I’ve only been doing four subjects this semester. I figured I’m only in DC for half a year and I didn’t want to lose too much of this precious time to assignments and readings. It’s turned out to be a pretty solid decision so far; I’ve had more than enough time to explore the city and enjoy myself while comfortably staying up-to-date with uni work. My cruisey first half-semester seems to be at an end however, as all four of my professors have dropped major assessments over the fall break. This would be manageable if not for the fact that I’ve left DC to spend a week in Montreal and haven’t started any of them. But Montreal is fun, so let’s focus on that.
Being the thrifty student I am, I opted for the cheapest possible tickets available to fly in over the break. That meant a 3 p.m. flight out of DC with a four-hour layover in Toronto, which I figured would give me ample time to start some of that work I’d been putting off. This didn’t exactly go to plan however, as the lightning-fast WiFi and complimentary snacks distracted me for the entire break prior my second flight. My Australian girlfriend Alice is on exchange at McGill, so I caught a bus downtown and found her just before midnight. I had yet to touch an assignment.
You know normal countries don’t make you take off your shoes, right?
Montreal itself is a nice enough city. Day one was sunny enough to warrant hiking up Real, the city’s titular mont, and by that evening I’d met up with a bunch of exchange students at McGill to watch the hockey. Ice hockey doesn’t really exist in Australia, so this was the first time I’d sat down to more than a few seconds of it and I’ve got to hand it to the Canadians—it’s an excellent spectator sport. I’m a firm believer that having too many rules is the enemy of entertaining sport, and I was glad to see the players echoing that sentiment with their casually aggressive attitude to violent play. Combined with cheap Canadian beer and a constant fear of being smacked in the teeth by a rogue puck, ice hockey is a truly brilliant experience.
Honestly the most satisfying part of the game
The rest of my trip so far has been composed of touristy expeditions to museums and landmarks, as well as a particularly good jazz bar in Old Port. I’ve tried my best to sample as much of the local cuisine as possible, and it’s been generally enjoyable. The local practise of dipping rather than smearing bagels in cream cheese is a curious and welcome change, and an unassuming Mexican bar in Chinatown turned out to have some the best tacos I’ve ever tried. I was sorely disappointed by poutine however, it just doesn’t live up to the hype. The UK has had chips and gravy for decades; don’t try and tell me cheese curd is enough to turn it into a cultural icon.
Canadian poutine vs. Australian HSP. Tell me which one looks more appetizing…
After a great week in New York, I came back to the hard reality of Monday mornings and the class routine. I can finally tell that Washington D.C. has its own charm. Being surrounded by officials at the government and living near the heart of the global decisions center is a great privilege. For instance, this Monday I saw some White House limos at Pennsylvania Avenue driving the Mexican delegation. A few minutes later, I read on Facebook that the US signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada…
My Software Design class is getting more interesting since we tackle some very important elements of Mobile app design. My professor is truly helpful and very kind. He makes a lot of efforts so that we can grasp the content of the lectures. We communicate through Slack (a professional version of Whatsapp where all the classmates and the professor can interact). It’s a new concept for me and it gets us much closer to the professor. I find it better than office hours.
This Tuesday after my class at the Milken Institue, I found a man selling some T-Shirts in front of the Metro station, and he had a chessboard. So I asked him if we could play, he said: “With pleasure”. It would have been cool if I won but, unfortunately, I did not. I will have my revenge though
My fall break started on Wednesday afternoon since I don’t have class on Thursdays and Fridays. However, I didn’t plan anything special for this holiday. In fact, I was going to go to LA but my friend who was going to host me had a last-minute difficulty. Therefore, I decided to devote some time to study in order to get rid of the work charge, because yes I am a procrastinator.
My roommates went for their break trip, thus the apartment is quieter but freer. After checking my museums’ list, I noticed that I didn’t visit an important one yet: The International Spy Museum. This museum is incredibly awesome! It’s true, it costs $18 but I would have paid more because it is really worth it. From Julius Caesar to Alan Turing through James Bond, every character was there. It was fascinating because the history of the intelligence services dates back the era before Christ. I got to try this fun activity where I had to hang on a metal bar pretending I am James Bond…
My record: 46 seconds
It was a pretty good week but again the next one will be neat!
