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By minhsuanchen

     It has been about two weeks since I arrived at GW. Although there are various American foods here that I have not tried yet, I still miss Asian Food a lot. Therefore, my friends and I decided to go to Chinatown to enjoy local Chinese food to relieve our homesickness.

    Chinatown is not too far from GW. You can get there by taking the metro to Metro Center Station and walk about ten minutes. When you see a huge colorful arch with Chinese characters “中國城” on it, you know you are at the right place. In addition to the arch, you can also see many Chinese symbols everywhere.

 

(Dragon is a symbol of luck in traditional Chinese culture and in ancient China, emperors wore dragon robes to show their authority and power.)

 

(Chinese Animal Zodiac Sign is a repeating cycle of twelve years with a specific animal that corresponds to each year. The order comes as: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Chinese people remember the animal that symbolizes the year they are born and the particular features that animal represents.)

It was so cold that day, so we decided to go into a restaurant and have our lunch to warm up ourselves immediately after taking photos of this beautiful place. The restaurant we chose is called “Chinatown Express.” It is quite a famous restaurant because The Washington Post and The New York Times have introduced the place. It was crowded then, but we were fortunate enough to find a table.

  

We ordered different kinds of foods and shared with each other. We did so not only because we wanted to save our money, but because it was a part of Chinese culture to sit together and share our food to show our intimate relationship.

 

(You can get a pot of free hot tea as soon as you sit down. For those who tend to eat a lot, I strongly recommend chicken fried rice!)

When we finished all our meals, each of us got a fortune cookie as our dessert. It was so exciting to pull out the letter in the cookie to see what it writes.

   

Chinatown is a really cool place for not only Asian people, but anyone who is interested in Chinese culture. If you feel bored after finishing eating, there are still a lot of stores that you can go shopping around there, such as GAP, Forever 21, H&M, etc.

By geovolpe

I’m not coming back for Christmas, Mom. 

“I spent a lot of time reflecting about this, and I know I promised you before I left for the US, but I feel this is the right thing to do. 

 I don't think that coming back would be helpful to me in any way, and I think we both know it. I will be home in July, I will see you then. Or whenever you overcome your fear of planes and decide to come visit. 

I hope you understand and sorry for canceling the tickets.”

I cancelled my tickets to Italy a few days before my scheduled departure. Having been abroad for almost three years now, Christmas has become the only constant re-encounter with my parents. My parents were not super enthusiastic about losing the money, but they eventually supported me in this: “You know I would love to have you here. If I were selfish, I would have you fly home immediately. But If I were you, I would not want to come back either. Just try to go somewhere sunny over the break, maybe to California. You need vitamin D.” 

That was the beginning of my first Christmas away from home in 20 years. 

I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day in DC with some friends of mine that also remained in town. We were all excited and lonely. Three young men and one young woman on the other side of the Atlantic. We tried to emulate a family-like situation: went out for dinner on Christmas eve, cooked a full course meal on Christmas day. I guess it was the closest I ever felt to adulthood. 

On December the 26th I was leaving for Sevierville, Tennessee. A small town next to Knoxville. I know, pretty random place to go on vacation, but that’s where my heart was riding me to. And I was happy to be along for the ride:  I spent a week with a fantastic girl I met in GW and her family. This love among the school desks brought deep into the South. Despite being only a 9 hour bus ride from DC, Tennessee did not feel like the America I had known so far. The thick southern accent, the food culture, both so rich but so exaggerated, the interminable mountains surrounding the town. I hopped on a bus in a fairly European-styled place and I drop off in the middle of America. Real and genuine America. The one we choose to ignore as visitors but that is there and has a lot to offer. I will elaborate on this in my next post. For now, I’ll only say:

I had a great time, but as soon as January the second, I felt I needed it was time for me to follow my mom’s advice. I stayed for three days in DC, running errands and moving into my new apartment, bracing myself for the golden state.

Landing in Los Angeles in January the 6th felt more than just good. I was ecstatic. Not being very used to DC-cold weather, being catapulted to the beach at 70º really thrusted life back into my body. I was staying on UCLA campus at a friend’s place. The equation is very simple yet infallibly effective: friends + good weather + beach + January and winter break = Happiness. I dare you find a better recipe.

