Hot Air and Space

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“And the wrath of the lord will be rain’d unto thee with LCD steel and memes.”

– Mascot George

It’s been an eventful week. We’ve had a chance to witness the Fall of the Jumbotron— event that will surely go down in the history of the school. It really has been great to see the student community come together to produce such an abundance of memes. Honestly. Between the jumbotron and the hurricane everyone’s been having a field day. We got enough hurricane to ruthlessly joke about it, but not so much that we actually had to do anything. It’s the perfect weather event for our times: Extreme enough to get our attention but without expensive and possibly lethal follow-through. Memes for our impending doom, memes for the disappointment of avoiding a natural disaster. Perfect.

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Forecast for Squirtle

The clearer-than-expected weather made it possible for me to go to the Air and Space Museum with Yassine on Friday. You might know him as the other guy posting on this site each week for that sweet scholarship dollar—and for the love of GW and cultural learning, of course. Gotta say, much better than the American History Museum that I went to last week. One historic flag just doesn’t compare to an enormous hanger stacked with spaceship parts and airplanes. It’s also free, which is honestly a major part of the draw for me.

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Space stuff is cool I don’t care what anyone says. 10/10 would visit again.

Aside from that things have been pretty mellow. It’s week 4 now, we’re settling into a rhythm. I’m still enjoying my classes. I don’t even resent the five-hour class I have starting at 8 a.m. every Friday. That’s truly historic for me, at home I struggle not to skip anything pre-noon. This week is shaping up to be a good one too; hopefully less of the ever-overcast and humid days and bountiful activities.

 

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A week in history

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Being told by everyone that I was wasting my time if I don’t go visit the museums, I decided to make a list of the museums I will be visiting this semester. Having a deep interest in History and especially the History of the United States at its genesis, the National Museum of American History was at the top of my list! Also, another thing that amazes me and terrifies me at the same time is space. I mean, we are living in an infinitesimal dot among billions of galaxies. Thus, the National Museum of Air and Space was Number 2 on my list.

This week started with a very heavy Monday, full of exercise, challenging classes and lots of walking. Mondays are horrible. Our Psychology professor told us to come to his Happy Office Hours. It was something completely new to me and I haven’t seen that before. Basically, we had to meet at a pub on K St called, Froggy Bottom and we had to discuss some psychology theories with the professor in a very chill way. I have never ever eaten chicken fingers with a professor in my entire life.

The Museum of Air and Space was incredibly awesome! I went with Angus, a cultivated guy from Australia, who is also an exchange student. If there is one thing I’m so happy to say about my visit to the museum it’s that I touched a piece of the moon. I was also fascinated by all the aircraft from wars. It was so surprising to see real space probes and more historical aircraft such as the first plane that ever flew, created by the Wright brothers. In a nutshell, my visit to the national museum of Air and Space was so exciting and I’m looking forward to going back again.

The second museum I visited this week is the national museum of the American history. Being in DC is already being in a museum of the American History but the one I visited was really worth it. First of all, I went to the museum with an exchange orientation leader, Erin, who is majoring in History and some of her friends. She was so delighted to explain to us some of the episodes that America has known throughout time. From the Independence war to the Vietnam war, going through the period of slavery and the dresses of the first ladies, the museum of the American history is by far one of the best museums I have ever seen.

In a nutshell, this week and the previous ones are making my little experience in DC better and better. It has now been one month that I am in the US and I can’t tell you how fast time is moving.

Baltimore

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It’s been another entertaining week. Classes are in full-swing now; I get the impression that the professors are glad to be into some real content now as opposed to the multi-hour syllabus readings we got last week. Not that it’s too stressful yet. My roommates are all doing real degrees so they’ve been hard at work, but my mixed bag of SMPA and design classes hasn’t given me too much stress yet. The immediate benefit of learning short-form journalism is getting short-form readings—for which I am eternally grateful.

The easy transition was made even cruisier by the early arrival of the labor-day weekend. My small group of exchange student friends decided to capitalise on the spare time and take a day-trip to Baltimore in pursuit of some cultural learnings. We bought greyhound tickets on Saturday, knocked off most of our homework on Sunday, and on Labor day we hit the road.

