Blog Archives

This is the End

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By sarajebbar

This is it, the end of my journey in GWU. I can’t believe it’s already here, the end of one of the best semesters I had so far. But yeah, we all knew this time will come sooner or later. Here I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight and writing my final blogpost for the semester. I never thought this moment will come by this fast, but time flies here in GWU. Last week was such a hectic week. From finals to the last goodbye parties, it was so emotional to live the last days of the semester.

Studying abroad was an experience that I enjoyed so much. For me being an exchange student meant experiencing a new culture, traveling a lot, meeting new people, and adapting to a new environment that is very different from the one I live in my home country Morocco. Washington DC was one of the greatest places to live in. I really enjoyed living in the city center of the capital of the US and visit all the monuments, museums and touristy spots whenever I felt like: late at night, on sunrise or on sunset… One of the things that I’m very glad I did this semester were all the trip I did around America. Starting from Baltimore, to New York to Florida, to Mexico to Canada to Cuba and finishing with the West coast. I’m so grateful I had the chance to travel around the continent, discover new cultures and take more and more pictures. I believe that being in the US helped me visiting new places I never thought I will visit from Morocco.

Travel was great but the most precious thing I earned this semester were the friendships with people from all around the world. Before coming to the US, I knew I will meet people with whom I will have fun and spend good time. But I never expected that I’ll meet people that will become family in such a short period. I met people with whom I laughed, cried, danced, cooked (mostly pasta and ramen), traveled to exotic places, sang, chilled at dorm on lazy days, spent hours in Gelman procrastinating, and more and more. And I’m grateful I shared the best moments of my GWU journey with them. I think the worst part of the study abroad is the fact that these people will not be around on a daily basis. But memories never fade away and I’ll never forget about all what we lived in GWU. I believe that we will meet again somewhere in the world, maybe in Morocco (such a great country to visit lol) *coughcough* or maybe somewhere else. I know we might be in opposite sides of the planet, but I know for sure our friendships will not end here. The boarding time of my flight to West coast is here, which means I need to end this blogpost here.

GWU was great, the US was great and special thanks to all the people who made my semester memorable. Can’t wait to come back to DC again. It was a BLAST.

IG:@Sarajebbar

Being touristy in DC

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By sarajebbar

It has been more than two months that I’ve been in DC and I still feel like I didn’t visit all the parts of the city. Two months without visiting any museum made realize that I need to discover more places in Washington DC.

I started my week by going to the Embassy row trick or treat in Halloween. It’s one of the things that you can only do in DC, so I went for it. I really liked how each Embassy welcomed us with candies and got to present its country. I also enjoyed stacking a huge amount of candies that I still have now by the end of the week. If you’re in DC in Halloween, make sure to walk through the Embassy Row.

I also decided to finally visit some museums in the city. I started by visiting The National Museum of Natural History and it was really interesting. It got a diverse human, animals, and rocks collections. It showed different species of mammals, ocean creatures, insects and historical bones. It also exhibited the history of the human evolution and human origins. So, if you’re curious about the natural world and its discoveries, the National Museum of Natural History will be the best for you. I also visited the National Gallery of Art. Even if I don’t understand much about art, I would say that the pieces of art in the gallery were really beautiful. From paintings to sculptures, everything was so sophisticated and really beautiful. They represented the art in different centuries from different countries and artists. After visiting these two museums, I made a list of all the museums I want to visit before the semester ends (hopefully).

In addition to that, I visited the United Sates Botanic Garden. Basically, it’s a plants’ museum where you can find different species of plants. I really enjoyed walking through all the types of plants and get to know more of them. It also felt like a tropical jungle so it was nice to be there and forget the city’s cold weather that day. I also took the opportunity this weekend to ride a bike around the city. I really love the foliage of Washington DC’s and its colors during the Fall season. I really appreciate how good it was to visit the city in that beautiful scenery.

And the best way to finish this week was definitely attending the concert of Imagine Dragons in Capital One Arena. I feel really lucky to be in a city where there are many concerts happening. After Katy Perry, Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias, I had to experience more of US concerts. It’s true that the tickets are really expensive but the cheapest way to get them is waiting until the last minute. That concert gave me chills in many songs and hearing Imagine Dragon performing live was the best thing that happened to me this week.

