Tag Archives: Washington

Thank you GWU!

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I hate goodbyes, really! And I hate thinking that this will be my last blog for this semester. I have experienced an amazing time here at GWU and in Washington D.C. in general. I had some great opportunities, got to know a lot of amazing people, improved my skills… I started to get used to this new way of life. Going to class early in the morning, eating those Chick-Fil-A sandwiches at lunch, running around the mall during the weekend,  drinking the morning Latte at Starbucks downstairs, going to Wholefoods to buy groceries, installing all the must-have apps (Netflix, Uber, Lyft, Lime, Venmo…), buying a Canada Goose (No just kidding), going back to my wonderful room on E Street. The location is really awesome and the address rocks! 1959 E Street what an address! It could be my password in the next years :p

I loved meeting people here at GWU. The people I met this semester were all speaking at least three languages, having some insane intellectual skills and very friendly and kind. I had great roommates and we had really fun at our weekly parties. The American experience was so rich that I will probably miss some important amazing episodes.  Do you know this feeling when you have so much to say but your head is empty? In four months, I was able to make two apps, one of them will be useful for International Affair students. It’s an efficient news app that gets articles from all over the world. I learned how to play Golf and acquired some of the basics of Yoga.

In a nutshell, I had a really good time at The George Washington University, the Exchange program assistants were very nice. The staff was very professional, I have a special thought for the mailing and packaging services agents who helped me get my Amazon Prime packages this semester, and of course, my awesome professors with whom I really felt the pleasure of learning. I can’t wait to visit Foggy Bottom again.

Thank you for having followed my blogs this semester, I hope it was entertaining and fun.

 

“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph”                                                                                                                                                               George Washington 

 

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Finals & Finality

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This’ll be my last blog for the semester. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading them; it’s a small piece of validation, but I get a kick out of it—and it’s definitely influenced me to do interesting things since I got to GW. That said, this hasn’t been the most outlandish week.

It’s more-or-less the same no matter what university you’re at: finals are a pain, nobody likes them, and you either rise to the occasion and knock them out effectively or you get swallowed up by the system and crash & burn. So far I’ve handed in two major assignments without a hitch and I’m leaning heavily on the last two. However, there has been a small problem.

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Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

For those not familiar with the world of file recovery software, that screengrab represents the loss of my entire final video project. An automatic Windows ‘drive repair’ killed the entire thing, presumably because it doesn’t like files formatted for use on Macs. Not a happy day for me, but thankfully I should be able to salvage a passing grade out of the class after some talking to my professor. I’m not actually that devastated, my grades here aren’t going on my GPA, so the loss is more isolated to the project itself than anything else. I can go home satisfied that I did learn something valuable from the class as well as receive a lesson in the importance of file backups at a time where I can afford to get it. If I believed in fate, this would be an example of it at work.

Just be grateful it wasn’t you, kids. Learn from my mistake.

Aside from that it’s been mostly business as usual. Some alternating low-&-highkey social evenings — including one final party with some friends at American — and a lot of writing. My other creative final turned out pretty well; I managed to build an interactive website documenting the film Inglorious Basterds. I’d host it to show it off for anyone interested, but that costs money I can’t afford to spend. Enjoy this nice jpg instead.

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There’s more to it than this, I promise.

I highly recommend the course for anyone interested. Interactive Web Design, it says a lot that despite taking 4.5 hours from 8 a.m. every Friday morning, it was still one of my favorites. If you’re looking for a creative and problem-solving outlet, web design is a fun skill to pick up. It’s also fun to learn how the internet actually works, and you can leave with a marketable skill with unlimited potential to develop it for whatever purpose you so desire.

Once again thank you to everyone who’s been reading my content these last four months. I’ll be touring the country til mid-January before I have to head home and start another year in Melbourne, and I’ll definitely look back fondly on everything I’ve experienced at GW. If the economy doesn’t kill me first I’ll probably get a buzz out of rereading all these rants in a few decades — hopefully as a much better writer and having done many more things like it.

Scuba Santa & Finals

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The final week of classes is upon us. There’s no more need to guess about when assignments are due or what they’ll involve—it’s all on the table. In a week and a half my semester here will be complete, and I’ll have to actually start planning my end-of-year travel plans. It’s not gonna be cheap.

