Author Archives: yassineaourid

Fall in D.C.

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This is it, fall arrived. The nice weather we knew when we came here is gone now. I can’t realize how fast time is flying, and I can’t believe that I’m leaving the US in almost two months. It’s time to review what I did so far and to make a quick assessment of my experience abroad.

From my window, I can see the leaves of the trees turning from green to a kind of yellow. But leaves aren’t the only one who changed. In fact, since I am here, I noticed that a lot of things changed in my way of life. I think that living in the heart of the nation’s capital and going from time to time to NYC, makes you become “American” quicker than living in any other American city. If we talk about food, I can say that food here really changed me, literally. I gained 4 pounds since I came here. Well, it’s sort of understandable when you have Chick-Fil-A on campus and a Subway downstairs. Also, I have a new habit now, I can’t go to class without a Vanilla Latte in my hands. Back in Morocco, I used to drink only strong coffees but here… I got Starbucksized.

From the study perspective, I am very happy that I took such great courses. On the first hand, my psychology class is really interesting and fascinating. Although the exams are not always easy, the content of the chapters allows me, now, to understand better my behavior and some of my actions. On the other hand, my computer science class, a more pragmatic approach, is by far my best class here. I get along with my classmates and my superb professor. A good thing about American people and mentality, that I noticed especially in NYC, is that they hate wasting time. They are always to the point. Even when they speak, their phrases are a sequence of shortcuts, and they love approximations. “I was like…”, “sort of”, “kind of”, “for some reasons”, “a bunch of stuff” How much is a bunch? What’s a stuff? I don’t know… (Gad El Maleh, American Dream)

In a nutshell, my experience is not done yet, and yet, I have learned so many things, made so many acquaintances and seen great things. I’m looking forward to knowing more about the American culture especially with the upcoming events (Halloween, the Midterms, Thanksgiving…)

P.S: Don’t be surprised if I write another post about NYC, we never get tired of this city…

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New York part 2

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This week has been particularly amazing! It started with a basic Monday which I dedicated to studying because I had to take advantage of Fall break and also because I knew that next weekend will be crazy.

The first major event of the week was the show of the best French-Moroccan comedian ever, Gad Elmaleh. When I knew that he was going to perform in DC, I instantly bought the tickets. Thank gad, prices weren’t as crazy as The Lion King show on Broadway. I went with a friend who came to Morocco for his exchange semester and we were thrilled by Gad’s performance. In all modesty, I think that Moroccan humor has something special: a neat subtlety that makes you laugh for hours. Making fun of French people, telling us his adventures in the US, the all accompanied by a well Moroccan accent: it was perfect!

Gad Elmaleh performing at the Lincoln Theater

The next day, I needed more entertainment and more fun. Therefore, I decided to go to New York for the second time. This time I took the bus, much cheaper and reliable. It wasn’t as comfortable as the train but who cares? I arrived in Manhattan at 9:00 p.m. It was raining and I was hungry. In Morocco, if you’re outside and you’re hungry, your only option is McDonald’s so I was worried but then I realized I was in New York…

After a long night, I had my breakfast at Starbucks (the only one that spells my name correctly)

I decided to visit the main places I didn’t visit the last time I came. If there is one thing that comes to my mind when I think of NYC, it’s definitely the Statue of Liberty. I was surprised by NYC population’s diversity. For instance, the agent who sold me the ticket for the ferry to Liberty Island was from Cameroun, thus we got to speak French. Going on that ferry and looking at the wonderful buildings that constitute NYC and the magnificent Brooklyn bridge was an amazing experience. When the boat approached the Statue of Liberty, it was The Moment! Looking at this statue and the torch that welcomed millions of immigrants was particularly stirring.

The next day, I visited one of the largest museums in the world: The National Museum of Natural History. I had some special thoughts to all of my biology and history professors when I visited this museum. I was fascinated by all the exhibitions of that museum. I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it.

Finally, my trip to New York ended in a movie theater where I saw “Venom” in 3D. It was my first time in an American movie theater and I was amazed by the quality of the seating that makes you enjoy the experience fully.

My second trip to New York was a big success and I can’t wait to go back again. Now enjoy this beautiful picture of Brooklyn Bridge and see you next week.

 

The name’s Bond, James Bond.

