Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
George Gabriel

GET UPDATES FROM George Gabriel
 

That Was The Month That Was...Essays, Elections and Extreme Weather: October in the USA

Posted: 06/11/2012 09:15

You only need to see that I haven't blogged since September 26th to realise what kind of month October was here in the United States. Seemingly, there's been more emphasis on the study part of 'Study Abroad' recently. The work has been coming thick and fast recently, and at times it feels like I haven't stopped. If my now-frazzled memory serves me correctly, I handed in 5 essays and took two midterm exams in just 27 days last month.

The month kicked off with the first of three Presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. On a night where Mr Romney revealed his true feelings about Big Bird and Mr Obama celebrated Halloween early with a ghost-like performance, students here at Washington College gathered in Goldstein Hall to watch the first Presidential showdown in Denver. Armed with laptops, smartphones, snacks and refreshments, we took part in a live nationwide student survey of the candidates' performances whilst chuckling at some of the remarks from both sides. I was also lucky enough to have dinner with Trevor Potter last month, who was formerly both chairman and commissioner of the United States Federal Election Commission.

Now a lawyer, Mr Potter often appears on The Colbert Report. In an insightful address, he explained the sheer expense of the election, with Obama and Romney spending a combined $150million in August alone on their campaigns. As the month progressed, the campaigns stepped up, and everything here has been dominated by the election, which is finally here. Advert breaks between football games and TV shows have been entirely filled with political spots about Obama, Romney, Maryland building a casino, Maryland passing marriage equality laws, and much more. Many people I've met here "can't wait for this damn election to be over", and in many ways I can understand why. Nonetheless, today marks a huge day in American and world politics, and tonight's results will be interesting regardless of the outcome. Billed as one of the nation's closest ever elections right now, who knows what'll happen.

2012-11-06-election.jpg
Watching the first Presidential debate with other students..and snacks.

October also saw the Washington College Men's Soccer season come to an end, to the disappointment of everyone involved. The month started with a physically and emotionally draining four-game away run, taking the team to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Washington DC. This was followed by back-to-back victories at home, where I was lucky enough to get another goal for Washington after the ball bounced off the crossbar into my path against McDaniel College. Both winning and losing games in sudden death overtime last month, it was an eventful four weeks. The campaign culminated with Senior Day last weekend, where our graduating players were honoured for their commitment and service to the team. Also a breast cancer awareness day, the team kitted out in pink for the day and were unlucky to lose 2-0 against a very good Johns Hopkins side. It's hard not to feel empty without soccer, for since I arrived here on the 19th August it's been a constant in my daily routine. It's safe to say that most of us don't know what to do with all of this free time.

2012-11-06-IMG_6956.JPG
After the 'Pink Out' game for Breast Cancer Awareness

Halloween came and went, along with expressive costumes and an array of pumpkin-flavoured consumables. Coffee, beer, soup, cake, bread, lip-balm; you name it, it had a seasonal pumpkin variety. My history professor came to class dressed in full 'Class of 1925' attire, all authentic and original. A true sight to behold, it showed just how seriously the Americans take the holiday, and that you're never too old for it! Special mention must also go to the Pumpkin Latte served by Dunkin' Donuts; I told myself I wouldn't get drawn into the pumpkin hype, but it was just too satisfying not to write home about.

Yet, it was without doubt the emergence of Hurricane Sandy which will ensure October in America was a month I'll never forget. After a relatively uneventful week, weather forecasters and college officials started to draw attention to the arrival of a Category 1 hurricane on America's East Coast the weekend before last (27th October). Currently situated on Maryland's Eastern Shore, we were right in the storm's path and potentially in serious danger, so when the College made the decision to officially close for two days, most of campus evacuated. After the soccer game vs Johns Hopkins, feeling a little worse for wear, I hurriedly threw my most important belongings into a small suitcase, and with my roommate headed for higher and drier ground.

We spent Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday night in York, Pennsylvania, away from the worst of Sandy's devastating reach, and whilst we were lucky to not lose power, dealing with howling winds, lashing torrential rain and a flooded basement at 1am wasn't the best fun. Nonetheless, we were fortunate enough to not be harmed beyond that, especially given the tragic way in which Sandy tore apart New York and New Jersey. It was a scary few days with something I'd never experienced before, but good hospitality and vigilant action meant we weathered it as best as we could. We're expecting more storms of lesser severity this week, but at this time all attention and thoughts must be with the people of the Caribbean, New York, New Jersey, and everywhere else further North affected by the storm, which is home to many of the great people I've met here at Washington College.

2012-11-06-ScreenShot20121105at22.33.07.png
The damage left on campus by Hurricane Sandy. This is outside of my dorm!

As you can see, October was quite the month. I can only apologise for falling behind with blogging, but hopefully it's easy to see why. We have three weeks until Thanksgiving and a well-needed rest; I'll update with another blog post then, which no doubt will be filled with my sadness and boredom following the end of the soccer season.

Until next time,

George

 

Follow George Gabriel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/georgegabriel

FOLLOW UK STUDENTS