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Gym, Kayak, Baltimore trip…

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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

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First week of classes

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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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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

Who am I? Greetings from Morocco

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Receiving an acceptance email from the Office for Study Abroad of GWU was the beginning of the best things that are going to happen to me during this exchange program. And I’m so glad that I’m going to share my adventures with the entire world to see. But I bet you are wondering who am I?

I’m Sara, a twenty year old Moroccan girl who is going to finally realize her childhood dream by visiting the land of freedom, the United States of America. I still remember the first time I watched an American TV-show. I was nine years old and it was a Hannah Montana episode. From those days, I realized that the first country in my bucket list is definitely the United States and I realized how much I loved English songs and I needed to learn English.

From there started my journey to learn English. Yes, starting by listening to English songs with French subtitles on YouTube. I always knew that I wanted to pursue my studies in English that’s why I enrolled Al Akhawayn University for a bachelor in Business Administration. AUI, unlike the majority of the Moroccan universities where courses are taught in French, is an American-system based university. I have chosen this university because I knew that someday I would want to live in the US (I didn’t expect that it would be that earlier though).

I’m Sara, a twenty years old girl born and raised in Morocco. I’m really hoping that you knew or at least heard about the country from where I came. Morocco is a small country in North Africa. My geography sucks but if you swim 5000km (3106mi) from Agadir, my hometown straight through the Atlantic ocean, you will end up somewhere in Miami beach. And I’ve always dreamt of getting to the other side of the ocean. If I have to describe Morocco I would definitely say that it is known by the hospitality of its people, the delicious food and the mix of the different cultures it has. Morocco is that slowly-paced country, not very developed and where people are living peacefully together. It has also a cool architecture. (Notice some Moroccan designs in the background of my picture *Advertizing*)

Now I’m going to start a new journey of my life in a totally different country. I don’t have any expectations. To be honest I just don’t like expectations. They are either too high that you end up getting depressed when they are not met or too low that they are preventing you from seeing the good side of things around you. I’m just a simple person who believes that living and embracing each moment of the present life is the best way to enjoy the life. My philosophy must sound confusing or messed up. In simple words, I’m just so grateful to go there. I just know that I want to travel and discover this beautiful country and its people.

I’m so excited to share my experiences and adventures in the big United States with you from the eyes of a simple Moroccan girl. Stay tuned.

IG: @Sarajebbar