Author Archives: yassineaourid

Thank you GWU!

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I hate goodbyes, really! And I hate thinking that this will be my last blog for this semester. I have experienced an amazing time here at GWU and in Washington D.C. in general. I had some great opportunities, got to know a lot of amazing people, improved my skills… I started to get used to this new way of life. Going to class early in the morning, eating those Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at lunch, running around the mall during the weekend,  drinking the morning Latte at Starbucks downstairs, going to Wholefoods to buy groceries, installing all the must-have apps (Netflix, Uber, Lyft, Lime, Venmo…), buying a Canada Goose (No just kidding), going back to my wonderful room on E Street. The location is really awesome and the address rocks! 1959 E Street what an address! It could be my password in the next years :p

I loved meeting people here at GWU. The people I met this semester were all speaking at least three languages, having some insane intellectual skills and very friendly and kind. I had great roommates and we had really fun at our weekly parties. The American experience was so rich that I will probably miss some important amazing episodes.  Do you know this feeling when you have so much to say but your head is empty? In four months, I was able to make two apps, one of them will be useful for International Affair students. It’s an efficient news app that gets articles from all over the world. I learned how to play Golf and acquired some of the basics of Yoga.

In a nutshell, I had a really good time at The George Washington University, the Exchange program assistants were very nice. The staff was very professional, I have a special thought for the mailing and packaging services agents who helped me get my Amazon Prime packages this semester, and of course, my awesome professors with whom I really felt the pleasure of learning. I can’t wait to visit Foggy Bottom again.

Thank you for having followed my blogs this semester, I hope it was entertaining and fun.

 

“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph”                                                                                                                                                               George Washington 

 

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A week full of events

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This week was particularly amazing since I decided to dedicate more time attending events. There are plenty of events every day in GWU, it’s insane! The number of events I see on Facebook is incredible. There are events for everyone and a variety of themes are present. This week I was interested in three major events.  Two of them are related to my major (Computer Science) and the other one was more cultural.

The first event I attended was about Machine Learning. It was a sort of introduction to this huge field of Comp. Sci. The speaker was implausibly a sophomore student. I swear he spoke better than any Ph.D. I have met in my life. I would take him as a professor. A sophomore!! This is something I noticed about American students. They get involved in an early age in topics they are interested in, and they put a lot of effort into what they like. I was also surprised by the questions asked by the other students who attended. I felt like I was in a high tech conference. The second event also related to Computer Science was about compilers. I will spare you the details, although it is a fascinating topic.

I met a student who is going to my university next semester as an exchange student. So I got to know her from now. She invited me to an event of the association that she represents on campus. It was a Multi-Faith Dinner where three representatives of the three monotheist religions were gathered and were talking about the Holy City, Jerusalem. We had a discussion afterward and it was very interesting.

I can’t believe we are already in December, I feel like June was last week. Only one week of class left, who would believe it? I will miss several people here, especially my friend Alexandre who works at Subway downstairs. He makes some pretty decent sandwiches

Next week will be more active! Stay tuned and enjoy this beautiful picture taken in Kogan Plaza by my friend Manuel Fazioli

 

 

 

 

My best week so far?

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Do you remember my trip to New York when I said that it was the best week of my semester abroad? Well, I think we have a competitor.

This week, I have been through so many situations and experienced so many things about the American culture that I truly felt I was in the USA. This week, Americans celebrated one of the most important holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. As a foreigner, I didn’t know much about this holiday since we don’t celebrate it abroad. All I knew is that the whole family is gathered and everybody eats a lot. But first, let me tell you about how the week started.

On Monday, most of my classmates didn’t come. In fact, they took advantage of the long holiday to go abroad or go see their families earlier. Classes were pretty tiny and I felt weird being with a professor and two or three other classmates. On Tuesday, no one came to the Yoga class, thus I had a private yoga session only for me. It was much harder than usual because all of my professor’s focus was on me so I had to make sure to make some pretty decent poses. Also, it was an opportunity for me to get know my professor since we talked a lot about my experience and about my country.

Wednesday was off so I went golfing with an exchange student at the East Potomac Golf Course (where I usually go for my Golf class) and we played 9 holes. The weather was amazing and our swings were perfect.

The following day was the big day. For those who follow me for a while, you must know that I was going to have a great Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, a few weeks ago, I received an email from the President’s Office saying that students staying on campus for the holiday were welcome to have Thanksgiving Dinner with president LeBlanc and his wife at F Street.

When I knocked on the door, I was expecting a housekeeper or someone working in the presidential residence to open the door. Against all the expectations, it was president LeBlanc who opened the door and welcomed me. I was surprised and fascinated by the interior beauty of the house. It was warm and several students were already there. I had a discussion with the president who asked me a few questions about my background and my origins. Also, I had a discussion with Mrs. LeBlanc, a wonderful woman that I admire. I loved having a conversation and sharing my thoughts with her. What can I tell you more about this dinner? Oh yeah! Food! The dinner was remarkably succulent. I have never tasted such great turkey and Mac and Cheese. Everything was delicious, we even had Kobe beef, a very tasty kind of beef from Japan. We ate marshmallows with the president who showed us how to make a particular type of sandwich made of marshmallows, dark chocolate, and biscuits.

Overall, the dinner was great. I had a really good time at LeBlanc’s and I told myself I wish it was Thanksgiving every day. To finish in beauty, I had a beautiful picture with my Thanksgiving hosts and I’m very grateful to them.

