Being touristy in DC

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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

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Halloween Week

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I know it’s not the Halloween week yet, but in the US they start celebrating it the whole month of October and especially this week. In Morocco, we celebrate many holidays during the year. So, coming from a cultural-rich region makes holidays my favorite period of the year. I was so excited to experience Halloween in the US since in my country we’re not used to celebrate it. We only have some parties going on the night of Halloween and that’s all. But here, it’s a whole new level.

During the week, there were many Pre-Halloween events organized by the university. Donuts, apple cider and candies were served everywhere for FREE. The scary Halloween decorations were all over the places on campus. They also organized a pumpkin carving event in which you can carve your pumpkin and take it with you for free. Me and my roommates decided to take 2 pumpkins home to get in the spooky vibe. There was also that event that I really loved in Kogan Plaza where they served popcorn, cotton candies, pizzas, burgers, and a lot of candies. Being the foodie person that I am, Halloween celebration was happiness for me and I wouldn’t tell you much candies I brought home with me to survive the next days. And to get more in the Halloween vibes, we also decided to bake ghost-themed brownies and share them with our friends.

Even if it’s not Halloween yet, there were a lot of parties organized this weekend. But I wasn’t very lost between my options since they were already limited because of my underage. I was so confused about my costume but at the end I went for the mainstream skeleton. We had so much fun and it was definitely much more better than the Halloween parties we have in my country. It was also really funny to see people in all types of costumes walking DC’s streets during all the nights of the weekend. I’d say that Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next Tuesday in the actual day of Halloween.

Haloween weekend

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As all of you know halloween is a huge thing here in United States, in Spain we don’t even celebrate it. Maybe when you are a child you do trick or treat but that is all. Normally what I do with my friends is watch a  scary movie, that is how all of our halloweens are. But here everything is different.

We started our week by going to the cinema to watch a scary movie, Happy Death Day. Yes I know, I’m always going to the cinema but I love it so we have decided to go once a week. Anyway, the film wasn’t that scary, there were even funny parts in it, although some scenes really creeped me out. It wasn’t the best movie ever, but it wasn’t that bad either.

Halloween parties are also a huge thing here, and all the clubs had scary themes nights. I usually don’t tell you about parties because after all they are all the same, but I really wanted to talk to you about this place. That night, we didn’t get inside any club because it was too late, so we went searching for food, and we found Crepeaway. I have to tell you guys, this place is amazing, not only because they sell crepes, but because at night it was better than a club. Everyone was dancing on the tables like crazy, and you could ask for any song you wanted. They put every song we asked for, and we stayed there until it closed at 3.  On Fridays it closes at 4 so it is even better.

On Friday afternoon we went to see Georgetown university, I really liked it, but I think being in the center of the city is way better. However, I think our university is not that typical (film like) because of that, after all you can’t have a normal campus just three blocks from the White House.

After that, we came back to campus because there was an event in Kogan Plaza called Boo Bash. It was an event created by some students groups and it was awesome. There were lots of free food, pizzas, burgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and cookies. Also they made a costume contest and other giveaways. They even had a photo booth with hats and things to put on for the photos. And two acappella groups sang a few songs making the evening even better. They also had planned a movie night outside, but we found out too late. We stay there chilling out for a while and then we went partying.

After that my whole weekend was about partying and painting my face because I didn’t have a proper custom. Overall I really have to say I like Halloween way better here than in Spain. Also I love seeing pumpkins everywhere and all the other decoration.

2 Months in DC

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Finally, I have finished all my midterms. I had all of them during this week so I could summarize my week with me being stressed out and studying all the time. Thankfully I finished on Friday and I didn’t do bad on my exams.

It has been already two months since I’m in Washington DC, and I love this city more and more each day. Although I spent all my week studying, the weekend has been eventful. On Saturday, I woke up at 7 am to go see The White House Gardens, they did a tour around the gardens for free so I couldn’t say no to a chance to take a closer look at the White House. We had to wait for a little bit, but it was completely worth it. We were so close it felt unreal, however I wish I could be able to get inside,  I know people that have been inside and they told me it is amazing. The gardens were huge, and there were photos all around showing President Trump having events in the gardens, they even had an orchestra playing in the garden. Also the views of the Washington Monument were breathtaking. I can’t imagine living in a house with those views.

During the afternoon, we went to the Blacklight Run, and it was so much fun. It was $25, but I would definitely pay again for it. It is basically a run in which you have powder and you can throw it to everyone, also during the race there are people throwing  powder at you. And in the end, when you finished there was a DJ, like a huge party with powder flying everywhere. It is really a experience I would recommend to anyone. You end up being a mess but that is the best part. It was a 5 kilometer race, but if you don’t like running you can do it walking, lots of people didn’t run and had fun anyways. There were also food trucks so you could also have dinner there, everything was perfectly prepared.