This week was fun, though. The Bernie Sanders talk I’ve been waiting a month for was excellent. It was definitely more of what we’ve come to expect from him after a few years of relatively high exposure. He did go into a bit more depth about the 2016 campaign, which was a welcome change. It wasn’t hard to imagine why he didn’t leave his house the day after the election.

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You can google a better picture of Bernie than I could ever take. Here’s one of the crowd.

I also went on what will likely be my final TRAiLS trip this semester. We drove to an indoor pool in Maryland for a charity ‘Scuba Santa’ event where we got to swim around in scuba gear and take a picture with the big guy. It was a good time, as I’ve come to expect with TRAiLS, but the actual scuba stuff was mostly overshadowed by the comedy of watching people flail off a 5 meter diving board. We had a good couple of hours in before the pool manager kicked us off the board and out of the hot tub, and we were happy to wrap it all up at a local Italian joint and get back by late afternoon.

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Props to this guy for spending four hours underwater in a fake beard

Aside from that it’s been mostly study and preparation for finals. Not as glamorous as I’d like, but definitely a necessary evil. Hopefully I can squeeze a few more memorable moments into my last few weeks.

A week full of events

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This week was particularly amazing since I decided to dedicate more time attending events. There are plenty of events every day in GWU, it’s insane! The number of events I see on Facebook is incredible. There are events for everyone and a variety of themes are present. This week I was interested in three major events.  Two of them are related to my major (Computer Science) and the other one was more cultural.

The first event I attended was about Machine Learning. It was a sort of introduction to this huge field of Comp. Sci. The speaker was implausibly a sophomore student. I swear he spoke better than any Ph.D. I have met in my life. I would take him as a professor. A sophomore!! This is something I noticed about American students. They get involved in an early age in topics they are interested in, and they put a lot of effort into what they like. I was also surprised by the questions asked by the other students who attended. I felt like I was in a high tech conference. The second event also related to Computer Science was about compilers. I will spare you the details, although it is a fascinating topic.

I met a student who is going to my university next semester as an exchange student. So I got to know her from now. She invited me to an event of the association that she represents on campus. It was a Multi-Faith Dinner where three representatives of the three monotheist religions were gathered and were talking about the Holy City, Jerusalem. We had a discussion afterward and it was very interesting.

I can’t believe we are already in December, I feel like June was last week. Only one week of class left, who would believe it? I will miss several people here, especially my friend Alexandre who works at Subway downstairs. He makes some pretty decent sandwiches

Next week will be more active! Stay tuned and enjoy this beautiful picture taken in Kogan Plaza by my friend Manuel Fazioli

 

 

 

 

Winter has come

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This week was particularly amazing. I have witnessed so many changes again in many aspects. First of all, I can tell that winter has officially arrived in DC. It was one of the most pleasant surprises of this semester. I woke up and I found this:

It’s not a lot of snow but still, how could I miss this during one night? The weather is surprisingly strange in DC. Sunrise is around 7:00 am and sunset is around 5:00pm. We can enjoy only ten little hours of light.

With the end of the semester coming, there is much pressure in class because of the projects due and the exams. However, it was a pretty charming study week. In fact, I tried for the first time team group as our professors suggested it. I got to know people from my class which is huge (more than 80 people). After hard work at Gelman, it was time for us to enjoy a good lunch. We went to Founding Farmers and although it’s only my second time, I can tell that food is incredibly amazing. I had a great steak with vegetables (sorry vegans).

Furthermore, because of the amount of study I had this week, a funny anecdote happened to me this week. I was in my yoga class and at the end of the class, we are supposed to stretch and relax. Our professor always puts some nice music in the background, so I completely slept for about twenty minutes, and when I woke up all my classmates were about to leave the classroom while I was sleeping on my mat comfortably. My professor said that I must have been really tired.

Also, I decided to work a lot this week because next week is a holiday week and I don’t want to feel any pressure next week. I got rid of the chores of the week such as sending a package to my family in Morocco full of presents and gifts, going to the office hours…

I am really looking forward to experiencing Thanksgiving here in Washington at the president’s house. I think it is going to be on of the great opportunities of this semester.

See you next week!

 

 

Yacht Dreams

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It’s become a recurring theme of my time in DC; plan for one experience and stumble into another. It happened last week with Catharsis on the Mall, and it happened this week outside the Anthem.