I came back the morning of January the 14th. Waiting for me, 10 degrees and another semester to start. D.C does feel like home now. Despite the unappealing weather. And I’m sure my last semester here will be so great I will forget California pretty easily. Although, as much as I like DC, I have to admit to the inarguable fact that the West coast is the Best coast. And that my mom gives good advice.

By gwblogabroad

“Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough/ Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades/ Forever and forever when I move,” says Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Hello! My name is Melissa from National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Like the poem above mentions, I am an optimistic person who willing to embrace new challenges every day and I enjoy making friends with people from different countries. Thus, I participated in the exchange student to attend the George Washington University in 2018 spring semester to brave myself, for this is my first time studying abroad.

As a student majoring English, I am considering to be an English teacher as my lifelong career in the future. Therefore, this exchange program is appealing to me because on one hand, I am granted a precious opportunity to polish my English skill while studying and getting along with native speakers. On the other hand, I have a chance to learn the American teaching style when taking courses in GW. Both language proficiency and effective teaching skills are necessary if I want to be a qualified and professional teacher, so this program, which helps me improve the two abilities, serves my long term personal goal.

I chose GW as my exchange institution is important to me because it is a famous university full of diverse courses, cultural resources, and it is located in the capital city, surrounded by the White House, museums, banks, and a lot of renowned tourist spots. With these resources, I believe if I can make good use of my time, I can not only acquire knowledge from classroom, but also broaden my horizon outside the classroom.

In brief, I expect and believe that I will definitely enjoy a great time for my upcoming semester in GW. If you want to make friends with me, or you are interested in reading journals from a Taiwanese girl’s perspective, keep on following my blog! The blog will be updated at least once a week.

By evavilloslada

I'm writing this while I wait for my plane and tears are threatening to come. This has been by far the best semester of my life, well the year in general. I can't believe the lucky I'm for being here and having the opportunity of meeting such amazing people and making friends that I'm sure are for life.

This last week, after all the finals, has been pretty exciting, we have done so many things trying to enjoy the last days together. We have gone to the waterfront to do ice skating, we have gone out and we have had lots of dinners in the best places. But after all, that can summarize this semester, exploring DC and having fun.

Thankfully I have another semester here, although it is not going to be the same. Most of the people is leaving, they were only here for a semester and I'm so sad about it. I never though I was going to find the best friend I could ever find here, in Washington DC. But I did, I found Martina and now I can't imagine my life here without her. That is the worst part of the exchange year, that you make many friends but most of them are from other countries, even from other continents. And then the only thing you can think about is, am I going to see them again? However, I'm sure we will do something about it.

I have a million of memories that I'm going to treasure all my life, as traveling around US and getting to know a new country, seeing New York for the fist time. But other memories,  the simplest ones, are the  closest to my heart now. Kayaking, dinners together, and a day trip to Philadelphia, being some of them.

This is not goodbye to DC, as I'm only going home for Christmas and then coming back. Is a goodbye to all the exchange students and a hello for the ones coming next semester. Thank you for the best experience of my life.

By sarajebbar

This is it, the end of my journey in GWU. I can’t believe it’s already here, the end of one of the best semesters I had so far. But yeah, we all knew this time will come sooner or later. Here I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight and writing my final blogpost for the semester. I never thought this moment will come by this fast, but time flies here in GWU. Last week was such a hectic week. From finals to the last goodbye parties, it was so emotional to live the last days of the semester.

Studying abroad was an experience that I enjoyed so much. For me being an exchange student meant experiencing a new culture, traveling a lot, meeting new people, and adapting to a new environment that is very different from the one I live in my home country Morocco. Washington DC was one of the greatest places to live in. I really enjoyed living in the city center of the capital of the US and visit all the monuments, museums and touristy spots whenever I felt like: late at night, on sunrise or on sunset… One of the things that I’m very glad I did this semester were all the trip I did around America. Starting from Baltimore, to New York to Florida, to Mexico to Canada to Cuba and finishing with the West coast. I’m so grateful I had the chance to travel around the continent, discover new cultures and take more and more pictures. I believe that being in the US helped me visiting new places I never thought I will visit from Morocco.

