Tag Archives: gwabroad

Thank you GWU!

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I hate goodbyes, really! And I hate thinking that this will be my last blog for this semester. I have experienced an amazing time here at GWU and in Washington D.C. in general. I had some great opportunities, got to know a lot of amazing people, improved my skills… I started to get used to this new way of life. Going to class early in the morning, eating those Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at lunch, running around the mall during the weekend,  drinking the morning Latte at Starbucks downstairs, going to Wholefoods to buy groceries, installing all the must-have apps (Netflix, Uber, Lyft, Lime, Venmo…), buying a Canada Goose (No just kidding), going back to my wonderful room on E Street. The location is really awesome and the address rocks! 1959 E Street what an address! It could be my password in the next years :p

I loved meeting people here at GWU. The people I met this semester were all speaking at least three languages, having some insane intellectual skills and very friendly and kind. I had great roommates and we had really fun at our weekly parties. The American experience was so rich that I will probably miss some important amazing episodes.  Do you know this feeling when you have so much to say but your head is empty? In four months, I was able to make two apps, one of them will be useful for International Affair students. It’s an efficient news app that gets articles from all over the world. I learned how to play Golf and acquired some of the basics of Yoga.

In a nutshell, I had a really good time at The George Washington University, the Exchange program assistants were very nice. The staff was very professional, I have a special thought for the mailing and packaging services agents who helped me get my Amazon Prime packages this semester, and of course, my awesome professors with whom I really felt the pleasure of learning. I can’t wait to visit Foggy Bottom again.

Thank you for having followed my blogs this semester, I hope it was entertaining and fun.

 

“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph”                                                                                                                                                               George Washington 

 

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Finals & Finality

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This’ll be my last blog for the semester. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading them; it’s a small piece of validation, but I get a kick out of it—and it’s definitely influenced me to do interesting things since I got to GW. That said, this hasn’t been the most outlandish week.

It’s more-or-less the same no matter what university you’re at: finals are a pain, nobody likes them, and you either rise to the occasion and knock them out effectively or you get swallowed up by the system and crash & burn. So far I’ve handed in two major assignments without a hitch and I’m leaning heavily on the last two. However, there has been a small problem.

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Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

For those not familiar with the world of file recovery software, that screengrab represents the loss of my entire final video project. An automatic Windows ‘drive repair’ killed the entire thing, presumably because it doesn’t like files formatted for use on Macs. Not a happy day for me, but thankfully I should be able to salvage a passing grade out of the class after some talking to my professor. I’m not actually that devastated, my grades here aren’t going on my GPA, so the loss is more isolated to the project itself than anything else. I can go home satisfied that I did learn something valuable from the class as well as receive a lesson in the importance of file backups at a time where I can afford to get it. If I believed in fate, this would be an example of it at work.

Just be grateful it wasn’t you, kids. Learn from my mistake.

Aside from that it’s been mostly business as usual. Some alternating low-&-highkey social evenings — including one final party with some friends at American — and a lot of writing. My other creative final turned out pretty well; I managed to build an interactive website documenting the film Inglorious Basterds. I’d host it to show it off for anyone interested, but that costs money I can’t afford to spend. Enjoy this nice jpg instead.

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There’s more to it than this, I promise.

I highly recommend the course for anyone interested. Interactive Web Design, it says a lot that despite taking 4.5 hours from 8 a.m. every Friday morning, it was still one of my favorites. If you’re looking for a creative and problem-solving outlet, web design is a fun skill to pick up. It’s also fun to learn how the internet actually works, and you can leave with a marketable skill with unlimited potential to develop it for whatever purpose you so desire.

Once again thank you to everyone who’s been reading my content these last four months. I’ll be touring the country til mid-January before I have to head home and start another year in Melbourne, and I’ll definitely look back fondly on everything I’ve experienced at GW. If the economy doesn’t kill me first I’ll probably get a buzz out of rereading all these rants in a few decades — hopefully as a much better writer and having done many more things like it.

