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By emreceyhun

It was calm to be in DC for Thanksgiving, especially when no-one is around.

I was curious about the Black Friday madness that is the madness happening the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is used as a tool to boost the economy, and after experiencing that, I can prove that! Even though I could not see the people crushing each other, abandoning their humanity for a TV discounted 50 percent, My friend Can and I experienced the economy boost by going to a mall located in Pentagon City.

Pentagon City Mall is probably the biggest mall in the DC and hosts a number of luxurious brands, such as GUESS, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy's, Nordstrom, etc., as well as technology and food stores, such as Apple and AT&T.

It was so bizarre for me to experience that number of discounts simultaneously. These prices make people want to buy something even though they don't need to buy them. What is more bizarre was that the discounts are fixed for some certain period of time. For example, there was additional 20% discount in GUESS. Furthermore, I didn't buy a sweater that I liked due to these discounts. The sweater got more expensive! However, I ended up with buying 2 T-shirts and one sweater from Abercrombie & Fitch that I even don't need! It was funny that I used the discounts for my next time, given as a result of the things I bought, by refunding the clothes I bought. In other words, I bought those clothes with additional 10 dollars discounts! I bamboozled you, Abercrombie & Fitch!!

On the other hand, It was nice to see the city entering into the Christmas mood. I saw the Santa's spot at the mall where he gives presidents to the kids as well as a bunch of christmas trees. I have always seen this in the movies!


By emreceyhun

The World Bank Group Youth Summit, which is established in 2013 in order to provide a platform for young entrepreneurs to promote their ideas on development, has organised a number of seminars ranging from climate change to education in crises zones. This year, I was able to attend to the Seminar on Education in Crisis Zones. With the vision of "rethinking education for the new millennium," and over 150 participants from 97 countries, the summit focused basically on gender education, new skills for the new economy and innovation in education.


It was a great opportunity for me to discuss these topics with similar-minded people and professionals from different NGO's as well as the World Bank. Since I have been volunteering with Syrian kids in Turkey for more than two years, I have ideas related to the solution for the problems we have encountered. I can say that the World Bank Group could provide me with a platform so that I can convey my thoughts. On the other hand, the NGO's and policy makers (For example, policy director at the White House, Office of the First Lady or Education Technical Advisor at USAID) discussed the future of education in the crisis zones with us.


The Youth Summit hosted a competition for social entrepreneur projects. Out of more than 100 projects, 6 projects founders selected by the World Bank Group as finalists, presented their projects, and the winner is determined by the joint votes given by the audiences and the specialists in the World Bank. The winner was a platform called "NaTakallam" that connects displaced Syrians with Arabic learners through Arabic sessions over Skype. This simple, but revolutionary project gives learners access to affordable, flexible, ans tailored training with native speakers, and provides an enriching work opportunity to displaced Syrians who, once resettled in a host country, struggle to join the workforce due to language barriers or strict labor policies. The winners will be sent to the seminar for entrepreneurs in Argentina hosted by International Council for Small Business. However, this year, there was also a bizarre situation because there was a tie between two projects. As a solution, one of the senior specialists in the World Bank offered to provide the seminars cost for the other winner. So, the other co-winner, project "ROYA," will be joining the seminar in Argentina. ROYA mentorship program is a comprehensive educational program in Afghanistan that enables children of impoverished families - girls in particular - to learn English and acquire computer literacy. From the winners, I deduced that the ideas to improve the societies should not be that complicated and costly. Instead, by focusing on one aspect of problem, one can create tremendous changes in the society.

In the Youth Summit, I improved myself by being informed the humanitarian crises all over the world, especially Africa, and widening my perspective towards social entrepreneurship and the common problems arising in every conflict: children and their educations are most effected and needs to puzzle my brain.


