Friday, February 16, 2018

Student Life: My Winter Break

Now that school is back in session, we asked one of our student bloggers to share about their winter break experience. Read about Konstantinos' winter break as an international student who decided to spend his break in the US.

If you ask SAIS students what is the best time of the year, probably all 600 of them would give you the same answer: winter break! And there are multiple reasons for this! SAIS Winter break lasts usually six weeks, starting from mid-December until the end of January, when classes resume. Besides the fact that the winter break lasts for so long, it is also important to remember that it comes right after the Fall Semester finals, which means students do not have to worry about upcoming exams or deadlines. Of course, it's a great opportunity to improve your network, look out for employment opportunities, or draft your resumes and cover letters. Nevertheless, most of SAIS students see the winter break as a good chance to travel around the world or to go back home to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve with their friends and relatives.

As an international student and a newcomer to the US, I decided to take advantage of the winter break and explore more places around the country. Instead of traveling six thousand miles back to Europe, I spent Christmas and New Year's Eve with my cousin and her family in Boston. It was a trip I will never forget, as it turned out that I picked the coldest days of the last two decades to visit New England. Coming from Southern Europe, the coldest I had ever experienced was slightly below 0 temperatures (at the Celsius climax). During my stay at Boston, the "cyclone bomb" was in "full fury," bringing the temperature down to -15 degrees Celsius. The level of snow was way above 2 feet and made every attempt to walk or drive extremely difficult. However, for me, it was a great experience since I had never seen anything similar before.

Having spent a week in Boston, I came back to DC for a couple of days before heading to New York City. A very close friend of mine, with whom I spent four years together as undergraduate students would come to visit me in the US. We decided to meet in New York as it would be his first time in the US. Five days were enough for us to see almost every significant landmark of the city, and much more. Although the weather was still pretty cold, it was nothing compared to Boston.

After one well-spent week in NY, it was time to return to DC. There were two weeks left before classes resume and I believe I haven't walked more in my life than I did during those two weeks. DC might be smaller than New York, but there is still a lot to do. I had to show my friend not just the famous Washington Monument and the Capitol, but also less touristic neighborhoods such as Georgetown and Columbia Heights. It is safe to say that you can see pretty much everything DC has to offer (and more than once) in fifteen days. I can definitely say that being a tourist in DC is much more fun than being a student and part-time employee at the same time! There are so many hidden spots to eat, drink, or visit that your daily routine prevents you from discovering during the semester. Moreover, catching up with friends from home is always good when you are from it. It felt like I had gone back home for three weeks!

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Konstantinos Koutsantonis 
(MA, Euopean and Eurasian Studies)
Konstantinos Koutsantonis is currently a second-year MA student at SAIS concentrating in European and Eurasian Studies. Originally from Greece, he is currently focusing on national security issues and more specifically on cyber-security and illegal migration.