Scuba Santa & Finals

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The final week of classes is upon us. There’s no more need to guess about when assignments are due or what they’ll involve—it’s all on the table. In a week and a half my semester here will be complete, and I’ll have to actually start planning my end-of-year travel plans. It’s not gonna be cheap.

This week was fun, though. The Bernie Sanders talk I’ve been waiting a month for was excellent. It was definitely more of what we’ve come to expect from him after a few years of relatively high exposure. He did go into a bit more depth about the 2016 campaign, which was a welcome change. It wasn’t hard to imagine why he didn’t leave his house the day after the election.

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You can google a better picture of Bernie than I could ever take. Here’s one of the crowd.

I also went on what will likely be my final TRAiLS trip this semester. We drove to an indoor pool in Maryland for a charity ‘Scuba Santa’ event where we got to swim around in scuba gear and take a picture with the big guy. It was a good time, as I’ve come to expect with TRAiLS, but the actual scuba stuff was mostly overshadowed by the comedy of watching people flail off a 5 meter diving board. We had a good couple of hours in before the pool manager kicked us off the board and out of the hot tub, and we were happy to wrap it all up at a local Italian joint and get back by late afternoon.

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Props to this guy for spending four hours underwater in a fake beard

Aside from that it’s been mostly study and preparation for finals. Not as glamorous as I’d like, but definitely a necessary evil. Hopefully I can squeeze a few more memorable moments into my last few weeks.

A week full of events

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This week was particularly amazing since I decided to dedicate more time attending events. There are plenty of events every day in GWU, it’s insane! The number of events I see on Facebook is incredible. There are events for everyone and a variety of themes are present. This week I was interested in three major events.  Two of them are related to my major (Computer Science) and the other one was more cultural.

The first event I attended was about Machine Learning. It was a sort of introduction to this huge field of Comp. Sci. The speaker was implausibly a sophomore student. I swear he spoke better than any Ph.D. I have met in my life. I would take him as a professor. A sophomore!! This is something I noticed about American students. They get involved in an early age in topics they are interested in, and they put a lot of effort into what they like. I was also surprised by the questions asked by the other students who attended. I felt like I was in a high tech conference. The second event also related to Computer Science was about compilers. I will spare you the details, although it is a fascinating topic.

I met a student who is going to my university next semester as an exchange student. So I got to know her from now. She invited me to an event of the association that she represents on campus. It was a Multi-Faith Dinner where three representatives of the three monotheist religions were gathered and were talking about the Holy City, Jerusalem. We had a discussion afterward and it was very interesting.

I can’t believe we are already in December, I feel like June was last week. Only one week of class left, who would believe it? I will miss several people here, especially my friend Alexandre who works at Subway downstairs. He makes some pretty decent sandwiches

Next week will be more active! Stay tuned and enjoy this beautiful picture taken in Kogan Plaza by my friend Manuel Fazioli

 

 

 

 

My best week so far?

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Do you remember my trip to New York when I said that it was the best week of my semester abroad? Well, I think we have a competitor.

This week, I have been through so many situations and experienced so many things about the American culture that I truly felt I was in the USA. This week, Americans celebrated one of the most important holidays of the year: Thanksgiving. As a foreigner, I didn’t know much about this holiday since we don’t celebrate it abroad. All I knew is that the whole family is gathered and everybody eats a lot. But first, let me tell you about how the week started.

On Monday, most of my classmates didn’t come. In fact, they took advantage of the long holiday to go abroad or go see their families earlier. Classes were pretty tiny and I felt weird being with a professor and two or three other classmates. On Tuesday, no one came to the Yoga class, thus I had a private yoga session only for me. It was much harder than usual because all of my professor’s focus was on me so I had to make sure to make some pretty decent poses. Also, it was an opportunity for me to get know my professor since we talked a lot about my experience and about my country.

Wednesday was off so I went golfing with an exchange student at the East Potomac Golf Course (where I usually go for my Golf class) and we played 9 holes. The weather was amazing and our swings were perfect.

