Monthly Archives: January 2018

Movies Time!

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    I am really crazy about watching movies and I like to watch all types of movies, including romance, thriller, science-fiction, and so on. Without exaggeration, I can stay at home for an entire weekend only to watch movies and eat some snacks. I think the reason why I love movies so much is that my family gets closer to each other when we enjoy our movie times. All of the people in my family love movies a lot, so we often watch movies either at home or theaters and we often discuss how we feel about the movies after we watch them. It has been the best recreation for my family since I was young.

    Because I am so fascinated with movies, I feel excited to watch movies when I arrived at GW. Thus, I searched the internet and found an adorable theater called Landmark West End Cinema just a few blocks away from the campus on M Street. This theater is quite small but beautiful and it plays some unique movies that you will not be able to watch in other theaters.

                         

    Today, my friends and I chose to watch a great movie called the Florida project. It is a really special movie because the leading characters are not adults but children. Through children’s naïve eyes, we are able to look at the world they are in without criticism. I do not plan to say too much about the plot because I believe some of you will want to watch it later. No matter what, it is an awesome movie and I really enjoyed my time watching movies with all the people in this theater. If you have some time and you do not know a place to relax, I recommend you to go and pick a movie at the Landmark West End Cinema (You can get the movie at 9 dollars if you bring your student ID card).

                    

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My First Few Days at GW

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After over ten hours of flight, I finally arrived at D.C. safe and sound. In the first few days, I spent most of my time exploring the campus to make myself get accustomed to the whole new environment and I found a lot of interesting things so different from my hometown, Taiwan, which I would like to share with you.

First of all, it took me an extremely long time to find my dorm and the places I needed to go for check-in on the first day because the road naming system differs from that in Taiwan. In Taiwan, the names of most streets or roads are a combination of proper nouns and numbers, such as Nanping First Street; however, here in GW, a lot of streets are merely named either with an English letter like E Street, or a number like 23rd Street. Therefore, it was really hard for me to tell the differences between different streets and I got lost easily. Thankfully, I still have my google map to rely on!

Also, learning the currency system in U.S. is another new class for me. When I was going to pay for my first meal at GW, I was totally confused about the value of the coins because it was so complicated. In Taiwan, in terms of coins, there are only fifty, ten, five, and one. The size of fifty is bigger than ten, ten bigger than five, and so on. However, in U.S., there are pennies, dimes, nickels, quarters, and their sizes do not correspond to their values. As a foreigner, it is really a challenge to grab the right amount of coins at the counter, so sometimes I just took out all my coins and asked the clerk to kindly do me a favor, or I would probably block the line when I was slowly counting the money.

In addition to road and currency system, I am also still trying to get used to the tax and tipping culture. The prices of commodities in my country always include tax, so we can pay for the exact amount of money shown on the products’ price tags, but in U.S., the situation is different, for the tax is shown separately here. Sometimes I felt nervous when I could not prepare for the right amount of money in advance under these circumstances. Giving tips is still another unfamiliar culture to me because we do not give tips almost on every occasion.

Although there are still so many things I need to learn, I feel excited to conquer all the challenges. My first few days in GW were awesome, especially under the guide of those brilliant ExO leaders. I believe I can explore more interesting things in the following few months.

Mom, I’m not coming back for Christmas.

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I’m not coming back for Christmas, Mom. 

“I spent a lot of time reflecting about this, and I know I promised you before I left for the US, but I feel this is the right thing to do. 

 I don’t think that coming back would be helpful to me in any way, and I think we both know it. I will be home in July, I will see you then. Or whenever you overcome your fear of planes and decide to come visit. 

I hope you understand and sorry for canceling the tickets.”

I cancelled my tickets to Italy a few days before my scheduled departure. Having been abroad for almost three years now, Christmas has become the only constant re-encounter with my parents. My parents were not super enthusiastic about losing the money, but they eventually supported me in this: “You know I would love to have you here. If I were selfish, I would have you fly home immediately. But If I were you, I would not want to come back either. Just try to go somewhere sunny over the break, maybe to California. You need vitamin D.” 

That was the beginning of my first Christmas away from home in 20 years. 

I spent Christmas eve and Christmas day in DC with some friends of mine that also remained in town. We were all excited and lonely. Three young men and one young woman on the other side of the Atlantic. We tried to emulate a family-like situation: went out for dinner on Christmas eve, cooked a full course meal on Christmas day. I guess it was the closest I ever felt to adulthood. 

