Monthly Archives: September 2016

Virginia Fusion – Ultimate Frisbee Tournament

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When your university life is packed with full-time class, part-time work, extra-curricular activities and much more, it means that there is little time for sports. This dictated most of my university life in Australia. However, I was certain that this had to change during my semester abroad. So at the sports fair, I signed up to the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team at GW and boy am I glad I did.

What is ultimate frisbee you may ask? Imagine rugby but replace the football with a frisbee and remove the running with the ball part of the game with throwing a disc and you have yourself a game of ultimate frisbee! I played this sport casually during my high school years and it was pretty fun. The club has practices on Tuesdays, Thursdays 4-6pm and Sundays from 10-1pm and welcomes members with no skills which is great.

The social aspect of the club is pretty awesome too. They host events which are free for rookies to attend which consists of rooftop gatherings, amazing race challenges, and many themed parties. It is a great atmosphere to meet many local students and the clubs has a very diverse group of people as well.

This past weekend, the women’s team headed to Axton in South Virginia (approximately 5 hrs drive from D.C.) for the Virginia Fusion Ultimate Frisbee Tournament. We stayed at a motel with 4 people per room. Games started on Saturday and we played three games on Saturday and three games on Sunday against schools such as North Carolina, Duke, Ohio State and many more. The great sportsmanship and spirit of the game was what stood out the most. Winning or losing I felt the team was always on high spirits and supported one another. It was so wonderful to see many of us improve as we progressed through the games and slowly grasping the many aspects of the game. Unfortunately, I had a small hiccup on Saturday after grabbing the disc with my left hand and my cut started bleeding again. We headed to an Urgent Care nearby and got it cleaned up, patched and ready to go for the next day.

All in all, joining the Ultimate Team at GW will probably stand as one of my highlights for my study abroad. I constantly look forward to practices with my team and I feel like I am finally getting my share of sports back after being dormant for many years. Go G-Dub!

rugby

 

 

National Museum of African-American History and Culture

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This week, Washington DC hosted a special and sensitive event, grand opening of National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a chance to go inside of the museum but join the festival dedicated to the opening. This opening has also special meaning for the US experiencing disproportionate and racist use of police force against African-American people and Trump’s hateful and discriminative discourses against the diversity of US. I hope that Obama’s thoughtful speech could show that this nation was not just built with the sacrifices of one race but the sacrifices of all.

The museum is located in 200 15th St NW, which is really close to Washington monument and the heart of the DC, and I think the location of the museum clearly shows the place of African-American people in American history. Even though I can not understand the gold color chosen to cover outside of the building, it provides aesthetic for the tourists.

histmuseum

Even though I have 2 papers, 2 midterms and 1 assignment for Tuesday (Yeah, this is what studying in a qualified university means !!), I had chance to attend the 11th Yoga event at National Mall, which was dedicated, this time, to the grand openings of the museum !!! Under the beautiful sun in Sunday, 200 people did yoga and experienced the peaceful air and solidarity created by the museum. After all, yoga is a discipline promoting finding peace in oneself and the world. However, it was my second yoga practice :). Yet, I really enjoyed the time I spent at the mall, and this time was different than past. This time, people sharing the same view help me believe in the possibility to achieve a better world.

yoga and washmon

 

Ohiopyle State Park – White Water Rafting

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A lot happened this week. Unfortunately it’s the week I learnt about just how painful it is getting your hand stitched up. It happened because I wasn’t paying attention to the direction of cutting a cauliflower (note to self: never cut sideways). It’s also because I lacked experience in the land of living by yourself and cooking for yourself. For the first minute or so after slicing my hand open with an extraordinarily sharp Ikea knife, my mind went blank, my heart started racing because I’ve never been good with blood. I got a bandaid out from my emergency kit but realized the cut was way too big and too deep. I grabbed some paper towels and pressed on the wound until my Uber transported me to the Colonial Health Centre. I didn’t wait for long but it was also useless because they couldn’t give me any stitches. They wrapped me up in bandage, charged me $30 for service and I was out the door. I was redirected to the Emergency Room which was in McPherson Square. Accessible by Metro. That’s good. Then I waited in the waiting area for about 2 hours. I guess I wasn’t dying so why the rush. A lovely nurse practitioner gave me 6 stitches. We talked about Grey’s Anatomy to pass time. It looked horrible, still does, reminds me a bit of the Frankenstein’s monster sorta thing. Whole procedure would cost me something like $500 AUD, which is bad if you had no health insurance (luckily I do). In about a week I’ll be getting the stitches out, and it seems to be healing fine. It’s an experience that teaches me to be more careful especially when you’re overseas.

