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By evavilloslada

So this week was really good, but only because on Thursday it was my birthday. Also, on Tuesday I went to the movies to see Murder in the Orient Express, and I really loved it. The end was so unexpected, and it kept you guessing all the movie. You should go, because every Tuesday the tickets cost only $5, which is really cheap.

On my birthday I woke up to receive calls from all my family and friends, which I loved because it had been a long time since I've talked with some of them. Then I went to have lunch at a restaurant called Mediterranean Grill, and I really loved the food. Later we went to buy groceries because we were going to make two cakes for dinner. We spend all the afternoon cooking, and my Spanish friend also made me Spanish tortilla for dinner, which is my favorite food, so it was great. Then we invited everyone to have cake, and we spent the night talking and eating. I also received an awesome present from my family, a map in which you can scratch the countries you have visited, and as I love traveling there is no better present for me.

Friday was also amazing because we went to see a NBA game, the Wizards against the Miami Heats. Sadly we lost, but only for two point in the end, so the game was really exciting. It was the first time I went to a basketball game, and I really loved it, more than football I think. Then, we went to have dinner in Chinatown, and I have to say I have never tried a fried rice as good as that one. I really want to do both things again.

On Saturday we went to Georgetown, as we usually do every week, to buy some things, and see if the ice skating ring was already prepared. It was closed, but I think it will open this week, and I'm eager to go. I have loved ice skating since I was a little kid, and it will be so much fun. Also, walking down M Street and the Waterfront is one of my favorite  things to do here in DC, I think I will never get tired of doing it.

We finished the week going to Founding Farmers for brunch, everyone had told us that we should go, but we hadn't gone before because you have to make a reservation, and we always forgot about it. The food was amazing. I'm starting to get used to have breakfast food for lunch. Well, American breakfast food, because no one in Spain eat that kind of things for breakfast, we usually only eat toast or something like that. Either way, I definitely will be doing brunch more often.

By sarajebbar

At the beginning of the week, I and another exchange student were invited to have a dinner with an American family to get to know more about the culture and try some homemade food. The event was organized by the exchange program advisors and it was a great opportunity to discover other sides of the Americans and their local life. Our host was working as an exchange advisor in GWU years ago. So, it was really nice to talk to her and her partner about her previous experiences with exchange students and to share with her our adventures in Washington DC. The food was really good and the two hours we spent there made me realize more about the American culture in some different states of the US.

For the weekend, as it says from the title, I went to MEXICO. I have always been dreaming of visiting this country but it was really difficult to do it from Morocco since the flights are really expensive from there. So being the US gave me the opportunity to discover Mexico. My flight was to Cancun but I stayed in Playa Del Carmen which is a city an hour from Cancun. I stayed there from Thursday to Monday. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever had. In the first day I went to an island called Cozumel where I had the chance to snorkel and swim with all types of fish, sea turtles and starfishes in the Caribbean sea. I also went to two parks: Xel-ha and Xcaret and they were insane. The first one was a water park with many snorkeling spots, slides, rope jumping… And the other one was exhibiting the Fauna and Flora of the region and at the end I stayed for a show that represented the specific music and dances of each region of Mexico. It was really beautiful to see how within one country there are different cultures, and that show was a summary of it all. Mexico is also known for its cenotes which are holes that lead to a pool of turquoise-colored water connected to secret underground caverns. I visited two of them: Dos Ojos and Ik-kil. Those cenotes were surreal and snorkeling there was simply fascinating because under the clear water you can clearly see all the reefs and the beautiful underwater life. And apart from the beautiful beaches and turquoise water, Mexico has a very rich history especially of the Mayans and Aztecs culture. So, it was a must to visit Chichen Itza which is a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula and one of the seven wonders of the world. It was really fascinating to see how the history of Mayans was carved in the rocks and how it’s still preserved until now. Tulum was also a great city to visit both Mayan ruins and the beach at the same time. What made this trip special is spending it with other Mexicans so I had the chance to get to know more about their culture from a local perspective.Mexico is one my favorites countries right now because it combined between the beautiful white-sand beaches, the tropical forests, the turquoise-colored cenotes, the rich history, the great food and the nice and outgoing people. And it was really nice to see with my eyes that it’s really far from its stereotypes shown in the media.

 

 

 

By evavilloslada

After nearly three months of good weather winter has finally arrived, and this week has been freezing cold. With cold meaning that on Friday we got -4 degrees. However, I really love winter, and the cold too, so it has been a nice week for me.