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After a great week in New York, I came back to the hard reality of Monday mornings and the class routine. I can finally tell that Washington D.C. has its own charm. Being surrounded by officials at the government and living near the heart of the global decisions center is a great privilege. For instance, this Monday I saw some White House limos at Pennsylvania Avenue driving the Mexican delegation. A few minutes later, I read on Facebook that the US signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada…

My Software Design class is getting more interesting since we tackle some very important elements of Mobile app design. My professor is truly helpful and very kind. He makes a lot of efforts so that we can grasp the content of the lectures. We communicate through Slack (a professional version of Whatsapp where all the classmates and the professor can interact). It’s a new concept for me and it gets us much closer to the professor. I find it better than office hours.

This Tuesday after my class at the Milken Institue, I found a man selling some T-Shirts in front of the Metro station, and he had a chessboard. So I asked him if we could play, he said: “With pleasure”. It would have been cool if I won but, unfortunately, I did not. I will have my revenge though

My fall break started on Wednesday afternoon since I don’t have class on Thursdays and Fridays. However, I didn’t plan anything special for this holiday. In fact, I was going to go to LA but my friend who was going to host me had a last-minute difficulty. Therefore, I decided to devote some time to study in order to get rid of the work charge, because yes I am a procrastinator.

My roommates went for their break trip, thus the apartment is quieter but freer. After checking my museums’ list, I noticed that I didn’t visit an important one yet: The International Spy Museum. This museum is incredibly awesome! It’s true, it costs $18 but I would have paid more because it is really worth it.  From Julius Caesar to Alan Turing through James Bond, every character was there. It was fascinating because the history of the intelligence services dates back the era before Christ. I got to try this fun activity where I had to hang on a metal bar pretending I am James Bond…

My record: 46 seconds

It was a pretty good week but again the next one will be neat!

See you then 😉

A memorable week

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If you read my posts regularly, you would know that the last week was the most boring one and that I promised you that the following will be great. Well… the promise is made.

When I finished my psychology exam on Wednesday afternoon, I quickly ran to Union Station because something was happening. I was going to New York for the first time. People told me that the train was comfortable and it was quicker than the bus. Before going, I had some plans that turned out to be a little bit eccentric. A dear friend of mine invited me to spend the weekend with her.

The trip on the train was great. It was super comfortable and although the trip duration was 3 hours and a half, I didn’t feel bored at all. When I arrived at Penn Station in NYC, I had goosebumps. It was a historic moment for me. The next morning I walked around the city and had lunch in the Rockefeller Center. This center, localized in the center of the city, is very impressive. After a lunch rich in calories, I went to see all the famous avenues that I only have seen in movies and social media. The Fifth Avenue is incredibly amazing. Police officers were everywhere because of the UN summits. I took advantage of my presence in the 5th Avenue to say Hi to my neighbor Donald.

“New York is one of the most crowded cities in the world”. When we read this sentence between the lines, one will understand that safety and security are key in New York. This is why I wanted to pay tribute to NYPD officers. They were very kind and helpful. I had a conversation with them and they appreciated it.

Nocturnal life in New York is totally different from every other city’s nocturnal life. The best way to discover a city is to get lost in it. My friends and I ended up in Little Korea, a neighborhood that brings you from NYC to Seoul. We decided to try Korean barbecue. It was a great success. Korean food is delicious. We had chicken, beef, shrimp, dumplings and all kind of vegetables. I tried for the first time Saké. This night was culinary excellent.

The following day which was a Saturday, I reserved myself a little surprise. I decided to go watch a Broadway show and a very particular one: The Lion King. All my life, this Disney production will always have its place in my heart. I purchased the ticket for $300 but this is a one-lifetime experience. I can finally know how it feels to go watch a great show on Broadway on Saturday. My friends took dropped me to the Minskoff Theater and we passed through Time Square on a Cadillac!

 

 

I encourage everyone to watch this astonishing show.

This trip to New York was the opportunity for me to fell in love with another city. Sorry Washington, your cousin NYC is so special…

And I arrived at Union Station.

See you next week

 

Another week in DC

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Another week just passed. My week always starts with an intense cycling session at 9 a.m. It really wakes me up and even though I wanted an outdoor cycling class, I don’t regret having taken this one. Classes, in general, are getting more interesting. In fact, subjects like psychology are just awesome! I feel that all the knowledge I have acquired in high-school wasn’t useless. We talk about philosophy, sociology, genetics, statistics… It is really fascinating.

