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By anthonyscheergwu

Since spring break was my only week off during this semester (unlike in France where I had a 2 week February break and 1 week April break) I decided to do as much as could and therefore my Spring Break will be divided in 2 blog posts; this one where I’ll talk about my time in Mexico and the second which will be about my 4 days in San Diego and Los Angeles.

No, I did not go to Cancun, I instead decided to visit Baja California. My spring break trip began at 3 in the morning in DC, I had to pack for my flight at 6am. I got to my flight in time, landed in San Diego and made my way to the border. Once I got there, I expected tons of people, but no, it was relatively quiet and I was able to enter Mexico in less than 30 minutes (if you want to cross the border do it walking and not with a car, there was a huge lines for the cars that were crossing). The only thing worth mentioning about the border was the amount of cameras. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where I constantly had every corner of my body on camera. Once I got across, I went straight to Rosarito. We got there around 7pm and were super hungry. Our Airbnb host told us to be careful with Mexican Street food if we had weak stomachs so we got worried and went to a fancy Mexican restaurant which I honestly thought had very mediocre food. 

We spent the next day in a hotel by the pool and only got out to go eat. I went out to the same food stall to eat tacos throughout the day. Also, I thought it was a myth that the Coca-Cola in Mexico tasted much better than in the US but it really isn’t, I ended up drinking more Coca-Cola in the next 3 days than I did during my last 3 months in the US.P

I spent Sunday on the day on the beach, and in the afternoon my friend and I decided to rent ATVs because we saw people driving them around the beach throughout the day. Once we paid them, we followed a guide onto the track and we were given 30 minutes to ride around. I’ve driven ATVs on the beach before and enjoyed it, but since we had a track this time it was much more fun. Instead of driving randomly on flat surfaces, we had turns and bumps which made it much more fun. 15 minutes in my hands were already aching but I pushed through the 30 minutes. Throughout the 30 minutes we had a guy watching us and whenever I tried to do something “new” such as attempting a donut, he would start waving with huge gestures that I should stop. I definitely recommend renting an ATV if you by chance go to Rosarito.

That night we went to Tijuana and had dinner in the city and we were exhausted so we went straight to our hotel room and I was asleep by 10. The next morning we decided to do everything that google recommended in Tijuana before heading back to San Diego. We went to the cultural museum, the market, a church in the city and specific areas of the border which were more interesting than others such as the border in the water. It was really interesting to be in Tijuana in person cause the news talks about this border daily and being there in person felt quite unique. One day in Tijuana was enough because there honestly isn’t much to do there so after the long day we decided to head back to San Diego!

By anthonyscheergwu

I decided to go to New York after a week of living in the library as I had to work on my mid-terms. I took the bus Thursday afternoon and arrived in New York by 6pm.

Thursday night I didn’t too much because I was so tried. I met up with some friends and walked around the city randomly to explore it.

We woke up early Friday and did the touristy things right away. We went to the one world trade centre, 9/11 Memorial, the charging bull on wall street, and saw the Statue of Liberty from far. I personally thought the two most impressive things were the one world trade center and the 9/11 memorial right next to it. Standing right under the one world trade center and looking up is really impressive because the triangular angles of the building give the impression that the building’s top is infinite. This was the same impression I got at the 9/11 memorial because I couldn’t see the bottom of the hole in the middle and I kept wondering how deep it was.

After a morning and afternoon of visiting New York, I started planning a dinner with a couple of friends that live in NYC. People always say that NYC is great because there are so many different things to eat, and while that’s true, no one ever says how annoying that is. Because NYC basically has all the different types of food you can imagine, planning a dinner with 8 people is close to impossible. After juggling between 8 different options, we decided to go to none of them and just go to an Italian restaurant 30 seconds from where we were staying.

That night we decided to explore the NYC nightlife and I understood why people always say that NYC is the city that never sleeps. We went around different places and every-time we were moving from one place to the other, there were people on the street, the subways were not empty and the roads still had cars circulating the streets. By 5:30 we got hungry and unlike in DC, Paris, or Yangon, finding food at the time was actually very easy. We even had a couple of different options to choose from which was pretty amazing.