Travel was great but the most precious thing I earned this semester were the friendships with people from all around the world. Before coming to the US, I knew I will meet people with whom I will have fun and spend good time. But I never expected that I’ll meet people that will become family in such a short period. I met people with whom I laughed, cried, danced, cooked (mostly pasta and ramen), traveled to exotic places, sang, chilled at dorm on lazy days, spent hours in Gelman procrastinating, and more and more. And I’m grateful I shared the best moments of my GWU journey with them. I think the worst part of the study abroad is the fact that these people will not be around on a daily basis. But memories never fade away and I’ll never forget about all what we lived in GWU. I believe that we will meet again somewhere in the world, maybe in Morocco (such a great country to visit lol) *coughcough* or maybe somewhere else. I know we might be in opposite sides of the planet, but I know for sure our friendships will not end here. The boarding time of my flight to West coast is here, which means I need to end this blogpost here.

GWU was great, the US was great and special thanks to all the people who made my semester memorable. Can’t wait to come back to DC again. It was a BLAST.

IG:@Sarajebbar

By evavilloslada

This week hasn't been anything special. After all, I have all my final exams now and I have spend most of my time studying and finishing papers. But between breaks I had time to go get some coffee in new places. One I really liked was Paul, it is on campus and it is amazing. It is not  expensive and it has an awesome bakery, you can chose so many things that I literally spent 20 minutes deciding what to get.

Another place I went is Churrería Madrid. One thing everyone in Spain does when it is cold is eating churros with chocolate. It is a Spanish tradition and I missed it so much that I started searching for places where they have churros. I found this place and I have to say they were really amazing, I wasn't expecting them to be like the ones back at home but they were. All of you should try them because they are so good they are addictive.

However, the best part of the week was that it finally snowed. On Sunday everything was covered in snow, and Washington was even more beautiful in white. I live in the north of Spain so I see snow every year, and my family and friends had been sending me pictures in the snow for two weeks, I was so jealous. But on Sunday I got to send them one instead. Ass you can guess, I´m a huge fan of snow and Christmas.

One thing I have realized is that when final exams arrive free food is even more of a thing than it was before, which means free food everyday. On Thursday there was free grilled cheese, hot chocolate, and traditional Pakistan food. The on Sunday we had cookies, snacks and coffee. And on Monday there is free breakfast in Gelman library and free Midnight Breakfast at night. Taking breaks from studying here means having free food, which is awesome.

By evavilloslada

Thanksgiving was simply amazing. I’m very lucky because my roommate is from the US, she lives in Pittsburgh. When she arrived at the dorm 3 months ago, she was with all her family, and her mom immediately told me I was invited to have Thanksgiving with them. So I was so excited all this months. In Spain we don’t celebrate thanksgiving, so it was a huge thing for me. I spent the whole week there, and I really have a good time. I ate so much food, I had never eaten so much as I did during Thanksgiving. There were so many different types of food, and I had to try everything, Hope’s family made sure of it, not that I complained.

I also went to my first football game, although the team lost I really liked. I’m not a sports girl, and at first I didn’t understand what was happening. However, when they explained me the rules I started enjoying it. I’m definitely going to go to another football team this year. I also got to know Pittsburgh, the city of bridges and steel, which was great. It really was an amazing week.

Overall, spending time with Hope’s family was the best, it reminded me so much about Christmas and my family. It also made me homesick, but I loved every single minute of it.

Then it was time of coming back to Washington. And on Thursday we had a farewell dinner with all the exchange student team. I really enjoyed it, the food was so good and we played trivia. It was fun trying to guess things about this country and the leaders.

On Friday we went to a bar to play billiard, and we had so much fun. It is nice trying new things, and going to different places. Washington DC is the best city for that, there are so many restaurants that look amazing, the only sad part is that I can’t afford to go to as many as I want.

Saturday arrived, finally. We went to New York, yeah again. I sincerely would go every weekend if I could. Everyone told me about New York on Christmas, and how beautiful everything is with all the lights. We were only going for two days, but we had such a good time. We even had time to go to see a Broadway show. We went to see Chicago and I loved it, although I love every single musical. I think New York is one of my favorite cities ever.

By sarajebbar

 

At this point, I think you can understand that one of the main things I enjoy doing in my 4 days long weekends is travelling. I just enjoy visiting new places, taking more pictures and discovering new cultures. And I would say that the on-campus part-time job I got this semester helped me a lot in doing that. This weekend destination was Havana, and it was the most exotic and different place I have been to. I’ve never thought that I would visit this country before, but I think Camila Cabello’s song “Havana” had a big influence on this decision. And it was such a perfect place to celebrate my roommate’s 21st birthday.

