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By claudiadev

I come from a city that prides itself on the quality of coffee. Melbourne had an influx of Italian immigrants during the 20th century, and along with their food they brought their coffee machines. In a city with generally glorious weather, outdoor cafes, and laneways a culture of coffee and coffee snobbery has developed. As a result I was a little concerned about the quality of my daily (or twice, sometimes thrice) coffee here in DC.

So here are my recommendations for coffee at GW and nearby. As an aside, I only ever order espresso machine coffee, so I have nothing whatsoever to recommend in terms of filter or percolated coffee.

Baked and Wired, Georgetown (1052 Thomas Jefferson St NW)

I love walking down to Watergate and then along the river and up the street to Baked and Wired. This cupcakery is near the Georgetown Canal, it has really comfortable couches (if you can get a seat) and on weekends sometimes has a line out the door. The cupcakes are the main attraction, and they are absolutely to die for – my favorite in Georgetown (a place over-run with cupcakes) – I recommend the Vegan Chocolate with Peanut Butter frosting or the Carrot Cake cupcake. But another excellent feature of Baked and Wired is their tea and coffee. They do excellent lattes; as good as I get at home, and a really great dirty chai, a cross between a latte and a chai tea. I love how they size their drinks too – you have a choice between big and small, no silly faux-Italian names here.

Filter Coffeehouse, Foggy Bottom (1916 I Street, NW) & Dupont Circle (1726 20th St NW)

My roommate took me here. She had been on exchange at the University of Melbourne, and knew this place made Flat Whites, a variety of coffee you struggle to find outside of Australia, and my favorite. Hands down, Filter is the coffee place most like home. Walking in is like walking into any hipster coffee place at home – a little pretentious, but so very worth it when that delicious cup of coffee gets put in your hand. A flat white is a little like a latte, but with no foam and half steamed milk, half espresso. Their original location is in Dupont, but there is one much closer to campus too. Neither location has wifi.

Bourbon Coffee, Foggy Bottom (2101 L St NW)

Bourbon coffee is a firm favorite of mine. They have wifi, comfortable seating, and a whole selection of milk options. I avoid dairy, and go for Almond milk over the soy, but there’s also the rice milk option. They do a good iced coffee and a really great latte. Bourbon also has some really interesting flavored coffees, including one called Pralines and Cream, which I really must try before the semester ends.

Starbucks (at Gelman Library)

If all else fails, and you want to grab a coffee before class, head to Starbucks. I order soy lattes, because the slight sweetness of soy offsets the burnt coffee taste. They also do decent iced lattes. The real risk with Starbucks is all the flavored coffees – the sugary syrups give me a sugar high on top of the caffeine hit! The Gelman location is always, without fail busy, but it does have wifi and is conveniently open 24 hours a day during peak midterm and final exam time. If you ever find the line is nearly out the door, go to the Starbucks inside the GW Hospital and if you’re down near the Elliot School, try the Starbucks there.

There’s also Dunkin Donuts, in the basement of Ivory Tower, which I go to because I live in the same building. But I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re feeling particularly lazy and I only ever get the iced lattes (and bagels…)

My name is Claudia, and I love coffee.

By zelenkal

In the last week I've had my first visitor here, which gave me a chance to play a tour guide in Washington for the first time. There were still a couple of things I myself got to try for the first time. After seeing the monuments in DC at night, during which I was amazed once again, we went to the The Kennedy Center. It has both a national and an international side to it – when entering you will either step into the Hall of States, the ceiling of which is bordered with the flags of all the American States, or the Hall of Nations, parallel to the first Hall, bordered with flags of other countries.

Hall of Nations
Hall of Nations

Apart from the wonderful view from the terrace, The Kennedy Center offers a truly remarkable interior, including the bronze JFK Bust, according to the website designed and created by Robert Berks. This sculpture is a worthy memorial to the 35th president accompanied by an exhibit devoted to this important figure as well.

