This week has again been full of new adventures, bringing out my British side but also challenging some of those British views. For example, I had arrived with the prejudice that all Americans were much more conservative politically than Europeans, but I have been proven wrong and am enjoying that – I have had classes with professors as liberal, if not more so, than any UK lecturer!
However, I did hear ‘socialism’ used as a dirty word in my first real, brief taste of American politics, when watching the CNN Republican Debate with friends. Seeing the debate fulfilled part of the reason I wanted to come to DC, to feel connected to and attempt to understand the US political system, beyond the quite negative and simplistic view I had of it. Having good friends who differ from me politically is both interesting and positive – pushing me to want to learn more about viewpoints that I otherwise would have had less time for.
Three weeks into classes and I have been able to become more fully involved in activities outside of my subject timetable. Theatre societies were something I really enjoyed being a part of in Edinburgh and where I made a lot of friends, so I was keen to investigate the student theatre scene at GW. Everyone has been lovely and welcoming and there are so many things going on! Socially, I have found being involved in a society very useful, as it has been harder to make friends in class than I had perhaps naively assumed – it’s much easier to connect when you have shared interests. One of the theatre societies I have got involved in has been the GW Shakespeare Company and I have had an amazing time rehearsing for and performing in their annual ‘Shakespeare Smackdown’ scene and monologue competition. I also got a flavour of Greek life as the society has adopted the tradition of assigning each new member a ‘big’ – an older member of the society who anonymously gives their ‘little’ gifts and notes during tech week and becomes a mentor figure after their identity is revealed.
Smackdown was a chance not only to make new friends but also reconnect with family, as my second cousin – whom I last saw when I was in America seven years ago – is also in DC for the year and came to give me her support!
This week has completely flown by in a whirl of slight stress and a lot of excitement and next week looks to be the same – but I’m looking forward to it.