At one point last week we were supposed to write down goals for our stay here at GW. One of my goals for a semester was learning from the diversity at GW and US generally. I guess I am not talking for myself exclusively when I say that this week was quite a lesson in diversity for all of us in the group. The last week was really intense. Through various activities we were able to talk to people from so many different countries and see the differences that would have never occurred to us. For me the most striking was seeing that there were people who had never seen or touched snow in their life before, so we could all witness how a completely new experience and amazement look like when having a trip to a mountain resort. Seeing so many different stories gives me a feeling of achievement since being a part of this wide-ranging group makes my first goal accomplished.
The important part of last week was getting to know other people in our group. However, we also learned a lot about the life at GW. Even though the campus seemed to be almost deserted, we got to try a couple of different things that gave us the feeling of being a part of the life here. Back in the Czech Republic, we do not have college athletic programs. Therefore, watching GW basketball game was a real excitement for us. It seems like the whole university becomes part of the team. The other most important activity was the tour around the Gelman library. Browsing the piles of books certainly motivates one, and I believe it made us look forward to classes much more. I had to immediately explore the syllabus for the courses and got so excited that I cannot wait for the classes to start. This is also thanks to our leaders (GW volunteers) that had always been there for us should we have any questions. In the past week they had shared their valuable experiences concerning the studying and living at GW and I dare say they made it much easier for us to get over the hard first couple of days.
So, what is my next goal then? I would like to explore Washington outside of campus more. We’ve only been off-campus few times and every time it was worth it. The best experience off-campus for me was the Library of Congress, even though I only managed to go through the Jefferson Building. It was a very inspiring place, connecting the ideals and basic principles the United States was built upon with the traditional knowledge. This, of course, felt very European seeing the references to Ancient Greece and mostly Italian Renaissance, so I could feel the bond between my permanent and contemporary home.
When I look back and see that I have arrived less than a week ago, I am impressed with everything we did as well as with everything that we have ahead of us. Thus, I would like to wish every student, exchange or not, successful start of the semester. Let’s see what I will be doing and thinking of next week.