I have no idea whether the following entry can be viewed to represent all exchange students and freshmen here at GW, but I have some anecdotal evidence, not to say memorized roommate conversation transcripts, that tell me other students are dealing with the same issues. The first week of class has just concluded and I can say with full honesty that the first few days were very scary.
The amounts of reading that are involved here are similar to my home university – about fifty pages as preparation for each meeting. The big difference being, however, that I have nine classes each week, instead of five, meaning that the amount of reading is almost double of what I am used to. Nevertheless, this is not the biggest issue, because I can handle the amount of reading. No, the thing that really hit me this week, and I guess the other students too, is the realization that the coming months are not a semester-long holiday with some occasional studying, but rather the other way around. My plans of traveling during the weekends and exploring the city in my spare time have had to make place for my academic ambitions and duties, even though I will try and squeeze a little trip into my schedule here and there.
Yes, life at GW is certainly very busy. At the beginning of this week, a huge student organizations fair was organized, with all student orgs trying to recruit freshmen for their activities. The event in itself was very exciting, having some delicious food and simply strolling along all the stands admiring (and sometimes shying away from) all the promotional talks and shouting. In the end, I decided to become a member of the International Affairs Society, where I hopefully will be able to attend cool events, both academically and socially oriented. In addition, I enrolled in the George Washington College Democrats. My friends and myself already acquired quite some cool stickers, buttons and other promotional items for both candidates, simply because the campaigns are currently full-fledged. Of course, the main reason for me (and most of my fellow exchange students) to become a part of the College Democrats is to become involved and be able to follow the raging political campaigns, both of them trying to out-do the other. Sorry to say (although it was a good decision, budgetary-wise), my roommates and I, when shopping for the apartment, decided not to buy a television. As a consequence, we won’t be able to follow the live debates, conventions, or other political events that are broadcast by the main news channels. The only options that I’m left with is either to stalk my neighbors on our floor (who did buy a television), which is a little inappropriate; or to go the gym, which is not even one block’s walking distance away, and watch television while working on my fitness. Indeed, this is how I managed to watch parts of the GOP convention earlier this week!
As for the remedies to such a busy academic and social life here at GW: I haven’t figured out how to balance everything yet. Nevertheless, I think it is a matter of setting your priorities, which is hard when friends are going out or when there are cool welcome-events being organized. The coming few weeks will be a test for me, and hopefully I will learn how to deal with all the different aspects of college life here at GW very soon.