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By anthonyscheergwu

March and February were very busy months; with all the traveling in addition to classes and homework, I realized that so far I had visited more of the US outside DC than DC (I’ve visited more things in LA then I did in DC). In DC I have become very familiar with GWU’s Gelman Library and the rooms on the ground floor of Marvin that offer the most undisturbed and quiet study sessions ever. But outside of that I hadn’t seen much of DC.

Therefore I decided to spend the whole month of April in DC and visit this beautiful city — and what better time to start than at the beginning of the cherry blossom festival?

I started my discovery of DC by doing something people here talk about every day — “brunch.” In my 2 years in Paris, I don’t think I’ve been to a single brunch. I did hear people talk about it, but it wasn’t as big. In DC it's probably the thing people talk about the most after politics.

I heard great things about Agora so I went there with my cousin who was in town. We were quite hungry and decided to go for the unlimited option of the brunch. The food was great, the restaurant was full and lively and yet the service was efficient and fast. I won’t talk about it too much, but I did take pictures of everything him and I were able to eat and so I’ll let those do the talking:

*As I said we were quite hungry!

We then went to the Washington Monument for the kite festival. The weather was great, and therefore everyone looked much more happy. There were tons of kites and people running around in attempt to untangle their kites. The atmosphere was great and it was truly appealing to see the sky full of colorful kites flying around.

At the end of the festival I decided to walk around the Tidal Basin to see in real life all the picture I have been seeing online of the cherry blossoms covering the shores of the water. The blend of pink, white and blue with the Jefferson on the other side was a great view. Taking a picture was a bit complicated because the path around the basin was stacked with people but I did manage to get a few pictures of the landscape and myself.

During this walk, I saw the Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Both of these places were impressive and rich in history. I eventually found myself following a Park Ranger who was talking about the history of DC, which helped me learn a lot about the history of this place.

On Sunday, I went to Union Market where throughout my time there, I kept asking myself why I hadn’t come before. The variety of food there was amazing (there was even a Burmese inspired restaurant). I ate oysters, a few Burmese dishes, and got ice-cream. I got full pretty fast that day which annoyed me cause I wanted to keep eating, but that just means I will go back there soon. Definitely recommend going here if you're ever in DC and hungry.

To continue my exploration of DC, throughout the coming week I will be going to different museums I’ve heard great things about!

By recueroraquel.

Just kidding. It lasted a day. But that day was Saturday, I didn’t work and I had the chance to go both to the Kite Festival and the Cherry Blossoms around the mall and the Jefferson Memorial. I went with my friend Miren and we spent the morning going around families and kids playing with
their kites. We tried to go make one ourselves but the line was infinite. Then we went around the Martin Luther King Memorial to take the same pictures that flooded Instagram that same night. It was a really nice walk, however it was pretty crowded.

Miren giving me her best influencer face.
In my head I was like “Is that kite abandoned? Shit. No.”
There was a line to take this picture.

I went home for lunch and then I realized I didn’t want to study at all, so I texted my friend Luca to have a picnic in the mall, since he had already invited me to have dinner and grab some drinks later with Conor, his roommate, best friend, and definitely, my favorite American so far. We brought some drinks, prosciutto and bread, cookies and we played Uno and pet a dog that was around until it got dark. The weather was so nice I didn’t want to leave at all! After dinner and another Uno battle that of course I won we went to Johnny Pistolas (I know GWU students love it, but still, I need Latino music!) After a few gintonics and pretty much done for the day we walked all the way home enjoying the good weather that of course, didn’t last. Anyways, I'm heading to NOLA today! I'll keep you updated!

“Why on f*****g Earth I'm playing this stupid game?”
The most beautiful sunset in DC ever.

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.

When I decided to come to D.C as part of my degree, I had also taken into account my passion for American politics. D.C doesn’t deserve its reputation as a heartless capital, filled with greedy corporations and stern-looking institutions. Not only is D.C home to congress, the White House and the Supreme Court, it also contains a vibrant civil society, which is the beating heart of the nation’s capital. This is what I witnessed last Sunday at the “march for our lives” event.

As an external observer, I took part in the march. And I did it gladly, even though it is not my fight. Coming from Europe, guns are seen in a completely different. Or they are literally not seen at all by people who can’t use them: no concealed or open carry of any sort. No second amendment. Arguably, no school or mass shootings of any sort, as a result of no guns given to civilians. But this is another story.

