Tag Archives: GW Exchange

Halloweekend

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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.

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A week in four days

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Flew back from Montreal on Wednesday after a really close call getting to the airport. Turns out the bus, which comes every half-hour, only takes coins and charges $10 per trip. Consequently my plan to arrive an hour and a half before take-off became a rushed attempt to get in before check-in closed. Things went significantly more smoothly after that however; I’m not sure if it was because I was the last to check-in, but I got to enjoy a front row seat the whole way back. As a serial passenger in the dingiest and smallest-seated budget airlines I’m counting that as a major win.

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Me lounging in my fresh front-row seat

Once settled back in DC I got straight to work on all the assignments I’d been neglecting, except the one that got extended to Week 9—I won’t be touching that for at least a week and a half. My attentive study lasted about 24 hours before distractions kicked in and my unofficial weekend began with a house party put on by the AU Frisbee team. Fun fact: a regulation ultimate Frisbee disc holds almost half a gallon of liquid (1.8 liters in real volume). I shook myself down on Friday morning to power through my 8:00-12:30 web design class before capping off another assignment in the afternoon. My mission to power through a week’s worth of activities in four days was going well.

Friday night was another fun one with a gathering of exchange students in E st, and I was grateful to not have to leave campus to have a good time. The real action was to be had on Saturday though. After a couple hours at a party at Eden I left to prepare for the nights entertainment. I’d lined up tickets to Cage The Elephant with a friend a month ago, so I was extremely excited to see the investment pay off with floor spots on DC’s brand-new and boringly-named Entertainment & Sports Arena. Between all the moshing and screaming and sweating and dancing, it was a helluva show.

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I’m guessing Cage The Elephant and Judah & The Lion both used the same indie-rock band name generator.

I was able to squeeze in one more social gathering that night before exhaustion overtook me at about 3am. It’s now Sunday morning, and it looks like today is going to be a drudge of all the chores and errands I didn’t manage in the last three days, but so long as nothing drastic happens I’m confident I can cap off my four-day week without a hitch.

A memorable week

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If you read my posts regularly, you would know that the last week was the most boring one and that I promised you that the following will be great. Well… the promise is made.

When I finished my psychology exam on Wednesday afternoon, I quickly ran to Union Station because something was happening. I was going to New York for the first time. People told me that the train was comfortable and it was quicker than the bus. Before going, I had some plans that turned out to be a little bit eccentric. A dear friend of mine invited me to spend the weekend with her.

The trip on the train was great. It was super comfortable and although the trip duration was 3 hours and a half, I didn’t feel bored at all. When I arrived at Penn Station in NYC, I had goosebumps. It was a historic moment for me. The next morning I walked around the city and had lunch in the Rockefeller Center. This center, localized in the center of the city, is very impressive. After a lunch rich in calories, I went to see all the famous avenues that I only have seen in movies and social media. The Fifth Avenue is incredibly amazing. Police officers were everywhere because of the UN summits. I took advantage of my presence in the 5th Avenue to say Hi to my neighbor Donald.

“New York is one of the most crowded cities in the world”. When we read this sentence between the lines, one will understand that safety and security are key in New York. This is why I wanted to pay tribute to NYPD officers. They were very kind and helpful. I had a conversation with them and they appreciated it.

Nocturnal life in New York is totally different from every other city’s nocturnal life. The best way to discover a city is to get lost in it. My friends and I ended up in Little Korea, a neighborhood that brings you from NYC to Seoul. We decided to try Korean barbecue. It was a great success. Korean food is delicious. We had chicken, beef, shrimp, dumplings and all kind of vegetables. I tried for the first time Saké. This night was culinary excellent.

The following day which was a Saturday, I reserved myself a little surprise. I decided to go watch a Broadway show and a very particular one: The Lion King. All my life, this Disney production will always have its place in my heart. I purchased the ticket for $300 but this is a one-lifetime experience. I can finally know how it feels to go watch a great show on Broadway on Saturday. My friends took dropped me to the Minskoff Theater and we passed through Time Square on a Cadillac!

 

 

I encourage everyone to watch this astonishing show.

This trip to New York was the opportunity for me to fell in love with another city. Sorry Washington, your cousin NYC is so special…

And I arrived at Union Station.

See you next week

 

Cell Plan Rant

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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.

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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.

Hot Air and Space

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“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.

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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.

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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.

 

A week in history

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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.

Baltimore

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It’s been another entertaining week. Classes are in full-swing now; I get the impression that the professors are glad to be into some real content now as opposed to the multi-hour syllabus readings we got last week. Not that it’s too stressful yet. My roommates are all doing real degrees so they’ve been hard at work, but my mixed bag of SMPA and design classes hasn’t given me too much stress yet. The immediate benefit of learning short-form journalism is getting short-form readings—for which I am eternally grateful.

The easy transition was made even cruisier by the early arrival of the labor-day weekend. My small group of exchange student friends decided to capitalise on the spare time and take a day-trip to Baltimore in pursuit of some cultural learnings. We bought greyhound tickets on Saturday, knocked off most of our homework on Sunday, and on Labor day we hit the road.

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The bus was an hour-and-a-half late. So much for greyhounds being fast.

Baltimore’s reputation as a deeply-troubled city wasn’t helped by the quiet roads and empty stores we found there. Even near downtown we struggled to find much in the way of activity. It took us about an hour to join the dots and establish that it was probably just because of Labor day.

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Walking a lonely road

Foregoing the closed museums and the empty streets of downtown, we elected to sight-see around the harbor and relax for most of the day. We scored a cheap Cuban lunch and good weather, so nobody really minded the lack of activity after a few hours of walking in the sun.

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Taka taking it easy

It can’t have just been the day that made Baltimore such a bizarre city. I feel like a fair bit more time is required to figure it out—I’m sure there’s at least one course at GW that’s dedicated to the intricacies of socio-economics in the North East. Probably a ways past my grade.

The sightseeing was honestly remarkable. The enormous hill overlooking the harbor is sexy as hell, basking in the sights was enough to keep us entertained in spite of an overwhelming lack of indoor options. I get the impression that Baltimore has a lot more to offer than what we saw. At the very least it was an insight into what I presume DC had going for it pre-gentrification.