By emreceyhun

It was a long and dense week because of the election, the mood of people who are disappointed with the results, and the people protesting the results. In addition to that, having lots of school work has made me really stressed and I want to move away from the city. My friend Raphael, in this stressful time, offered to go with me to the National Arboretum, which is a natural break from the heavy buildings of the DC. We are lucky that the Arboretum is really close to the city. The trip lasted about 15 minutes by bike. The National Arboretum is a huge botanic museum supported by  United States Department of Agriculture and Agricultural Research Service. Visitors can see a variety of collections from all over the world.

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The collections are:

  • Asian Collections
  • Azalea Collections
  • Dogwood Collection
  • Fern Valley
  • Friendship Garden
  • Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection
  • Holly and Magnolia Collection
  • National Bonsai and Penjing Museum
  • National Boxwood Collection
  • National Capitol Columns
  • National Herb Columns
  • Perennial Collections
  • Youth Garden

My favourite collections were the Asian Collections (consists of Asian, China Valleys, Japanese Woodland and Korean Hillside), Azalea Collection (consists of Historic Glenn Dales, Morrison Garden, Mount Hamilton Overlook, Henry Mitchell Walk and Lee garden) and the National Capitol Columns (twenty-two sandstone columns that once stood at the east portico of the U.S. Capitol now stand at the heart of the Arboretum).  I would suggest any one to follow the path I described above. However, since it was autumn, most of the flowers were not alive and we couldn't see the real beauty. I can not imagine how beautiful would have it been if I had gone there in the summer !

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By emreceyhun

It has been more than 2 months for me to be out of my country, and I really miss it!

For those who feel homesick as I do, Washington, DC is right place to find something related to other countries. This time, my roommates and I went to a Turkish restaurant. It was surprising that as opposed to Europe, Turkish restaurants are not that popular in the USA. In DC, there are 3 or 4 Turkish restaurants. I chose to go to Ottoman Tavern and it was located in  425 I St., NW, Washington, DC 20001. Even though it was little bit fancy and expensive, I felt like home and understood how much I missed talking in Turkish.

Also, it was the best opportunity for me to introduce my country to my roommates. At the end of the dinner, my friend Brennan, who will go to Lebanon as an exchange student from GWU, promised me that he will come to Turkey to see the real culture.

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We ordered chicken and döner kebabs. I have to admit that those food called "kebab" were not real kebabs. Kebab in Turkey are made with a variety of spices not with some sauces. I drank Ayran with kebab. Ayran can be called as yoghurt water and is always ordered with kebabs. Also, we ordered Lahmacun that I can be called "Turkish pizza". At the end of the dinner, as most Turkish people would do, we drank Turkish coffee, and Brennan tried to tell my future based on my coffee cup, which is a tradition in Turkey. After I drank Turkish coffee, one of my friends always tells my future. Even though Brennan was not that good at fortune telling, it helped me feel at home.

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By emreceyhun

I have been following the presidential election since it first started. Needless to say, the US has faced with the most polarised and disrespectful election in its history. The so-called winner of this election was Donald Trump by leaving behind the damage to the founding thoughts of the US.

According to polls, Clinton was leading at the very last day of the election. However, the Trump's argument that the media was bought and corrupted comes true and he won without any difficulties. Even though he said that he will be the president of all, I would argue, as a person living under the Erdoğan's regime, that this claim becomes meaningless in the context. Erdoğan claimed the same argument and eventually the contrary was proved. Even though Trump gets elected, it is not the day to cry or mourn. The US still has working democracy and no-one can predict the next four years. After all, in my opinion, there is no difference between the both candidates. (When I say this in the conversations, I am being accused of having the heterosexual-male-white mind. However, even though I am not a minority that Trump attacks, I belong to those influenced by the US policies in Middle East.)  If Clinton had been elected, I would have written the similar things.

I watched the elections with my friends. Everyone has a cheerful mood but it changed in 3 hours. After the election became certain, we decided to go to White House because we heard that it is a tradition to gather in front of it. Lots of mournings and cries welcomed us. On the other hand, Trump supporters, who are very few as opposed to Clinton supporters, were yelling as "U-S-A". Also, I tried to be on TV by standing behind the people giving interview to the TV channels. After standing behind everyone, I found a Turkish TV channel interviewing people. After a short conversation, I saw a Trump supporter giving an interview. Under the yelling from others, he was really happy. A man ask him if he knows where the Aleppo is. He answered him by giving the most egoistic laugh I have ever heard and he said of course he knows where Aleppo is. The guy asks him to spell the Aleppo, and the Trump supporters spelled it as Allepo.


