Monthly Archives: August 2018

Spoons Week

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I’ve lived in Australia all my life. Even having moved around quite a lot, I’m used to things having a reliable price-range that I can work around and a stable ratio between one item and another. With the exception of seasonal fruits and cryptocurrencies, things generally retain a relative value.

Cue American pricing. High school econ taught me that consumers are supposed to actively choose, but the reality of it has been drastically different for me since I got here. That relative value I’ve been relying on just doesn’t seem to apply here. I set myself up with a spare week in New York prior to orientation at GW, and was shocked to find that things just didn’t line up at all—a food cart avocado can be $1, with the cheapest tortilla chips costing $4. I had no idea I was coming to a country where I can load up on guac but have to be stingy with the chips.

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I got this platter for $5 in New York―one block from where CVS charges $3 for a pint of milk

Australian supermarkets vary in price, but this is on another level. People will literally charge you double what the store down the road is charging like it’s nothing. If we had that, there’d be a city-wide run on one chain until the other had closed down or conceded to within ~10% of the competitors’ price—and they’d have to beat them on something else to stay in business. It was this variance that led most of us to Walmart; a decision I’m still on the fence about.

Having been to big-box stores throughout Australia I thought I knew what to expect, but their designers’ ability to construct lanes a half-inch wider than their trolleys is a piece of cost-cutting design that still makes me shiver. It didn’t help that we went a few days before start of semester, so basically every essential homewares item was sold out—culminating in some questionable communal cutlery calls.

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Something needs to be done about the spoon-to-bowl ratio

Putting that aside, O week has been extremely positive. The ExO leaders and the exchange staff each had useful stuff to bring to the table, so I didn’t resent the daily meetings. Gotta say we probably didn’t need an hour-long summary of every food option on campus though, particularly when the conclusion was “people like different food”.

Presentations and orientation are a necessary evil, and I’m glad we had an organised group to run it. The painful parts weren’t the fault of GW; The guy serving me at BOA definitely had a sly grin as he signed me up. The best parts were also particularly notable. This is a spectacularly aesthetic city; it seems like any picture taken on the mall comes out great by default.

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O week presentations are the gift that keeps on giving

Here’s to Syllabus week…

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GWU, here I come!

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Once I received my DS 2019 form, carried in a beautiful blue folder with the majestic name of the university on it, I knew my journey began. A beautiful journey that every student would have dreamed of. I’m looking forward to keeping you updated on the adventures I’ll be living. So let’s get started, I think it’s time for you to get to know to me, my background, my thoughts, and to understand how much this means to me.

My name’s Yassine and I am that guy who fell in love with American culture in his childhood. In fact, the American movie industry, as well as the achievements of young Americans today, inculcated notions of the so-called “American Dream” within me.

Before getting to this, I was a simple kid born in Rabat, capital of Morocco- the most beautiful country in Africa famous for its cultural diversity, its colors, its beaches, old cities and its Californian weather. Since I was a kid, I never liked reading books. Instead, I was looking at the images which made more sense to me than black characters on white paper. Looking at images enhanced my observation skills and significantly improved my critical thinking. I also have played piano since I was 5. Although I was a Moroccan kid, I had a French education in the popular “Lycée Descartes”, a very symbolic French high school in Morocco.

Moving to the college that follows the American system in Morocco, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, choosing Computer Science as a major, hoping to create the next social network or something like that, boosted my desire to go to the US.

Okay, I guess you know who I am now. So I’m going on a journey, unfortunately, one limited to one semester but still, have you heard any student from a different university than GW saying “I live three blocks from the White House”? No, I don’t think so. I’m expected to discover every aspect of the American culture, making friends from all over the world, roadtripin’,  partying, studying, EATING!! Isn’t that a great motivation to come study here?

I believe that I have so much to learn from this great adventure that I will be living. Opportunities like this one are very rare and I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with you!

Stay tuned.

Pre-departure

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My name is Angus Mackintosh, arriving in DC from Melbourne Australia. I’ve submitted my digital signature a dozen times, mastered the art of taking blank-faced headshots against a white background, and my last real obstacle is a 27-hour flight and a greyhound. This should be the easy part. The worst of the bureaucracy is behind me and I’m calling it a win.

I’ve only actually lived in Melbourne for a year-and-a-half. Perhaps it’s a little early to be abandoning ship for the states, but we live in historic times. Australia is fairly stagnant; our Prime Minister is neither good or bad enough to warrant much attention, and our biggest public crisis seems to be a handful of ball-tampering Cricket players—certainly not one for the history books. So long as Australian media is on autopilot echoing US news, I might as well be in the US.

Aus parliament 1The only royalty-free image of Australian parliament in session is from when Obama came to speak. Google it.

What better time to be a student in your nation’s capital? I saw one of the bloggers last semester got to sit-in on the Zuckerberg hearing; that’s the kind of historic stuff I’m looking for. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking to hope for too much, but one way or another I’ll make something memorable out of it.

In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter Thompson famously went in search of the American Dream—but that wasn’t really the point, was it? He didn’t really want or need to track the zeitgeist of the time. In fact, he spends most of the book describing the delusions of everyone around him; collectively failing to see it for what it was. Dozens of authors have written books on a similar premise—Everyone wants to know what America is, but none of them can agree. It’s this ambiguity that’s forced me to come and see for myself.

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My college at home: perpetually under construction. Maybe it’ll be done when I get back.

I’ve experienced Australian colleges & boarding schools and my degree hasn’t yet reached peak difficulty; this might be the best chance I get. Aussie dollars aren’t worth as much as they could be, but I’ve got a tasty interest-free government loan to mop up the excess. Let’s see how it goes.

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