The following events are very likely to be far less profound – I am going to talk about food. I had the opportunity to have the very first cupcake in my life (I know, it is shocking, how could I live before!) in one of the lovely Georgetown bakeries.Cupcakes My choice was Chocolate Cupcake of Doom, which is actually quite a fitting description. However, that was not the end of all the treats. After cupcakes we decided to taste a frozen yogurt. Again, this was the first time I have ever had a legendary froyo in my life and it was worth it.

The following day our tour changed its sweet character – we went for half-smokes to Ben's Chili Bowl. Having known the history behind it certainly made me appreciate the place more, however, it would have been quite an experience even without it. I enjoyed the mural painting outside as well as the witty saying that Bill Cosby and President Obama (including his family) exclusively eat for free. 2002-12-08 12.00.00-5-7The place certainly lives up to its fame and everybody seems to respect and enjoy its tradition. I guess people even enjoy the famous half-smokes, which is sort of impossible for a person, who barely eats meat (even finishing it was an accomplishment and I did my best to pay honor to Ben's Chili Bowl).

Another thing I have come to appreciate about US – donuts. It was no surprise, having watched every single Simpsons' episode I was looking forward to this. America sure runs on Dunkin'. And if not on Dunkin', then on Krispy Kreme. Personally, I prefer Dunkin' to Krispy Kreme, probably because Dunkin' is located just around the corner in the Ivory Tower food court, and because they offer a pumpkin latte, a really exotic coffee for me. Well, I am certainly enjoying the unhealthy food here.Krispy Kreme

Overall, having walked around Washington sights again, feeling more familiar with the place, I have to say, there is a lot more it has to offer then the renowned places. Moreover, there is a lot more even to the legendary places. And most importantly, there is something special in the fact that one is able to walk around these places whenever one wants. We are more than tourists now, we are coming back to places we have already gotten used to and it sure feels great.

By claudiadev

One of the things I was apprehensive about before arriving in America was living with roommates. I had thoughts of being isolated or left out of jokes and of not settling into the routines everyone already had in place for the semester.  I was also just slightly concerned I’d be put with people who were my complete opposites: incredibly dirty/messy ones who loved the TV and music I hated and stayed up till 4am weeknights.

In reality, my roommates are lovely. First off, we have things in common – TV included. This ends up in Sunday evenings spent watching the latest episode of Girls and our slight addiction to watching Jeopardy every weeknight. There’s also a large likelihood that if someone is in our living room during the day there’s a really terrible reality show on Bravo playing (terrible in a you just cannot change the channel way).

All three are seniors here at GW, and have been helpful with both advice on subjects and protocol (and directions!) as I’ve settled in. Their stories about college life and about living in America generally have been both interesting and eye opening. They’ve all had different experiences that have led them to GW and DC  – one’s from Kentucky, another from just outside Boston and the third is from Connecticut – and all three have studied abroad and have tales to share. This means they completely understand what I’m going through – helpful when I get a bit homesick for Melbourne.

We’ve got a pretty efficient chore chart worked out too, so arguments about taking out the trash or doing the dishes are redundant. From what I gather from my roommates, these can be seriously contentious issues in college dorms! All of us seem to prefer sitting on the couches to study and do homework, and none of us are up all hours of the night blasting music either.

What’s been most wonderful about my roommates though is their friendliness. They’ve invited me along to brunches, to the inauguration and even spring break. I’m included in the ‘in’ jokes and I’m not just seen as the little lost Australian girl here for the semester. They bemoan my under-21 status right along with me, and purposely plan evenings out to places I can go.

Last week on Friday we went out with a few of their friends, and my friend Rhiannon, who’s also from the University of Melbourne, to a pottery place. You pay approximately $25 dollars, can bring in food and drink, and get to paint a piece of pottery that then gets fired in a kiln. It’s such a fun, easy night out and we had great fun making fun of each other’s pretty abysmal artistic skills (although when we will get around to collecting our pottery is unknown...)

This Saturday our House Staff/Proctor had organized an ice-skating trip, and so we went along with our neighbor. At the rink it was only me who had abysmal skills, as evidenced by the horrific bruise on my knee today! I momentarily forgot about the knee pain and bruising when we went out for dinner afterwards in Georgetown – perhaps it was a food coma. We were at this amazing pizza place called Pizzeria Paradiso that I’d highly recommend!

