Tag Archives: Spring Break

Time to Say Goodbye!

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   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!

 

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)

Spring Break – continued

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Fresh off our Yosemite hike, we immediately drove back to LA where we took a well-needed rest for our next adventure – traversing through the canyons. We planned on visiting Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon over the next 3 to 4 days and combined, it was one heck of a drive.

Situated in Utah, Bryce Canyon is known for its crimson-colored hoodoos, or spire-shaped rock formations. We drove to sunset point, which as the name suggests, is famed for its aerial views during sunset of the canyon. As we had time to spare, we actually chanced upon another lookout point called Cedar Breaks National Monument and I reckoned this was my favorite spot in Utah not simply because of its picturesque views, but also because of its coincidental nature on our trip. Of a high altitude and bordering a ski resort, we were not dressed for this – half of us were wearing shorts because of the 90 degree AZ weather while we were driving in. Nonetheless, as we clawed knee deep into powdery snow and as the winds blew our ears numb, the view and the ensuing pictures were worth the effort.

Next up was Antelope Canyon. Do note that you’ll need to engage a tour when visiting Antelope Canyon as private campers or visitors will be barred. This formation was surreal – it actually looked like something out of Lord of The Rings or Game of Thrones; I half imagined Orcs to be marching behind us as we descended into the Lower Antelope Canyon. The tour guides were really helpful, constantly pointing out the different shapes and creatures morphed by the rock formations (although I didn’t understood like half of them, it was still fun to hear).

 

The final one is perhaps the most famous of all – Grand Canyon. The rock formation in Grand Canyon is unique due to the many layers of red rock, revealing the conditions it has weathered through millions of years. While we did not have much time at our last stop, the scenery was indeed breathtaking; I also managed to mail out several postcards from the gift shop right outside one of the lookout points.

Oh and since Horseshoe Bend was a 20 min drive away – it didn’t hurt! I mean, what is 20 min more of driving when we’ve been driving for weeks, am I right?

 

Many of my friends back in Singapore chose Europe as an exchange destination because they felt it had more to offer in terms of nature. After traversing 4 national parks in a week, I don’t think I’ve been more humbled by what Mother Nature has to offer – I’ve definitely made the right decision in coming to the United States and using Spring Break to get away from city life and into the arms (literally, in Bryce Canyon) of Gaia.

I’m thinking of doing part of the Appalachian trial in West Virginia before the semester ends. Anybody interested? (Hint: I need a driver though)

Back to the daily grind for now.

SPBK 2017

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Waking up to warm sunlight on my face and stepping onto the tarmac at SFO feeling the first hint of perspiration — Spring Break has begun.

Five of us set off on Friday morning for the West Coast, and a gruelling 5-hour flight later (the lack of entertainment really roughens it up), we landed at SFO. Day one saw us arriving late, way too late to do what we had planned: visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and taking a trip to Palo Alto. In the end, we hit SF downtown and ended up eating our way through it. I’d recommend the Cheesecake Factory in Union Square — go early though the line gets really long.

Day 2 was jam-packed from morning to night; we raced for the bridge and had time left over to shop in union square before having our dinner from Safeway right on the steps of the Caltrain station on 4th Street.  A 6 hour night bus ride later,  we found ourselves in Downtown Los Angeles. DTLA at dawn was creepy, partly because we lived in a really sketchy stretch – and mostly because anywhere that’s half decent was booked weeks ago and we only did it after midterms. As we were only there to take a short break before getting on the move again, it was still not that bad.

Ah, the highlight of California — Yosemite National Park. It was surreal, visiting after nearly 10 years, this time with friends. As it is spring, some parts of the park was closed, so we did not get to see Glacier Point. Nonetheless, we hiked 3 miles on John Muir and was rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Vernal Fall.

Growing up in an island state that is Singapore where the highest hill stands at 450m or so and with absolutely close to zero natural landscapes, Yosemite is a breath of fresh air (figuratively and literally). Daily morning jogs didn’t feel like a chore or an obligation – it was something I looked forward to once I opened my eyes at the crack of dawn. In the company of friends and companions, I was empowered to hike and see more of what Yosemite has to offer.

