Tag Archives: Washington, DC

Snowboard trip (Whitetail Resort)

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By anthonyscheergwu.

As I was in my bed Friday recovering from my Spring Break, I realized that the closest ski resort  was closing, and that the last skiable day was tomorrow (Saturday). I therefore got a ticket to spend the day on the slopes snowboarding. 

I booked my snowboarding day through a company called Sourced Adventures. I definitely recommend checking out their website and booking a trip with them because they have great customer service and are super organized. They have partnerships with companies around the area and as a result, offer very competitive prices.

I booked the day trip at whitetail resort and I absolutely loved it! My day started at 6:00 am since I had to be at their bus stop by 6:45 am. The bus was comfortable and I personally slept the whole way so it seemed very fast. By 9:15 am I was already sliding down my first slope (checking out my snowboard and receiving my lift pass took less than 15 minutes, and there was absolutely no hassle, everything was taken care of by Sourced Adventures).

So the first observation I had was that ski resorts are very different in France than in America (of course this doesn’t apply to every single one of them). To begin in France you can only go skiing in the mountains where there is natural snowfall. In America there are many small snow resorts around the area which are maintained by artificial snow which makes skiing much more accessible. Although this is great, it made snowboarding at Whitetail more challenging. The snow was much harder and therefore I was more careful in attempting tricks here than I was in France. The falls I had here hurt me much more than the ones I remembered in France last year.

Whitetail has 25 trails, of which the longest one was 1494 meters (4,900 feet) which meant that I usually completed most trails in about 5 to 8 minutes. It sounds fast but I actually liked this because it gave me time to rest on the chair lifts as I got back up. I was lucky because there weren’t too many people that day and therefore I never spent more than 10 seconds waiting for a seat on the chair lifts.

The snow-park was full of obstacles and had jumps for every level, therefore if you are a beginner or not you’ll have fun here. The runs had a great range too which was great because I started on the easy ones as I felt rusty at first, but then I got used to it again and moved to the harder ones and didn’t get bored throughout the day.

Since the bus left the resort to head back to DC at 4:30 I kept thinking that I should not eat and enjoy the slopes as much as I can because I only had 7 hours. By 1:00 pm I was exhausted and therefore took a half an hour break to eat. The food there wasn’t too bad but was pretty expensive. I got two hot dogs for 10 dollars and they really weren’t that good. But I was so hungry that it made it worth it. By 1:30 I was back on the slopes and by 4:00 I was drained out of energy and was all bruised up which meant that it was a great snowboarding day (if you don’t have one or two bruises after a day of snowboarding, you’re either a professional or you didn’t attempt anything new).

I slept through the ride back and by 8:00 pm I was in bed and I actually fell asleep before 9:00 pm for the first time in a few years. I definitely recommend doing a skiing or snowboarding trip with Sourced Adventures when the season starts again, I enjoyed every minute of mine and the only regret I had was not booking a trip with them sooner because I would have loved to go back there at least once or twice!

San Diego and Los Angeles (Spring Break part 2)

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By anthonyscheergwu.

So after realizing that there’s not much to do on a Monday at Tijuana, we decided to head back to America and explore the West coast. As I expected, going back to America took much more time than entering Mexico. After being asked 8 – 9 questions I was able to pass the border. We went to an outlet that was basically on the border and spent a few hours shopping. Wasn’t the smartest decision cause our flight ticket consisted of bringing absolutely no luggages and at the mall I ended buying an extra bag to fit everything we bought (luckily the person checking us in for our flight back to DC was French and so we got through with no problem). 

That night, we were exhausted and decided to rest up. After eating a good dinner, and watching a movie, we got restless and bought on impulse a return ticket to LA. 8 hours later we were on a bus to LA and by noon we arrived. In the span of 5 hours, we walked through Melrose Avenue, the Walk of Fame, and went up to the Griffin Observatory. I then decided to take an Uber across town to go to Venice beach and was stuck in so much traffic that I stayed in the Uber for an hour and a half. It wasn’t too bad though, the driver had been to Myanmar before and so the ride ended up going by really fast as we talked throughout.

Venice beach was really nice, It was a shame that it was really windy but nevertheless I really enjoyed it and decided to come back this summer. I walked around the beach, watched skaters practice at the skatepark, watched people graffiti the walls around the beach, and saw muscle beach. I loved the atmosphere there because the many things to do at this beach gathered so many people with different interest and I thought that was really nice. I then took an electric scooter and rode all the way to Santa Monica Pier which was pretty fun, (It definitely beats dealing with traffic). After walking around the pier I went to pick up some friends at UCLA for dinner. The campus was huge and it looked more like a resort then a school. Therefore, I would like to congratulate the students at UCLA for getting any schoolwork done because with the beach not too far away and the LA weather, I would always feel tempted to do anything but work in a library!

