Tag Archives: Exchange

Winter has come

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By yassineaourid

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!

 

 

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Yacht Dreams

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By angusmack101

It’s become a recurring theme of my time in DC; plan for one experience and stumble into another. It happened last week with Catharsis on the Mall, and it happened this week outside the Anthem.

A friend and I had bought tickets to the Young The Giant gig on Friday night and decided to roll in to the wharf early to take advantage of a local happy hour. I’m not sure if it was the happy hour or the quality of the bar, but the place was packed when we arrived at around 6:45. After fighting our way to the front of the mass we’d bought drinks and my friend had struck up a conversation with a guy seated at the bar. I went over and joined the convo, where we quickly found out he was the president of the local yacht club on the wharf. Turns out he lives full-time on his boat, presumably splitting his time between the water and the club.

After a solid half-hour conversation the happy hour had ended and he offered to show us the club. Since it was outside the Anthem and the gig didn’t start for another hour, we agreed. I also sensed the possibility of free drinks, so I didn’t need much convincing. It was a bizarre turn-of-events for sure, and we were genuinely impressed with the setup this guy had going. He said his was one of the only yacht clubs in the country with an average age trending down, and it wasn’t hard to see why when we saw the place and met the people. I spoke to one guy for 15 minutes about Australian politics before he revealed he was a congressman from Oregon. If the president is to be believed they have a bunch of members with high-profile jobs on Capitol Hill. By the time we left for the gig my friend was already trying to network her way into a membership. Is this one of the #onlyatGW experiences I keep hearing about?

Young The Giant was another highlight, and by the evenings-end we were exhausted. I managed to spend a couple hours at a party in E street, but eventually called it in to try and get a few hours before Saturday. I’d booked another hike with TRAiLS, and I wasn’t looking forward to the 8 a.m. wakeup.

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One of those openers that’s good enough to remember but not enough to look for more of their stuff

The wakeup on Saturday was definitely rough, but not enough to ruin the day. I’d loaned out another DSLR for the trip; I needed more footage for my next video production assignment. This ended up being a great decision as the town we went to had some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen. Historic Harpers Ferry indeed. We were lucky to catch it at the brief intersection of Fall & Winter.

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$15 well spent

I did end up getting a lot of great footage and pictures from the trip. At this point I’m seriously considering shelling out for a decent camera of my own, it might incentivize me to go out and do more of this kind of thing back in Aus.

The rest of my week wasn’t eventful as those couple of days. I did go to another gig at The Black Cat on Thursday to see Alex G, which was great, but aside from that it was mostly receiving and submitting assignments. Finals are getting dangerously close—I suppose I’d better ramp up my efforts to do everything this city has to offer.

A good week for walking

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By angusmack101

It’s been another good week for walking around.

The media department at GW allows students in set film classes to rent out equipment for free, which you might remember I took advantage of a few weeks ago to film my roommate Javier buying and eating the first bagel of his life.

Honestly hours of editing for this.

While it was definitely a good time, the film camera I used for that video was impractically large for my purposes this week, so I went for a more compact Nikon DSLR —a D3300 for any camera-nerd readers. After an hour-or-so of YouTube tutorials I was ready to take it out to test, and opted to do so on one of my late-night monument walks. I’ve been in the habit of walking around the mall at night once or twice a week, usually when I can’t justify spending money, and I got a kick out of learning the tricks of the camera on the quiet streets of DC.

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Game for the more observant readers: spot the rat.

I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I decided to go out and do it again on Saturday night. This was the surprising one for me, because I’d unknowingly walked right into the middle of a hippie festival camped out beside the Washington Monument. Literally camped out; they’d set up tents, art installations, a couple of dance floors, and a whole bunch of weed and LGBT flags. This was exactly the kind of weird stuff I enjoy finding, and a great opportunity to test my ability to snap pics in a bizarre low/high light environment. I even took the camera settings off auto for some of them.

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If 8th-grade English taught me anything, it’s that juxtaposition is the name of the game.

Of course after leaving my hippie comrades at about 3 a.m. I had to try and sleep, because I’d naively signed myself up for rock climbing with TRAiLS on Sunday—It was actually the reason I loaned the camera in the first place. I managed to get up on time to make the trip, and the climbing itself was a bunch of fun. After the trips I’ve taken with those guys this semester I’ve got to say that TRAiLS deserves every bit of funding they get; they never disappoint.

I’ve also got to conclude that, for a student, there’s no need to use a bulky film camera when the college has the Nikons available. My one was easier to use, less than half the size and weight, and it could take decent photos as well as video. My professor never even mentioned it was an option, but I’d be willing to bet he won’t be able to tell the difference from the footage. If you’re at GW now or you’re heading over for exchange, do yourself a favor and take a film class. The workload is manageable and you get access to a bunch of cool stuff for free. What’s not to love about that?