Three days in Yosemite were simply not enough – I’d have to come back again and do more hikes.

Part 2 of SPBK 2017 TBD.

From the Snow to the Sun – Spring Break 2017

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Nothing screams Spring Break more than Miami. Sunshine, the beach and delicious food all rolled into one week of festivities. What was meant to be a week of relaxation turned into a week of adventure. We had managed to get ridiculously cheap flights from New York and so on Monday morning we hopped on the Megabus and headed up to the city ready for our flight on Tuesday. This wouldn’t have been an issue if it wasn’t for storm Stella. On Monday night New York was hit by a blizzard and we woke up to the city being covered in snow. Everywhere in the city was closed and all the flights for that day were cancelled.

The night before the storm we met up with my friend from New York and headed to Cantina in Harlem for the best tacos and burritos! Luckily another group from the exchange program was staying in the city for the week and so we stocked up on supplies and crashed at their Airbnb for a couple nights. Stranded in New York we decided to make the most of the snow and go exploring. For the city that never sleeps, it was a rare opportunity to experience New York without the hustle and bustle. As we were headed to Miami we weren’t exactly dressed for the weather. We bundled up in as many layers that we had brought with us and headed down to Central Park. Although it was not what I had in mind when I pictured Spring Break, the city in the snow was beautiful and was worth missing our flight.

We headed to the Newark Airport early the next morning hoping that there were some spare seats on the upcoming flights. Luckily, 15 minutes before takeoff we managed to get two free tickets and were on our way to Miami! A couple of hours later, we had said goodbye to the snow and were basking in the sun on South Beach.

There was a large group of us staying at an Airbnb in South Beach. The week was spent chilling at the beach, having BBQs out back and gorging on the best Cuban food I’ve ever had. We headed over to Wynwood Walls to explore the amazing street art and decided to stay in the area to enjoy the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. If there is one thing I’ve learnt is that Americans don’t know how to do anything low-key. They had everything from green coloured drinks, food trucks, vintage clothing stalls and live music.

After a week relaxing and having fun in the sun it was time to return to reality. As our flight was at 6 am the following day we decided to not book accommodation for our final night and go the full 24 hours. We checked out at 10 am and spent the rest of the day at the beach, before returning to one of our favourite places of the trip for dinner Ball and Chain and finishing the trip off at Story. At 3 am we grabbed an uber to the airport and made the long journey back to DC.

Spring Break was exactly the adventure I expected it to be. Miami was the perfect combination of fun and culture and completely lived up to the hype of Spring Break.

 

MIDTERMS

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The comfort zone has always been a place I’m really comfortable in – school-wise. I’ve never felt the need to pick up a new sport, join a new club or go out of my way to meet new people. Being one to ‘take whatever is thrown at me’, I became laid-back and some sort of a hermit after school hours. Networking and meeting people was a chore in the past but rushing totally changed my perception of that.

Entering GW, I decided to try something that would be impossible to do in Singapore – join a Greek organization. But before you get all worked up about the partying, it’s not the case. I joined a professional business co-ed fraternity, where meetings usually involve lots of work on resume writing, planning of social and professional events.

Just this past week, we had our first fundraiser: selling Krispy Kreme donuts. DC weather took a turn for the worse and plunged to the low thirties. Despite this, we walked in a group to Dupont Circle and then back to all the dorms to sell and distribute the donuts. It was my very first time going door to door trying to sell something and I gotta say it was a great learning experience! (We finished selling ALL our donuts within an hour so it was a huge success and thank you to everyone who bought them!)

Midterm week is here and having three papers in a week with two on the same day just meant that time during the weekends have to be put to wiser use. Hence, I visited the Hirshhorn for a short while on Saturday.

Situated halfway between the Capitol and Washington Monument, it was a breeze to get to. It’s definitely a feast for those passionate about art – with artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Kline, you basically get the best altogether under one roof. I think my favorite were probably the Burghers of Calais in the Sculpture Garden. Commissioned by Yoko Ono, the Garden features sculpture pieces by Rodin.

As this and next weeks are midterm weeks, I did not get to do much travelling or sightseeing. However, I’ll definitely try and squeeze in more once midterms end next week and before I leave for Spring Break!

Cheers,

Audrey