On December the 26th I was leaving for Sevierville, Tennessee. A small town next to Knoxville. I know, pretty random place to go on vacation, but that’s where my heart was riding me to. And I was happy to be along for the ride:  I spent a week with a fantastic girl I met in GW and her family. This love among the school desks brought deep into the South. Despite being only a 9 hour bus ride from DC, Tennessee did not feel like the America I had known so far. The thick southern accent, the food culture, both so rich but so exaggerated, the interminable mountains surrounding the town. I hopped on a bus in a fairly European-styled place and I drop off in the middle of America. Real and genuine America. The one we choose to ignore as visitors but that is there and has a lot to offer. I will elaborate on this in my next post. For now, I’ll only say:

I had a great time, but as soon as January the second, I felt I needed it was time for me to follow my mom’s advice. I stayed for three days in DC, running errands and moving into my new apartment, bracing myself for the golden state.

Landing in Los Angeles in January the 6th felt more than just good. I was ecstatic. Not being very used to DC-cold weather, being catapulted to the beach at 70º really thrusted life back into my body. I was staying on UCLA campus at a friend’s place. The equation is very simple yet infallibly effective: friends + good weather + beach + January and winter break = Happiness. I dare you find a better recipe.

I came back the morning of January the 14th. Waiting for me, 10 degrees and another semester to start. D.C does feel like home now. Despite the unappealing weather. And I’m sure my last semester here will be so great I will forget California pretty easily. Although, as much as I like DC, I have to admit to the inarguable fact that the West coast is the Best coast. And that my mom gives good advice.

Introducing: Melissa Chen!

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“Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough/ Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades/ Forever and forever when I move,” says Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Hello! My name is Melissa from National Chengchi University in Taiwan. Like the poem above mentions, I am an optimistic person who willing to embrace new challenges every day and I enjoy making friends with people from different countries. Thus, I participated in the exchange student to attend the George Washington University in 2018 spring semester to brave myself, for this is my first time studying abroad.

As a student majoring English, I am considering to be an English teacher as my lifelong career in the future. Therefore, this exchange program is appealing to me because on one hand, I am granted a precious opportunity to polish my English skill while studying and getting along with native speakers. On the other hand, I have a chance to learn the American teaching style when taking courses in GW. Both language proficiency and effective teaching skills are necessary if I want to be a qualified and professional teacher, so this program, which helps me improve the two abilities, serves my long term personal goal.

I chose GW as my exchange institution is important to me because it is a famous university full of diverse courses, cultural resources, and it is located in the capital city, surrounded by the White House, museums, banks, and a lot of renowned tourist spots. With these resources, I believe if I can make good use of my time, I can not only acquire knowledge from classroom, but also broaden my horizon outside the classroom.

In brief, I expect and believe that I will definitely enjoy a great time for my upcoming semester in GW. If you want to make friends with me, or you are interested in reading journals from a Taiwanese girl’s perspective, keep on following my blog! The blog will be updated at least once a week.

End of the first semester

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I’m writing this while I wait for my plane and tears are threatening to come. This has been by far the best semester of my life, well the year in general. I can’t believe the lucky I’m for being here and having the opportunity of meeting such amazing people and making friends that I’m sure are for life.

This last week, after all the finals, has been pretty exciting, we have done so many things trying to enjoy the last days together. We have gone to the waterfront to do ice skating, we have gone out and we have had lots of dinners in the best places. But after all, that can summarize this semester, exploring DC and having fun.

Thankfully I have another semester here, although it is not going to be the same. Most of the people is leaving, they were only here for a semester and I’m so sad about it. I never though I was going to find the best friend I could ever find here, in Washington DC. But I did, I found Martina and now I can’t imagine my life here without her. That is the worst part of the exchange year, that you make many friends but most of them are from other countries, even from other continents. And then the only thing you can think about is, am I going to see them again? However, I’m sure we will do something about it.

I have a million of memories that I’m going to treasure all my life, as traveling around US and getting to know a new country, seeing New York for the fist time. But other memories,  the simplest ones, are the  closest to my heart now. Kayaking, dinners together, and a day trip to Philadelphia, being some of them.

This is not goodbye to DC, as I’m only going home for Christmas and then coming back. Is a goodbye to all the exchange students and a hello for the ones coming next semester. Thank you for the best experience of my life.