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The bus was an hour-and-a-half late. So much for greyhounds being fast.

Baltimore’s reputation as a deeply-troubled city wasn’t helped by the quiet roads and empty stores we found there. Even near downtown we struggled to find much in the way of activity. It took us about an hour to join the dots and establish that it was probably just because of Labor day.

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Walking a lonely road

Foregoing the closed museums and the empty streets of downtown, we elected to sight-see around the harbor and relax for most of the day. We scored a cheap Cuban lunch and good weather, so nobody really minded the lack of activity after a few hours of walking in the sun.

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Taka taking it easy

It can’t have just been the day that made Baltimore such a bizarre city. I feel like a fair bit more time is required to figure it out—I’m sure there’s at least one course at GW that’s dedicated to the intricacies of socio-economics in the North East. Probably a ways past my grade.

The sightseeing was honestly remarkable. The enormous hill overlooking the harbor is sexy as hell, basking in the sights was enough to keep us entertained in spite of an overwhelming lack of indoor options. I get the impression that Baltimore has a lot more to offer than what we saw. At the very least it was an insight into what I presume DC had going for it pre-gentrification.

Winter is coming

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Bad weather always looks worse through a window.   -Tom Lehrer

 Having spent the third week in DC made me used to the piece of art of Pierre Charles L’Enfant -aka Washington DC. The pattern of the streets and their names have become more familiar to me. Although it’s well organized, it is still pretty hard to make it from the Milken Institute to the Elliot School in 20 minutes. Therefore, I discovered a new way of transportation called Lime. It’s a service that offers pretty cheap transportation using an electric scooter. It’s so much fun riding it and also quite fast.

Another new feature I discovered and mastered this week is Amazon Prime. As said my friend Gabriel Falk “Amazon is a way of life”. I found it super useful to get anything from the US in a couple of days. For the record, this week I got a yoga mat, shoes, Einstein poster and a Psychology textbook for only $24! However, I found some difficulties with the Mailing Services.

The three first days of the week were hot as hell. The recorded temperatures were close to 100° F (38° C). But a few days later, we’ve experienced a drop in temperature and the blue sky that we have known this summer turned to a grey coat. Having seen some crows around the National Mall, it was worthy to say “Winter is coming”. Therefore, to accentuate this gloomy atmosphere, a bunch of exchange students and I decided to visit the Arlington National Cemetery to give a tribute to the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his family. On our way back to campus, we have experienced a heavy and scary downpour. It was so fun.

 

Finally, my best moment of the week was my meeting with Albert Einstein’s sculpture which had a lot of meanings for me.

L’image contient peut-être : Yassine Aourid, arbre, plein air et nature

The Cold Dead Eyes of George

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The first week of classes is always a strange one, and ‘syllabus week’ at GW was more-or-less in line with what I’m used to in Australia. Hour-long syllabus readings are pointless at home and I can confidently say they’re equally dry here. Not that I dislike my subjects—I’d just like to get into learning about them. What’s been more interesting to me this week is the design of the classes themselves. In Melbourne it’s not uncommon to have lectures of 500 people with a single professor, so the relatively small classes at GW are quite a departure. We have tutorials, but the close relationship between students and faculty makes it a little less futile here.

The rest of the week has been a little more eventful. The Greek dance-off at the Marvin Center was hilarious. Probably funnier than Hasan Minhaj to be honest. I went to his show on Saturday night with high expectations—having a comic fill a stadium in Australia is almost unheard of, and props to him for doing it here, but I couldn’t help feeling that we were getting less comedy and more lecture. Refugees are good, Donald is bad. Cue applause.

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Can’t raise the roof if you’re already on it

Probably my favorite talking point of this week has been the GW mascot. The university culture here is amazing, but I challenge anyone to look at George and not be haunted by that gaze. I’m honestly not sure whether to be inspired or threatened. At least we can take consolation in the fact that he doesn’t talk. A 7-foot black-eyed founding father is scary enough without him barking the ‘fight song’at us. Bring back the lovable hippo—that’s a mascot I can get behind. 