The following day was the big day. For those who follow me for a while, you must know that I was going to have a great Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, a few weeks ago, I received an email from the President’s Office saying that students staying on campus for the holiday were welcome to have Thanksgiving Dinner with president LeBlanc and his wife at F Street.

When I knocked on the door, I was expecting a housekeeper or someone working in the presidential residence to open the door. Against all the expectations, it was president LeBlanc who opened the door and welcomed me. I was surprised and fascinated by the interior beauty of the house. It was warm and several students were already there. I had a discussion with the president who asked me a few questions about my background and my origins. Also, I had a discussion with Mrs. LeBlanc, a wonderful woman that I admire. I loved having a conversation and sharing my thoughts with her. What can I tell you more about this dinner? Oh yeah! Food! The dinner was remarkably succulent. I have never tasted such great turkey and Mac and Cheese. Everything was delicious, we even had Kobe beef, a very tasty kind of beef from Japan. We ate marshmallows with the president who showed us how to make a particular type of sandwich made of marshmallows, dark chocolate, and biscuits.

Overall, the dinner was great. I had a really good time at LeBlanc’s and I told myself I wish it was Thanksgiving every day. To finish in beauty, I had a beautiful picture with my Thanksgiving hosts and I’m very grateful to them.

 

I was sad that Thanksgiving was over but when we talk about Thanksgiving, we also talk about Black Friday. My wallet hated me on Black Friday because I made some great deals that day. I would never regret my purchases. All the big brands had 40% even 50% off!

In conclusion, I loved this week a lot. No work, a lot of fun, a lot of food what else do we need? Although the weather was very cold this weekend, I went with a friend to the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo on Saturday night and it was very beautiful!

 

See you next week

TurkeyDay

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Thanksgiving doesn’t exist outside the US. That isn’t too much of a revelation for most of us, but I’ve got to’ve had a half-dozen Americans ask me about it this week. Black Friday does exist—kinda. You could probably get up at noon in Australia and still make it to the sale for your OLED TV or cut-price shoes. Here ends my PSA.

All that said, Thanksgiving in the US was a great time. I shipped off to New Jersey for the holiday to spend it with my friend Fraser and his family, and I was more than happy to experience it for all it’s worth. We joined another American family and did the whole dinner with them; It was a wholesome night of giving thanks, eating turkey & pumpkin pie, and dodging political conversations. There was one close call when someone brought up Brexit, but it was swiftly dismissed and a merry evening was had by all.

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Wholesome family fun… No further questions.

The rest of the weekend was just as good. New Jersey isn’t drastically different from the rest of the North East, so Fraser and I were initially at a loss for what to do in my limited time there. He suggested we take a half-hour drive to a nearby beach in the hopes it’d be empty for the holiday. We were quickly proven right, and after a bit of confusion walking through the cold and the wind it became apparent what we were really there for; an abandoned military base on the southern tip of the New York harbor.

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Please don’t jump this waist-high fence. Please.

Despite it being obviously deserted, we clearly weren’t the first ones to have wandered through the old complex. The pitifully-short fence had been trampled down in multiple places and the bolts on the doors had long-since been busted open. We steered clear of the buildings that warned of prosecution for trespassing, but what remained gave us plenty of opportunity to explore and escape the cold. The signage and the design seemed to indicate it was an old gun battery and fort for guarding the harbor, and the sturdy construction had kept it structurally sound in spite of intermittent hurricanes and a half-century of salt and rain. Stalactites of salt had formed in most of the cavernous rooms, and thankfully the litter and graffiti hadn’t ruined the experience of scoping it all out.

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Grave Encounters hmu

The remainder of the weekend was spent hanging out with Fraser’s friends, playing old Playstation games, and generally avoiding the multiple assignments I’ve been given in the last week. We’re coming up on the end of semester, but I’m confident I’ll get through the finals unscathed and can make the most of what I’ve got left to experience at GW. That Bernie ticket I waited two hours for is finally going to come in useful this week. Stay tuned.

Winter has come

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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!