It was a hell of experience for me to be in DC in the election mood, especially witnessing a historical election. However, the only thing I can say to you guys, now you have a president who trusts in Erdoğan!

By emreceyhun

Being in a most politically live city in the world requires to be besieged by the current political thoughts. It is beautiful to be in DC when it has faced the most bizarre election in the US history. On the one hand, there is a candidate whom, while having chance to be the first female president in the US history, is representing the old political thought established and seen that it has to changed. On the other hand, there is a candidate who represents the change in the politics, but uses hate speech to get votes.


There have been three debates that these two candidates faced with each other. However, it is clear that no candidate was perfect. No candidate has clear solutions for the problems such as foreign or social policies, but since Clinton defends the foundations of the country, most of the people around me defend her. Also, I have been hearing that people will move out the country if Trump gets elected because the US won’t be the same. At the first debate, Clinton was slightly better than Trump, which cannot create a big change in the election. However, there was a record of Trump in which he clearly humiliates women’s dignity. That could be a game-changer because he was defending himself by saying this talk was “locker-room” talk and in the debate when the topic is brought up he was claiming that he will defeat ISIS. This was a totally disaster for him, and it was really hard for me to listen that guy. I mean, I was ashamed. As opposed to that, Clinton didn’t, I think, well-strategize her policy for the Middle East. For example, she will defend a no-fly zone for the refugees. However, this was proposed by Turkey, but rejected by the USA because it is not economically possible for the USA to provide a no-fly zone in the region. Also, she seemed that she will continue doing the same mistakes that US has done in the region. Of course, most of the people can be against my statements, but I am just an outlier, and a guy who feels the US policies at home.


If I were a US-citizen, I would vote for no-one. Many would argue that it would cause Trump to hold the office, which is I think really bad. However, I would not humiliate myself by voting to a corrupted president either.

By emreceyhun

This week, my friend Hotsuki (from Japan), Anthony (from France), Annie (from Australia but originally from China), and I had chance to have an amazing dinner offered by a family from the Exchange Department. Furthermore, Supermoon and the view from the parking lot in Cardoza high-school were the bonuses of the night.

The dinner was organized by Taylor who is the Manager of Advising Services for the Office for Study Abroad at GW!! I don't know what this is, but it sounds really cool! Also, I think he looks like Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, and there was a time he was talking about cheese shop in DC and I thought he was going to offer some gouda cheese :). I hadn't said this to Taylor, but I know he will read this post so it should be okay. Also, Pethworth where Taylor and his family is residing is a nice and cute neighborhood that one may probably want to bring up one's children. Even though we did't have chance to see their yard back to the home, the environment was I think child-friendly.

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I think Taylor chose to cook burgers after considering what American food he can offer us, and this is by far a great choice. As deserts, we had fruit with non-fat creams, even though I think it includes lots of sugar 😀 I hadn't had any meal before the dinner so that I could eat more and I did!


We start conversing with the current presidential debate, of-course. Trump and his silly arguments were good icebreakers and thanks to this very hospitable family, we didn't suffer the difficulties of being  strangers at all. After we all agreed that Trump is not a qualified leader, Taylor and his family start telling their experiences in DC and the places we have to see. I should admit that if you are lost in DC, you can just call and ask Taylor, and he will definitely help you find the place with the name of the streets exactly. He was such a Google Maps! The parking lot of Cardozo high-school that has a view up to the DC was the first stop after hearing the suggestions, and it was amazing.