Tuesday was a fun day! I had only one class and a very interesting one: Yoga class. This is the first time I am taking a yoga class. It is impressive how the body can feel a sense of ease while suffering. Sometimes I just look ridiculous since my poses are clumsy. But after each yoga session, my slumber is smooth. As my school week came to an end, I was getting excited to start the weekend. However, I had to keep in mind that I had several projects and exams due the upcoming weeks.

On Thursday, I met a Moroccan guy through a common friend. It is very surprising to meet Moroccan people at GWU especially one who is from the same city as mine since they are very rare. My friend told that he knows only 4 Moroccans on the whole campus. We went for a walk, talking about life in DC and at GWU from a Moroccan perspective using our home language. I missed speaking my language -darija (Language made of Arabic, French, and Spanish).

 

I found this amazing instagramable  place, during our walk

 

Finally, I ended this week by going to a brunch with my roommate at Founding Farmers. I was told that this American restaurant was known for serving good quality and healthy food. I woke up at 9 a.m on a Sunday morning to try this new restaurant.

Verdict: I highly recommend it.

This week may seem like the least interesting one, I agree. But, brace yourselves for next week 😉

 

A week in history

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Being told by everyone that I was wasting my time if I don’t go visit the museums, I decided to make a list of the museums I will be visiting this semester. Having a deep interest in History and especially the History of the United States at its genesis, the National Museum of American History was at the top of my list! Also, another thing that amazes me and terrifies me at the same time is space. I mean, we are living in an infinitesimal dot among billions of galaxies. Thus, the National Museum of Air and Space was Number 2 on my list.

This week started with a very heavy Monday, full of exercise, challenging classes and lots of walking. Mondays are horrible. Our Psychology professor told us to come to his Happy Office Hours. It was something completely new to me and I haven’t seen that before. Basically, we had to meet at a pub on K St called, Froggy Bottom and we had to discuss some psychology theories with the professor in a very chill way. I have never ever eaten chicken fingers with a professor in my entire life.

The Museum of Air and Space was incredibly awesome! I went with Angus, a cultivated guy from Australia, who is also an exchange student. If there is one thing I’m so happy to say about my visit to the museum it’s that I touched a piece of the moon. I was also fascinated by all the aircraft from wars. It was so surprising to see real space probes and more historical aircraft such as the first plane that ever flew, created by the Wright brothers. In a nutshell, my visit to the national museum of Air and Space was so exciting and I’m looking forward to going back again.

The second museum I visited this week is the national museum of the American history. Being in DC is already being in a museum of the American History but the one I visited was really worth it. First of all, I went to the museum with an exchange orientation leader, Erin, who is majoring in History and some of her friends. She was so delighted to explain to us some of the episodes that America has known throughout time. From the Independence war to the Vietnam war, going through the period of slavery and the dresses of the first ladies, the museum of the American history is by far one of the best museums I have ever seen.

In a nutshell, this week and the previous ones are making my little experience in DC better and better. It has now been one month that I am in the US and I can’t tell you how fast time is moving.

Winter is coming

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Bad weather always looks worse through a window.   -Tom Lehrer

 Having spent the third week in DC made me used to the piece of art of Pierre Charles L’Enfant -aka Washington DC. The pattern of the streets and their names have become more familiar to me. Although it’s well organized, it is still pretty hard to make it from the Milken Institute to the Elliot School in 20 minutes. Therefore, I discovered a new way of transportation called Lime. It’s a service that offers pretty cheap transportation using an electric scooter. It’s so much fun riding it and also quite fast.

Another new feature I discovered and mastered this week is Amazon Prime. As said my friend Gabriel Falk “Amazon is a way of life”. I found it super useful to get anything from the US in a couple of days. For the record, this week I got a yoga mat, shoes, Einstein poster and a Psychology textbook for only $24! However, I found some difficulties with the Mailing Services.

The three first days of the week were hot as hell. The recorded temperatures were close to 100° F (38° C). But a few days later, we’ve experienced a drop in temperature and the blue sky that we have known this summer turned to a grey coat. Having seen some crows around the National Mall, it was worthy to say “Winter is coming”. Therefore, to accentuate this gloomy atmosphere, a bunch of exchange students and I decided to visit the Arlington National Cemetery to give a tribute to the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy and his family. On our way back to campus, we have experienced a heavy and scary downpour. It was so fun.

 

Finally, my best moment of the week was my meeting with Albert Einstein’s sculpture which had a lot of meanings for me.

L’image contient peut-être : Yassine Aourid, arbre, plein air et nature