The next day I ate at different places around LA and spent a few hours on the beach trying to get a tan. After a nice and relaxing day, I headed back to the station and took the bus back to San Diego.

In San Diego I visited La Jolla which was absolutely beautiful. We walked around the cliffs, saw the seals and ate at a UCSD restaurant which was by the beach. The views were great and luckily it was a very sunny day which made everything that much prettier. I went to eat at In-N-Out which was on my bucket list and had the best ramen I’ve ever had at this place called Raki Raki (go there if you are in SD). I then saw the campus housing of SDSU which did not make me jealous at all (they have jacuzzis and a swimming pool in the common areas)…

By the end of the day, the fatigue due to a lack of sleep throughout my spring break starting hitting me so I ended the day in bed watching Netflix and falling asleep at 11. The next day I headed directly to the airport for my flight back to DC!

I was able to rest on the flight and throughout the day Friday in my room. By 6pm I got restless again and booked a snowboarding trip for the next day which I will talk about in my next post!

SPRING BREAK

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By recueroraquel.


For spring break I went back home (home is Madrid for those of you who don’t know!) because my grandpa was sick and since my family is mostly abroad we try to go visit as much as we can. Apart of making my grandparents really happy I was able to see my friends and fly for a couple
days to Morocco (Fact: the shortest border between Europe and Africa is the Gibraltar Strait that separates Spain and Morocco by 14 kilometers and where both the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet).

Madrid is a really beautiful city located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain and Portugal are. With around 6 million inhabitants, Madrid is one of the most important European
cities and an really welcoming hub for immigrants from Latin America and North and Sub- Saharan African countries, as well as Eastern Europeans. This has enriched Madrid, turning it into a multicultural, diverse and unique spot loved by tourists from all around the world.

What I loved the most about going back for the break was definitely the weather. Since the moment I landed I was able to get rid of my coat and my scarf, enjoy the early spring, make a barbecue with my friends and just lay down in my yard with my bunny pet. (Who doesn’t want a
picture of a bunny?!)

Also, even though I didn’t know about it when I bought the plane tickets, I was able to attend my Masters graduation that was scheduled for the same day I arrived! As some of you might know, this is my second BA program and during my junior and sophomore years I studied a MA in
Madrid, for which I just graduated. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to bring much luggage and my mom decided to be my stylist. This was the result.

Another great thing I was able to do was to lecture in my home university. A professor requested me to lecture his two hours course in “Security Models” on Monday and so I did. I prepared a lecture about the differences between Spain and the US when talking about prisons, gun control and incarceration. (I highly recommend a documentary in Netflix called 13th about mass incarceration in the US and slavery). I had 62 students and I had so much fun. Here you can see me faking it until I make it.

After this exhausting vacation I went to Fes, in Morocco to visit Amine, a friend I actually met at GW during the fall semester. Although I barely had two days there we drove (just him, to be honest I shit my pants just by thinking about driving in Morocco) 1,000 kilometers! We went to Ifrane, where his university is, and then we went to Rabat, which is by the coast since I’m a sea lover. There I was able to lie in the sand and nap while just relaxing which is something I miss so much when in DC. Then we came back to Fes, one of the oldest cities in Morocco, from where I flew back to Madrid before heading back to DC. Here are some pictures.

Tijuana and Rosarito (Spring Break Part 1)

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By anthonyscheergwu.

Since spring break was my only week off during this semester (unlike in France where I had a 2 week February break and 1 week April break) I decided to do as much as could and therefore my Spring Break will be divided in 2 blog posts; this one where I’ll talk about my time in Mexico and the second which will be about my 4 days in San Diego and Los Angeles.

No, I did not go to Cancun, I instead decided to visit Baja California. My spring break trip began at 3 in the morning in DC, I had to pack for my flight at 6am. I got to my flight in time, landed in San Diego and made my way to the border. Once I got there, I expected tons of people, but no, it was relatively quiet and I was able to enter Mexico in less than 30 minutes (if you want to cross the border do it walking and not with a car, there was a huge lines for the cars that were crossing). The only thing worth mentioning about the border was the amount of cameras. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where I constantly had every corner of my body on camera. Once I got across, I went straight to Rosarito. We got there around 7pm and were super hungry. Our Airbnb host told us to be careful with Mexican Street food if we had weak stomachs so we got worried and went to a fancy Mexican restaurant which I honestly thought had very mediocre food. 

