By Sophie Donnelly [Georgetown University, Washington D.C.]
Almost three whole months into my year abroad in Georgetown and I finally feel like I’m getting into the swing of things here on the Hilltop! The endless slew of midterms and essays have finally died down before Thanksgiving this Thursday, but final exams in mid-December are looming on the horizon so – true to Georgetown form – the work never stops! Nonetheless, there have been plenty of opportunities in the last couple of weeks to get out and enjoy the absolutely beautiful weather and sights of autumn in DC.
However, it would be remiss of me to continue without mentioning the incredible events of last week’s election, and the fallout both on campus and in the US as a whole. It is a much-vaunted Georgetown tradition to “run to the White House” (read: UberPool to the White House) on election night, to join the massing students from DC’s many universities in a midnight celebration of the newly elected president, the great democratic process, American idealism… all that jazz. Needless to say, following the election of Donald Trump, things played out a lot differently.
Of the few students that did participate in the White House run, the vast majority went to protest and seek solidarity with the masses gathered there proclaiming “Not Our President”. I myself trudged back to my room at around 2am, passing students already chalking out messages of solidarity and resistance on the bricks of one of the main quads on campus. The days immediately after the election could only be described as surreal- many lecturers cancelled classes and exams, emails were circulated from Georgetown’s President and administration preaching about the need for “unity” and “restraint”, while connecting students to on-campus chaplains and counselling services. It wasn’t uncommon to encounter students teary-eyed or weeping on the way to class. Although the despairing mood has lifted somewhat in the last week, tensions both on and off campus are still extremely high, and morale in Georgetown is quite low, as the entire college community begins to come to terms with the fact that we are all living in a country that is vastly different from the one we believed it to be.
With all the excitement, and consequent devastation, surrounding the election last week, there has been scarcely little time to devote to schoolwork and extra-curriculars in the past while. As I mentioned, the pace of midterm exams has been fairly constant since mid-October, and considering the fact that finals will be just around the corner after my return from Thanksgiving break, there is scarcely any let-up in the stream of exams, assessments, and deadlines expected when taking five classes here. That said, the grading rubrics used by professors and TA’s when marking exams tend to lean on the generous side, and it doesn’t require a superhuman level of effort to maintain quite decent grades overall.
I have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend a few weekends away on trips around the greater DC region, be it hiking in the Shenandoah Valley, or visiting a friend in Northern Virginia this weekend for a thanksgiving meal. The weather for the past few weeks has luckily been just spectacular- sunny but fairly crisp- which is perfect for strolls down by the Georgetown waterfront, sightseeing on the National Mall, or even just lounging about on the lawn before class.
Thanksgiving this week will see a mass exodus of students from campus for the first time all semester, as Hoyas fly back home for a five-day stretch of (from what I can gather about this much-loved national holiday) just eating. I will be braving the mean freeways of the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday (which has been touted by my fretful IR professor as “the busiest travel day of the year”) to travel up to New York City, where I will be spending a few days with friends from Trinity and getting a much-needed break from the hectic life of a Georgetown student. Needless to say, I can’t wait. After that, Christmas will fly in, and I am already looking forward to travelling home to catch up with my friends and family before embarking on another five months of life on The Hilltop.