As always, my week has been the same until the weekend. Friday was really a long day due to all the things I did. We decided that after three moths of being here it was time of visiting the Library of Congress, so despite of the cold we took a bike and went through the National Mall to the library. The National Mall, as always, was mesmerizing with the sundown. I think I will never get tired of taking pictures there. Sadly we didn't arrive on time to the library, because it closes at 5 pm which is kind of early for me so I didn't think about it. It seems we will have to go another day.

Later that afternoon, we went to the first basketball game of the season, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. In my university back at home we don't have "university spirit" and I don't even think there is an official basketball, or other sport, team. So, it was quite surprising for me seeing so many students there. Of course, the event started with free food, drinks and music on the entrance. The food lasted from 6 pm until 7:30, when the game started, which is pretty awesome.

I loved the game, seeing the cheerleaders, the band and everyone supporting the team. Everything was just like in the movies,  which is one of the things I have always envied of United States' schools and universities. And to make everything even better we won the game. Needles to say, I'm planing on going to as many games as I can.

On Saturday we went to see the Archive. I have done many things in DC but I have been putting aside all museums and stuff like that, so it is time for me to start visiting all the museums I can. Most of them are free so no one has an excuse to not going. I really liked seeing the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, at the end of the day they are three of the most important documents of United States' history, and being able to read such old documents is a privilege. In the door there was also an exhibition of army helicopters and you could even sit inside and take all the pictures you wanted. It was a really cool experience.

Sunday was a busy day. We woke up early to go to the Tanger Outlets, some of the other students had told us that thy had good sales, so if you like shopping there is no better place to go. There are lots of shops and most of them have lots of discounts on everything, which is amazing. Nevertheless, it is also bad, at least for me, because you are tempted to buy everything!

We had all the day planned because that was the day the National Harbor´s Christmas Tree was going to be lighted up. We walked from Tanger Outlets to the Harbor, and we stopped to have lunch in the MGM Hotel and Casino, and it was quite an amazing hotel, sadly also too expensive.

National Harbor is just beautiful. I really loved the place, it reminds me of the beach and its atmosphere, which are the best. The afternoon was full of events, with Christmas films playing out in a big screen, an orchestra singing Christmas songs and even fireworks. Sunday was one of my favorite days so far, which probably has something to do with me loving Christmas.

 

 

By evavilloslada

Halloween is a huge thing here and last weekend wasn't everything, not at all. On Monday the exchange leaders prepared an event in the rooftop of 1959 E Street with pumpkins, music, and candy. It had been a long time since all of us were together, now all of us have things to do and I only see some of the exchange students and leaders. So it was really great to meet with everyone again. We had a really good time carving pumpkins, it was my first time and I really had fun, now I have my little pumpkin as decoration in my room.

Tuesday was the real Halloween day, and of course we went to do trick or treat.  A group  from the university planned everything for us, and when we saw on Facebook it was going to be in the embassies we thought there was no better way to spend the day, and we did´t need costumes. So we met in Kogan Plaza and walked to Embassy Row where we started going from embassy to embassy. Some of them only gave  one candy per person because we were many people, but others gave us tons of candy. In most of them there were people disguised, and you could take photos with them. I wasn't  that exited about trick or treat at first, because in Spain only the kids do that, but it was a good time to get to know more about Washington DC. What most surprised me was all the university students that were doing trick or treat on their own, dressed up with costumes, as I said, in Spain this is not something a university student would do.

 

During the night there was another event in 1959 E Street, with free pizza, cotton candy, and cupcakes. I really love when they do things like this, because is the only way we have to meet people in the hall as we don't have a dinning room to meet with the rest. Another crazy thing about the United States is that they really have a thing with free food. There is always some type of event with free food in it. You won't see that happening any time soon in Spain. I think that is probably because we don't have clubs as they have here, so no one is up for preparing anything. After all, students are much more invested in university activities here.

The rest of the week was as any other, although we went to Georgetown on Thursday to buy clothes for winter as the weather is finally getting colder, the rest was all about writing all the papers I have for next week.

