Monthly Archives: October 2017

2 Months in DC

Standard

Finally, I have finished all my midterms. I had all of them during this week so I could summarize my week with me being stressed out and studying all the time. Thankfully I finished on Friday and I didn’t do bad on my exams.

It has been already two months since I’m in Washington DC, and I love this city more and more each day. Although I spent all my week studying, the weekend has been eventful. On Saturday, I woke up at 7 am to go see The White House Gardens, they did a tour around the gardens for free so I couldn’t say no to a chance to take a closer look at the White House. We had to wait for a little bit, but it was completely worth it. We were so close it felt unreal, however I wish I could be able to get inside,  I know people that have been inside and they told me it is amazing. The gardens were huge, and there were photos all around showing President Trump having events in the gardens, they even had an orchestra playing in the garden. Also the views of the Washington Monument were breathtaking. I can’t imagine living in a house with those views.

During the afternoon, we went to the Blacklight Run, and it was so much fun. It was $25, but I would definitely pay again for it. It is basically a run in which you have powder and you can throw it to everyone, also during the race there are people throwing  powder at you. And in the end, when you finished there was a DJ, like a huge party with powder flying everywhere. It is really a experience I would recommend to anyone. You end up being a mess but that is the best part. It was a 5 kilometer race, but if you don’t like running you can do it walking, lots of people didn’t run and had fun anyways. There were also food trucks so you could also have dinner there, everything was perfectly prepared.

On Sunday we started by having an ice cream sandwich in Captain Cookie. I had never tried one before, and I loved it. It is like ice-cream but with cookie, the perfect combination. It costs 5 dollars but you won’t regret it, I swear.

Then we rented bikes to go around the National Mall, and to  see the Jefferson Monument. Half an hour is free and you have lots of stations everywhere to leave the bike and take it again. An hour is 2 dollars which is quite cheap in my opinion. The day was wonderful and I loved biking around DC. This was my first time seeing the Jefferson Monument, and it is my favorite one so far. I loved Lincoln’s too, but seeing Jefferson’s one from the other side of the water is simply beautiful.

Advertisements

Halfway through the Semester

Standard

 

I don’t know why they call it Midterms week because for me I’m having midterms for 3 weeks now. This week again I had two midterms and I still have one to go. I can’t wait to see the grades to finally know how I’m performing here in GWU. So, after a tough week of exams, I deserved some rest and fun during the weekend.

One of the experiences that I loved doing during this weekend is going to a corn maze in Lawyers farm in Maryland. As you know Halloween is coming, and there are a lot of activities happening in Washington DC around that. The event was organized by GW Campus Outreach and honestly, we had a LOT of fun. It was my first experience in a corn maze and I really enjoyed it. I have never thought that getting lost in a maze is a real thing. But it was fun being lost for an hour trying to find the exit in the dark while scaring each other. By the end, we had s’mores around the bonfire. It was really cool to get around the fire and talk for a while, especially in that freezing cold weather.

Since I love outdoor activities, after a night in the farm around the fire, I had a hike with GW Trails to Mary’s Rock summit in Shenandoah National Park. The Shenandoah park was two hours drive from GWU but the scenery in Virginia’s roads was so beautiful. The hike was relatively easy, one hour up and half an hour down. But I can’t describe how fascinating the nature was. The trees were colored from red to faded orange colors. It was so beautiful to see the autumn vibe at its best in the park. Golden leaves were covering the narrow itineraries and I totally loved it. The best thing was the view from the Mary’s Rock summit. You just can’t get enough it. I would say it was totally worth the 15$ and going to Shenandoah national Park should be in your bucket list here in DC.

On Sunday, the White House opened its doors for the public to visit. It was a tour in the Gardens and apparently it happens twice a year. You can imagine the massive amount of people in line to get their tickets to the White House at 8 am. After a long wait, we finally got them. It was nice to get a tour around the White House gardens and get that close from the presidential residence. But as the non-morning person I am, I think it wasn’t as impressive as I expected but at the end it was a must thing to-do when living in Washington DC.

And the greatest way to finish the week was to get Moroccan food for lunch. I didn’t think that I would miss it that much. It was SO good and I can ensure that by the approvals of all my other friends that tried it for the first time. At this point, I’m still not homesick yet but going to the Marrakech restaurant reminded me of how much I miss my country and its food.