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Three of us and our neighbor at the Ice Skating rink.

This afternoon we spent cooking nachos, ordering in pizza and eating far too much food (including carrot cake, because for some reason two of my roommates had bought one the other day). The amount of food was totally justified, because we ate it while watching the Super Bowl … until we got a fire alarm and had to evacuate the building. Luckily the alarm went off while there was a delay in the game thanks to a lighting fault at the stadium.

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Two of my roommates and I doing a silly pose at the GW Inaugural Ball

All in all, having such instant friends and roommates here has really made the adjustment to life at GW easy.

By lizalunstroo

“Hey girl, hey! I was just about to get a froyo in admo, you want to join?” “Totes! I just pulled an all-nighter and still need to get some groceries, but I’ll drop by fobogro later. Just give me two minutes.” “No probs, it’s so obvi you’re exhausted, I’m shocked you’re still up!”

- Behold: an average conversation between two GW girls running into each other on campus. I did try to cram as much slang words into these three sentences, but the words or expressions that you do not recognize are probably the words that a student at GWU knows, if not uses regularly.

My favourite slang words are words that one uses daily, and that are quite inconspicuous in character – words such as totes, obvi and probs. During the orientation week three weeks ago, the Office for Study Abroad taught us a short slang lesson, which was quite hilarious at the time, and my roommates and I are sometimes still making fun of it. However, with hindsight, it was quite helpful, and if I do not pay any attention to the language I am using, you might even catch me using these words for real. Another one of my favourites is the word hipster – a word describing someone who is considered to be a little alternative, or ‘indie’. In the beginning of our stay here on campus, my roommates and myself came up with nicknames for each other, and we continue to teasingly call one of us ‘Hipstah B.’

(Short digression: My nickname is ‘Miss Liza’, resulting from a short encounter with a man who fixed our power plugs – who continuously called me Miss Liza. He was very friendly, but now I am stuck with this name because my roommates won’t stop going on about it.)

Of course, there is a fine line between using slang and being inappropriate. For instance, if I would talk to my professors in the language as used in the dialogue I cooked up above, they would probably tell me off or at least lessen their opinion of me. Even for me, when somebody I just met tells me things like ‘F* meeeee’, I feel a little uncomfortable (this really happened). Nevertheless, in general, it is fun and easy to abbreviate your language.

Thesaurus:

Hey girl, hey!                                    Greeting a random friend in the street

Froyo                                                 Frozen Yoghurt

Admo                                                 Adam’s Morgan, a very popular street in DC during nights, with lots of clubs and bars

Totes!                                                Totally!

Pull an all-nighter                           Spend an entire night studying

Fobogro                                            Foggy Bottom Grocery (foggy bottom is the name of the GWU campus area in DC)

Probs                                                Can be used in two instances: probably, or problem(s)

Obvi                                                   Obviously!

I’m shocked                                     I am surprised

I hope this was all very enlightening. Have a good one, laters!

By gwblogabroad

There it is: we have found a way to make hundreds of loud and rude college students inoffensive. It is not the most elegant way but it is efficient. An epidemic.

It started at the beginning of the week. You ate somewhere, you touched something and before you knew, you had it. You felt nauseated and after a couple of hours you received an email from the university:

"The George Washington University Student Health Service is currently seeing an increased number of students with gastrointestinal symptoms, most likely of a viral origin.”

“No. No. NOOO” is your first reaction. Now that you are facing the truth, you have to tell your friends you won’t be able to brunch with them tomorrow.

You continue reading the email:

“While symptoms can be uncomfortable, gastrointestinal illness is usually not serious and most people get better in one to two days.  There is no drug treatment or vaccine for gastrointestinal illness.”

Well, this is the polite equivalent of: “Don’t bother coming to see us. There is no cure. And we don’t want to get sick too”. Never mind, you are brave, you will bare the consequences of touching door handles irresponsibly. You will just go to sleep and hope you will not die in painful circumstances.

