we actually had some fun at. There were definitely some stamps with interesting heritage and history and I found myself particularly interested in the pieces of mail that had survived atrocities such as the sinking of the Titanic, the San Francisco earthquake, and in particular, mail retrieved from the rubble at Ground Zero.

Making our own stamp at the postal museum!
Making our own stamp at the postal museum!

With some time to spare before meeting our group’s Exo leaders, we made the decision as a group (we were placed into small groups at the beginning of the week and so it was with that group that we were sent to our various locations) to visit Walmart, justifying it as an important American experience (and more than anything, an essential stop for those bits and pieces that we still needed to set up our dorms efficiently). Our official Orientation activities concluded with lunch, for my group at Busboys and Poets in Chinatown, with our Exo leaders, Chao and Erin. It has been really great getting to know this small group so well over the last week, and especially to get to know people from the group at large.

To finish off my first week here in DC, two of the other Australian girls and myself went to brunch on Sunday morning, followed by a Georgetown stroll and shopping expedition. DC is such a gorgeous city and although my leg muscles are undeniably feeling the pain of my desire to explore despite a lack of car (I’m so used to driving everywhere in Sydney!), I cannot wait to continue to see as much as possible.

It’s been a fantastic first week here and now, if you’ll excuse me, my roommates and I must continue to decorate our new home.

Until next time…

By carlyfisher4

Since receiving my acceptance letter, the common response I've had from all that I've told is 'wow, congratulations...are you nervous?' - in fact so many people have questioned my nerves that I'm starting to think that maybe it's weird that I'm not nervous at all. With all the excitement that has been building up surrounding this semester, who has had time for nerves?!

 As this is my introductory blog, I'd like to welcome you to what I hope will be an amazing way for me to document my experiences whilst on exchange at GW. If you're reading this as a fellow exchange or GW student, I hope to meet you soon and that your experiences will too be chronicled in this blog. If you're a future student deciding whether or not to apply for your exchange semester here, or waiting excitedly to depart for the adventure that awaits (like I am now), I hope that this is in some way helpful to you. To my friends and family at home in Australia - I hope you read this so I don't have to repeat the same stories over and over again (but then make sure you still Skype me!!). Oh, and to my guaranteed audience...hi mum 🙂
 I cannot wait for my introduction to GW and all that life in DC has to offer! But before that, let me introduce myself seeing as I was presumptuous enough to decide who you are.
 Carly
Hi, my name is Carly 🙂 I'm 21, from Sydney, Australia and am obsessed with theatre and travelling. I love sightseeing and immersing myself in new cultures. I'm outgoing, really like meeting new people and love taking photos! I love hanging out with friends, performing arts, history and partaking in new activities and experiences.
There's way more to know about me but as this is a weekly blog I feel like I should save something 🙂
 With the semester's beginning fast approaching, I've been thinking a lot about what to expect, what it will be like, etc. I'd love to entertain any American readers and say that my expectations of the American college experience come solely out of movies like Legally Blonde and the like but I do think I have, hopefully, a more realistic idea of what to expect...

- I expect to meet new people, make new friends, and find like minded individuals

- I expect to be challenged because I think we all achieve our best when we are

- I expect to have some learning curves but all of which will be plausible to overcome

- I expect to be late to class for a while - I'm still finding my way around my university campus in Sydney so I expect to
have similar hurdles!

- I expect to learn a lot from my professors, knowing that they are amongst the top in their field

- I expect to find it a bit strange to share a bedroom - only child alert!

- I expect to see parts of America I haven't yet seen despite my numerous trips there

- I expect to indulge in DC's theatre scene

- I expect to visit the Cheesecake Factory a number of times, buy lots of snapple and frequent Starbucks (it's the little things haha)

- I expect to miss my family back home - I always do whilst traveling - but I expect that this experience will be well worth
it even so.

- I expect to get involved in all that the college has to offer - that's the kind of personality I have and GW has amazing sounding student life.

Most of all I expect to have fun and make the most out of my time in DC
So, welcome to my blog - it'll be great getting to share this experience with you
Until next time...
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