Midterms week

Standard

After a four days vacation in Florida, it was hard for me to get back to studies and school routine. I had my first two midterms the day right after my trip. I didn’t do as good as I used to do in my home university. But it was expected since I didn’t study for them that much. It’s that moment of the semester where I feel guilty about all the times I wasted not studying and my moral conscience starts to speak out loud. Seriously, at a moment I totally forgot that I’m here for studying. But now I feel more motivated and ready to study for my three other midterms. In general, the midterms I had here were similar to the ones I usually have in my university: a mix of multiple choice, true or false and open questions and problems. I think this was because my home-university follows an American-based system. So, I believe that if I study more I would be fine in the next midterms.

Of course, I didn’t spend the whole week studying. In the weekend, I had the opportunity to volunteer in the International Monetary Fund Annual meetings 2017. It was a great experience, especially for me, a Finance student. I was helping people with directions and I was answering the questions they had. We also had the right to attend one of the sessions presented during the event. There were many famous personalities in that event like Christine Lagarde… This event is an example of how great it is to study in GWU. Being in the heart of Washington DC gives GWU students the opportunity to attend and participate in international events or get internships in the international organizations. If you want to boost your academic and professional career in the heart of politics, George Washington University will be the best for you.

And in the journey of taking off places in Washington DC from my bucket list, I decided to go to the National Smithsonian Zoo before the winter. Well, it was a nice a place to walk through and discover. But to be honest, for a zoo it was kind of a disappointment. I only saw three or four animals. And each time I’m looking in the cages, I don’t see any animals. I’ve seen much better zoos in Morocco. I think it’s probably because I went in the afternoon and the cold season has already started. So, I assumed all the animals were sleeping. Anyways, if you are planning to visit it, try to go in the warm season (August, September…) and maybe during the morning to enjoy it better. Stay tuned for more adventures after my midterms.

IG: @Sarajebbar

Going back to the reality.

Standard

These past two weeks have been amazing, going to New York and Florida has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go again.

Sadly the fall break has ended and we have to go back to the reality, studying for the midterms. This next week I have three midterms and lots of assignments, so I haven’t done anything but studying this entire week. As I have never had an exam here before, I’m quite overwhelmed with everything.

Nevertheless I got to do a few things during the week, one of them being going to the cinema. Here the cinemas are awesome, you have much more space and you can even lay down. We want to try all the types so we went to the Dolby Cinema and I have to say I was speechless. The difference with other cinemas is that there is an Astonishing brightness, deep darks and vibrant colors render each moment with spectacular impact. Also a breathtaking  sound in the room that flows all around you. The sleek, power recliners reverberate to move you deep into the story. It’s quite expensive, 18$, but is something you should try at least once. We went to see Blade Runner and the special effects were much better, I really loved it. Also remember to bring your GWorld with you because you will get discounts.

On Saturday night I needed to take a break so we went to have dinner to Chinatown. We went walking because it was a beautiful night and it is only 30 minutes walk. There were lots of places so we had trouble choosing one. We went to a small place and we ate for 15$. Then they gave us a fortune cookie, they don’t do this in Spain so I was kind of excited. It said that people will follow me to hear me talk, kind of a good thing.

This week hasn’t been a really interesting one, but after all, studying is more important. So I wish best week I have more stories to tell.

Fall break adventures

Standard

 

Fall Break is coming! Whoaaa! As students, breaks are always the best thing that can happen in school. But before talking about Fall Break adventures, I would like to talk about my recent activities and discoveries in Washington DC. The highlight of my week here in DC is going to Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias’ concert. In Morocco, we don’t usually have such big concerts with famous stars. So, I have always dreamt of going to a big concert like the ones in America. But having my two favorite male singers in one concert was the perfect realization of my dream. The tickets were expensive, but it was so worth it. The concert was insane and I’m so grateful for being here and having the chance to see them singing live.

 

As you may know, midterms are coming. And since I’m so lazy to start studying, I figured out that I need an extra motivation to do so. There was no better place than the Library of Congress. As GWU students, we can register easily and for free to get a library card and have access to the library facilities. Finally, it was a good decision to come here. The library is so beautiful from the inside and it has a very sophisticated style. It is true that the fascinating architecture distracted me from time to time, but it’s such a nice place to study in while keeping playing the tourist.

