I can’t believe it. After nine months preparing for this trip, I am in Washington, DC. A week wasn’t enough time to realize that this adventure has started.
If I thought that it would be easy to take advantage of every situation, the past week taught me that I need to be more prepared physically and mentally to do that. The amount of activities that we (the exchange students) had to do, the new people, the new places, the new feelings challenged and exceeded my expectations.
The cold snap that hit the US didn’t stop the Exchange Orientation Leaders (EXO), Shawna, or Hilary who gave us the best beginning. Their main advice: take advantage of all the resources offered in this orientation week.
Food, trips, tours, parties, information, games, presentations, museums, discussions, and information sessions were some of the activities that we enjoyed. From the past Monday to the past Saturday we didn’t stop with scheduled activities.
The first day, I had time to get to know some of the students that are going to live with me. This opportunity began with a barbecue diner. It was the best American way to start the Exchange, definitely. Thanks to the chef for the delicious diner!
The second day, we learned more about DC and it was a good moment to mentally prepare me for all of the things that this semester has to offer. Shawna and Hilary shared video with us about DC, it was incredible. During the activities, my Argentinean exchange mate, Timothy arrived. When I saw him, I ran to give him a big hug. We were celebratory after realizing that we were in DC after many months of planning the trip. We are able to avoid any possible homesickness through talks in Spanish, jokes and mates (the typical Argentinean drink).
The third day, we had the opportunity to visit one of the best museums in DC: the Newseum, a museum that allowed us to learn more about contemporary American and international history through the media. Thanks to Shawna and Hilary!
The fourth day, we had the opportunity to learn about the campus of GW through a fun game: the Scavenger Hunt. We took funny pictures in different places around the campus in teams. Not only was it worth getting to know each other, but we also had so much fun touring our new university. Those who have the opportunity to attend GW are definitely lucky. It is a privilege to have so many resources to develop ourselves into whatever we want.
The fifth day was the trip: we traveled a couple of hours to go to Wisp Mountain. This moment was one of the most fun moments of the week. Not only could we enjoy the beautiful mountain, but we also enjoyed the mountain’s activities. Thank you again to Shawna and Hilary for the incredible excursion.
The last day, time to get to know the Smithsonian, to shop, and to prepare for the formal dinner. The dinner was absolutely incredible and a great opportunity to get to know the exchange students that I will spend time with this semester.
In conclusion, it is not only important to see different places, but to also meet more people while in Washington, DC. Egypt, Morocco, Singapore, Italy, France, South Korea, Brazil, Japan, China, Australia are some of the places were the other exchange students come from. What do you think about the new democracy in Egypt? What is your perspective on the events that occurred in 2011? Why do you think that Singapore is developing at a different rate than its counterparts? Discussions like these, daily interactions, sharing our expectations, and getting to know many interesting people were the best gifts of this week.
Thank you again to the new friends who gave me a great beginning to the program.
Thank you to the leaders for helping me with my English. Thank you for giving us funny moments and sharing your experiences as GW students and students who studied abroad.
Thank you to Shawna and Hilary for this great welcome, your work was excellent, and it is a pleasure to finally meet you in person!
I hope that I will still see everyone or at least the majority when classes start. Good luck with the start of your semester!
Checkout photos of Exchange Orientation Week on the Office for Study Abroad Facebook!