05 April 2010

In the wash - in more ways than one

Many Easter blessings to my readers! Yet another campus visit come and gone - though this time I went to American University and George Washington University in Washington DC. I stayed with one of my father's childhood friends and fellow Scouts, Russ Damtoft, and his family (his wife Linda, and his sons David and Eric) in Bethesda - they were very kind to put me up on such short notice, and were very good hosts. (Russ even gave me some pointers on entering the foreign service, if that's what I decide to do after getting my MA, and David's a history major with an interest in Europe, so we got along pretty well.) Actually getting there was a bit more of a chore - due to the torrential rain and flooding we've had up here, 95 was closed and getting to the airport was, shall we say, an adventure. I did get there in good order, though.

I had positive impressions of both universities - obviously either one would be an amazing place to go to school. But American University, strong though their programme is and as helpful as their CRS representative was, didn't seem like a great fit for me; not a lot of emphasis on team-building or community, and a bit removed from the main city, which was a bit unfortunate. It seemed fairly self-contained, and the class size of the lecture I got to sit in on was on the larger side (more than 20 students). Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of the campus, which is a shame because it was actually quite beautiful when I went there.

George Washington University, on the other hand, was a different beast entirely! A very colourful campus (figuratively speaking, sadly; a lot of the buildings reminded me of some of the newer Syracuse fixtures and the Sci Li at Brown), right in the middle of the city - a short walk away from the World Bank, from the Washington Monument (visible from the Elliott School), from the State Department and (of particular interest to me) from St Paul's Church on K street. I was impressed by the students that I met there - even the ones who were just out and about rather than leading tours were friendly and helpful, as were the staff. I was also impressed by the flexibility of the programme (most of the students work at least half-time, with the graduate classes in the evening, and the registrar is willing to bend over backward to help students design a programme that works for them) and by the emphasis on community and collaboration with other students. The Elliott School struck me, though, as a school undergoing a bit of an identity crisis: their capstone project was a fairly new addition, but it indicates that they're moving in about the same direction I am, more toward the professional world and away from the academic. I got the feeling that I would be quite at home there - the only problem I can see at this point is the cost, both of the school and of the dreaded Washington living expenses.

Anyway, here are some photos of DC and the GWU campus:

The train station at Fort Totten, DC Metro red line

The Elliott School of International Affairs itself, on E street in Foggy Bottom

The General himself - or rather, a statue of him - on GW's quad

Two of the necessities of life: food (at GW Deli, above) and drink (at Quigley's Pharmacy / Tonic, below), though there is of course food and drink elsewhere in DC

I'm continuing to read Dr Johnson's The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia and should be done before I head off to GSPIA in Pittsburgh, at which point I intend to pick up Bishop Gore's commentary on the Epistle to the Romans for fun-reading. Classes are going well; just got my second paper assignment for micro, which involves reading a soft sci-fi novella by Frederik Pohl. Seems like some this month's going to be fairly fiction-heavy...

In the meanwhile, onward to Pittsburgh! I'll try to be better about photos this time, but I don't think I can promise much. And then after I come back, I'll have some very hard decisions to make...

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