Author Archives: sbruell

Getting Back Into The Routine


By sbruell

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the holidays, my bed becomes my best friend. Its comfy, warm, and I can sit and watch TV all day in it! I also find myself managing to stay in bed until the afternoon because I have nothing else to do. However, flash forward three weeks, and getting out of bed at 9 o’clock for lectures, or 7:30, as I was crazy enough to pick an 8 o’clock class, and suddenly it is hell! Not only do I need to learn to detach myself from the wonderful place that is my bed, but I also need to get myself back into a routine of studying! And homework! And papers!

On arrival for my first semester, the prospect of studying in a new country was daunting as everything was going to be a little different. My first challenge was finding out that lectures aren’t 50 minutes like they are at home, but, on average, 75 minutes or more. Now, 25 minutes doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, but it can really feel like it if it meant you could have stayed in your comfy bed longer. And then there are the assignments, which come a lot more often in the US than they do at home in the UK. I struggled a few times during my first semester when I had up to 4 assignments to do at once, but the key to surviving is planning. I know I sound incredibly boring saying that, but by planning, it gives you the opportunity to take weekends away or go to see a baseball game for example.

So here are my tips for starting off the semester well:

1) Try to establish a regular sleeping pattern – yes staying up till 1 am every night watching Youtube videos can be fun, but your body will not forgive you at 9 am!

2) Plan your day, and see if there are gaps where you can fit in an exercise class or a quick trip to the gym – my escape is always swimming; totally clears your head.

3) Plan your work schedule, whether this means reading through the semester’s course guides or the assigned reading list, filling in your diary with important events can really help.

4) MAKE TIME FOR FUN – even if that is just a quick dinner with friends, or ice skating at Washington harbor (the rink is open till march!).


Follow these tips and I promise your semester will be the best ever.


Hello From Hannah!


By sbruell


Hi! I’m Hannah, a student from Sussex University in England and I have been lucky enough to have been selected to attend GWU for my third year of study in American Studies and History. When I first found out that I was coming to America and Washington DC in particular, I realized that this could be one of the greatest years of my life. My goal was to make as many new friends and new memories as I could whilst studying hard and playing hard.” No sitting back and waiting for things to happen; I was going ‘all in’ to experience as much as I possibly could in the US. I knew there would be certain things that I’d miss at home, but after one semester here, never did I imagine that ‘Percy Pig’ sweets, ‘Cadbury’s dairy chocolate’ and ‘Angel’s Delight’ mousse would be top of the list!  However, I have already discovered that I love Hershey’s dark chocolate and blueberry pancakes!

At this point, dear reader, I feel I have to say that I am not usually so interested by such frivolous and shallow thoughts that seem to center around my stomach; however, food is always the first thing that one notices is different when abroad.  I think my family and relatives would be ‘put out’ some that I have ordered them second (or even fourth!) on my list of things that I miss! I think this is because I had always expected to miss them and was prepared for the occasional bouts of ‘homesickness’; it is always the unexpected things that hit you harder.  Of course, I miss my family dearly, but that’s where new friends come in; they will effectively be your family for 4 months so make sure to pick some good ones! At some points during your first semester you will feel a little down, perhaps when you have a birthday, or when you have too many papers due in at once; but you just have to put your head down and keep going, and remember, you will never get an experience like this again. So, I learned fairly early on in my first semester to just say “yes” to new and exciting things! For me it was about joining the GW Swimming team, going to Baseball and Basketball games  and taking road trips with my new friends (even if it meant being cramped in the back seat of a car for 8 hours!) .  The best advice I can give is to travel as much as you can while you have the chance. I have just come back from a week in New Mexico and it was honestly one of the greatest weeks of my life; I tried Sushi for the first time, I snow-shoed and skied for the first time  and I experienced a real Thanksgiving meal with an American family.  I wasn’t fully aware of what to expect from GWU, but by embracing all new things and people that I’ve met, I have had an incredible first semester, and I know that the second will be even better!

Fall 2013 Blogger


By sbruell

GW Exchange is excited to announce our Fall 2013 Blogger- Haziq Jani! 


Hi! My name is Haziq and I’m from the National University of Singapore. As a political science major, I would be joining classes in international relations, comparative politics and political thought.

I am a “Javanese” – my home country has a colonial habit of identifying our ethnic group or “race” – and so I speak Malay and some Bahasa Indonesia and no, being Javanese does not mean I know how to make a good cup of coffee nor do I know how to code.

Aside from learning about US politics in DC itself, I look forward to meeting new people and soaking into the “culture” in Washington, and if possible, I hope to be able to cycle around as well!


Don’t forget to follow Haziq on his exchange adventures this fall!