IG: @sarajebbar

Midterms week

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By sarajebbar

After a four days vacation in Florida, it was hard for me to get back to studies and school routine. I had my first two midterms the day right after my trip. I didn’t do as good as I used to do in my home university. But it was expected since I didn’t study for them that much. It’s that moment of the semester where I feel guilty about all the times I wasted not studying and my moral conscience starts to speak out loud. Seriously, at a moment I totally forgot that I’m here for studying. But now I feel more motivated and ready to study for my three other midterms. In general, the midterms I had here were similar to the ones I usually have in my university: a mix of multiple choice, true or false and open questions and problems. I think this was because my home-university follows an American-based system. So, I believe that if I study more I would be fine in the next midterms.

Of course, I didn’t spend the whole week studying. In the weekend, I had the opportunity to volunteer in the International Monetary Fund Annual meetings 2017. It was a great experience, especially for me, a Finance student. I was helping people with directions and I was answering the questions they had. We also had the right to attend one of the sessions presented during the event. There were many famous personalities in that event like Christine Lagarde… This event is an example of how great it is to study in GWU. Being in the heart of Washington DC gives GWU students the opportunity to attend and participate in international events or get internships in the international organizations. If you want to boost your academic and professional career in the heart of politics, George Washington University will be the best for you.

And in the journey of taking off places in Washington DC from my bucket list, I decided to go to the National Smithsonian Zoo before the winter. Well, it was a nice a place to walk through and discover. But to be honest, for a zoo it was kind of a disappointment. I only saw three or four animals. And each time I’m looking in the cages, I don’t see any animals. I’ve seen much better zoos in Morocco. I think it’s probably because I went in the afternoon and the cold season has already started. So, I assumed all the animals were sleeping. Anyways, if you are planning to visit it, try to go in the warm season (August, September…) and maybe during the morning to enjoy it better. Stay tuned for more adventures after my midterms.

IG: @Sarajebbar

Fall break adventures

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By sarajebbar

 

Fall Break is coming! Whoaaa! As students, breaks are always the best thing that can happen in school. But before talking about Fall Break adventures, I would like to talk about my recent activities and discoveries in Washington DC. The highlight of my week here in DC is going to Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias’ concert. In Morocco, we don’t usually have such big concerts with famous stars. So, I have always dreamt of going to a big concert like the ones in America. But having my two favorite male singers in one concert was the perfect realization of my dream. The tickets were expensive, but it was so worth it. The concert was insane and I’m so grateful for being here and having the chance to see them singing live.

 

As you may know, midterms are coming. And since I’m so lazy to start studying, I figured out that I need an extra motivation to do so. There was no better place than the Library of Congress. As GWU students, we can register easily and for free to get a library card and have access to the library facilities. Finally, it was a good decision to come here. The library is so beautiful from the inside and it has a very sophisticated style. It is true that the fascinating architecture distracted me from time to time, but it’s such a nice place to study in while keeping playing the tourist.

 

Even the 2 midterms that I have right after the Fall Break wouldn’t stop me to have a nice vacation. The destination for this break was Florida. I spent two days in Orlando and two days in Miami. If you go to Orlando, you’re probably going there for the amusement parks. The main ones are Walt Disney World and Universals Studios. We chose 2 parks in one day option in Universal since we wanted more thrill rides and to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’d say that this day was the one in which I had the most fun in the US. It was a really unique experience that you can only get in Orlando. That was one item checked off from my world bucket list.

We ended our trip in Miami. I rented a bed in a hostel in front of the beach. The location was amazing for such a cheap price. I fell in love with that city. The weather is warm and nice and the beaches are beautiful. In general, the city has a chill and vacation vibe. It also has a vibrant nightlife. Once the sky starts to darken, you can hear music everywhere in the streets. Miami reminded me a lot of my hometown Agadir, which is actually located right across the ocean. And since I lived almost all my life in a coast city, going to the beach for Fall Break was the best way to relax and forget about studies. As an exchange student, I feel like studies are not the number one priority but after this, I believe it’s time for me to settle down for a while and start working for my midterms. Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

 

IG: @Sarajebbar

 

The city that Never Sleeps

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By sarajebbar

Do you want to know how last year I was choosing which university to go to during my exchange program? Well, each time I put the name of the university in Google maps, and checked how far it is from New York City since we didn’t have universities in New York offered. It has been always my dream to visit New York City. And I was always intrigued by this city from what I watched in American movies, Tv-shows, pictures… And I finally got the chance to visit it this weekend.

I booked my bus tickets from Wanderu website for 30$ roundtrip and it was 4 hours and a half trip. This weekend was hectic since we wanted to visit all the touristy attractions in such a short period. New York is actually super expensive so we booked our apartment in Brooklyn to save money on accommodation. New York went beyond my expectations.