Saturday we started our day going to Kellogg’s Cereal Bar. I definitely recommend going there because I don’t think there are a lot of places in the world where you have a bar that serves only cereals. We got a seat in front of a TV and watched cartoons while we ate our 5 dollar bowls of cereals. Afterwards, we walked around Times Square and SoHo, and basically just shopped and ate throughout the day. For dinner we went to Chelsea market and this place, again, has the bittersweet feeling that I got throughout my trip in NYC — there was so many different things to try and everything looked so good that instead of enjoying what I chose I kept thinking of what I didn’t get to taste. Therefore I ate at 4 different stalls, of which one serves really tiny doughnuts.

Sunday morning I took a bus back to DC and booked my next trip to New York while going back because I loved this city and I didn’t see enough in my 3 days there.

By recueroraquel.

As many of you have probably seen, I’ve been working at Gelman library since the beginning of the semester. It’s a really nice job, it’s pretty chill and allows me to make money enough to cover all my expenses. My tasks are basically check people in, mostly patrons from other universities or institutions, students that forget their Gworld, prospective students and people that come to attend events that take place in the library. When I’m at the check-out desk I check books for people, I find the books they requested from other universities or the ones the want to get from the reserves and I help them to find books in the stacks. Sometimes, I also help people who need an appointment with a specialized librarian for research. I love being at the check-out because it’s when I’m interacting with people and friends come say hi and bring coffee which is so nice. Some other times I’m shelving books back to the stacks or discharging them. My coworkers are so funny, there’s a really good vibe and we all help each other. If you are looking for a job and they open any position on Handshake don’t hesitate to apply, it’s such a great place to work in!

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So professional. Trust me, I work at Gelman Library!

 

Also, a couple weeks ago I got an internship in the Permanent Mission of Spain to the Organization of American States. I work directly with the Ambassador, attending meetings in the OAS itself or visiting other representing Embassies on behalf of our delegation. Then I write reports that are send straight to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid. I have my own office in the Embassy, that is located in Massachusets Avenue in front of the Islamic Center of DC. On Fridays, when usually Muslims gather for the prayer in the afternoon the athmosphere is really good and I love watching from my window. Last Friday I also went to the Embassy of Canada for a meeting, and to a council in the headquarters of the OAS where the Secretary General Luis Almagro gave a speech. I feel so happy I got this opportunity, it’s a dream internship!

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The views from my office, the Embassy of Canada and the Headquarters of the OAS

 

By recueroraquel.

Even though I’ve been studying at GWU for around six months now, there are several thinks that keep shocking me. Education in Spain is way different than in the US and that determines a lot how we are and how we understand the world. Here are some of the things that shocked me the most:

  • University is SO EXPENSIVE: Most universities in my country are public, meaning that around 80% of the cost of tuition fees is covered by the state through taxes. For this reason, many people independently of their background can access university. To enter a university in Spain you have to take a public exam during your senior year of high school, and the highest the grade you get, the greater number of degrees you have access too. Private universities don’t require people to take this exam and accept people that got a bad grade or failed, and because of that private universities are generally considered bad quality, while public ones seem to be more competitive and have a higher prestige. For me, the fact that people take loans that they are going to be paying for years just to go to school scares me and makes me think that education is only accessible to those who are privileged enough.
  • Living so far from home: In Spain, as in many other places in Europe college education is a natural extension of high school, so most people live with their parents and attend the closest university. In the US, a lot of people leave their parents’ home as soon as the finish high school and they study really far away. I’m so jealous of that!
  • Masters program: Generally in Europe we get our Masters degree straight after our degree, and only then we start working. I guess since university is so expensive people need to find a job before going to college again.
  • “Hiring all majors”: That’s something I love from the US. One of my business professors got a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering and after a few years she started working for the World Bank. Then she got an MBA and now she’s lecturing at GWU. In Europe, it’s really hard to find a job out of what is considered your area of study.
  • Courses:  When you study a Bachelors degree in Spain, all courses are fixed until the spring semester of senior year, and everybody is supposed to graduate at the end of their fourth year. This means that everybody has a fixed schedule, let's say Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm, and the same people you start the first day with is the people you are going to be with for the next four years. In the US it is completely different and for me it was really shocking when I had to create my own schedule and I realized that I saw my classmates just once or twice a week!
  • Majors and minors: They don’t exist in Spain, just “Bachelor in…” and to be honest I still don’t know how many credits are each or how they exactly work.
  • Internships: In Spain, an internship is a compulsory course in every degree. Every Bachelor program has agreements with different companies or public organisms that take interns during the spring semester of senior year. Internships are unpaid in almost every case. During the rest of our degree, we don’t intern. I never questioned myself why, because we had the chance but however nobody does it. I loved the idea, and that’s why I’m interning now in DC!
  • Police presence: This one is what shocked me the most. While GW has its own university, the Police in Spain needs the written permission of a judge to even enter the campus! There’s no way you can spot a policeman in a university campus. This law exists to protect freedom of speech, discourse and the right of reunion of students and professors since Spain was a dictatorship during 40 years and university students and professors suffered constant censorship and persecution.
  • Cafeterias and beers: In Spanish universities every building has its own cafeteria. These places are so cheap because they are supposed to be student-friendly and they offer lots of different food. Since the legal drinking age there is 18, usually before, after or in gaps between classes students go grab some beers and play cards or just chill in the open areas of the campus. Yeah, you can buy beers in a university cafeteria at 9 AM and everyone is okay with it. Now I see how weird it is.