Wait. The email is not over:

"The university is working with the DC Department of Health and is currently awaiting the outcome of testing to determine the cause of the infections.  The university is also working to identify any commonalities in the cases at GW.  No single commonality has been identified to date."

Are we talking about the plague? I am not even sure we have health service at my home university so an investigation about the causes of the epidemic seems a little bit disproportionate. If we think about it for a second, they are basically hiring people to find the cause of a disease that is not serious and for which there is no cure anyway.

They finally found the origin of the epidemic: it is a norovirus. That doesn’t help us much, but it is way more elegant than saying that you have gastrointestinal symptoms. Yet, during the next few days, you still see one friend after another being trapped in his or her room, like soldiers dying on the battlefield.

There are two possible scenarios now:

1) People will get better, fewer and fewer will get sick and life will be happy and healthy again.

2) This is the beginning of the end of the world foreseen in 2012.

Right now, it's 50-50 given that every office at GW has turned paranoiac and is cleaning every inch touched by a student. But let's not be pessimistic, if we survived the bird flu, we will probably survive the norovirus.

By gwblogabroad

A dorm party in the United States of America? That’s what I call living the American experience!  However, there is only one slight little problem. How can I describe what I’ve seen? How can I assign words to an experience that can only be felt and lived?  Well, in those cases, you can only try and explain to people (those who are not American of course, because I obviously already seem like an idiot to the American college students who live this experience every week) what  these parties are about and how they progress throughout an evening. Let the fun start!

Besides my roommates, I had no idea who were the people that were slowly filling our living room. The party started at 9:30 PM and I decided that hiding in my bedroom for as long as the party lasted was the best strategy to adopt. Here I was, sitting on my bed, wearing my prettiest dress, afraid of confronting the external world. Slowly, as time went by, distinguishing the sound of music became a harder and harder task. All I could hear at some point was a constant unpleasant sound of people talking. I have to say that, with my bedroom’s door closed, it sounded more like a swarm of bees attacking our room than actual people having civilized conversations.  Suddenly, the best thing that could possibly happen happened. My roommate barged into our room, feeling slightly tipsy (Yes! She is more than 21) and dragged me into the living room pretending she didn’t know most of these people herself.

As I stepped outside of my safe zone, I was amazed by the amount of people that can actually fit in this tiny living room. People were everywhere! The unpleasant sound became less unpleasant as I could now differentiate between the different sounds. I could see people desperately screaming hoping the person they were talking to would miraculously hear what they were saying. I could hear people laughing, that unique joyful laugh that happens only once in a while. But most importantly, everyone was smiling. Every single person in that room had that serene smile drawn on their faces. At that precise moment, I realized that people were truly happy to be here, to share unique moments with their friends, to let loose for once without worrying about classes, responsibilities or life and its adventures in general. This kind of gathering is what makes people lower the pressure by just embracing and enjoying the present. And so, I decided it was about time for me too to stop worrying about what happens in Morocco and make the full out of what happens to me in the United States of America.

I met new people. I had different conversations with various individuals; some lasted for half an hour and others for less than five minutes. But the point is that I actually had contact with real people instead of my usual (but precious and beloved) computer. Some of these people might forget about me. Others will politely wave at me when walking on the street. Very few of them will choose to stop and have a short conversation with me to ask about updates in my life. And probably, none of them will actually ask me to do something interesting someday to spend time together and learn more about each other in order to become friends.  Does it bother me? Not the slightest! Not because I don’t want to have friends here but because I am sure that if friendship is meant to be between someone and me, then it will! I just have to patiently wait for the right person to show up and not worry about anything but enjoying my stay in the US as much as I can.

By gwblogabroad

Welcome to our blog that we've created to share the experiences of some of our inbound exchange students. This blog has that fresh new blog smell. As we move forward with this new venture, we hope to share more from our bloggers about the trials and tribulations of being an exchange student at GW.

Though this blog is administered by the Office for Study Abroad, the submissions are entirely of the authors own work and opinions.

Stay tuned for more Postcards from DC!

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