The highlights of this trip are: Times Square, Wall street, Brooklyn Bridge, Ferry to the statue of Liberty, World trade  Chinatown, Central Park, Top of the Rock view, World trade center, 9/11 memorial…

Times Square was such a terrific place. Now I understand why thousands of people walk through it every day. The flashing neon lights, the street performers, the giant billboards and the tall buildings were simply fascinating. For me, Times Square is the place where you can spend hours without getting bored.

After that, we went to Wall Street. As a finance student, I’ve always wanted to visit Wall Street, the heart of investments and business. I’ve always studied in my finance classes how the financial crisis started in wall street and being able to visit this place along with all the financial attractions (New York Stock Exchange, the charging bull…) meant a lot to me. From there we visited the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial.

One activity that I liked a lot was the Staten Island ferry. Basically, it’s a ferry that takes you around the Statue of Liberty and it’s FREE. I really recommend going during sunset. The silhouettes of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline in the golden sky were magical and fascinating. We ended the first day by a dinner in Chinatown and a long walk in the Brooklyn Bridge.

The other activity that I really loved was biking in Central Park. It was one a thing that I had in my US bucket list. For me, Central Park was where the nature meets the city and it was huge. So, riding a bike there was actually really convenient to visit all the popular spots in the park. We also went to the Rockefeller center to get a city view from the Top of the Rock. And again, sunset time was the perfect time to get to see the city during the day, the golden hour and the night. It was 34$ but the view from there was worth every dollar and more. Coming from a country where buildings are relatively short, New York city looked amazing like every postcard picture.

 

A blog post will never describe enough how magical New York was and all the places in there. I would definitely comeback again to visit this city. They were right when they said “In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of.”

IG:@SaraJebbar

Outdoor Adventure

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By sarajebbar

If you know me, you’ll know how much I love hiking and outdoor adventures. It was always my favorite activity and my biggest achievement was climbing the highest peak in North Africa, Mt Toubkal 4167m. I knew I had to join GW trails which is a student association that organizes hikes and trails around DC. It has been a while that I wanted to go to their hikes and it finally happened this weekend. It was Billy Goat Trail in the Great Falls Park. I can’t describe how beautiful the scenery was. Unlike Moroccan hikes, that have more of an arid scenery, Great Falls Park had the best combination between green forest, the Potomac river, scrambled rocks and the narrow flows. The trail costed 15$ and it covered transportation. I think that the hike wasn’t challenging and was relatively easy. The fun part was climbing through the rocks like little goats. I was really amazed how such a beautiful exists just 30 minutes from dorm; which again makes Washington DC more than a historic and political city. This hike was a great way to forget about the city’s hustle and make new friends from the GWU community.  I would definitely sign up for more of GW trails trips.

The perks of having international friends is to get to try their food and restaurants. We decided that each one of us will take the group to his/her local restaurant in DC. Since I have many Koreans friends, we started with Korean food. The restaurant was called Yechon and it was located in the Korean town in DC. It is true that the meal was totally different from the one in Morocco but it was really good and spicy. We went after that to the cutest bakery ever called Breeze Bakery and Café and it had the best cakes, cupcakes, tiramisu… So, if you’re Korean or would like to try Korean food I’d recommend you to go to the Korean town. It also has an H-mart, Korean market, if you would like to buy a pack of noodles to survive the expensive food in Washington DC.

I also went to a hockey game this weekend. It was again a sport that I have never watched before. I’m still surprised how the popular sports in the US are totally different from Morocco or I would say the rest of the world (American Football). In Morocco, football (soccer) is the most popular sport but I’m taking the opportunity of being in the US to watch other ones. In comparison to Baseball, Hockey was way much more fun. The best part was when the players were fighting and all the audience screaming and cheering. I’ve never imagined that Hockey would be that tough but it was a fun game overall. Speaking of sports, the next thing I need to remove from my bucket list is a basketball match. Can’t wait to go to one. Stay tuned.

IG: @Sarajebbar

Discoveries around Washington, DC

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By sarajebbar

It has been already a month from the first day I came to GWU. I feel like time is flying, and I still have a lot of things to take out from my bucket list.  Since my weekend starts from Thursday at 9am, I always feel like my class days end very fast.