The end is right there!

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By yassineaourid

“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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By yassineaourid

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.

Rocky Appalachian Spooks

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By angusmack101

Halloween 2.0 was a strange week for sure; it proved to me how valuable it can be to improvise and make an effort to seek out new experiences. Halloween on Wednesday went more-or-less as expected. The costumes and the partying were great fun, but it wasn’t til a late decision to go to the Rocky Horror showing on Thursday that things became genuinely memorable.

People that’ve been doing Rocky for years know what it’s all about, but I was going off hearsay and vague recollections of the movie when I asked some friends to go to the show. The $5 investment was low enough for us not to mind the ambiguity, and it’s a good thing we didn’t—It really is as weird as people say. My roommate Javier thought he was going into some run-of-the-mill amateur theater production, so he was even more surprised than I was when 20 students ran out in lingerie to dance on random members of the audience. I was unlucky enough to get picked out at the start. It’s definitely something worth seeing for yourself: $5 well spent.

Friday was a second Halloween party, relatively similar to the first. I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the National Archives that afternoon, which was more memorable for the number of middle-schoolers wearing MAGA hats than it was for the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. Of the 30-ish students in the museum, about 10 had some sort of Trump-brand headwear. One kid had gone the extra mile with a matching MAGA hoodie. If it weren’t for the ban on photography in the Archives or the creepiness of photographing 12-year-olds I’d have snapped a pic to prove it.

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Little did I realize I’d be more offended by the gift shop

Before arriving at the the Archives we were held up getting past the White House. The entire north wing of the Mall was closed off and a crowd had formed at the south end. When we asked what was happening we were shown a huge helicopter parked on the lawn outside the White House. Turns out it was Marine One; Trump was flying out that afternoon to rallies in some midterm battleground states. We hung around long enough to see him step inside and fly off from a distance. That’s probably the closest I’ll get to the president while I’m in the US—excluding that time his convoy held up my Uber for 5 minutes.

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$10 says he brought golf clubs for the trip

The final big event for the week, and the one that exceeded my expectations the most, has to be the Sunday TRAiLS trip I took to go caving in West Virginia. I’d snagged the last spot in the van when I applied on Tuesday and was hesitant on whether it’d be worth the $45 and the 3-hour drive. It absolutely was.

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Wholesome GW activities

We were told to pack clothes we didn’t mind losing in the mud, but I had no idea the sheer quantities of it we’d be exposed to. It makes sense when you think about it; caves are formed from water flow, but the way the rocks transitioned from damp to slick to grimey to pure mud was a lot more than I was expecting. Thankfully I’d chosen to go with a Walmart flannel and $15 jeans, anything else would’ve been painful to lose. By the time we got out 3 hours later we were all caked in it. The tiny gaps in the rocks you have to get through down there don’t allow for being precious with your clothes. You either slide along your stomach and brace your ass against muddy walls for support, or you don’t get to go deeper. 

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Not the tightest gap we squeezed through, but the best facial expression

Halloweekend

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By angusmack101

Bernie Sanders’ book tour is coming through GW next month, and the news of free tickets brought students out in droves. The box office was set to open at 12:00 on Thursday last week, but when my roommate and I arrived at 10:40 there were already over 100 people there. By noon there were closer to 1000. It’s not hard to see why people are so enthusiastic about it here, my media classes are understandably packed with political discussions and the I’ve met several people involved with explicitly or tangentially political associations.

In my first blog post this semester I said that I was looking for exciting and unique experiences from DC, and after two months I’m confident in saying that GW has delivered. While I still think Hasan Minhaj underperformed as a comedian, I can’t fault his drive to send a message. He filled a basketball arena with close to 1000 students and kept them engaged through what was essentially an hour-long anti-Trump pro-refugee lecture. A free ticket to Bernie was well worth the two hour wait for me, I look forward to writing about it.

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Damn socialists at it again

This week has also been my first real experience of Halloween. Most Americans don’t know this, but Halloween basically doesn’t exist for most of the world. At home in Australia there might be a handful of parties and a few kids trick-or-treating each year, but we’re talking tiny numbers. It’s not a national holiday by any stretch; seeing a carved pumpkin would be a bizarre novelty to most Aussies.

A handful of exchange leaders took charge and organised some stuff at 1959 last weekend. It was my first taste of a Halloween being taken seriously, and I have to say it was a lot of fun. Most of the exchange students there hadn’t ever experienced it before either, so it did take a while for us to work out what the deal was. The smell of freshly-carved pumpkin is a strange thing to the uninitiated.

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Solid first attempt

I’m looking forward to more Halloween fun this week. I’ve still got a bunch of assignments to soldier through, but I’m confident that they won’t stop me getting the cultural experience I came here for. Still have to wait almost a month for Bernie though.