Anyways, even though there are some things that I miss from my home institution and the university environment in Europe, I feel like college in the US is way more enriching and a more holistic experience. If I had to choose a system I would definitely prefer to study in the US for the remaining time until I graduate!

 

By anthonyscheergwu

Since school was closed Monday for Presidents Day I decided to take the opportunity to travel somewhere, and somehow, I ended up in Boston. Apparently my Burmese friends want to go to places that are even colder than DC...

I had a lot of time since my flight was at 7:30pm so I decided to try the electric scooters, and I ended up going from GWU to Union station with it. The trip ended up costing me more than taking an Uber, so I wouldn't recommend it. I took the MARC train to the airport and got there much faster than I expected (if you want to save money, fly out from Baltimore it’s much cheaper than Dulles).

I landed in Boston at 9pm and quickly realized that city is very proud of their NFL team. I wasn't expecting this, but the high of winning the Superbowl persisted as I saw tons of people wearing Patriots clothing.

Friday morning my friends were sleeping, so I decided to head to the center of Boston and walk around the city center, and meet them for lunch later on. I decided to take the bus but I didn’t have cash nor a travel card so I was planning on showing the driver my card from DC and asking him for a free ride into the city so I could get a “Charlie card” there. When the bus arrived an old lady had a hard time getting off, so I helped her get on the sidewalk. I then reached for my wallet to take out my DC card as I walked into the bus and the driver said, “You’re not paying for this ride, god bless you” which was pretty convenient. During the rest of my trip there I noticed that Bostonians were quite friendly compared to Parisians.

I met up with my friends by noon and since some of us were first-timers in Boston we headed to Quincy market. Since Boston is known for their lobster rolls, I tried it and honestly if you’ve had lobster and bread before you aren’t missing out on much. Not saying it’s bad but it’s nothing spectacular. After the market, we headed to the harbor which was really beautiful, the mix of old and new architecture is pretty spectacular in Boston. In my remaining 3 days there I visited Cambridge, the Harvard campus, Boston commons, and spent a lot of time walking around and exploring the city. I’ll say this one more time, Boston is beautiful and I definitely recommend visiting this city!

Now for the less “touristy” aspects of my trip: During my 4 days in Boston I managed to go to IHOP twice and both times at 3 in the morning. I discovered that Burger King sells 10 nuggets for 1 dollar. I saw some of my high-school friends and we managed to gather 19 Burmese people at Harvard for a reunion (here’s a picture of all of us). It was great to see my childhood friends and hang around Boston with them!

On Monday I took the bus to New York, managed to visit Times Square for 20 minutes and take another bus back to DC after (I saved a lot of money taking the bus back but I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan on doing it only). I’ve been to New York twice now but spent a total of about 2 hours in the city so next weekend I’m going there for a few days!

Also, I was told that licking the shoe of the John Harvard statue would bring me good luck so hopefully I won’t fail my midterms now!

*I didn’t actually lick the shoe in case it wasn’t obvious that I was making a joke.

By yassineaourid

I hate goodbyes, really! And I hate thinking that this will be my last blog for this semester. I have experienced an amazing time here at GWU and in Washington D.C. in general. I had some great opportunities, got to know a lot of amazing people, improved my skills... I started to get used to this new way of life. Going to class early in the morning, eating those Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at lunch, running around the mall during the weekend,  drinking the morning Latte at Starbucks downstairs, going to Wholefoods to buy groceries, installing all the must-have apps (Netflix, Uber, Lyft, Lime, Venmo...), buying a Canada Goose (No just kidding), going back to my wonderful room on E Street. The location is really awesome and the address rocks! 1959 E Street what an address! It could be my password in the next years :p

I loved meeting people here at GWU. The people I met this semester were all speaking at least three languages, having some insane intellectual skills and very friendly and kind. I had great roommates and we had really fun at our weekly parties. The American experience was so rich that I will probably miss some important amazing episodes.  Do you know this feeling when you have so much to say but your head is empty? In four months, I was able to make two apps, one of them will be useful for International Affair students. It's an efficient news app that gets articles from all over the world. I learned how to play Golf and acquired some of the basics of Yoga.