We spent the next day in a hotel by the pool and only got out to go eat. I went out to the same food stall to eat tacos throughout the day. Also, I thought it was a myth that the Coca-Cola in Mexico tasted much better than in the US but it really isn’t, I ended up drinking more Coca-Cola in the next 3 days than I did during my last 3 months in the US.P

I spent Sunday on the day on the beach, and in the afternoon my friend and I decided to rent ATVs because we saw people driving them around the beach throughout the day. Once we paid them, we followed a guide onto the track and we were given 30 minutes to ride around. I’ve driven ATVs on the beach before and enjoyed it, but since we had a track this time it was much more fun. Instead of driving randomly on flat surfaces, we had turns and bumps which made it much more fun. 15 minutes in my hands were already aching but I pushed through the 30 minutes. Throughout the 30 minutes we had a guy watching us and whenever I tried to do something “new” such as attempting a donut, he would start waving with huge gestures that I should stop. I definitely recommend renting an ATV if you by chance go to Rosarito.

That night we went to Tijuana and had dinner in the city and we were exhausted so we went straight to our hotel room and I was asleep by 10. The next morning we decided to do everything that google recommended in Tijuana before heading back to San Diego. We went to the cultural museum, the market, a church in the city and specific areas of the border which were more interesting than others such as the border in the water. It was really interesting to be in Tijuana in person cause the news talks about this border daily and being there in person felt quite unique. One day in Tijuana was enough because there honestly isn’t much to do there so after the long day we decided to head back to San Diego!

New York

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By anthonyscheergwu.

I decided to go to New York after a week of living in the library as I had to work on my mid-terms. I took the bus Thursday afternoon and arrived in New York by 6pm.

Thursday night I didn’t too much because I was so tried. I met up with some friends and walked around the city randomly to explore it.

We woke up early Friday and did the touristy things right away. We went to the one world trade centre, 9/11 Memorial, the charging bull on wall street, and saw the Statue of Liberty from far. I personally thought the two most impressive things were the one world trade center and the 9/11 memorial right next to it. Standing right under the one world trade center and looking up is really impressive because the triangular angles of the building give the impression that the building’s top is infinite. This was the same impression I got at the 9/11 memorial because I couldn’t see the bottom of the hole in the middle and I kept wondering how deep it was.

After a morning and afternoon of visiting New York, I started planning a dinner with a couple of friends that live in NYC. People always say that NYC is great because there are so many different things to eat, and while that’s true, no one ever says how annoying that is. Because NYC basically has all the different types of food you can imagine, planning a dinner with 8 people is close to impossible. After juggling between 8 different options, we decided to go to none of them and just go to an Italian restaurant 30 seconds from where we were staying.

That night we decided to explore the NYC nightlife and I understood why people always say that NYC is the city that never sleeps. We went around different places and every-time we were moving from one place to the other, there were people on the street, the subways were not empty and the roads still had cars circulating the streets. By 5:30 we got hungry and unlike in DC, Paris, or Yangon, finding food at the time was actually very easy. We even had a couple of different options to choose from which was pretty amazing.

Saturday we started our day going to Kellogg’s Cereal Bar. I definitely recommend going there because I don’t think there are a lot of places in the world where you have a bar that serves only cereals. We got a seat in front of a TV and watched cartoons while we ate our 5 dollar bowls of cereals. Afterwards, we walked around Times Square and SoHo, and basically just shopped and ate throughout the day. For dinner we went to Chelsea market and this place, again, has the bittersweet feeling that I got throughout my trip in NYC — there was so many different things to try and everything looked so good that instead of enjoying what I chose I kept thinking of what I didn’t get to taste. Therefore I ate at 4 different stalls, of which one serves really tiny doughnuts.

Sunday morning I took a bus back to DC and booked my next trip to New York while going back because I loved this city and I didn’t see enough in my 3 days there.

DIPLOMAT BY DAY, LIBRARIAN BY NIGHT

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By recueroraquel.

As many of you have probably seen, I’ve been working at Gelman library since the beginning of the semester. It’s a really nice job, it’s pretty chill and allows me to make money enough to cover all my expenses. My tasks are basically check people in, mostly patrons from other universities or institutions, students that forget their Gworld, prospective students and people that come to attend events that take place in the library. When I’m at the check-out desk I check books for people, I find the books they requested from other universities or the ones the want to get from the reserves and I help them to find books in the stacks. Sometimes, I also help people who need an appointment with a specialized librarian for research. I love being at the check-out because it’s when I’m interacting with people and friends come say hi and bring coffee which is so nice. Some other times I’m shelving books back to the stacks or discharging them. My coworkers are so funny, there’s a really good vibe and we all help each other. If you are looking for a job and they open any position on Handshake don’t hesitate to apply, it’s such a great place to work in!