See you then 😉
Being reminded of an all-day hike at 2 a.m. is not a pleasant experience. I’d signed up to trek around Gettysburg with GW Trails a couple weeks prior and completely forgotten by the time I found myself at a dorm party on Friday night. It was an accident too; I overheard two Aussie friends of mine talking about how much they dreaded getting up for a full day of hiking the next day. That was enough to trigger a distant memory of paying for just such a trip, and we soon realized that all three of us were stuck with this decision. We weren’t going to let that $15 go to waste.
My trusty jug: 98% water, 2% milk. Seen here with a side of 7/11 coffee and some post-party regret from Lou.
Don’t let it be said that Australians aren’t committed. Against our better judgement we all made it up before dawn the next morning to prepare an improvised lunch and find some water for the trip. In the absence of an actual bottle, I settled for pouring the dregs out of a gallon milk jug and refilling it with tap water. I was also able to scrounge some flaming hot pringles and an improvised pickle sandwich. Lou and Liv didn’t fare much better; they managed to secure some 7/11 trail mix before sprinting to the rendezvous at the Marvin Center.
The two-hour van ride to Gettysburg would be our only chance to rest before eight hours of walking. Naturally, we elected to stay awake the entire time arguing over the distinction between puddles, ponds, and lakes.
That’s a fake answer and you know it. Poor form, Google.
After agreeing that YOU CAN’T SWIM IN A PUDDLE AND YOU CAN’T SAIL IN A POND, we arrived at Gettysburg and began trekking around behind our ever-enthusiastic trip leader Jared. Honestly I can’t fault the expedition. The weather was great and Jared was the exact kind of history fan you want to have leading trips like that. I was so distracted by the aesthetic of the place that I didn’t even mind the milky aftertaste in my water.
Stay limber Jared.
Traffic on the way home was brutal and sleep wasn’t really an option in either of the overpacked minivans. This didn’t stop some of us trying—to varying degrees of success. In spite of all the things that should’ve spoiled it, the trip was honestly a great time. If I’d bothered to get a night’s sleep and pack some decent food beforehand I’m sure it would’ve been even better.
It hurts just looking at it.
Trying to get around and go about your life in 2018 without an active cell phone plan is a real pain. I’ve been without a carrier for about a week now and pretty much every day has presented a new way for this to inconvenience me. Everything requires mobile activation now. It’s insane. The worst part is that I had a working plan; I spent a month on a prepaid Simple Mobile sim that gave me a US number and enough data to sign myself up for an abundance of things I can no longer access.
My love-hate relationship with online retail wasn’t helped when the Mint Mobile sim I ordered to replace the expensive Simple one turned out to be a dud. I only discovered it was a dud when I had begun porting the number, which has had the painful effect of trapping the number in the no-man’s-land between carriers where it’s completely unusable by either of them—so I can’t even go back to square one.
Gee, a sad fox. That sure makes me feel better about not having a working phone.
How did people do this for thousands of years? Expecting to be able to contact anyone at any time is one that’s proving extremely difficult to unlearn; I spent 20 minutes yesterday camped at the perimeter of the GW wifi so I could ask someone who lived 10 minutes off-campus to let me in their building. When they responded I had to bolt to their door and hope they didn’t assume I’d already left.
I can’t even contact Mint to get it fixed. Any call to them is met with a “get that button-pressing finger ready” series of extensions before finally being told to “try again in 24 hours”. Don’t get caught without a number people. Here ends my rant.
Another week just passed. My week always starts with an intense cycling session at 9 a.m. It really wakes me up and even though I wanted an outdoor cycling class, I don’t regret having taken this one. Classes, in general, are getting more interesting. In fact, subjects like psychology are just awesome! I feel that all the knowledge I have acquired in high-school wasn’t useless. We talk about philosophy, sociology, genetics, statistics… It is really fascinating.
Tuesday was a fun day! I had only one class and a very interesting one: Yoga class. This is the first time I am taking a yoga class. It is impressive how the body can feel a sense of ease while suffering. Sometimes I just look ridiculous since my poses are clumsy. But after each yoga session, my slumber is smooth. As my school week came to an end, I was getting excited to start the weekend. However, I had to keep in mind that I had several projects and exams due the upcoming weeks.
