I remember the excitement of receiving the email from GWU informing that I was chosen as a recipient for the Inbound Exchange Blogging & Digital Storytelling Scholarship, I was in Beijing at the time attending my first exchange experience for a short winter course at Peking University. Straight after this first leg of exchange, I had planned to arrive in America three weeks before orientation week to go on a road trip in America and Canada before finally going to Washington DC for a semester exchange at GWU. This exchange will undoubtedly be an experience of a lifetime and I am so glad I get to document and share it through blogging and a final video!
I am typing my first ever blog article in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. My name is Maggie and for the past 13 days I have been on the road with my mum traveling the west coast of America. Starting in Los Angeles, we rented a campervan and have driven to Las Vegas, The Grand Canyon (North and South Rim), Page (for the famous Horseshoe Bend Canyon), through the Death Valley into Yosemite National Park and finally arrived at San Francisco (totally 2200 miles!) before taking a plane to Vancouver. I was absolutely blown away by the shear beauty of nature which was not the first thing I had associated America with. In about 7 days I return once again to civilization, this time in Wasgington D.C. and I am looking forward to the many adventures to come. I have been lucky to get a 3-day timetable, with classes from Tuesday to Thursday, which means I get a four-day weekend to explore D.C. and maybe even up and down the East Coast!
Besides all the travelling, I am also looking forward for the courses I am about to undertake at GWU. I am currently an undergraduate student studying a bachelor of civil engineering and commerce (majoring in accounting and finance) at the University of New South Wales. We are usually given a maximum of two semesters to spend studying abroad with exchange partners all over the world. It has been a dream of mine to study in America and I’m not even sure why that is the case myself. Perhaps in comparison to Australia, there is just so much more to do and explore in America. Even though Australia is approximately the same size as America, we have a much smaller population and utilization of land (it’s all desert in the middle). Due to the flexibility in the commerce side of my degree, I will be studying a combination of accounting, finance and management courses at GWU. In particular, I am most excited about Real Estate Investment and E-Entrepreneurship, both of which I would not have been able to take back at my home university. I am also keen to participate in the many clubs that GWU has to offer, especially ones related to outdoor/adventure activities and sports.
It will also be the first time living away from home since in Australia there is no “college” culture (a lot of students live at home and travel to university). To save on some accommodation costs (I didn’t realise the costs were so high to live in D.C.), I decided to live off-campus in a student accommodation that GWU has linked on their website. It’s a few minutes walk from the metro station and then maybe a 20 minute ride to university which isn’t too bad. I think the reality of living away from home will only hit once I get there and I will realise the many things I take for granted such as not having to cook or clean most of the time around the house.
My exchange experience at GWU will give an insight in America’s culture and way of life, which will be invaluable in becoming a global citizen in this world. Studying in the nation’s capital during election year will also give insight into American politics that is so engrained in this country. GWU, I can’t wait to see you soon!