I slept in and woke up around 11. I grabbed a quick breakfast and was soon out of my place. After a week of bad weather, finally a sunny day. Cherry blossoms, rays of sun, and the city is completely revamped.

I went to the Lincoln memorial, thinking I was going to find a protesting crowd. But there were sparse groups of people, some with signs, but mostly tourist. I asked for information and was directed to freedom plaza, close to 13th and E street. Where the march was happening. Turns out, the March wasn’t a March, it was a huge gathering. I made my way through the mass of people, took pictures of signs, laughed at the spelling mistakes and shuddered at the death related statistics. The testimonies of the activists on the stage were powerful, to say the least. It was a very emotionally charged march.

More than 500.000 people attended the march, according to reports. On top of that, similar marches were organized all across the US, elevating the march to being the biggest for gun control.

America is so alive politically. The citizenry does care. And I know it’s not only DC.

People voice their approval, as much as their disapproval for their political leaders. In comparison, Italians passively accept what happens. More often than not, the majority adopts a resigned posture with regards to politics. They don’t happen to think that they can use their voice.

In a capital like Rome, it would be hard to be dragged into a nation-wide demonstration.

That’s the beauty of D.C. You can wake up on a mid-semester Sunday morning, decide to go for a walk to end up being part of a historic moment.

By sophieheard

   It has been such an eventful fours months that it seems crazy that it’s all over! It has been a week of last celebrations, reminiscing and goodbyes. As some people head home and others move on to their next
adventures, it’s hard to accept that you’re not going to be spending every day with the same bunch of people that you have come to know and love.

Luckily, it's not a final goodbye! People may live on opposite sides of the planet but its definitely not the last time you get to see each other. The experiences you share don't disappear and the bonds you make last a lifetime. That’s the thing about studying abroad - yes you study and yes you are abroad. But it is the people that you share it all with that really make the difference.

Looking back on the semester, it has been packed with protests, parties, food, travel, learning, sport and friends! I got the opportunity to cross so many things off my bucket list! From witnessing the inauguration to participating in the Women's March and Muslim Ban Protest. Spring Break in Miami to road tripping down South! Watching the Wizards, Tar Heels and Colonials win! Being in central park during a blizzard with no one else around. Pedal boating on the Potomac surrounded by the cherry blossoms. The countless nights spent down at the Lincoln Memorial. And not to forget the more mundane nights (which are also some of the best) of cooking all together in Shenkman Hall.

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new things (both in and especially out of the classroom), try new things, learn what you like and don't like, travel, meet people from all over the world! It is six months that you get to attempt anything and everything - fail at some and succeed at others.

It truly has been a great time at GWU, in DC and in the US. Foggy Bottom very quickly became our home that it feels genuinely weird to be leaving. To all those that made the past semester possible - a massive thank-you! And to all those who are about to arrive - enjoy!!!!

Goodbye America - it's been fun!

 

By audrey

I guess you could say this week really put the study in study abroad. I guess the professors are trying to tell us that spring break is all but a faint history and it's time to return to the daily grind.

That being said, I managed to take time out to explore last weekend. As April commences, we bid goodbye to winter and open our arms to spring. DC's annual cherry blossom festival had its opening ceremony this week and it was nothing short of amazing. Thereafter, we took a walk along the Tidal Basin, past several monuments and admired the pink and white blossoms.

The reason for DC's cherry blossoms dates back in history - Japan gifted DC with 3020 trees in 1912 after the first batch of 2000 sent in 1910 got infested with disease and pests. Since then, countless First Ladies have commemorated the start of the festival by planting their own cherry blossom tree. The one's that we are seeing now are of the Yoshino variety but in another two to three weeks, the Kwanzan variety will start to bloom, giving DC residents and visitors a second chance to admire the majestic flora.

I was actually surprised to see that many of the blossoms were white in color, as opposed to the pink ones I had seen in Japan . Nonetheless, the paler color gives the surroundings a pure aura and are great for taking pictures too! While at the Tidal Basin last weekend, I actually met many people visiting from out of state, proving how popular the festival is. While our visit was short, we managed to capture some great graphics!

