Studying abroad can be very fast paced and intense. For a lot of people, it is their first time in America, leaving home or moving countries. Although we are only here for a semester, six months is a long enough period of time that DC is very much home. Once you are finally settled and all of the practicalities of sim cards, bank accounts and medical insurance are out of the way you are able to go about your daily life as a GW student. Being an exchange student gives you the best of both worlds. You are able to experience a country whilst learning new things and meeting new people. Whether it is travelling, chilling in Shenkman or late night study sessions in Gelman the memories you make are shaped by the people you share them with.
Along with all the exciting experiences of being abroad, this week was time to fulfill the other element of studying abroad – study! It was the first time I have stopped and lived life as a normal student. This is largely due to the fact that it is currently midterms and so people have been spending their time in the library on one too many cups of coffee rather than out exploring DC! The nature of assessments is drastically different from back home as the American education system is so much more flexible. Professors set the exams which typically range from essay based questions to multiple choice, fill in the blank and short answer questions. The majority of the exchange students are pass-fail and so studying becomes more enjoyable than stressful as you can focus on the content rather than the grade.
One of the benefits of studying in DC is the access to all the museums that frame the National Mall. For my African American history module, we had the opportunity to visit the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. Being able to interact with the content of the course really enhances the experience of the module. The museum provides a chronological account from slavery to present day. You begin the narrative seventy feet below ground with the origins of slavery and gradually make your way through centuries of struggle and progress. They have original artefacts such as slave shackles, the coffin of Emmett Till and the couch from the Oprah Winfrey Show. It is one of the best Smithsonian museums and tickets are currently very hard to come by so if you have the chance, definitely go!