Onto some better news. Despite the cut, I was still able to go on a white water rafting trip with GW TRAiLs on Saturday. The closest place to raft was unfortunately in Ohiopyle State Park all the way in Pennsylvania (3 hours drive one way). If it weren’t for the long drive, I’d definitely go every second weekend. No experience required and you don’t even need to know how to swim (which is great for a non-swimmer like myself). We navigated through thrilling rapids for about 5 hours with a break in the middle (lunch was provided) and all of that (including transportation) was only $60! You can feel the endorphins rushing through your body. Each rapid is unlike the next. You’re getting splashed all over but all you can think about is “Again! Let’s do that again!”. Our raft and trails leader, Kate, is a raft instructor and worked on the Colorado River over the summer so with her experience an our teamwork, we killed it on the rapids. I wish I had brought my phone to take photos but it was too risky without a waterproof case. So the photo here is the view on the drive to Ohiopyle which is equally as awesome.

roads

Outdoor Adventure

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Think of a class including hiking, rafting, kayak, spelunking and many more, and you will get one-credit for this class. I know it seems unreal but GWU offers that class called Outdoor Adventure, which is, I think, the best class one exchange student can take.

This is a pass-fail class which means that there is no examination. The grading policy depends on whether 25-hour-long participation, 11 hours of which is organized by instructors, including hiking, team building activities, kayak on Potomac River etc, is exceeded or not. The rest 14-hour-long participation depends on one’s participation to activities organized by GW Trails, which is open to every student with a small fee, of course. One can participate horseback riding, rock climbing, hiking etc. as  complementary hours to pass the class.

So far, even though I am not certain, I have chosen:

  • 9/17 Buck Ridge Hike
  • 10/1 Mount Vernon to Mount Vernon Bike Tour

I took Buck Ridge Hike because I wanted to experience the nature of the States, and the reason why I took the Bike Tour is that I love biking!

On the other hand, there are also American students and because of the concept of the class it is easy to find new friends and get along with people.

This courses can be found in Schedule of Courses web paged under the Life, Sports and Physical Activity section in which all kinds of sports’ courses are listed. I highly recommend one to take LSPA courses in GWU and if one explores the city more, then Outdoor Adventure is the right course for one.

This week’s trip was kayaking or paddling on Potomac River, which was like a medicine for a really busy week. My friend Margaux, an exchange student from Science Po, and I took a same kayak so that we pay less, which is 11 $ per person for an hour.

kayaking

Kayaking to the spot where you can see both Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monuments reminds me that I am at the right city to be a student. Also, this experience show me that while Washington DC is urbanized in a complex way, it can protect the nature well.

bridge

 

First GW TRAiLS – Billy Goat Hike

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I love the outdoors. Before coming to D.C. I spent a month road tripping the west coast of American and Canada (BC and Alberta). I was in awe and fell deeply in love with the canyons, glaciers, forests and the wildlife that inhabits within. It was a good change coming from nature to the city. I mean, after all, we are all social animals that need human interactions.

Throughout orientation week, our leaders told us that we must join GW TRAiLS, a student engagement organisation that goes on outdoor adventure trips throughout the year. At UNSW, we have student organisations that are similar to TRAiLS (UNSW Outdoors Club and UNSW Adventure Society) but since grass is always greener on the other side, I haven’t had the opportunity to go on any trips with them. So of course I signed up for TRAiLS at the student org fair. I took the plunge and registered for a Billy Goat hike over the weekend and I was not disappointed at all.