However, on Saturday we tried something different and went to a coffee shop to study. It is especially prepared for that, with books everywhere, and enough space for you to study. It is called Busboys and Poets, and you can also have lunch there. In the afternoon we went to Arlington National Cemetery. I had never been there before, and I have to say I was impressed. There were so many rows of tombs creating a beautiful picture, being autumn made everything even better with the beautiful colors of the trees. Visiting it is a must of the things you have to do in Washington DC.

On Sunday we went to have brunch. We went to a place called Ted's Bulletin, and I love this place. The food was amazing. But it was crowded, so maybe you need to make a reservation beforehand. Anyways, it was one of the best brunch I have ever tried.

Other exchange students had told me about running in the National Mall, and how awesome it is. So to finish my week I decided to go for a run instead of going to the gym. I'm not used to running, but I enjoyed it anyway. Of course I had to stop to take some photos because the monuments at night are breathtaking. I'm definitely doing it again.

By sarajebbar

I know it’s not the Halloween week yet, but in the US they start celebrating it the whole month of October and especially this week. In Morocco, we celebrate many holidays during the year. So, coming from a cultural-rich region makes holidays my favorite period of the year. I was so excited to experience Halloween in the US since in my country we’re not used to celebrate it. We only have some parties going on the night of Halloween and that’s all. But here, it’s a whole new level.

During the week, there were many Pre-Halloween events organized by the university. Donuts, apple cider and candies were served everywhere for FREE. The scary Halloween decorations were all over the places on campus. They also organized a pumpkin carving event in which you can carve your pumpkin and take it with you for free. Me and my roommates decided to take 2 pumpkins home to get in the spooky vibe. There was also that event that I really loved in Kogan Plaza where they served popcorn, cotton candies, pizzas, burgers, and a lot of candies. Being the foodie person that I am, Halloween celebration was happiness for me and I wouldn’t tell you much candies I brought home with me to survive the next days. And to get more in the Halloween vibes, we also decided to bake ghost-themed brownies and share them with our friends.

Even if it’s not Halloween yet, there were a lot of parties organized this weekend. But I wasn’t very lost between my options since they were already limited because of my underage. I was so confused about my costume but at the end I went for the mainstream skeleton. We had so much fun and it was definitely much more better than the Halloween parties we have in my country. It was also really funny to see people in all types of costumes walking DC’s streets during all the nights of the weekend. I’d say that Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next Tuesday in the actual day of Halloween.

By evavilloslada

As all of you know halloween is a huge thing here in United States, in Spain we don’t even celebrate it. Maybe when you are a child you do trick or treat but that is all. Normally what I do with my friends is watch a  scary movie, that is how all of our halloweens are. But here everything is different.

We started our week by going to the cinema to watch a scary movie, Happy Death Day. Yes I know, I’m always going to the cinema but I love it so we have decided to go once a week. Anyway, the film wasn’t that scary, there were even funny parts in it, although some scenes really creeped me out. It wasn’t the best movie ever, but it wasn’t that bad either.

Halloween parties are also a huge thing here, and all the clubs had scary themes nights. I usually don’t tell you about parties because after all they are all the same, but I really wanted to talk to you about this place. That night, we didn’t get inside any club because it was too late, so we went searching for food, and we found Crepeaway. I have to tell you guys, this place is amazing, not only because they sell crepes, but because at night it was better than a club. Everyone was dancing on the tables like crazy, and you could ask for any song you wanted. They put every song we asked for, and we stayed there until it closed at 3.  On Fridays it closes at 4 so it is even better.

On Friday afternoon we went to see Georgetown university, I really liked it, but I think being in the center of the city is way better. However, I think our university is not that typical (film like) because of that, after all you can’t have a normal campus just three blocks from the White House.

After that, we came back to campus because there was an event in Kogan Plaza called Boo Bash. It was an event created by some students groups and it was awesome. There were lots of free food, pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and cookies. Also they made a costume contest and other giveaways. They even had a photo booth with hats and things to put on for the photos. And two acappella groups sang a few songs making the evening even better. They also had planned a movie night outside, but we found out too late. We stay there chilling out for a while and then we went partying.

After that my whole weekend was about partying and painting my face because I didn’t have a proper custom. Overall I really have to say I like Halloween way better here than in Spain. Also I love seeing pumpkins everywhere and all the other decoration.

By evavilloslada

Finally, I have finished all my midterms. I had all of them during this week so I could summarize my week with me being stressed out and studying all the time. Thankfully I finished on Friday and I didn't do bad on my exams.