 

I was sad that Thanksgiving was over but when we talk about Thanksgiving, we also talk about Black Friday. My wallet hated me on Black Friday because I made some great deals that day. I would never regret my purchases. All the big brands had 40% even 50% off!

In conclusion, I loved this week a lot. No work, a lot of fun, a lot of food what else do we need? Although the weather was very cold this weekend, I went with a friend to the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo on Saturday night and it was very beautiful!

 

See you next week

Winter has come

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This week was particularly amazing. I have witnessed so many changes again in many aspects. First of all, I can tell that winter has officially arrived in DC. It was one of the most pleasant surprises of this semester. I woke up and I found this:

It’s not a lot of snow but still, how could I miss this during one night? The weather is surprisingly strange in DC. Sunrise is around 7:00 am and sunset is around 5:00pm. We can enjoy only ten little hours of light.

With the end of the semester coming, there is much pressure in class because of the projects due and the exams. However, it was a pretty charming study week. In fact, I tried for the first time team group as our professors suggested it. I got to know people from my class which is huge (more than 80 people). After hard work at Gelman, it was time for us to enjoy a good lunch. We went to Founding Farmers and although it’s only my second time, I can tell that food is incredibly amazing. I had a great steak with vegetables (sorry vegans).

Furthermore, because of the amount of study I had this week, a funny anecdote happened to me this week. I was in my yoga class and at the end of the class, we are supposed to stretch and relax. Our professor always puts some nice music in the background, so I completely slept for about twenty minutes, and when I woke up all my classmates were about to leave the classroom while I was sleeping on my mat comfortably. My professor said that I must have been really tired.

Also, I decided to work a lot this week because next week is a holiday week and I don’t want to feel any pressure next week. I got rid of the chores of the week such as sending a package to my family in Morocco full of presents and gifts, going to the office hours…

I am really looking forward to experiencing Thanksgiving here in Washington at the president’s house. I think it is going to be on of the great opportunities of this semester.

See you next week!

 

 

The end is right there!

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“The end is right there!” Every professor said this phrase this week, thinking that it would make students happy… The idea of me leaving scares me. I just got used to this new way of life, this American lifestyle which helps you to define yourself, allows you to discover great opportunity and much more. Me leaving this and being happy? No!

Anyways, I can remember every detail of my last post which shows how fast time is flying. More changes have come to my new way of life. In fact, I believe there is a strong correlation between the amount of time left in the US and the amount of cash in my wallet. Therefore, I can say goodbye to my Vanilla Latte every morning. Instead, I started cooking nice omelets thanks to the $1,12 egg box at Trader Joe’s. Also, I never knew why we associate students’ diet to pasta, now I know. I make pasta every day. First, it was tedious because it took me a lot of time and the end result wasn’t very good. Now, in my humble opinion, I’m a chef. Room 602 is now officially Ristorante Marrochino!

This week has been one of the most important weeks of this American political year. Although I don’t understand much the American political landscape, I went to an event organized by Prof. Porter where we enjoyed discussing the outcomes of these elections while savoring some pizza slices. I knew that the Democrats had to win a lot of seats to take control of the Senate but it wasn’t the case. In fact, it was a win-win situation for both parties. One of the good news of these elections is the number of women elected to the House of Representatives.

As I have a couple of exams next week, I went to several tutoring sessions at Gelman. It was particularly interesting to have someone else than the professor who re-explains the lecture in a way that I can understand. It’s free, efficient and very helpful.

This weekend, I went shopping and I bought some gifts for my relatives. Finally, the good news of the week is that I am invited to Mr. Leblanc’s house for Thanksgiving. I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving. Cant’ wait to eat that turkey tight!

Also, what’s going on with the weather? Anyways, I have my solution for it:

PS: 0°C= 32°F 🙂

 

Halloween

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After long weeks of hot and humid weather, the beautiful Washington D.C. is getting ready for the cold weather. It embellished with the colors of Fall, making the National Mall even more amazing. Everything turned to red, yellow and orange. In fact, most of the grocery stores are selling pumpkins because guess what? It is Halloween!

Being in the US for Halloween is an incredible and joyful opportunity. This special day represents so much for me since it is reminiscent of my childhood. I have always wished to ask candies to people and wearing scary costumes but unfortunately, in Morocco, it is not a big day. Halloween reminds me of those nights where we organized pyjama parties and we get scared the whole night, it was fun but we were 8. Being 20 for Halloween suggests another atmosphere. First of all, no more scary costumes. I was told that in the US, you can wear any costume as long as it’s not your normal clothes. I saw doctors, soldiers, dogs… Mine was basic but I liked it. I bought it on the 31st and I was pretty nervous because I was afraid that I couldn’t find any so I went to Crystal City in a shop called Total Fright where I got a Phantom of the Opera mask and a sort of skull necklace.

Wearing the Phantom of the Opera mask I could only go to Opera that night. It was an unforgettable night.

This week, I was very happy that I could finally make my own app! It was a hard work but it paid off. The app I made is nothing lucrative or exceptional. It is a tool for DC and Arlington inhabitants to use the metro easily. Basically, given two inputs, origin and destination, it tells you which line you should take, the station you should enter and leave. I am really using it sometimes but still don’t know how to include ads in it…

As usual, I always take my Sundays easy. I always go to the Mall to observe nature and have conversations with my friends and family on the phone. It was a great Sunday this week, a calm and sunny day that makes us prepare for the big event of the year: the Midterms elections.

Until then enjoy these beautiful pictures of the Mall’s trees and see you next week.

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…