Tag Archives: Life @ GW

Fall in D.C.

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This is it, fall arrived. The nice weather we knew when we came here is gone now. I can’t realize how fast time is flying, and I can’t believe that I’m leaving the US in almost two months. It’s time to review what I did so far and to make a quick assessment of my experience abroad.

From my window, I can see the leaves of the trees turning from green to a kind of yellow. But leaves aren’t the only one who changed. In fact, since I am here, I noticed that a lot of things changed in my way of life. I think that living in the heart of the nation’s capital and going from time to time to NYC, makes you become “American” quicker than living in any other American city. If we talk about food, I can say that food here really changed me, literally. I gained 4 pounds since I came here. Well, it’s sort of understandable when you have Chick-Fil-A on campus and a Subway downstairs. Also, I have a new habit now, I can’t go to class without a Vanilla Latte in my hands. Back in Morocco, I used to drink only strong coffees but here… I got Starbucksized.

From the study perspective, I am very happy that I took such great courses. On the first hand, my psychology class is really interesting and fascinating. Although the exams are not always easy, the content of the chapters allows me, now, to understand better my behavior and some of my actions. On the other hand, my computer science class, a more pragmatic approach, is by far my best class here. I get along with my classmates and my superb professor. A good thing about American people and mentality, that I noticed especially in NYC, is that they hate wasting time. They are always to the point. Even when they speak, their phrases are a sequence of shortcuts, and they love approximations. “I was like…”, “sort of”, “kind of”, “for some reasons”, “a bunch of stuff” How much is a bunch? What’s a stuff? I don’t know… (Gad El Maleh, American Dream)

In a nutshell, my experience is not done yet, and yet, I have learned so many things, made so many acquaintances and seen great things. I’m looking forward to knowing more about the American culture especially with the upcoming events (Halloween, the Midterms, Thanksgiving…)

P.S: Don’t be surprised if I write another post about NYC, we never get tired of this city…

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Midterminal

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Exciting times continue at GW with another extremely busy week. Assignments are coming and going really quickly now; I’ve got to knock up an obituary for newswriting, a 30-second ad for video production, and an interactive digital timeline for web design by the end of this week. Don’t think that’ll keep me from doing this blog though—I know my priorities.

The video production one has been the most fun so far. Aside from being significantly less morbid than the obituary and less technical than the webpage, I’ve been having a blast messing around with the expensive cameras at the media department here. As a student there I’m entitled to loan the equipment out for free, and this is the kinda stuff I’m never getting my hands on otherwise. The Sony film cameras they use retail for about $3500 (despite the replacement cost being closer to $5000 if we break one) so it’s a definite improvement over my beaten up iPhone 6 camera.

I elected to make the ad about GW’s own Leo’s Deli, my go-to bagel destination for early-morning classes. I discovered my roommate Javier had never had a bagel in his life, so his pilgrimage to G Street made for an easy narrative. Not to mention I consider it my civic duty to make sure everyone knows the joy of a deli bagel.

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Look at the Spaniard go. No more paellas for you pal—you’re in America now.

It’s also been another big week for events. I got tickets to the Brockhampton concert on Tuesday and it was a riot. People were getting panic attacks in the mosh, losing shoes and shirts and sweating like pigs. Trying to reach the front at a gig like that is a futile task. Once I gave up on the mosh about half way I was able to appreciate the music a bit more, and it was worth hearing the tracks in their full glory. They really are the hardest working boyband in the world today. Get around it.

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Keep up the good work Kevin

Got a Formula1 viewing party with my friends at AU later today. More European than American I know, but there aren’t exactly any NASCAR events going on near DC—I gotta take what I can get. If it’s eventful I’ll be sure to put a rundown in next week’s update, but right now I’ve got 45 minutes to bang out an obituary. Know any fun dead people?

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This well-bearded chap can be found at the National Portrait Gallery. I feel you, man.

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.

The name’s Bond, James Bond.

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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 😉

Gettysburg

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It hurts just looking at it.

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.

Another week in DC

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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 😉