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The Final Five Weeks: Rounding Off the Fall Semester at Washington College

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As I sit here writing my final blog of the Fall semester, it's almost hard to believe that I am already halfway through the 2012/13 academic year at Washington College. I hope that you've seen through my previous blogs that it's been one heck of a ride, and the last five weeks of term have been no different.

The end of the soccer season has meant I've had more time on my hands as the year has progressed to explore a little more, and during November and December I took full advantage of that opportunity. I took a trip into Washington DC, and for the first time since arriving I was able to fully explore the city and all it has to offer. Hopping between the Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol Building and other notable landmarks, I spent the whole day on my feet, using the Metro just once.

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Be sure to visit these guys!

A relatively small city (by American standards), the European vibe of D.C. was strangely familiar, and blending rich history and architecture with cosmopolitan culture, I instantly fell in love with 'The District.' At the National World War Two Memorial, I saw Norville, a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge who was having his picture taken at the engraving of the very same battle he served in, which was remarkably moving. I also ticked off my first Man vs. Food location, indulging in my first Chili Dog at Ben's Chili Bowl.

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Norville at the Battle of the Bulge Memorial.

More recently, my neighbour and I went to FedEx Field to see the Washington Redskins host the Baltimore Ravens in a Week 14 NFL matchup. Dubbed the "Battle of the Beltways", the game is a regional rivalry and came at a crucial time for both teams in the playoff race. Riding the wave of momentum created by their electrifying rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3), Redskins fans created a sporting atmosphere like nothing I'd ever witnessed before. There could not have been more variation between the pin-drop silence when Griffin lay injured on the ground and the earth-shaking roars when Washington scored in the final seconds to tie the game. With the Redskins winning with an overtime field goal kick, the match went down as one of the games of the season so far; not a bad one to pick for my first! Check out the photo below and also a cool Google Panorama of my view from inside the stadium here.

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Click the photo for a wide-angle full panorama!

Watching President Obama's speech following his re-election was a thing of beauty, and I hope to be able to return to the city for Inauguration Day when I come back in January, to see what proves to be a fine spectacle. Outside of the Beltway, November also saw the celebration of Thanksgiving. Lucky enough to be invited back to my roommate's house, the week was spent eating delectable food, sleeping until noon, and watching 12 consecutive hours of American football. It's in many ways similar to Christmas dinner in England, with turkey, stuffing and potatoes as three staples of the multiple culinary elements of the day. Giving us a well-needed rest, Thanksgiving was thoroughly enjoyable and I am grateful that I got to experience it as fully as I did.

Filled up on turkey and caught up on sleep, all that remained was to return to school for 3 and a half weeks to turn in the last of the assignments, and study for the dreaded finals. Whilst in England we study over Christmas and take exams in January, the Americans dedicate their last week of the semester to these unpopular tests and take their final exams before the break. Whilst I only had two to study for, to be attending classes and handing in assignments as usual whilst still studying for exams the following week, was pretty hectic. With that said, they are now finished, and I gained my freedom at around 5:30pm on Thursday evening. Of course, the extra stress produced by the last week of school is more than countered by the fact that we now have 5 and a half weeks off and absolutely nothing to study for or work on.

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Thanksgiving

After a long semester, it's fair to say I'm ready for the winter break. My family arrive in Boston next week, and having not seen them since the 19th of August I'm pretty excited to see them. My winter break will see me in multiple cities and countries, so there won't likely be a blog until I return to college in January. With that, I would like to thank all of those people who have already helped make this such an outstanding life experience; here's hoping it continues. I wish everyone a safe and merry Christmas, and a prosperous and happy New Year. The horrifying events that took place in Connecticut this week must remind us how precious life can be, and our thoughts and prayers must go to the people of Newtown at this unbearably tough time. Be smart, cherish your time with family and friends, and be thankful for everything.

Until January,
George