Tag Archives: Washington, DC

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

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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!

Boston Trip

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By anthonyscheergwu.

Since school was closed Monday for Presidents Day I decided to take the opportunity to travel somewhere, and somehow, I ended up in Boston. Apparently my Burmese friends want to go to places that are even colder than DC…

I had a lot of time since my flight was at 7:30pm so I decided to try the electric scooters, and I ended up going from GWU to Union station with it. The trip ended up costing me more than taking an Uber, so I wouldn’t recommend it. I took the MARC train to the airport and got there much faster than I expected (if you want to save money, fly out from Baltimore it’s much cheaper than Dulles).

I landed in Boston at 9pm and quickly realized that city is very proud of their NFL team. I wasn’t expecting this, but the high of winning the Superbowl persisted as I saw tons of people wearing Patriots clothing.

Friday morning my friends were sleeping, so I decided to head to the center of Boston and walk around the city center, and meet them for lunch later on. I decided to take the bus but I didn’t have cash nor a travel card so I was planning on showing the driver my card from DC and asking him for a free ride into the city so I could get a “Charlie card” there. When the bus arrived an old lady had a hard time getting off, so I helped her get on the sidewalk. I then reached for my wallet to take out my DC card as I walked into the bus and the driver said, “You’re not paying for this ride, god bless you” which was pretty convenient. During the rest of my trip there I noticed that Bostonians were quite friendly compared to Parisians.

I met up with my friends by noon and since some of us were first-timers in Boston we headed to Quincy market. Since Boston is known for their lobster rolls, I tried it and honestly if you’ve had lobster and bread before you aren’t missing out on much. Not saying it’s bad but it’s nothing spectacular. After the market, we headed to the harbor which was really beautiful, the mix of old and new architecture is pretty spectacular in Boston. In my remaining 3 days there I visited Cambridge, the Harvard campus, Boston commons, and spent a lot of time walking around and exploring the city. I’ll say this one more time, Boston is beautiful and I definitely recommend visiting this city!

Now for the less “touristy” aspects of my trip: During my 4 days in Boston I managed to go to IHOP twice and both times at 3 in the morning. I discovered that Burger King sells 10 nuggets for 1 dollar. I saw some of my high-school friends and we managed to gather 19 Burmese people at Harvard for a reunion (here’s a picture of all of us). It was great to see my childhood friends and hang around Boston with them!

On Monday I took the bus to New York, managed to visit Times Square for 20 minutes and take another bus back to DC after (I saved a lot of money taking the bus back but I wouldn’t recommend it if you plan on doing it only). I’ve been to New York twice now but spent a total of about 2 hours in the city so next weekend I’m going there for a few days!

Also, I was told that licking the shoe of the John Harvard statue would bring me good luck so hopefully I won’t fail my midterms now!

*I didn’t actually lick the shoe in case it wasn’t obvious that I was making a joke.

FAV THINGS TO DO IN GEORGETOWN

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By recueroraquel.

Georgetown is a must. It doesn’t matter if you go to visit the University (tip: their library is open to the public and it’s such a good chance to switch from Gelman!) or to buy clothes, books or antiquities, just walk around, get lost, grab some food and enjoy yourselves. There’s a lot of places I love to go:

-Georgetown Waterfront: best views for the sunset, you can eat your ice cream there and until mid February you will be able to ice skate in the ice rink! That’s what I did last Friday.


-House of Sweden: the Swedish Embassy is way more than a beautiful building. You can enter as a visitor and wonder through their temporary expositions for free. It’s by the waterfront so they have amazing views.

-Thomas Sweet: is it the best ice cream in DC? Probably! Get a whole bucket of ice cream there combining as many flavors as you want (and they have so many) and toppings! Btw, they say Obama loved it.

-Flamenco live? Yes! Bodega, one of the most famous Spanish restaurants in DC hosts live flamenco and guitar every Thursday 7:30 to 10:30. Although going to a Flamenco show in DC without being Spanish could be weird, it’s a good chance to see something new and get some amazing food.

-Craving sweet but still too cold for the 2 kilos of ice cream? Then go to Georgetown Cupcake. It’s so good! Cupcakes are around 3 or 4 dollars and they come in so many flavors. They have also lactose and gluten free cupcakes. Just be aware that you might have to wait during the weekends, it’s so popular!

-El Centro, DF: If you are 21 and you have been going out in DC you might have felt like our beloved Americans are not especially gifted for dancing and you are too shy to show them your best performance. No worries! El Centro DF is a Latino club, where the only music played is reggaeton, salsa, bachata…You are welcome! Also, it’s an amazing Mexican restaurant during daytime!

-Paper Source: it might be just me, but I’m sure you also love brand new notebooks and incredibly original but useless gifts. Also, you get cards for your friends, there’s a million themes in Paper Source.

-Dating? Impress them! Chez Billy Sud must have be the best food I had in DC. It’s a small cozy restaurant delicately decorated. French food at its finest. Dress formal.

-Not really into French food? In the same street you will find Flavio, a really popular Italian restaurant where you can find the most amazing seafood pizza ever!

-3 sisters: this great bakery has pies you can buy by the slice or whole. Perfect for a coffee stop or if you have people over and you want to impress them with that fantastic pie you made

-Escape rooms! Perfect for bonding and groups. IQ PanEscape Room is super famous. Although I ended up in another one in Alexandria, you can find really affordable packages in Groupon.

-American food: Yeah, you came all the way to the US and you still don’t know what “American food” is exactly, apart of hot dogs and mac & cheese. No problem, try Clyde’s of Georgetown. It’s a really famous local chain, but has nothing to do with fast food. Try the spicy-fried chicken!!

-The Tudor’s Place: don’t miss this amazing landmark. This house and its yards belonged for the family of Martha Washington for 6 generations!

-The Blues Alley: It’s the most famous Jazz and Blues bar in Georgetown. It hosts live music every single night. Although most nights shows are programmed and require the purchase of tickets, you can walk in anytime! Enjoy!