This week, I also took a trip to Tysons Corner in Virginia and it's basically a huge mall where you can find practically everything. I went there for one very specific reason: Kung Fu Tea. Back home, whenever I craved it, I simply had to walk to the opposite street to get me some boba milk tea. In DC, it's a lot more difficult to get hold of a decent cup of bubble tea and thankfully Tysons' is an approximately 30 minute journey on the Metro, great for a quick getaway in between classes. The mall is also home to the only Uniqlo in the DC region, and I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for jackets or even basics that are of a great quality at an affordable price. I will stop talking about this now because this post is starting to sound like an advertisement.

Thereafter we headed to Dupont for tea and dinner. For now, it's back to the daily grind at Gelman Library.

By sophieheard

This week we officially said goodbye to winter and welcomed in the spring season with warmer weather and cherry blossoms.

An old friend of mine was in town for the weekend and we decided to make the most of the springtime and explore the local areas that surround DC. Old Town Alexandria is just a short fifteen-minute car journey that takes you outside DC into the state of Virginia. It still blows my mind that within such a short period of time I am able to hop between states. That is one of the great benefits of living in DC, you have access to so many different places.

Our first stop in Old Town was lunch. We headed over to Caphe Banh Mi for some Vietnamese food before stopping at Dolci Gelati for dessert. I ordered the grilled lemongrass chicken and had the cookies and cream and bacio gelato, both of which were absolutely delicious.

We spent the afternoon just wandering the streets, popping in and out of all the little boutiques and antique shops. Founded in 1749, Old Town resembles a miniature model railway town. As George Washington’s hometown the area is full of history, old red brick buildings line cobblestone paths.

 

We headed down to the waterfront and stumbled into the Torpedo Factory Art Center. In a small colonial town, I wasn’t expecting a showcase of modern art. On each floor in the factory artists were creating, exhibiting and selling paintings, sculptures and photographs. My personal favourite was Alvena McCormick, an American artist who had been painting since the age of three.

 

After a day of shopping, food and art we made our way back to DC for dinner. We hit up Jaco Taco in Georgetown and finished it off with a cupcake from Baked and Wired. As it was the first warm day of Spring everyone was out in the city and the lines for both Georgetown Cupcake and Baked and Wired were wrapped around the street. Although it is definitely worth waiting 20 minutes for a cupcake I’d recommend not queuing up hungry!

Despite having a very mild winter I am looking forward to making the most of the warmer weather before I have to return to the cold.

By sophieheard

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This weekend it was my turn to play tour guide. A close friend of mine, who I met whilst she was studying abroad at King’s College last year had come down from Philly to catch up and check out DC. Her timing could not have been more perfect as the temperature reached up to 75°F (24°C) and the cherry blossoms came out in bloom. We have been so fortunate with the weather this year, the winter has been extremely mild and spring has arrived early. This time last year it was snowing and now people were out sunbathing. As I hate the cold I am so glad I have not spent the semester freezing my arse off.

 

 

We grabbed lunch, headed down to the National Mall and spent the afternoon sitting at the edge of the Reflecting Pool basking in the sun and catching up on all the events of the past year. To escape the heat we went and checked out the Renwick Gallery before heading to Georgetown for dinner. After eating way too much pizza we decided that we still weren’t full and went to the famous Georgetown Cupcakes for dessert. I had only tried the Baked and Wired cupcakes before but I definitely prefer the Georgetown ones. As the sun set on Georgetown and as the Oscars were in a couple of days we went and checked out the film Lion at the AMC cinema.

 

The next day we headed across town to Eastern Market. Although it is only a small market they still had a decent selection of food stalls. We had Mexican street food for lunch followed up by mini doughnuts. As the weather changed we decided to make the most of the free museums in DC and explored the Air and Space Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The holocaust memorial was particularly sobering and extremely poignant in the current political climate. It was unsettling to recognise certain parallels between past and present events as the museum also makes connections between past cases and potential future risks of genocide.

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Once again we hit up 14th Street for dinner. This time around we headed to Thip Khao, which specialises in Laos food. I had never tried Laos food before as it is not something that is commonly available in London. However, it is definitely something I will be searching for when I return home. We devoured a range of dishes from chicken hearts to pig ears (trust me it tastes better than it sounds!) before finishing the night off at Eighteenth Street Lounge.

It was great to be able to catch up with an old friend and show her around the city. As we explored DC I realised how much I had come to know and love my new home.

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