Havana was the best place to escape Washington’s cold weather because of its tropical warm weather. I stayed with my four friends in an Airbnb that was in the Old Habana, and once we got there we knew we’re in a totally different place from the US. Havana felt like an old movie from the 70’s and it was beautiful. The special thing about the city was the colorful retro classic cars. And what was really cool about this trip was taking open cars music for a city tour or just to get from a place to another as a normal taxi. Besides that, I also enjoyed taking the Coco taxi, which a yellow cute covered motorcycle, around the city. Not only the cars in Havana were colorful but also the buildings especially the ones around the capitol. What I enjoyed doing the most was wandering around the colorful narrow streets of the city and taking tons of pictures in front of the classic cars. What was also interesting was visiting the museum of the revolution. They portrayed the whole timeline of the Cuban revolution in the walls of the museum and it really helped me learning a lot about the history of this country. And of course what would be a vacation in the warm Havana without going to the beach. The beach was 30 minutes from the city but the road was really enjoyable since we took an open car to get there. From enjoying the clear water of the ocean to drinking coconut water, the beach day in Havana was perfect to forget about studies and GWU.

Even though Havana was a great place to visit and spend four days in, I don’t think I would be able to live there. It felt like the country was laid back in the 70’s. One of the most surprising thing during this trip was the limited internet not only for us tourists but also for citizens. To get internet in Cuba, we had to purchase an internet pass which was around 1$ per hour, search for a WiFi hotspot (Internet park) which weren’t many in the city, and then hope to get some really slow internet connectivity. It was really funny to see dozens of people around the WiFi router trying to connect to the world outside. When I asked locals about how they felt about it, they said it doesn’t really matter for them since they are used to socialize more. No wonder locals were always socializing in the streets or balconies or trying to make conversations with us.

Havana was great and having this trip with great company made it even better. Now, it’s time to stress about finals coming in a week and begin my late night journeys in Gelman library.

By sarajebbar

This week we had the thanksgiving break that we all were waiting for to get some rest from studies and classes. Since it was kind of a long break, I took the opportunity to travel to Canada. I know many of you will wonder why am I leaving the US in such a big American holiday, Thanksgiving. What’s great about the US is that they start their holidays days before the actual day so I got the chance to try some Thanksgiving food before my trip.Being in Washington DC made it really easy for me to travel to Canada unlike when I’m far in Morocco. I started my trip by Montréal. The city was in Québec, the French speaking province of Canada. Since my second language is French, I and my French friends enjoyed speaking French with the locals. We also enjoyed hearing the Quebec French accent because it was really different from the one in France, which I’m used to use in Morocco. Montréal reminded me a lot of Europe (The architecture, the language, the streets…) One of the coolest thing I did was to hike to the summit of Mont-Royal. The hike was pretty tiring and cold but the breathtaking view of the whole city from the top made me forget about all of that. We visited a lot of places like Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, the old port…  And I enjoyed walking through the old city of Montréal in the Christmas vibe. I also tried my first Poutine there which is a typical Canadian meal and I loved it.After 2 days in Montréal, we took the bus to Toronto. I really loved Toronto over Montréal. Because of the cold weather, the streets in Montréal become dead as soon as it gets dark. However, Toronto was such a lively city and it had a lot of places to visit. One of the main characteristics of Toronto’s skyline is the CN tower. So, we took a ferry to Ward’s island to see the beautiful skyline from front of the water. I also enjoyed taking pictures in the Graffiti Alley, trying to ice-skate in the Nathan Philips square with regular shoes on, walking through the Christmas market and trying the really good food in all the diverse restaurants of the city.One of the main reasons of my Canada was to take Niagara Falls off my bucket list. And the greatest thing was that I had the opportunity to visit them from both sides, the American and the Canadian one. The Niagara Falls were the most breathtaking natural wonder I’ve ever seen. They were just magnificent and powerful. I got the chance to see them from really close by taking the ferry to the heart of the Falls and you can feel their real power from there. We walked after that to cross the bridge that links between Canada and the US. It was really cool to cross between the countries in such an easy way. In the US side, I saw the Niagara Falls illuminations which were colorful lights projected on the Falls, and made them even more beautiful during the night. Seeing the Niagara Falls was one of the most impressive things I saw in the nature, and I’m grateful for that. And what a great unexpected way to end my Canada trip is by enjoying music, ice-skating show, Christmas tree lighting and fireworks in my last night in Toronto.

 

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.

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