In this week, I tried something I wanted to do in the US. I went to the AMC movie theater to watch the horror movie IT. Well, the movie wasn’t as scary as I expected, but I loved the movie theater. In Morocco, the movie theaters that I tried have usually normal seats. However, the reclining seats in the AMC theater are just AWESOME. You can literally lay down 100% and enjoy the movie. Also, since all the seats were sold out, I think that Americans still have the culture of going to the theaters to watch a movie.  In my country, it’s less common to see a crowded movie theater.

In the weekend, I went with some friends to visit the National Harbor in Maryland. We took an Uber for 30 minutes, that costed us 10$ each round trip.  First, we went do some shopping in Tanger Outlets. I spent around 100$, that I will regret later when I’ll run out of money, but it was worth it. The stores were way much cheaper than the ones in Washington DC. For example in Nike, I found many sneakers that costed 34$. Even in Morocco where everything is cheaper, you couldn’t find less than 60$ Nike sneakers. So, I really think it’s worth to go there for shopping. The National Harbor Waterfront is a popular place where you can find hotels, restaurants, stores… It’s also a nice area to chill by the water or walk through. There are fun statues, like foot, hand…, everywhere if you love to take original pictures. And we stayed there for 4 hours approximately and we were lucky that we had the chance to be there by the sunset time. The sunset behind the Capital Wheel is fascinating and terrific. It’s one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. So, you should definitely visit this place if you’re in Washington DC.

This semester, I didn’t join many association, I only joined DC Through A Lens, the photography club in GW. Why did I join it? I’ve always been passionate about photography, even my previous part-time job was a photographer. So, I think that this club was the perfect one for me. And you always know that you will go to exciting places with a photography club. Well, this is what happened this Saturday and they paid admission tickets for Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens. Basically, it’s the house of Marjorie Post, a businesswoman and socialite in 1955. I can’t even describe how fascinating and magical this place was. It reminded me of castles I always saw in movies during my childhood. The art and decoration inside the house were fancy and beautiful and the different gardens around the house were amazing. You can literally imagine how rich people at that time were living and what they were wearing… I think that this place is one of the most interesting places I’ve been into and going there is definitely a must. Stay tuned for my next experiences 😀

IG: @Sarajebbar

Gym, Kayak, Baltimore trip…

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By sarajebbar

It’s just the second week of classes and I can tell that studies in GWU are SO intense. We’ve already had a quiz, assignments, case studies, and tons of readings. What’s different in classes in GWU is that I feel like everyone is so passionate about what they’re studying and everyone is participating. Maybe I should consider participating as well if I want to pass my classes T.T. I feel like time is running here in GWU because of the many activities that we’re doing and intense classes that I have.

Since everything is so large in the US especially the food, I decided to subscribe for the fitness classes that the university is offering. It was 80$ a semester but it was totally worth it. I have a variety of classes which I can attend from Zumba, to yoga to bodypump… and a lot of other classes. I think these were the best fitness classes I’ve ever attended thanks to the professionalism of the instructors. For me, it was like one of the famous Youtube fitness classes. In general, it’s a good investment to have fun, relieve stress and prevent from gaining the extra-kilograms.

One of the “must-do’s” in Washington DC is kayaking in the Potomac river. It was one of the most fun activities I’ve done here in Washington. It was 16$/hour for single kayaks. I loved how the scenery in the river is so different from side to side. You can take a shot with the bridge, with the green forest or with the skyscrapers. It felt so peaceful inside the river, away from the city hustle and I would definitely try it one more time.

 

I ended the weekend with a one-day trip to Baltimore with some friends. We used Wanderu website to find the best deals of buses and it costed us 27.5$ round trip. Baltimore is the major city in Maryland known by its seaport. And it’s 1 hour only away from Washington DC so we arrived at 11am. The main place to visit there is the Inner Harbor. It reminded me a lot of my hometown’s harbor. What I loved the most is walking around the waterfront of the harbor and discovering its different sides. We also visited Little Italy which is the Italian neighborhood of Baltimore. It had the cute European style buildings and Italian music and food. Concerning the food, we went to Hard Rock Café. It was my first time and I loved the hard rock vibe that the restaurant was giving and I recommend it 100%. The lunch was really good and I enjoyed: staring at all the guitars hanged in the walls and the hard rock decoration. Our return bus was until 8:25pm so by the end of the day we got really tired from the 18km that we walked around the city and we stayed chilling in front of the water. Baltimore is definitely a must-visit city but I think couple of hours are enough to tour the main places in the city. It reminded me of my childhood with the “Good Morning Baltimore” song in the Hair Spray movie.

