Tag Archives: GW Exchange

Celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year

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    Chinese New Year is the most important event to Chinese people in a year. It is not merely a holiday, but the precious moment to have a reunion with all the family members and relatives that live far away. During this period, we have different traditions and events to celebrate every day. For example, on New Year’s Eve, especially at night, we sit in a round table and eat together. Later, we watch TV or play games and then all the family members will start to distribute red envelopes to each other. This is the most exciting day for kids because they do not need to distribute their red envelopes, but keep receiving them from the elderly family members. On the first day of the Chinese New Year, according to traditions, we will go to temples in the early morning to pray for good health and luck in the following year. On the second day of the Chinese New Year, those women who got married must return their hometowns to visit their parents. In short, this is both an interesting and busy period for us. This year, for the first time in my life, I cannot celebrate Chinese New Year with my dear family. It is a pity on one hand, but on the other hand, I have the opportunity to participate in different activities in D.C to experience how Chinese people here celebrate their Chinese New Year.

     There are a series of special events to celebrate Chinese New Year this week. After searching for information online, my friends and I planned to go to Kennedy center to enjoy traditional Chinese music performance, cook and have a nice dinner together, and watch the New Year Parade at Chinatown.

    The Kennedy Center is a nice place for all kinds of performances. Some of the performances require tickets, but some do not. The one we participated in on Friday, which was one of the special events for Lunar New Year Celebration, was free. We got immersed in the music banquet with the beautiful melodies played by traditional instruments like guzheng, flute, pipa, and so on. For those who are interested in the free performance held every day at six o’clock p.m., I recommend you to go earlier in case you cannot find a seat.

    On Saturday morning, I went to supermarket with my friends to buy all the ingredients we would need to cook for our dinner. At night, we had hot pot, salmon fried rice, curry chicken, tofu, salad, and we drank beer to celebrate Chinese New Year. Although I cannot eat with my family, the friends I meet here are just like my family and I had an adorable night with them.

    On Sunday, we went to Chinatown to watch the annual Chinese New Year parade. We got there a little bit late, so the street had already been crowded with people when we arrived. Thankfully, we could still find some space in between. During the parade, we saw a lot of national flags of Taiwan, so we were extremely excited. It felt like D.C was our second hometown! The parade was gorgeous, for all the people in the parade dressed so beautifully and the performances were all unique. It was my pleasure to participate in this celebration and I was really glad to see that so many native speakers came to know more about Chinese culture. This parade put a perfect ending to my celebration trip for Chinese New Year. I believe that every single event that I have enjoyed this week would become one of the most memorable memories in my life. Anyway, Happy New Year and may everyone keep healthy and happy in the year of dog!!!

 

 

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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.

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

The city that Never Sleeps

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Do you want to know how last year I was choosing which university to go to during my exchange program? Well, each time I put the name of the university in Google maps, and checked how far it is from New York City since we didn’t have universities in New York offered. It has been always my dream to visit New York City. And I was always intrigued by this city from what I watched in American movies, Tv-shows, pictures… And I finally got the chance to visit it this weekend.

I booked my bus tickets from Wanderu website for 30$ roundtrip and it was 4 hours and a half trip. This weekend was hectic since we wanted to visit all the touristy attractions in such a short period. New York is actually super expensive so we booked our apartment in Brooklyn to save money on accommodation. New York went beyond my expectations.

The highlights of this trip are: Times Square, Wall street, Brooklyn Bridge, Ferry to the statue of Liberty, World trade  Chinatown, Central Park, Top of the Rock view, World trade center, 9/11 memorial…

Times Square was such a terrific place. Now I understand why thousands of people walk through it every day. The flashing neon lights, the street performers, the giant billboards and the tall buildings were simply fascinating. For me, Times Square is the place where you can spend hours without getting bored.

After that, we went to Wall Street. As a finance student, I’ve always wanted to visit Wall Street, the heart of investments and business. I’ve always studied in my finance classes how the financial crisis started in wall street and being able to visit this place along with all the financial attractions (New York Stock Exchange, the charging bull…) meant a lot to me. From there we visited the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial.

One activity that I liked a lot was the Staten Island ferry. Basically, it’s a ferry that takes you around the Statue of Liberty and it’s FREE. I really recommend going during sunset. The silhouettes of the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline in the golden sky were magical and fascinating. We ended the first day by a dinner in Chinatown and a long walk in the Brooklyn Bridge.

The other activity that I really loved was biking in Central Park. It was one a thing that I had in my US bucket list. For me, Central Park was where the nature meets the city and it was huge. So, riding a bike there was actually really convenient to visit all the popular spots in the park. We also went to the Rockefeller center to get a city view from the Top of the Rock. And again, sunset time was the perfect time to get to see the city during the day, the golden hour and the night. It was 34$ but the view from there was worth every dollar and more. Coming from a country where buildings are relatively short, New York city looked amazing like every postcard picture.

 

A blog post will never describe enough how magical New York was and all the places in there. I would definitely comeback again to visit this city. They were right when they said “In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of.”

IG:@SaraJebbar

4th Week

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New week, new things to tell. As always here, Washington DC is full of  things to do, and of course I took advantage of it.

We started by going to the Pentagon on the 11 of September, as all of you know it’s been 16 years since the terrorist attacks, and what a better place to remember it than in the Pentagon? Of course, we couldn’t go inside, but a guide was there to explain us everything. He even had pictures to show us how the place ended up after the plane crashed. Later we walked around the memorial, and I have to say it was beautiful. The way they have represented all the victims there is inspiring.

 

 

 

 

During the week I was so occupied doing all my homework, and reading so many things, I barely had time to go to the gym. And talking again about the gym, I feel obliged to tell you about the bowls they have on the bar upstairs. These bowls are healthy, made completely of fruits, and they taste so good. It’s a bowl for 10 dollars but it’s so worth it, and it’s like a whole meal. There are four types to choose from, and you can add any fruit you like, so you all should try them.

 

The weekend arrived and I had so many things planned. First we went to Alexandria, it’s a city near Washington, and you can get there by metro or uber. It isn’t that big of a city, but it’s a great place to go for a walk and spend the afternoon chilling in the harbor. The view was amazing so we took a coffee by the river, and then came back. We were planning a gathering with the other exchange students, and each one of us brought different kinds of food, so we decided to make Spanish tortilla. We had so much fun. I wish we could do that everyday.

 

On Saturday we went to the H Street Festival, it was full of trucks to eat and to buy things, from clothes to jewelry. Along the street there were like five stages or so where people were singing, dancing and performing. It was a really cool place to go. We spent the afternoon there, walking around, buying things, and trying different types of food. The place was so crowded it was difficult to even walk, and it was so hot that at times I feel so overwhelmed I just wanted to leave, but later in the afternoon it was much better, and I really had a great time there.

 

To finish my  fourth week here, on Sunday I went to St. Agustin Catholic Church to see a gospel mass. The church is really beautiful and the atmosphere was something I had never see before, all the people were singing together, really feeling the songs, and I was moved with all of it.  I think it’s something everyone should see, whatever your religion is.