It has been already two months since I'm in Washington DC, and I love this city more and more each day. Although I spent all my week studying, the weekend has been eventful. On Saturday, I woke up at 7 am to go see The White House Gardens, they did a tour around the gardens for free so I couldn't say no to a chance to take a closer look at the White House. We had to wait for a little bit, but it was completely worth it. We were so close it felt unreal, however I wish I could be able to get inside,  I know people that have been inside and they told me it is amazing. The gardens were huge, and there were photos all around showing President Trump having events in the gardens, they even had an orchestra playing in the garden. Also the views of the Washington Monument were breathtaking. I can't imagine living in a house with those views.

During the afternoon, we went to the Blacklight Run, and it was so much fun. It was $25, but I would definitely pay again for it. It is basically a run in which you have powder and you can throw it to everyone, also during the race there are people throwing  powder at you. And in the end, when you finished there was a DJ, like a huge party with powder flying everywhere. It is really a experience I would recommend to anyone. You end up being a mess but that is the best part. It was a 5 kilometer race, but if you don't like running you can do it walking, lots of people didn't run and had fun anyways. There were also food trucks so you could also have dinner there, everything was perfectly prepared.

On Sunday we started by having an ice cream sandwich in Captain Cookie. I had never tried one before, and I loved it. It is like ice-cream but with cookie, the perfect combination. It costs 5 dollars but you won't regret it, I swear.

Then we rented bikes to go around the National Mall, and to  see the Jefferson Monument. Half an hour is free and you have lots of stations everywhere to leave the bike and take it again. An hour is 2 dollars which is quite cheap in my opinion. The day was wonderful and I loved biking around DC. This was my first time seeing the Jefferson Monument, and it is my favorite one so far. I loved Lincoln's too, but seeing Jefferson's one from the other side of the water is simply beautiful.

By sarajebbar

 

I don’t know why they call it Midterms week because for me I’m having midterms for 3 weeks now. This week again I had two midterms and I still have one to go. I can’t wait to see the grades to finally know how I’m performing here in GWU. So, after a tough week of exams, I deserved some rest and fun during the weekend.

One of the experiences that I loved doing during this weekend is going to a corn maze in Lawyers farm in Maryland. As you know Halloween is coming, and there are a lot of activities happening in Washington DC around that. The event was organized by GW Campus Outreach and honestly, we had a LOT of fun. It was my first experience in a corn maze and I really enjoyed it. I have never thought that getting lost in a maze is a real thing. But it was fun being lost for an hour trying to find the exit in the dark while scaring each other. By the end, we had s'mores around the bonfire. It was really cool to get around the fire and talk for a while, especially in that freezing cold weather.

Since I love outdoor activities, after a night in the farm around the fire, I had a hike with GW Trails to Mary’s Rock summit in Shenandoah National Park. The Shenandoah park was two hours drive from GWU but the scenery in Virginia’s roads was so beautiful. The hike was relatively easy, one hour up and half an hour down. But I can’t describe how fascinating the nature was. The trees were colored from red to faded orange colors. It was so beautiful to see the autumn vibe at its best in the park. Golden leaves were covering the narrow itineraries and I totally loved it. The best thing was the view from the Mary’s Rock summit. You just can’t get enough it. I would say it was totally worth the 15$ and going to Shenandoah national Park should be in your bucket list here in DC.

On Sunday, the White House opened its doors for the public to visit. It was a tour in the Gardens and apparently it happens twice a year. You can imagine the massive amount of people in line to get their tickets to the White House at 8 am. After a long wait, we finally got them. It was nice to get a tour around the White House gardens and get that close from the presidential residence. But as the non-morning person I am, I think it wasn’t as impressive as I expected but at the end it was a must thing to-do when living in Washington DC.

And the greatest way to finish the week was to get Moroccan food for lunch. I didn’t think that I would miss it that much. It was SO good and I can ensure that by the approvals of all my other friends that tried it for the first time. At this point, I’m still not homesick yet but going to the Marrakech restaurant reminded me of how much I miss my country and its food.

By evavilloslada

These past two weeks have been amazing, going to New York and Florida has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go again.

Sadly the fall break has ended and we have to go back to the reality, studying for the midterms. This next week I have three midterms and lots of assignments, so I haven’t done anything but studying this entire week. As I have never had an exam here before, I’m quite overwhelmed with everything.