 

 

IG:@sarajebbar

First week of classes

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By sarajebbar

When GWU students think about the 28th of August, they all think about that miserable day that marks the end of summer vacation and the first day of classes. Well, I think about it that way too but it’s also the day I turned 20 years old. It’s not the special 21st birthday but for me it’s the beginning of the new phase of a young woman. It’s also special because it’s the first time I celebrated in the US away from my old friends and family. Celebrating my birthday before the start of the semester with my amazing new friends was the best way to start this upcoming year and especially this semester in GWU.

Sometimes I had that feeling that we’re just here for a summer vacation. But now it’s the end of orientation week and the start of why we’re here for: STUDIES (I always need to remind myself of that). The first week of classes ended very fast especially when I squeezed all my classes in a three days schedule. Unlike my other friends who found the studies in GWU really different than their home universities, I didn’t find much difference in the way the classes are taught since I was already studying in an American-based system university.  What I wasn’t expecting is finishing the first chapters of all my courses in the first week of classes. Usually in my university, it’s called syllabus week and all what we do is chilling and getting to know each other. From here I realized that probably the classes are going to be harder than in my home university. I also liked the GWU professors and how they use their experiences in the field to explain the concepts of the chapters. And I’m ready to study in an American university like I’ve always dreamt of.

The Friday of this week was Eid Al Adha (Sacrifice Fest). Basically, it’s one the most important religious holiday for the Muslim community. Celebrating it for the first time away from my family was kind of hard. Fortunately, The Muslim Student Association in GWU organized a prayer in the university and we had pancakes and donuts’ brunch in Founding Farmers with everyone wearing traditional clothes from their home countries. It’s true that it didn’t feel like the celebration in my country with sheep barbecue… but it was a nice initiative from the MSA to make us feel home and I got the opportunity to get to know many people from my community.

We ended the long weekend with the Labor day. I didn’t get the chance to travel since I wanted to tour more the city so we went to a Caribbean fest. It was a very nice day since I got to try different types of food and dance to African and Caribbean music. I loved how multicultural Washington DC and how you can feel tropical in an island just in a fest next to the White house! 😀

IG:@Sarajebbar

I’m FINALLY in the US

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By sarajebbar

After a flight from Casablanca to Paris, another one to New York, two Airtrains from JFK to the bus station, four hours bus from New York to Washington DC and a taxi, and I’M FINALLY AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY.

It’s true that I was super exhausted especially after pushing two large suitcases and a heavy “extra-large” backpack for long hours. But I can’t describe how excited I was to finally be in the US and start the orientation week. If I have to use one word to describe this week, I’ll say that the orientation week was LIT.

 

 

Basically, the orientation week was a combination of necessary things we had to do and fun activities.We attended many conferences about life in GWU and DC, academics, housing, health, registration… We also had many trips to Target, banks, phone providers. Having these activities was really helpful especially when you don’t know anything about the life in the US. But I bet you don’t want to know more details about these so let’s move to the fun part of the orientation. We had a US Capitol tour, the White House and moonlight monuments tour. In Morocco, we didn’t study anything about America in any of our high-school history classes. So, I really loved being in the heart of the American history and getting to know more about the culture and the stories of previous presidents. (FACT: Did you know that a bathtub where a certain president died is still in the Capitol).

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a Georgetown tour. This place reminded me a lot of Europe: nice architecture, a variety of shopping stores and different “smelling-good” restaurants. The tour was kind of short but I’m definitely planning to come back to try different cupcakes the neighborhood is offering. The last event that was SO fun was the Washington Nationals Game. In Morocco, Baseball is not that common, I even think that we don’t have a baseball team. So, that was my first time watching a game. Of course, I didn’t understand a thing about the game and its rules and I was just cheering for the team when people were doing so. What I liked the most about the game was the exciting atmosphere and taking a lot of pictures in the stadium haha.

But what I loved the most about orientation week is: People. The orientation team and the ExO leaders were so nice and helpful. You realize tell how much time they spent before our arrival to prepare for such well organized and successful orientation. We also had many ice-breaking games with all the exchange students. During this week, I spent time with people from all over the world. So not only I got to know American culture but also each student’s culture. It was so interesting to share the differences between our countries and the US and getting to know each other more during this week.

That week was certainly the perfect way to start my journey in GWU. Well, summer vacation is ending and classes are going to start soon and by now I think I’m ready for that. (Not sure though T.T)

Stay Tuned

IG: @SaraJebbar