In a nutshell, I had a really good time at The George Washington University, the Exchange program assistants were very nice. The staff was very professional, I have a special thought for the mailing and packaging services agents who helped me get my Amazon Prime packages this semester, and of course, my awesome professors with whom I really felt the pleasure of learning. I can't wait to visit Foggy Bottom again.

Thank you for having followed my blogs this semester, I hope it was entertaining and fun.

 

"The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph"                                                                                                                                                               George Washington 

 

By angusmack101

This'll be my last blog for the semester. Thanks to everyone who's been reading them; it's a small piece of validation, but I get a kick out of it—and it's definitely influenced me to do interesting things since I got to GW. That said, this hasn't been the most outlandish week.

It's more-or-less the same no matter what university you're at: finals are a pain, nobody likes them, and you either rise to the occasion and knock them out effectively or you get swallowed up by the system and crash & burn. So far I've handed in two major assignments without a hitch and I'm leaning heavily on the last two. However, there has been a small problem.

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Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

For those not familiar with the world of file recovery software, that screengrab represents the loss of my entire final video project. An automatic Windows 'drive repair' killed the entire thing, presumably because it doesn't like files formatted for use on Macs. Not a happy day for me, but thankfully I should be able to salvage a passing grade out of the class after some talking to my professor. I'm not actually that devastated, my grades here aren't going on my GPA, so the loss is more isolated to the project itself than anything else. I can go home satisfied that I did learn something valuable from the class as well as receive a lesson in the importance of file backups at a time where I can afford to get it. If I believed in fate, this would be an example of it at work.

Just be grateful it wasn't you, kids. Learn from my mistake.

Aside from that it's been mostly business as usual. Some alternating low-&-highkey social evenings — including one final party with some friends at American — and a lot of writing. My other creative final turned out pretty well; I managed to build an interactive website documenting the film Inglorious Basterds. I'd host it to show it off for anyone interested, but that costs money I can't afford to spend. Enjoy this nice jpg instead.

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There's more to it than this, I promise.

I highly recommend the course for anyone interested. Interactive Web Design, it says a lot that despite taking 4.5 hours from 8 a.m. every Friday morning, it was still one of my favorites. If you're looking for a creative and problem-solving outlet, web design is a fun skill to pick up. It's also fun to learn how the internet actually works, and you can leave with a marketable skill with unlimited potential to develop it for whatever purpose you so desire.

Once again thank you to everyone who's been reading my content these last four months. I'll be touring the country til mid-January before I have to head home and start another year in Melbourne, and I'll definitely look back fondly on everything I've experienced at GW. If the economy doesn't kill me first I'll probably get a buzz out of rereading all these rants in a few decades — hopefully as a much better writer and having done many more things like it.

By angusmack101

The final week of classes is upon us. There's no more need to guess about when assignments are due or what they'll involve—it's all on the table. In a week and a half my semester here will be complete, and I'll have to actually start planning my end-of-year travel plans. It's not gonna be cheap.

This week was fun, though. The Bernie Sanders talk I've been waiting a month for was excellent. It was definitely more of what we've come to expect from him after a few years of relatively high exposure. He did go into a bit more depth about the 2016 campaign, which was a welcome change. It wasn't hard to imagine why he didn't leave his house the day after the election.

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You can google a better picture of Bernie than I could ever take. Here's one of the crowd.

I also went on what will likely be my final TRAiLS trip this semester. We drove to an indoor pool in Maryland for a charity 'Scuba Santa' event where we got to swim around in scuba gear and take a picture with the big guy. It was a good time, as I've come to expect with TRAiLS, but the actual scuba stuff was mostly overshadowed by the comedy of watching people flail off a 5 meter diving board. We had a good couple of hours in before the pool manager kicked us off the board and out of the hot tub, and we were happy to wrap it all up at a local Italian joint and get back by late afternoon.