 

Even the 2 midterms that I have right after the Fall Break wouldn’t stop me to have a nice vacation. The destination for this break was Florida. I spent two days in Orlando and two days in Miami. If you go to Orlando, you’re probably going there for the amusement parks. The main ones are Walt Disney World and Universals Studios. We chose 2 parks in one day option in Universal since we wanted more thrill rides and to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’d say that this day was the one in which I had the most fun in the US. It was a really unique experience that you can only get in Orlando. That was one item checked off from my world bucket list.

We ended our trip in Miami. I rented a bed in a hostel in front of the beach. The location was amazing for such a cheap price. I fell in love with that city. The weather is warm and nice and the beaches are beautiful. In general, the city has a chill and vacation vibe. It also has a vibrant nightlife. Once the sky starts to darken, you can hear music everywhere in the streets. Miami reminded me a lot of my hometown Agadir, which is actually located right across the ocean. And since I lived almost all my life in a coast city, going to the beach for Fall Break was the best way to relax and forget about studies. As an exchange student, I feel like studies are not the number one priority but after this, I believe it’s time for me to settle down for a while and start working for my midterms. Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

IG: @Sarajebbar

 

Fall Break

Standard

The Fall Break has been simply awesome. In a short period of time I have done so many things I don’t know even how to start. Me and four other friends decided to go to Florida, but not only to one place, we wanted to go to Miami and Orlando, so that’s what we did.

We started in Orlando, everyone knows that the outlets there are amazing and who does not love shopping? I completely do, so we spent the first day shopping. The outlet was huge, you would need more than a day if you want to go inside every shop, and there were so many sales that the temptation to buy was really big, at least for me and my friends. I bought five pairs of shoes, and I didn’t spend that much. In Spain, brands such as Nike and Adidas are very expensive, but in Orlando I bought a pair of Adidas for 25 dollars when in Spain they cost 80 euros. You can imagine how happy I was that I had found such a bargain.

Other thing everyone know that you have to do if you visit Orlando is going to one of the parks. I am a fan of Harry Potter, so I didn’t have to think about which park we should go, I chose both that have The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Island of Adventure, and Universal Studios of Florida. It was quite expensive, 175 dollars for both parks, but as I said, I’m crazy about Harry Potter so I didn’t really mind paying that much. We were kind of scared because it was supposed to rain during the whole fall break, but we were lucky and it only rained when we were finishing the Park, so we could do most of the things we wanted to.

Although both parks were amazing, the main attraction was The Wizarding World. They had all the places from the movies there, from the Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, and everyone was wearing shirts and clothes from Harry Potter. There were many rides and restaurants to eat, everything imitating the films. My favorite ride was the one inside of the castle, it was like you were playing a Quidditch game, and the 3D was amazing. It was like if you were really there.  Even the waiting was good because while you waited you were walking inside the castle. The other thing I loved was that you could take the Hogwarts Express from one park to the other, and it was identical even in the inside. Clearly if you like Harry Potter this is your place. If you don’t like it you would also have a great time. Two of my friend haven’t seen the movies, and they loved it, so I think you should go either way.

 

It has much more things to do than the Wizarding World, two amazing roller coasters for example, water rides, 3D rides, Springfield,  etc. The other ride I loved  was the Jimmy Fallon Show one, it was like if you were racing through New York in a Ferrari and it really felt like it. I was in New York last weekend, and I can say that it felt really close to being actually there,  it was really impressive.

We finished our Sunday going to Disney Springs to walk around and have dinner, there were many restaurants there and it was beautiful to see it at night. Unfortunately we were so tired we didn’t go downtown, I have heard it is really nice but we didn’t have enough time to see it.

 

 

Monday morning we took a bus to Miami. We had the apartment in Ocean Drive, just in front of the beach, so we walked around and took some pictures at the beach.  Then we went to one of my favorite places there, Wynwood Walls. The whole neighborhood has painted walls, and the place where the famous ones are is amazing. I really loved the art, some painted walls were really special and they change some of them during the year. There are only few ones that always stay there.