On Thursday, I met a Moroccan guy through a common friend. It is very surprising to meet Moroccan people at GWU especially one who is from the same city as mine since they are very rare. My friend told that he knows only 4 Moroccans on the whole campus. We went for a walk, talking about life in DC and at GWU from a Moroccan perspective using our home language. I missed speaking my language -darija (Language made of Arabic, French, and Spanish).
I found this amazing instagramable place, during our walk
Finally, I ended this week by going to a brunch with my roommate at Founding Farmers. I was told that this American restaurant was known for serving good quality and healthy food. I woke up at 9 a.m on a Sunday morning to try this new restaurant.
Verdict: I highly recommend it.
This week may seem like the least interesting one, I agree. But, brace yourselves for next week 😉
“And the wrath of the lord will be rain’d unto thee with LCD steel and memes.”
– Mascot George
It’s been an eventful week. We’ve had a chance to witness the Fall of the Jumbotron— event that will surely go down in the history of the school. It really has been great to see the student community come together to produce such an abundance of memes. Honestly. Between the jumbotron and the hurricane everyone’s been having a field day. We got enough hurricane to ruthlessly joke about it, but not so much that we actually had to do anything. It’s the perfect weather event for our times: Extreme enough to get our attention but without expensive and possibly lethal follow-through. Memes for our impending doom, memes for the disappointment of avoiding a natural disaster. Perfect.
Forecast for Squirtle
The clearer-than-expected weather made it possible for me to go to the Air and Space Museum with Yassine on Friday. You might know him as the other guy posting on this site each week for that sweet scholarship dollar—and for the love of GW and cultural learning, of course. Gotta say, much better than the American History Museum that I went to last week. One historic flag just doesn’t compare to an enormous hanger stacked with spaceship parts and airplanes. It’s also free, which is honestly a major part of the draw for me.
Space stuff is cool I don’t care what anyone says. 10/10 would visit again.
Aside from that things have been pretty mellow. It’s week 4 now, we’re settling into a rhythm. I’m still enjoying my classes. I don’t even resent the five-hour class I have starting at 8 a.m. every Friday. That’s truly historic for me, at home I struggle not to skip anything pre-noon. This week is shaping up to be a good one too; hopefully less of the ever-overcast and humid days and bountiful activities.
Being told by everyone that I was wasting my time if I don’t go visit the museums, I decided to make a list of the museums I will be visiting this semester. Having a deep interest in History and especially the History of the United States at its genesis, the National Museum of American History was at the top of my list! Also, another thing that amazes me and terrifies me at the same time is space. I mean, we are living in an infinitesimal dot among billions of galaxies. Thus, the National Museum of Air and Space was Number 2 on my list.
This week started with a very heavy Monday, full of exercise, challenging classes and lots of walking. Mondays are horrible. Our Psychology professor told us to come to his Happy Office Hours. It was something completely new to me and I haven’t seen that before. Basically, we had to meet at a pub on K St called, Froggy Bottom and we had to discuss some psychology theories with the professor in a very chill way. I have never ever eaten chicken fingers with a professor in my entire life.
The Museum of Air and Space was incredibly awesome! I went with Angus, a cultivated guy from Australia, who is also an exchange student. If there is one thing I’m so happy to say about my visit to the museum it’s that I touched a piece of the moon. I was also fascinated by all the aircraft from wars. It was so surprising to see real space probes and more historical aircraft such as the first plane that ever flew, created by the Wright brothers. In a nutshell, my visit to the national museum of Air and Space was so exciting and I’m looking forward to going back again.
The second museum I visited this week is the national museum of the American history. Being in DC is already being in a museum of the American History but the one I visited was really worth it. First of all, I went to the museum with an exchange orientation leader, Erin, who is majoring in History and some of her friends. She was so delighted to explain to us some of the episodes that America has known throughout time. From the Independence war to the Vietnam war, going through the period of slavery and the dresses of the first ladies, the museum of the American history is by far one of the best museums I have ever seen.
In a nutshell, this week and the previous ones are making my little experience in DC better and better. It has now been one month that I am in the US and I can’t tell you how fast time is moving.