Nevertheless I got to do a few things during the week, one of them being going to the cinema. Here the cinemas are awesome, you have much more space and you can even lay down. We want to try all the types so we went to the Dolby Cinema and I have to say I was speechless. The difference with other cinemas is that there is an Astonishing brightness, deep darks and vibrant colors render each moment with spectacular impact. Also a breathtaking  sound in the room that flows all around you. The sleek, power recliners reverberate to move you deep into the story. It's quite expensive, 18$, but is something you should try at least once. We went to see Blade Runner and the special effects were much better, I really loved it. Also remember to bring your GWorld with you because you will get discounts.

On Saturday night I needed to take a break so we went to have dinner to Chinatown. We went walking because it was a beautiful night and it is only 30 minutes walk. There were lots of places so we had trouble choosing one. We went to a small place and we ate for 15$. Then they gave us a fortune cookie, they don’t do this in Spain so I was kind of excited. It said that people will follow me to hear me talk, kind of a good thing.

This week hasn’t been a really interesting one, but after all, studying is more important. So I wish best week I have more stories to tell.

By evavilloslada

The best week so far, and that is because of New York. Right now I am writing this post at 1:00 am in the bus coming back to DC from New York, and I don’t have words to explain what this weekend means to me. Since I was 10 years old I had been dreaming about visiting New York, all the films I watched unfolded here, in the city that never sleeps, so coming here is something I always had in mind.

Unfortunately, we could only come for a weekend, three days are not enough to see everything but it is still worth it. Taking a bus from Washington DC to New York takes only 4 hours and, if you chose wisely, you can make it with 30 dollars. So at 7 am Friday we left to see the city everyone talks about. We arrived in Manhattan, we had lunch and start walking to two of the main attractions, the Empire State Building and Times Square, we didn’t go up to the top of The Empire Building because it is quite expensive and the views are better from The Top of the Rock, so we choose the last one.

The first time I saw Times Square, I have to say I was impressed, there is nothing alike in Spain so it was stunning for me. Then we went walking down to The World Trade Center to see the 11S memorial, and then to Wall Street, where we saw the bull and the little girl in front of it. But the best part of the day was seeing the sunset from the Staten Island free cruise, the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty where breathtaking and the whole trip was incredible.

Then we walked to Chinatown to have dinner, the neighborhood was really cool, there are lots of places to eat there, and the food was amazing. We finally ended up crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and watching Manhattan at night. We had an apartment in Brooklyn, but it was quite far so we had to take the metro. I highly recommend you to book an apartment near or in Manhattan because otherwise you are going to spend a lot of money and time in the metro.

 

The next day we woke up at 9 because we had to visit many things. After having breakfast we decided on going to Central Park and there we rented bikes so we could see the whole park. We spent two hours cycling and seeing the park, and even in two hours we couldn’t see everything, so next time I am in New York I am definitely going to Central Park, it is a place everyone should take their time on visiting, seeing the lakes, going to the MET, lying in the grass, etc. Cycling there is one thing I highly recommend, it is only 15 dollars for having an amazing experience.

 

 

On Saturday we had dinner in a place called Black Tap, where they have amazing milkshakes, I tried the Oreo one and it was one of the best I have ever tried, besides they were huge and looked great.We then visited San Patrick's Cathedral and The Top of The Rock. Clearly, those were the best views of Manhattan, I’m grateful we chose it because the sunset there was something especial.

We ended up going to Grand Central and finally to Times Square, at night is much more better and all the lights make it seems as if it was in the morning, We stayed there chilling and enjoying the atmosphere.

Our last day we spent it walking around Soho and Little Italy, where we had a wonderful Italian lunch. We also visited the Washington Square, and we were lucky to see a TV show being filmed, maybe we could even appear somewhere in the crowd.

We kept on walking till Chelsea Market, a beautiful place where you can find multiple places to eat and relax. Finally, our walk ended in the Flatirion Building, after that the group separated because some people was going back to DC. I stayed until 1 am, and my last moments in New York were in Times Square watching a magician that left me speechless with all his tricks, it was really funny and astonishing watching him.

Then we took the bus and here am I, writing this post, and so exited about the whole weekend. I did other things during the week, like going to Katy Perry’s concert, but New York deserved a post on its own, so I will leave that history for another time.

I would tell you guys to go to New York but I know I don’t need to because everyone wants to go there. I hope you love it as much as I do, because after all there is nothing you can’t do in New York.

 

 

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