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Aug 30, 2010

My U.S. Memoir: First Part

by Ayoush Al-Zaidy

We have come to the United States as a group of 50 Iraqi undergraduate students, as part of an exchange program that lasts for six weeks. Twenty five students are studying at the University of Massachusetts and 25 of us were at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.


We are from all around Iraq; I, for instance, am living in Suleimaniyah in Northern Iraq. We all got here on Sunday, June 27. We arrived at JFK airport in New York around midnight, and then got on a bus to Washington, DC. We got here during the night and from that moment on we spent all the nights outside.

The first night in DC was a bit challenging, because we reached the hotel at 5 a.m., and we woke up again at 9 a.m. We spent the days with a busy schedule assigned for us from the program’s supervisors. In the evening of the first day, we went on tours around DC, and during the night we walked all the streets around Palomar Hotel near DuPont Circle. We did not feel that we were tired or we had to get some rest. Whenever we were asked to go out again, everyone was ready within 15 minutes. We were so excited and we wanted to visit as much places as we could in order not to miss anyone of them.
The second night in DC was awesome. After finishing the welcoming session, we made a tour around the city. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House and the U.S. Congress. After this lovely tour, we went back to the hotel and then we went to a restaurant to eat delicious pizza. The United States during the night are just "wow." Again, we went back to the hotel, back out and walked until 4 a.m. We will never forget that night, because it was one of the most terrific nights in our lives.
A group of AUI-S students on an exchange program in U.S.
After four days, we came to Virginia.
The nights here are also something that cannot be fully explained. We went to the Artwalk on Broad Street, which is an event that takes place on the first Friday of each month. We saw many beautiful paintings from brilliant painters; also there was a musician who played music with his feet. But for the first time also something negative happened to us that really scared us. We saw a drunk, homeless man, who asked us for money. When we ignored him, he got mad and tried to hurt us. It made us all wonder about the safety in the United States. But the Art walk was still an amazing event to celebrate while being in Virginia.
The most impressive activity in Richmond so far was watching a special movie in a historical theater. We went to Byrd Theatre and watched Robin Hood. The movie was amazing, and we enjoyed every single moment in there. Inside the theater, they offer such delicious popcorn. The show began at 9:30 p.m. and finished at midnight. Hanging out in the streets of Richmond again, after watching an awesome movie, was an experience that cannot be practiced anywhere else.

Also, after two days, I went to the Extreme Theatre. There, I watched my favorite movie "Eclipse," which is the third edition of Twilight "The Saga." This was a great feeling.

The days are passing and the time is going on, and we are still enjoying the nights in the United States. In the first 10 days, we have all used the same expression, "It has never been late!" We are doing whatever we want, enjoying each moment, and experiencing these unforgettable nights."

Note: The Second part of Ayoush's memoirs is coming soon...


* Ayoush Al-Zaidy is an Information Technology Sophomore at the American Universtiy of Iraq-Sulaimani. She is an Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) Alumni.

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3 Comments: on "My U.S. Memoir: First Part"

Pola Kamal said...

first of all welcome back home. I am intersted in knowing what you have learned from your experince in the state. in part two, it would imperative that you include some of the things in your trip that has changed you. we will cherish your thoughts and your experince that defies description. thanks

Dana Jaf said...

Welcome back Ayoush. It seems you had a great time overseas. I also repeat Pola's suggestion to write about the lessons you got from the USA trip in your next articles. good luck

MAHDI ABDULLA said...

Welldone Ayoush!It is great to hear what you guys have done during your trip. I can't wait to read the second part of your artilce.

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