It has been such an eventful fours months that it seems crazy that it’s all over! It has been a week of last celebrations, reminiscing and goodbyes. As some people head home and others move on to their next
adventures, it’s hard to accept that you’re not going to be spending every day with the same bunch of people that you have come to know and love.
Luckily, it’s not a final goodbye! People may live on opposite sides of the planet but its definitely not the last time you get to see each other. The experiences you share don’t disappear and the bonds you make last a lifetime. That’s the thing about studying abroad – yes you study and yes you are abroad. But it is the people that you share it all with that really make the difference.
Looking back on the semester, it has been packed with protests, parties, food, travel, learning, sport and friends! I got the opportunity to cross so many things off my bucket list! From witnessing the inauguration to participating in the Women’s March and Muslim Ban Protest. Spring Break in Miami to road tripping down South! Watching the Wizards, Tar Heels and Colonials win! Being in central park during a blizzard with no one else around. Pedal boating on the Potomac surrounded by the cherry blossoms. The countless nights spent down at the Lincoln Memorial. And not to forget the more mundane nights (which are also some of the best) of cooking all together in Shenkman Hall.
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new things (both in and especially out of the classroom), try new things, learn what you like and don’t like, travel, meet people from all over the world! It is six months that you get to attempt anything and everything – fail at some and succeed at others.
It truly has been a great time at GWU, in DC and in the US. Foggy Bottom very quickly became our home that it feels genuinely weird to be leaving. To all those that made the past semester possible – a massive thank-you! And to all those who are about to arrive – enjoy!!!!
Goodbye America – it’s been fun!
It sounds cliche, but it seriously seemed like last week when we were walking around with our group leaders around DC, taking in the sights and making multiple trips to Target for groceries. Three days ago, I sat for my last final and yesterday, I bade farewell to my home of five months – DC.
The final week was a whirl of meeting up with different groups of friends, trying out new restaurants and revisiting ones we’ve been before. Parties were held, apartments were cleaned and emptied. Sleepless nights weren’t because of cramming for finals, but rather the rush to pack to hit the move-out deadline.
In retrospect, choosing to do my exchange in DC was probably one of the best choices I’ve ever made. From the election rush and the slew of protests in January and February to the proximity of popular spots like Florida that came in really handy during spring break and finally to the host of lawn festivals and restaurant week when warmer weather rolled around in April and May – I constantly found ways to entertain myself regardless of the seasons. GWU presented me with an endless string of opportunities – from joining hikes with student group GW TRAILS to being accepted as a member of a co-ed fraternity to experience Greek Life to attending career fairs and related events, I had reaped immense knowledge and managed to immerse myself in a whole new experience this semester.
Perhaps one of my best memories from DC is visiting the
monuments at practically any time of day. From having picnics on the national mall and reading a book on the steps behind the Lincoln Memorial – these are experiences unique to DC/GWU students (to the envy of many). Bored at night? No problem, round up a few friends and go for a walk of the national monuments basking in moonlight. Feel like you’ve been eating too much recently? The scenic views of your running route along the national mall provide the definitive motivation.
I am grateful for the friendships forged, the memories created and the help I’ve received in navigating these 5 months of independent living. Thank you to everyone who’s made a difference!
Audrey out. (Mic drop)
“Hey, come check this out!”I wearily looked outside the window of the hostel as the other resident pulled up the blinds. White specks fell from the sky. It was falling more slowly and that’s how I knew it was snow. The cold weather settled in and it was the perfect day to set up camp inside a small coffee shop a few blocks from the hostel. I have been in Boston since Friday afternoon and I decided to take a break from sight seeing. The last stretch of the exchange program and I was starting to get a little stressed out. Besides thinking about finals, there was also planning the post-exchange travels, making a video for the scholarship, and amongst all of that, trying to think about new start-up ideas.
Boston was wonderful. And being here for the first time, I went on to tick off most of the “Top 10 Things to Do in Boston” list on Tripadvisor. Nearly everything was within walking distance with the exception of Cambridge (which was definitely possible but I wanted to save time). A visit to Harvard and MIT was a must, given how famous they were. Harvard even offered free tours at the start of every hour for tourists and prospective students alike. It was led by a senior student who gave a balanced tour on fun facts and need-to-know facts. For example, did you know that Harvard College was the first institution to successfully sue the U.S. government as a result of negligence use of one of their buildings during the Revolution by George Washington and his soldiers? The colonial architecture was spread throughout the campus. Memorial Hall, which supposedly looks the same as the dining hall in Harry Potter was unfortunately closed off to visitors.
What I loved about this trip was the amount of new knowledge I obtained about the American Revolution, specifically the people and events that transpired that sparked the American people to fight for their freedom and liberty. I followed the Freedom trail (a literal trail that runs through Boston in the form of blue and red bricks on the ground) and visited the various museums which displayed information regarding The Boston Massacre and later the Boston Tea Party. The Old South Meeting House, Old State House and Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Quincy Market, Old North Church, and finally Bunker Hill Monument were a series of destinations along this trail. As night fell, I entered the Paul Revere House to be greeted with hot apple cider drinks and other 18th Century sweets.
As I sit at the airport typing out this week’s post, I am taken back to reality. Exchange has flown past faster than I ever imagined.
Last week ended with a short weekend trip to Chicago. What I forgot to mention that at the time of booking Chicago, I also managed to book 2 consecutive weekend-aways to first Philly and then Boston. I’d like this attribute this behaviour to the autonomic response to the end of exchange semester. There’s only a few weeks left of the exchange program so I should/need to cram all the travel I can. This makes up for all the other times I’ve been too lazy to organise anything. Gotta tick off all the boxes.
So this past weekend I hopped onto the Megabus to Philadelphia, the once capital of the U.S. I’ve heard a mixed response from people who have been to Philly before; some say “there’s nothing to do there!” while others find it quite the opposite. I felt the latter. Philly was very different to Chicago or D.C.. I stayed at the Apple Hostel which was right in the Centre of Old City so everything was pretty much walkable distance if you wanted it to be. And it actually nice to walk around for a change. The row houses were beautiful. The old cobble stones that they laid down a few hundred years ago were still in tact in at Society Hill.
My favourite thing about Philly would be the historical aspect to it. The Independent Hall was a small but I learnt a lot about the American history, the signing of the declaration of independence and its important. The quote from the declaration echoes loud in the aftermath of the presidential election – “WE hold these Truths to be self evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness–”
The second favourite would be the Philly Cheesesteaks that I had every-single-day, without regret. Jim’s Steaks on South and Joe’s Steaks + Soda were my favourites. The line snaked around the block when I stood at Jim’s. To order like a true local, I tried to say just “Wiz With” for a cheesesteak with wiz cheese with onion. I probably ate it too fast walking down South Street. I missed out going to UPenn and the famous Rocky Steps and the museum that holds world renowned pieces of art, but I’ll definitely return to Philly.
The other interesting thing that I have been working on for my Entrepreneurship class is building an app that allows people to find cool people to go to awesome events with. It’s called CitySocial and our team has been building a landing page website that allows users to look at what we are about and sign up for a demo. If anyone’s interested to see where this app takes off, you can help us by signing up! We promise we won’t spam you 🙂
CitySocial – Don’t Explore Alone.
As the rush to the end of semester nears, I start to reflect on all the things that I wanted to accomplish on exchange.