A friend and I had bought tickets to the Young The Giant gig on Friday night and decided to roll in to the wharf early to take advantage of a local happy hour. I’m not sure if it was the happy hour or the quality of the bar, but the place was packed when we arrived at around 6:45. After fighting our way to the front of the mass we’d bought drinks and my friend had struck up a conversation with a guy seated at the bar. I went over and joined the convo, where we quickly found out he was the president of the local yacht club on the wharf. Turns out he lives full-time on his boat, presumably splitting his time between the water and the club.

After a solid half-hour conversation the happy hour had ended and he offered to show us the club. Since it was outside the Anthem and the gig didn’t start for another hour, we agreed. I also sensed the possibility of free drinks, so I didn’t need much convincing. It was a bizarre turn-of-events for sure, and we were genuinely impressed with the setup this guy had going. He said his was one of the only yacht clubs in the country with an average age trending down, and it wasn’t hard to see why when we saw the place and met the people. I spoke to one guy for 15 minutes about Australian politics before he revealed he was a congressman from Oregon. If the president is to be believed they have a bunch of members with high-profile jobs on Capitol Hill. By the time we left for the gig my friend was already trying to network her way into a membership. Is this one of the #onlyatGW experiences I keep hearing about?

Young The Giant was another highlight, and by the evenings-end we were exhausted. I managed to spend a couple hours at a party in E street, but eventually called it in to try and get a few hours before Saturday. I’d booked another hike with TRAiLS, and I wasn’t looking forward to the 8 a.m. wakeup.

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One of those openers that’s good enough to remember but not enough to look for more of their stuff

The wakeup on Saturday was definitely rough, but not enough to ruin the day. I’d loaned out another DSLR for the trip; I needed more footage for my next video production assignment. This ended up being a great decision as the town we went to had some of the best scenery I’ve ever seen. Historic Harpers Ferry indeed. We were lucky to catch it at the brief intersection of Fall & Winter.

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$15 well spent

I did end up getting a lot of great footage and pictures from the trip. At this point I’m seriously considering shelling out for a decent camera of my own, it might incentivize me to go out and do more of this kind of thing back in Aus.

The rest of my week wasn’t eventful as those couple of days. I did go to another gig at The Black Cat on Thursday to see Alex G, which was great, but aside from that it was mostly receiving and submitting assignments. Finals are getting dangerously close—I suppose I’d better ramp up my efforts to do everything this city has to offer.

A good week for walking

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It’s been another good week for walking around.

The media department at GW allows students in set film classes to rent out equipment for free, which you might remember I took advantage of a few weeks ago to film my roommate Javier buying and eating the first bagel of his life.

Honestly hours of editing for this.

While it was definitely a good time, the film camera I used for that video was impractically large for my purposes this week, so I went for a more compact Nikon DSLR —a D3300 for any camera-nerd readers. After an hour-or-so of YouTube tutorials I was ready to take it out to test, and opted to do so on one of my late-night monument walks. I’ve been in the habit of walking around the mall at night once or twice a week, usually when I can’t justify spending money, and I got a kick out of learning the tricks of the camera on the quiet streets of DC.

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Game for the more observant readers: spot the rat.

I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I decided to go out and do it again on Saturday night. This was the surprising one for me, because I’d unknowingly walked right into the middle of a hippie festival camped out beside the Washington Monument. Literally camped out; they’d set up tents, art installations, a couple of dance floors, and a whole bunch of weed and LGBT flags. This was exactly the kind of weird stuff I enjoy finding, and a great opportunity to test my ability to snap pics in a bizarre low/high light environment. I even took the camera settings off auto for some of them.

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If 8th-grade English taught me anything, it’s that juxtaposition is the name of the game.

Of course after leaving my hippie comrades at about 3 a.m. I had to try and sleep, because I’d naively signed myself up for rock climbing with TRAiLS on Sunday—It was actually the reason I loaned the camera in the first place. I managed to get up on time to make the trip, and the climbing itself was a bunch of fun. After the trips I’ve taken with those guys this semester I’ve got to say that TRAiLS deserves every bit of funding they get; they never disappoint.

I’ve also got to conclude that, for a student, there’s no need to use a bulky film camera when the college has the Nikons available. My one was easier to use, less than half the size and weight, and it could take decent photos as well as video. My professor never even mentioned it was an option, but I’d be willing to bet he won’t be able to tell the difference from the footage. If you’re at GW now or you’re heading over for exchange, do yourself a favor and take a film class. The workload is manageable and you get access to a bunch of cool stuff for free. What’s not to love about that?