Tag Archives: monuments

Adjusting to my new life.

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It’s been two weeks since I found myself alone in the airport with three huge bags and without knowing anyone in this new country. So many things have happened since that day, I’m not alone anymore and Washington DC is not so foreign now.

These two weeks have been great so far. All the expectations I had are coming true, not only about visiting the city but the people I have met. The exchange students are great, everyone has been so nice to me and they have made it so easy for me to feel comfortable. Studying abroad is hard because you live far away from your family and friends but also because  you have to start from the beginning. Nevertheless it was much easier than I thought. Clearly this is thanks to all the leaders that have accompanied us during this week, and also thanks to Hillary and Ami because I don’t know what I would have done without them and all their help.

The orientation week was overwhelming, we did so many different things, it was really like a summer camp but with a lot of information being thrown at us all the time. Back at home we don’t have this kind of things. In Universidad Autonoma de Madrid you’re on your own from day one, but here we had so many people taking care of us I hardly felt I was alone in a new country till the week ended.

So many activities were planned, we had a barbecue the first day, a visit to the Capitol, a tour to Georgetown, and much more things. My favorite ones were the baseball game, not for the game itself because I didn’t understand most of the things that were happening, but because of the atmosphere, and also the night tour to visit all the monuments, the views are breathtaking and the Lincoln memorial is just amazing.

 

The orientation week sadly ended and classes started. At first I was kind of terrified but everything has been really good, and I actually like my classes. The system is different from the one back at home, basically because we don’t have to participate that much and we don’t have so many work to do at home, but I’ll probably get used to it.

 

As we didn’t have any classes on Monday due to Labor Day we decided on going to Philadelphia on Sunday. It was a one day trip but we visited everything we could, like the independence hall, liberty bell, the city hall and more places. We were rushing everywhere because we didn’t want to miss anything but it was worth it. It was fun learning more about the declaration of independence and seeing  the place where United States was born. Also the city was  beautiful, a mixture of old and new architecture that I really loved. I actually recommend you guys to save at least one  day to go to Philly, you’ll love it.

 

 

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I’m FINALLY in the US

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After a flight from Casablanca to Paris, another one to New York, two Airtrains from JFK to the bus station, four hours bus from New York to Washington DC and a taxi, and I’M FINALLY AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY.

It’s true that I was super exhausted especially after pushing two large suitcases and a heavy “extra-large” backpack for long hours. But I can’t describe how excited I was to finally be in the US and start the orientation week. If I have to use one word to describe this week, I’ll say that the orientation week was LIT.

 

 

Basically, the orientation week was a combination of necessary things we had to do and fun activities.We attended many conferences about life in GWU and DC, academics, housing, health, registration… We also had many trips to Target, banks, phone providers. Having these activities was really helpful especially when you don’t know anything about the life in the US. But I bet you don’t want to know more details about these so let’s move to the fun part of the orientation. We had a US Capitol tour, the White House and moonlight monuments tour. In Morocco, we didn’t study anything about America in any of our high-school history classes. So, I really loved being in the heart of the American history and getting to know more about the culture and the stories of previous presidents. (FACT: Did you know that a bathtub where a certain president died is still in the Capitol).

 

 

 

 

 

We also had a Georgetown tour. This place reminded me a lot of Europe: nice architecture, a variety of shopping stores and different “smelling-good” restaurants. The tour was kind of short but I’m definitely planning to come back to try different cupcakes the neighborhood is offering. The last event that was SO fun was the Washington Nationals Game. In Morocco, Baseball is not that common, I even think that we don’t have a baseball team. So, that was my first time watching a game. Of course, I didn’t understand a thing about the game and its rules and I was just cheering for the team when people were doing so. What I liked the most about the game was the exciting atmosphere and taking a lot of pictures in the stadium haha.

But what I loved the most about orientation week is: People. The orientation team and the ExO leaders were so nice and helpful. You realize tell how much time they spent before our arrival to prepare for such well organized and successful orientation. We also had many ice-breaking games with all the exchange students. During this week, I spent time with people from all over the world. So not only I got to know American culture but also each student’s culture. It was so interesting to share the differences between our countries and the US and getting to know each other more during this week.