02 - scubasanta

Props to this guy for spending four hours underwater in a fake beard

Aside from that it's been mostly study and preparation for finals. Not as glamorous as I'd like, but definitely a necessary evil. Hopefully I can squeeze a few more memorable moments into my last few weeks.

By yassineaourid

This week was particularly amazing since I decided to dedicate more time attending events. There are plenty of events every day in GWU, it's insane! The number of events I see on Facebook is incredible. There are events for everyone and a variety of themes are present. This week I was interested in three major events.  Two of them are related to my major (Computer Science) and the other one was more cultural.

The first event I attended was about Machine Learning. It was a sort of introduction to this huge field of Comp. Sci. The speaker was implausibly a sophomore student. I swear he spoke better than any Ph.D. I have met in my life. I would take him as a professor. A sophomore!! This is something I noticed about American students. They get involved in an early age in topics they are interested in, and they put a lot of effort into what they like. I was also surprised by the questions asked by the other students who attended. I felt like I was in a high tech conference. The second event also related to Computer Science was about compilers. I will spare you the details, although it is a fascinating topic.

I met a student who is going to my university next semester as an exchange student. So I got to know her from now. She invited me to an event of the association that she represents on campus. It was a Multi-Faith Dinner where three representatives of the three monotheist religions were gathered and were talking about the Holy City, Jerusalem. We had a discussion afterward and it was very interesting.

I can't believe we are already in December, I feel like June was last week. Only one week of class left, who would believe it? I will miss several people here, especially my friend Alexandre who works at Subway downstairs. He makes some pretty decent sandwiches

Next week will be more active! Stay tuned and enjoy this beautiful picture taken in Kogan Plaza by my friend Manuel Fazioli

 

 

 

 

By yassineaourid

Do you remember my trip to New York when I said that it was the best week of my semester abroad? Well, I think we have a competitor.

This week, I have been through so many situations and experienced so many things about the American culture that I truly felt I was in the USA. This week, Americans celebrated one of the most important holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. As a foreigner, I didn't know much about this holiday since we don't celebrate it abroad. All I knew is that the whole family is gathered and everybody eats a lot. But first, let me tell you about how the week started.

On Monday, most of my classmates didn't come. In fact, they took advantage of the long holiday to go abroad or go see their families earlier. Classes were pretty tiny and I felt weird being with a professor and two or three other classmates. On Tuesday, no one came to the Yoga class, thus I had a private yoga session only for me. It was much harder than usual because all of my professor's focus was on me so I had to make sure to make some pretty decent poses. Also, it was an opportunity for me to get know my professor since we talked a lot about my experience and about my country.

Wednesday was off so I went golfing with an exchange student at the East Potomac Golf Course (where I usually go for my Golf class) and we played 9 holes. The weather was amazing and our swings were perfect.

The following day was the big day. For those who follow me for a while, you must know that I was going to have a great Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, a few weeks ago, I received an email from the President's Office saying that students staying on campus for the holiday were welcome to have Thanksgiving Dinner with president LeBlanc and his wife at F Street.

When I knocked on the door, I was expecting a housekeeper or someone working in the presidential residence to open the door. Against all the expectations, it was president LeBlanc who opened the door and welcomed me. I was surprised and fascinated by the interior beauty of the house. It was warm and several students were already there. I had a discussion with the president who asked me a few questions about my background and my origins. Also, I had a discussion with Mrs. LeBlanc, a wonderful woman that I admire. I loved having a conversation and sharing my thoughts with her. What can I tell you more about this dinner? Oh yeah! Food! The dinner was remarkably succulent. I have never tasted such great turkey and Mac and Cheese. Everything was delicious, we even had Kobe beef, a very tasty kind of beef from Japan. We ate marshmallows with the president who showed us how to make a particular type of sandwich made of marshmallows, dark chocolate, and biscuits.

Overall, the dinner was great. I had a really good time at LeBlanc's and I told myself I wish it was Thanksgiving every day. To finish in beauty, I had a beautiful picture with my Thanksgiving hosts and I'm very grateful to them.

 

I was sad that Thanksgiving was over but when we talk about Thanksgiving, we also talk about Black Friday. My wallet hated me on Black Friday because I made some great deals that day. I would never regret my purchases. All the big brands had 40% even 50% off!

In conclusion, I loved this week a lot. No work, a lot of fun, a lot of food what else do we need? Although the weather was very cold this weekend, I went with a friend to the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo on Saturday night and it was very beautiful!

 

See you next week

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