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)
Based on my experiences of the past two weeks I get the impression that a protest is going to be part of my weekly routine. Ten days into the new administration, Trump has already taken action to repeal Obamacare, withdrawn from the TPP, reinstated the Mexico City policy, reopened the Keystone XL and Dakota Pipeline construction projects, proposed plans to build the wall, and denied entry to refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries. In response to the decisions made this week, protests have erupted across the country and across the globe. It is exciting to live in the city that makes these decisions and watch how the people react so quickly against them. On Friday, Trump implemented the ‘Muslim ban’. By Sunday, thousands had gathered outside the White House in protest.
I attended the protest both in support and observation. Unlike the Women’s March, the protest was spontaneous with so little time to garner support or numbers. Not expecting a huge turnout and living so close to the White House I left shortly before the event. When I arrived, people were beginning to gather around the Marquis de Lafayette Statue. As time passed, people filled up the Square to the point where we were standing shoulder to shoulder and I was unable to see beyond the sign in front of me. Even without anyone choreographing the protest, the crowd began to chant ‘no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here’, ‘hey hey, ho ho, the Muslim ban has got to go’, and my personal favourite ‘hands too small to build the wall’.
An hour later and ten blocks away, there was a completely different kind of gathering. I left the protest to head over to Chinatown to check out the Chinese New Year parade. Hundreds of Taiwanese flags went hand in hand with the Stars and Stripes. Instead of protesting against divisive policies people were celebrating cultural diversity and unity. For me, the protest and the parade embody what is great about American culture.
Prior to the inauguration, people were willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt as he had not yet had the opportunity to do anything of serious measure. One week in and people are beginning to have a different opinion. Trump has followed through on his promises and done exactly what he said he would do. It’s scary to think that this is only the beginning. However, based on the response he has so far received I wonder how far he will be able to go. Sunday’s experience proves that with every action he takes there will be an even greater reaction.