That week was certainly the perfect way to start my journey in GWU. Well, summer vacation is ending and classes are going to start soon and by now I think I’m ready for that. (Not sure though T.T)

Stay Tuned

IG: @SaraJebbar

DistriCt farewell

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 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)

Easter Weekend

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Despite Easter not being a national holiday in America we still made the most of the weekend and celebrated with food, friends and family! A friend of mine was visiting from New York so it was the perfect opportunity to explore DC whilst making the most of the holiday.

 

Although we have been in DC for the good part of four months there are still so many things I have yet to see and do. When friends come to visit it gives you the perfect excuse to be a tourist in your own city. So many iconic and historical sights are situated around the Mall and one of the best ways to see the sights is by bike. City bikes are available all over the city and for $8 you get a 24-hour pass (although, make sure you check in every 30 mins else you will be charged an extra $2 every hour). We rented our bikes at the National Mall, checked out the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Korean War Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument. We looped around the Tidal Basin, passed the FDR Memorial and ended up at the Jefferson Memorial.

Along with the bikes, we rented paddle boats and spent the afternoon chilling in the middle of the Tidal Basin, soaking up the sun. For only $20 you get an hour in one of the paddle boats (although, it is more if you want the electric swan!) It is definitely worth doing as it gives you stunning views of the Jefferson and the MLK Monument. Make sure you avoid weekends as you will be queuing for around an hour!

On Easter Sunday we were invited to a proper American Easter dinner. We headed up to Columbia, Maryland to a quiet suburban neighbourhood for a feast! It was our first time experiencing a true American home and it did not disappoint! After being away from home for awhile it was nice to spend some time in a familial setting. The food was delicious and dessert was absolutely to die for! It was my first time saying grace, playing catchphrase and having an American Easter

It was not a typical Easter, and yet it was nice to experience it from an American perspective. Although they do not recognise religious holidays on a national scale, they sure do know how to celebrate!

STUDY Abroad

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I guess you could say this week really put the study in study abroad. I guess the professors are trying to tell us that spring break is all but a faint history and it’s time to return to the daily grind.

That being said, I managed to take time out to explore last weekend. As April commences, we bid goodbye to winter and open our arms to spring. DC’s annual cherry blossom festival had its opening ceremony this week and it was nothing short of amazing. Thereafter, we took a walk along the Tidal Basin, past several monuments and admired the pink and white blossoms.

The reason for DC’s cherry blossoms dates back in history – Japan gifted DC with 3020 trees in 1912 after the first batch of 2000 sent in 1910 got infested with disease and pests. Since then, countless First Ladies have commemorated the start of the festival by planting their own cherry blossom tree. The one’s that we are seeing now are of the Yoshino variety but in another two to three weeks, the Kwanzan variety will start to bloom, giving DC residents and visitors a second chance to admire the majestic flora.

I was actually surprised to see that many of the blossoms were white in color, as opposed to the pink ones I had seen in Japan . Nonetheless, the paler color gives the surroundings a pure aura and are great for taking pictures too! While at the Tidal Basin last weekend, I actually met many people visiting from out of state, proving how popular the festival is. While our visit was short, we managed to capture some great graphics!

This week, I also took a trip to Tysons Corner in Virginia and it’s basically a huge mall where you can find practically everything. I went there for one very specific reason: Kung Fu Tea. Back home, whenever I craved it, I simply had to walk to the opposite street to get me some boba milk tea. In DC, it’s a lot more difficult to get hold of a decent cup of bubble tea and thankfully Tysons’ is an approximately 30 minute journey on the Metro, great for a quick getaway in between classes. The mall is also home to the only Uniqlo in the DC region, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for jackets or even basics that are of a great quality at an affordable price. I will stop talking about this now because this post is starting to sound like an advertisement.

Thereafter we headed to Dupont for tea and dinner. For now, it’s back to the daily grind at Gelman Library.