On Sunday we started by having an ice cream sandwich in Captain Cookie. I had never tried one before, and I loved it. It is like ice-cream but with cookie, the perfect combination. It costs 5 dollars but you won’t regret it, I swear.

Then we rented bikes to go around the National Mall, and to  see the Jefferson Monument. Half an hour is free and you have lots of stations everywhere to leave the bike and take it again. An hour is 2 dollars which is quite cheap in my opinion. The day was wonderful and I loved biking around DC. This was my first time seeing the Jefferson Monument, and it is my favorite one so far. I loved Lincoln’s too, but seeing Jefferson’s one from the other side of the water is simply beautiful.

Halfway through the Semester

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I don’t know why they call it Midterms week because for me I’m having midterms for 3 weeks now. This week again I had two midterms and I still have one to go. I can’t wait to see the grades to finally know how I’m performing here in GWU. So, after a tough week of exams, I deserved some rest and fun during the weekend.

One of the experiences that I loved doing during this weekend is going to a corn maze in Lawyers farm in Maryland. As you know Halloween is coming, and there are a lot of activities happening in Washington DC around that. The event was organized by GW Campus Outreach and honestly, we had a LOT of fun. It was my first experience in a corn maze and I really enjoyed it. I have never thought that getting lost in a maze is a real thing. But it was fun being lost for an hour trying to find the exit in the dark while scaring each other. By the end, we had s’mores around the bonfire. It was really cool to get around the fire and talk for a while, especially in that freezing cold weather.

Since I love outdoor activities, after a night in the farm around the fire, I had a hike with GW Trails to Mary’s Rock summit in Shenandoah National Park. The Shenandoah park was two hours drive from GWU but the scenery in Virginia’s roads was so beautiful. The hike was relatively easy, one hour up and half an hour down. But I can’t describe how fascinating the nature was. The trees were colored from red to faded orange colors. It was so beautiful to see the autumn vibe at its best in the park. Golden leaves were covering the narrow itineraries and I totally loved it. The best thing was the view from the Mary’s Rock summit. You just can’t get enough it. I would say it was totally worth the 15$ and going to Shenandoah national Park should be in your bucket list here in DC.

On Sunday, the White House opened its doors for the public to visit. It was a tour in the Gardens and apparently it happens twice a year. You can imagine the massive amount of people in line to get their tickets to the White House at 8 am. After a long wait, we finally got them. It was nice to get a tour around the White House gardens and get that close from the presidential residence. But as the non-morning person I am, I think it wasn’t as impressive as I expected but at the end it was a must thing to-do when living in Washington DC.

And the greatest way to finish the week was to get Moroccan food for lunch. I didn’t think that I would miss it that much. It was SO good and I can ensure that by the approvals of all my other friends that tried it for the first time. At this point, I’m still not homesick yet but going to the Marrakech restaurant reminded me of how much I miss my country and its food.

Midterms week

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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

Going back to the reality.

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These past two weeks have been amazing, going to New York and Florida has been an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go again.

Sadly the fall break has ended and we have to go back to the reality, studying for the midterms. This next week I have three midterms and lots of assignments, so I haven’t done anything but studying this entire week. As I have never had an exam here before, I’m quite overwhelmed with everything.

Nevertheless I got to do a few things during the week, one of them being going to the cinema. Here the cinemas are awesome, you have much more space and you can even lay down. We want to try all the types so we went to the Dolby Cinema and I have to say I was speechless. The difference with other cinemas is that there is an Astonishing brightness, deep darks and vibrant colors render each moment with spectacular impact. Also a breathtaking  sound in the room that flows all around you. The sleek, power recliners reverberate to move you deep into the story. It’s quite expensive, 18$, but is something you should try at least once. We went to see Blade Runner and the special effects were much better, I really loved it. Also remember to bring your GWorld with you because you will get discounts.

On Saturday night I needed to take a break so we went to have dinner to Chinatown. We went walking because it was a beautiful night and it is only 30 minutes walk. There were lots of places so we had trouble choosing one. We went to a small place and we ate for 15$. Then they gave us a fortune cookie, they don’t do this in Spain so I was kind of excited. It said that people will follow me to hear me talk, kind of a good thing.

This week hasn’t been a really interesting one, but after all, studying is more important. So I wish best week I have more stories to tell.