 

 

We also went to Bayside where we took a cruise to see everything, I loved it, you could see all Miami and the islands from the boat, and the views at night were stunning. They even showed us the millionaires’ houses and a few yachts, it really makes you feel jealous, at the end of the day  everyone wants to be rich. The tour lasted one hour and a half and it cost 25 dollars, which I think is worth it, although it would be better if it was free.

 

 

Our last day was sunny, so we spent it chilling on the beach and enjoying the sun. The beach in Miami is a really good one, and there weren’t many people because it was Tuesday morning, so it was really nice. Then we finished our trip walking down Lincoln Road and visiting some souvenirs shops there.

I really loved Florida and I am planning on coming back,  even if we visited many things, four days is not enough to see everything. The good thing is now I have an excuse to go back.

“Concrete jungle where dream are made of”

Standard

The best week so far, and that is because of New York. Right now I am writing this post at 1:00 am in the bus coming back to DC from New York, and I don’t have words to explain what this weekend means to me. Since I was 10 years old I had been dreaming about visiting New York, all the films I watched unfolded here, in the city that never sleeps, so coming here is something I always had in mind.

Unfortunately, we could only come for a weekend, three days are not enough to see everything but it is still worth it. Taking a bus from Washington DC to New York takes only 4 hours and, if you chose wisely, you can make it with 30 dollars. So at 7 am Friday we left to see the city everyone talks about. We arrived in Manhattan, we had lunch and start walking to two of the main attractions, the Empire State Building and Times Square, we didn’t go up to the top of The Empire Building because it is quite expensive and the views are better from The Top of the Rock, so we choose the last one.

The first time I saw Times Square, I have to say I was impressed, there is nothing alike in Spain so it was stunning for me. Then we went walking down to The World Trade Center to see the 11S memorial, and then to Wall Street, where we saw the bull and the little girl in front of it. But the best part of the day was seeing the sunset from the Staten Island free cruise, the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty where breathtaking and the whole trip was incredible.

Then we walked to Chinatown to have dinner, the neighborhood was really cool, there are lots of places to eat there, and the food was amazing. We finally ended up crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and watching Manhattan at night. We had an apartment in Brooklyn, but it was quite far so we had to take the metro. I highly recommend you to book an apartment near or in Manhattan because otherwise you are going to spend a lot of money and time in the metro.

 

The next day we woke up at 9 because we had to visit many things. After having breakfast we decided on going to Central Park and there we rented bikes so we could see the whole park. We spent two hours cycling and seeing the park, and even in two hours we couldn’t see everything, so next time I am in New York I am definitely going to Central Park, it is a place everyone should take their time on visiting, seeing the lakes, going to the MET, lying in the grass, etc. Cycling there is one thing I highly recommend, it is only 15 dollars for having an amazing experience.

 

 

On Saturday we had dinner in a place called Black Tap, where they have amazing milkshakes, I tried the Oreo one and it was one of the best I have ever tried, besides they were huge and looked great.We then visited San Patrick’s Cathedral and The Top of The Rock. Clearly, those were the best views of Manhattan, I’m grateful we chose it because the sunset there was something especial.

We ended up going to Grand Central and finally to Times Square, at night is much more better and all the lights make it seems as if it was in the morning, We stayed there chilling and enjoying the atmosphere.

Our last day we spent it walking around Soho and Little Italy, where we had a wonderful Italian lunch. We also visited the Washington Square, and we were lucky to see a TV show being filmed, maybe we could even appear somewhere in the crowd.

We kept on walking till Chelsea Market, a beautiful place where you can find multiple places to eat and relax. Finally, our walk ended in the Flatirion Building, after that the group separated because some people was going back to DC. I stayed until 1 am, and my last moments in New York were in Times Square watching a magician that left me speechless with all his tricks, it was really funny and astonishing watching him.

Then we took the bus and here am I, writing this post, and so exited about the whole weekend. I did other things during the week, like going to Katy Perry’s concert, but New York deserved a post on its own, so I will leave that history for another time.

I would tell you guys to go to New York but I know I don’t need to because everyone wants to go there. I hope you love it as much as I do, because after all there is nothing you can’t do in New York.