I will share the suggestions in here in case not every exchange student have chance to talk to Taylor:

  • For those who want to chill in the nature: US National Arboretum
  • Ice Skating at Mall
  • Drum Circle at Meridian Hill Park
  • Gingerbread House
  • Christmas Decoration
  • Treasury hunt at Dupont Circle
  • Christmas zoo night
  • Anacostia river keeper tour
  • Naval Observatory => I have already made reservation for it!
  • There are open house days for embassies located in Embassy Row. You should check on their websites.
  • Georgetown Halloween party
  • High Heel Race before Halloween

Those are the ones we could keep the Taylor's speed! At the end, I think that I made good friends and everyone should consider herself/himself lucky if s/he can have dinner with Taylor and his family.

By emreceyhun

- Oh my God ! Are you going to Washington DC ? You should definitely buy a bicycle !

This beneficial suggestion was given at my visa interview in Turkey. I immediately understood that Washington Dc has a improved bike culture and felt that this is the best way to feel the city and the history living in it. However, it has been almost 2 months for me to be in here but I currently figure out how to use Capital Bike Share that is a bike-renting company having more than 400 stations and 3500 bicycle in Washington, DC; Arlington County and Alexandria, Virginia; and Montgomery County, Maryland. I am writing this posts to inform those who love to ride bikes and not to get confused about the system and to lose one month to figure it out. I lost one month when I have the best weather to ride. I am so sorry about that.

If you see one of the station, you may think that to rent a bike costs 2 dollars for 30 minutes. This is right if you rent it for just one day. I first thought that it is not worth. Instead I could take a bus to go to the university. However, when I check its website, I saw that there is annual and monthly options. Currently, this monthly options is 28 dollars and annual is 85 dollars. If you rent a bike it is free for 30 minutes. There is additional costs for trips lasting more than 30 minutes but I will give you a trick; it won't charge you if you change your bike in a station when you see that you will pass the 30 minute rule.

Those are the pictures I take while bike !


By emreceyhun

The reason why people go to the parks is to chill and to have fun. However, this didn't happen when I arrive to Malcolm X Park. It was old and gloomy but the weather conditions may have affected my feelings also. The architecture at the park resembles the ones in Spain, and the fun fact is that the Colombian College of Arts & Sciences was established first on the area where the park is located now. So, it was amazing to see the area the first seeds of GWU are spread.

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On Sunday, my friend Raphael and his boyfriend, who recently came from Netherlands and I went to Georgetown. I have to mention that Georgetown is really impressive and I love it ! If anyone needs to move away from the stress of the city for a second, he /she should definitely go to the Georgetown and sit on the stairs and watch beautiful Potomac River.


Georgetown is also a place where the architecture suddenly changed. The houses get smaller and more expensive; the shops get more exotic, and the streets get cuter and more green. We have been to a hat and mask shop, and it was amazing.


BONUS: I started using Capital Bike Share that one can rent bike from more than 300 stations located in DC. I will write about it in detail but riding a bike at sunset is amazing at DC.



By emreceyhun

This week, Washington DC hosted a special and sensitive event, grand opening of National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a chance to go inside of the museum but join the festival dedicated to the opening. This opening has also special meaning for the US experiencing disproportionate and racist use of police force against African-American people and Trump's hateful and discriminative discourses against the diversity of US. I hope that Obama's thoughtful speech could show that this nation was not just built with the sacrifices of one race but the sacrifices of all.

The museum is located in 200 15th St NW, which is really close to Washington monument and the heart of the DC, and I think the location of the museum clearly shows the place of African-American people in American history. Even though I can not understand the gold color chosen to cover outside of the building, it provides aesthetic for the tourists.


Even though I have 2 papers, 2 midterms and 1 assignment for Tuesday (Yeah, this is what studying in a qualified university means !!), I had chance to attend the 11th Yoga event at National Mall, which was dedicated, this time, to the grand openings of the museum !!! Under the beautiful sun in Sunday, 200 people did yoga and experienced the peaceful air and solidarity created by the museum. After all, yoga is a discipline promoting finding peace in oneself and the world. However, it was my second yoga practice :). Yet, I really enjoyed the time I spent at the mall, and this time was different than past. This time, people sharing the same view help me believe in the possibility to achieve a better world.

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