I was also surprised to learn that such a beautiful place exists so close to D.C. We took the bus from the Marvin Centre and was there in an hour. Our large group of students were split in two, each group with 2 guides to lead us on the trail. The hike took around 2 hours to complete and it was more difficult than I thought it would be. Imagine a normal trail with flat elevation, now through that image out of your head and replace it with bit and small rocks everywhere. We had to climb up and down and across (pretty much like a goat, hence the name I guess). At the end of it all, we rested at the Great Falls overlook. What a magnificent sight.

Not only was I able to explore the nature surrounding D.C., I also had the pleasure of meeting new people (one of them was a part-time bee keeper at the university which is so interesting!). My next trip? I’m thinking of either spelunking (caving) or maybe even a haunted hike (or both) but there is so much to do and so little time!

 

riversbillygoat

New Jersey!

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I have always heard New Jersey from movies and TV Series, and to be honest, the impression of Jersey was not a place worth to go. However, after seeing it, I can clearly say that this is wrong !train

So, talking about my trip to New Jersey, I have to mention the Union Station which is the bus station nearly for all buses in DC. If one says that Washington DC is a living-history city, Union Station is one of the reason why one thinks that way. It was built in 1907 and has operated since then. The gorgeous architecture and the sculptures living in it are nothing but impresses one immediately.

 

Even though I missed my bus to Jersey, I could find a next bus one hour later thanks to the schedule of Megabus which is a company organizing bus trips to several locations such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York etc. , which means that every exchange student who wants to go outside of DC will use Megabus.

After 3 hour long trip, I arrived New Jersey and passed immediately to Atlantic City, where is called “Las Vegas” of the East Coast. I haven’t seen the Las Vegas but I can clearly say that Atlantic city is really different in terms of gambling and, particularly, the size of gambling. I have to admit that I go to Bulgaria every month to gamble and may be a gamble-addicted. However, I think I can compare the casinos in Europe and in Atlantic city. The casinos in Atlantic city is, basically, big and different. I say that it is different because the games that I play regularly has some additional rules for example I saw a double zero bet in roulette, which you can not see in Europe.

bally

 

Atlantic City is not, of course, just about its casinos. In there, I had a chance to enjoy last days of summer in Brigantine Beach, which is located close to Atlantic City, and it was my first experience of swimming in the ocean. Before that, I have always swum in the seas. Unluckily, I fell asleep under the sun and the suntan back of my body still hurts while I am writing these words. However, I think that beside all touristic places such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia etc. every exchange student should experience New Jersey and gamble there !!!

beach

Labor Day

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Before I came here, the classes’ topics seemed really interesting and crucial for me to take. However, It was the first week of classes and I can clearly state that yes, they are really interested but also require hardworking. The courses at GW just showed me that even though I am at the heart of the States, DC is not the place to get relaxed and have fun. I have to work really hard and do my homework to be successful at classes.

In that first week rush, Labor Day was a rescuer taking me away from the courses’ requirements which I have not been able to focus yet.

Labor Day, as oppose to European countries, is celebrated in US on 5th of September, which makes this holiday kind of national even though this is an international norm. So, I thought that since this is national in a way, I have to do something national. I have to created my national holiday in an international place, and the Embassy Row located in Dupont Circle is, I think, the best place to feel Labor Day in a way that US citizens feel. Embassy Row is a place where most of the embassies are located, and finding my national embassy made me think that it is something similar to Labor Day.

In that Row, Turkish Embassy was not located but I found Defense Attaché of Turkish Embassy, which was located between two European countries hanged European Union flag along with their national flag, which made me sad because I really think that Turkey should get into the Union but I am well aware of the fact that we have lots of things to achieve.

turkish-embassy

Also, you can find sculptures that represent cultures in front of the embassies and get informed about their culture briefly, which really amazing, I think.

I was thinking of being done with Turkish elements in that Row until I saw something that really makes me surprised. Our founding father’s, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, sculpture holding Nutuk, which is the book he explains the Independence War by giving the documents that he had collected between 1919-1923, located 0.3 miles away from the Attaché building. Apparently, the building behind of the sculpture was bought by Turkey and used for several years as embassy. However, it is now used for Ambassador’s residence.

emre

All in all, I would recommend every exchange student to find his/her home country and explore Dupont Circle because apparently you can find something really interesting.