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By: HyunSoo Lee

I cannot exaggerate how much I am excited for this semester at GW! My name is Hyunsoo Lee. I come from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and this is my second and last semester in D.C. To be honest, it took me the whole semester to adapt to life at GW. Speaking English all the time was the most difficult part; I had to deal with my poor cooking skills, which, thank god, is improving now. Being away from my family and friends for a long time was definitely a big problem, too. In fact, the chill-out life that I had expected for my exchange life turned about to be a huge challenge for me!

But why am I still so excited? I would have to say that the fact that I joined Balance, the GW dance team, thrills me the most. I used to do ballet almost every day until middle school, but I had to give it up because I had to focus on studying in crazy Korean education system. After entering university, I am trying to dance again as much as I can. And I know dancing in Balance would be an experience that I would never have again; I am excited to try out different approaches to dancing and to perform ballet and contemporary dance here in America!

The courses that I’m taking this semester are exciting, too. I am still in the process of narrowing down what I want to do in the future, but I am interested in urban policies at the moment. So I’m currently taking courses related to policy making in different fields and from diverse perspectives; for example, one of my favorite courses is Gender, Conflict, and Security, where I can learn about the role of gender in policy making process. Also, State and Urban Policy is a course that I am enjoying very much, where I’m learning about the U.S. system of policy making in state and local levels. At the same time, I am also taking Design Fundamentals, just because I wanted to learn how to design and use Adobe programs. I am trying to give myself chances to learn different things and find out what I really want to do, here at GW.

Last but not least, meeting new exchange students this semester is so much fun, while at the same time, I am already so thankful for the friends that I made last semester. I am becoming friends with people from so many different countries that I would never have met if it weren’t for this exchange experience. Getting to know how much alike we are and how much we can love each other despite the differences of the places we come from is amazing.

My English is still not perfect; nor is my cooking skill. I still miss my family and friends A LOT. But I am certain that this semester at GW will make me grow and become a part of me that I will always want to remember.

By minhsuanchen

After over ten hours of flight, I finally arrived at D.C. safe and sound. In the first few days, I spent most of my time exploring the campus to make myself get accustomed to the whole new environment and I found a lot of interesting things so different from my hometown, Taiwan, which I would like to share with you.

First of all, it took me an extremely long time to find my dorm and the places I needed to go for check-in on the first day because the road naming system differs from that in Taiwan. In Taiwan, the names of most streets or roads are a combination of proper nouns and numbers, such as Nanping First Street; however, here in GW, a lot of streets are merely named either with an English letter like E Street, or a number like 23rd Street. Therefore, it was really hard for me to tell the differences between different streets and I got lost easily. Thankfully, I still have my google map to rely on!

Also, learning the currency system in U.S. is another new class for me. When I was going to pay for my first meal at GW, I was totally confused about the value of the coins because it was so complicated. In Taiwan, in terms of coins, there are only fifty, ten, five, and one. The size of fifty is bigger than ten, ten bigger than five, and so on. However, in U.S., there are pennies, dimes, nickels, quarters, and their sizes do not correspond to their values. As a foreigner, it is really a challenge to grab the right amount of coins at the counter, so sometimes I just took out all my coins and asked the clerk to kindly do me a favor, or I would probably block the line when I was slowly counting the money.

In addition to road and currency system, I am also still trying to get used to the tax and tipping culture. The prices of commodities in my country always include tax, so we can pay for the exact amount of money shown on the products’ price tags, but in U.S., the situation is different, for the tax is shown separately here. Sometimes I felt nervous when I could not prepare for the right amount of money in advance under these circumstances. Giving tips is still another unfamiliar culture to me because we do not give tips almost on every occasion.

Although there are still so many things I need to learn, I feel excited to conquer all the challenges. My first few days in GW were awesome, especially under the guide of those brilliant ExO leaders. I believe I can explore more interesting things in the following few months.

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