The last time I walked around Foggy Bottom, most people didn’t care about the debt ceiling, and everyone still had a lame looking GWorld. There was only a bit of cement in the giant hole across from GW Hospital – not a Whole Foods and a posh apartment complex.
If you couldn’t guess, I’m describing the world of a year and a half ago.
But even though I’ve been on a Foggy Bottom hiatus, GW never failed to follow me while I was abroad. And though I’m excited to be home, I can’t help but find myself feeling a little like a foreigner in a land I used to know so well.
My mixed feelings stem from the starkly different academic environment I was a part of last year at the University of Oxford. Everything about Oxford, from the environment to the attire, was a departure from the life I had at GW.
I’ve had no J Street or all-nighters or copious amounts of Gelman Starbucks for a very long time. I have, however, had to write two 2,000-word essays a week, Harry Potter-esque views from my window and a gown to wear atop my shirt and tie at dinner. I drank with my professor because, hey, at Oxford, 4:30 p.m. is totally a justifiable time to open up a bottle with your teacher.
With this alternate campus reality, it would have been easy to dissociate from GW while I was away, but I ended up acting more like a GW ambassador while I was there. Sure, it helps I have still had to pay GW tuition (and then some) to remind myself (and my parents) I am still a Colonial.
But beyond that, the Colonial Inauguration brainwashing has finally started to pay off. I was always proud to say I’m from GW whether I was in my adopted home of Oxford or traveling to places like Vietnam, Morocco and Iceland.
Because of this, I thought re-acclimating myself to GW would be a breeze. But as I return to life in Foggy Bottom, I’m starting to feel the effects of my time away.
I have been confounded by a new course numbering system and class registration – even more so because transferring credits has been a pain, even though GW loves promoting its study abroad program.
I’ve also been told I won’t be viewed favorably by scholarship committees because I spent a year away from campus, which meant I didn’t contribute to GW.
It is a strange feeling to seem so out of touch with the place I called home while so far away.
But in my return, I have come to realize that, despite my grumbles about the leviathan that is The George Washington University, something really does happen here.
GW is always evolving and transforming, but that change happens so rapidly that it takes time away from campus to truly realize it. The University's chameleon-like qualities make GW perfectly suited for a student body so keen on studying abroad.
Now that I am in Foggy Bottom, I look forward to sharing the lessons I learned at Oxford about life, educational differences and how strange England can be, in the same way I have shared GW with the world for the past year.
And at last, at least, I can finally say, “I’m home.”
Andrew Pazdon, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.