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So professional. Trust me, I work at Gelman Library!

Also, a couple weeks ago I got an internship in the Permanent Mission of Spain to the Organization of American States. I work directly with the Ambassador, attending meetings in the OAS itself or visiting other representing Embassies on behalf of our delegation. Then I write reports that are send straight to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid. I have my own office in the Embassy, that is located in Massachusets Avenue in front of the Islamic Center of DC. On Fridays, when usually Muslims gather for the prayer in the afternoon the athmosphere is really good and I love watching from my window. Last Friday I also went to the Embassy of Canada for a meeting, and to a council in the headquarters of the OAS where the Secretary General Luis Almagro gave a speech. I feel so happy I got this opportunity, it’s a dream internship!

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The views from my office, the Embassy of Canada and the Headquarters of the OAS

SOME DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GWU AND UAM

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By recueroraquel.

Even though I’ve been studying at GWU for around six months now, there are several thinks that keep shocking me. Education in Spain is way different than in the US and that determines a lot how we are and how we understand the world. Here are some of the things that shocked me the most:

  • University is SO EXPENSIVE: Most universities in my country are public, meaning that around 80% of the cost of tuition fees is covered by the state through taxes. For this reason, many people independently of their background can access university. To enter a university in Spain you have to take a public exam during your senior year of high school, and the highest the grade you get, the greater number of degrees you have access too. Private universities don’t require people to take this exam and accept people that got a bad grade or failed, and because of that private universities are generally considered bad quality, while public ones seem to be more competitive and have a higher prestige. For me, the fact that people take loans that they are going to be paying for years just to go to school scares me and makes me think that education is only accessible to those who are privileged enough.
  • Living so far from home: In Spain, as in many other places in Europe college education is a natural extension of high school, so most people live with their parents and attend the closest university. In the US, a lot of people leave their parents’ home as soon as the finish high school and they study really far away. I’m so jealous of that!
  • Masters program: Generally in Europe we get our Masters degree straight after our degree, and only then we start working. I guess since university is so expensive people need to find a job before going to college again.
  • “Hiring all majors”: That’s something I love from the US. One of my business professors got a Bachelors in Electronic Engineering and after a few years she started working for the World Bank. Then she got an MBA and now she’s lecturing at GWU. In Europe, it’s really hard to find a job out of what is considered your area of study.
  • Courses:  When you study a Bachelors degree in Spain, all courses are fixed until the spring semester of senior year, and everybody is supposed to graduate at the end of their fourth year. This means that everybody has a fixed schedule, let’s say Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm, and the same people you start the first day with is the people you are going to be with for the next four years. In the US it is completely different and for me it was really shocking when I had to create my own schedule and I realized that I saw my classmates just once or twice a week!
  • Majors and minors: They don’t exist in Spain, just “Bachelor in…” and to be honest I still don’t know how many credits are each or how they exactly work.
  • Internships: In Spain, an internship is a compulsory course in every degree. Every Bachelor program has agreements with different companies or public organisms that take interns during the spring semester of senior year. Internships are unpaid in almost every case. During the rest of our degree, we don’t intern. I never questioned myself why, because we had the chance but however nobody does it. I loved the idea, and that’s why I’m interning now in DC!
  • Police presence: This one is what shocked me the most. While GW has its own university, the Police in Spain needs the written permission of a judge to even enter the campus! There’s no way you can spot a policeman in a university campus. This law exists to protect freedom of speech, discourse and the right of reunion of students and professors since Spain was a dictatorship during 40 years and university students and professors suffered constant censorship and persecution.
  • Cafeterias and beers: In Spanish universities every building has its own cafeteria. These places are so cheap because they are supposed to be student-friendly and they offer lots of different food. Since the legal drinking age there is 18, usually before, after or in gaps between classes students go grab some beers and play cards or just chill in the open areas of the campus. Yeah, you can buy beers in a university cafeteria at 9 AM and everyone is okay with it. Now I see how weird it is.

Anyways, even though there are some things that I miss from my home institution and the university environment in Europe, I feel like college in the US is way more enriching and a more holistic experience. If I had to choose a system I would definitely prefer to study in the US for the remaining time until I graduate!