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Staring into your manifest destiny

My second week in DC

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This week was very exciting. I started classes and I had the privilege of hanging out with a member of my family in Washington, DC. My cousin traveled from New York to DC just to see me since she was on vacation. I was so happy to see her here in a completely different environment from Morocco. We got to visit new places, activities, and delicious food.

My cousin Salma was staying at a hotel only ten minutes away from my dorm. Our first day together, we had dinner at a burger restaurant called Shake Shack. It was delicious, especially their well-known cheese fries. Later that night, we walked around and sat by the fountain at the U.S. Navy Memorial Plaza. On the second day, we went to Georgetown and I was a tour guide this time as we navigated around the clothing stores and restaurants. Salma and I had Thai food for the first time near the Watergate Hotel.

Our first day of classes will always be remembered by a crazy fire alarm “May I have your attention, please. There is a fire emergency reported in the building. Please exit the building by the nearest exit. Do not use the elevator.” That was how I started my first day of class at George Washington University. We had to stand on the street so that the firefighters can enter the building. The police officers monitored the residents outside. I posted a video on my social media and people thought I was at a movie filming. The alarm started at around 4 am in the morning, so I was very tired that day.

Classes at GWU were exactly as I expected. This semester I am taking psychology, software design, stress management, golf, yoga, and cycling. I am very thrilled about my classes because they are allowing me to try new interests. I was so surprised to see my classmates which are all diverse. The professors are nice, knowledgeable, and willing to help as much as they can. The first class I went to was cycling, unfortunately, it was not outdoor cycling, but I still enjoyed getting my cardiovascular workout. The next class I had was Software Design, I was amazed by the engineering students’ high level of experience and knowledge. I also had a psychology class that I consider my favorite because of the interesting material. My golf and yoga classes are fun as well because I have never tried either of them. The stress management class is helping me learn relaxation techniques and controlling levels of stress.

On Salma’s final days in DC, we had coffee in Dupont Circle and last but not least we visited the Smithsonian National Park/Zoo. We got to see all types of animals such as elephants, pandas, lions, reptiles, and much more. I was surprised by the amount of interest people have on pandas here. I had a lot of fun exploring with my cousin Salma, it was a highlight of my week to have her here with me in Washington, DC.

My first week in Foggy Bottom

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When I woke up after my first night in Foggy Bottom, and I found myself on E Street in DC I wasn’t believing myself…

 It was my first week at GWU! This week has been very intense in term of activities and emotions. (FACT: According to my cell phone, I walked 13 miles every day and I burned 1500 calories daily). I will try to cover every aspect of this week in this post.

The first thing that got my attention this week was the international students. International students in GWU are such a great resource. In less than a week, I got some basic notions in Chinese, learned some cultural facts about Argentina, understood the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. I spoke German, Spanish, French, Arabic. It is very diverse and doing this exchange in Washington, DC is a kind of exchange in the world.

We visited some important monuments of the capital. We went to the capitol, that big white breast where all the American laws are voted. During the presentation, I felt some strong emotions for the particularity of the United States and its history. It was fascinating to learn about how all the states merged and even going through civil wars and other obstacles, the nation ended up to be one.

Another important event this week was my birthday. Who ever thought that I would turn 20 on a rooftop in Washington DC looking at the Washington Monument and the US Department of State? Being in DC for my 20th birthday was the best gift I could have had. When I went to the Philips Hall for the ExO Leaders’ presentation, all the international student wished me happy birthday and I thank every one of them for that great moment.

I went to Georgetown, an amazing neighborhood in DC that reminds me of Europe. The M Street is amazing. It has so many stores that are connected to each other. I felt that everyone knows everyone. It is such a great place for a walk on a Sunday.

We went to the baseball game and it was so interesting to discover a new side of the American culture. In fact, when we got to the stadium, the focus wasn’t only on the game but the atmosphere surrounding it was astonishing. People were eating, laughing, drinking and it was so great to see plenty of people having fun. Of course, I don’t understand baseball’s rules, but still, I had a very good time.

 

Fun fact of the week: I saw the vice-president of the USA on “The Beast”; He was just in my street.

Ultimately, this week has been fun and very rich and the credits go the amazing Exchange Orientation Leaders who did such an amazing job and the ISO!