Nicole Wolkov, '17, and friends attend a Senate Hearing on America’s military presence in Africa.

FRESHMAN FOCUS: Nicole Wolkov, ’17, attends speeches by international diplomats at George Washington University

(Photo used by permission of Wolkov)
Nicole Wolkov, ’17 (second from left), and friends attend a Senate hearing on several topics, including America’s military presence in Africa.

Nicole Wolkov, ‘17, is an international affairs and Russian major at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C.


Q: What classes are you taking this semester?

A: I am taking Intro to International Affairs, Intermediate Russian, University Writing and Microeconomics.


Q: What are your favorite classes?

A: I really like my Russian class, mostly because it is small and the professor is good. International Affairs is also interesting, but I don’t like that it doesn’t go deeply into topics. It stays broad because it is an intro course.


Q: What are your least favorite classes?

A: I really dislike Economics. First of all, I’m not that great at math. (Also) the professor isn’t the best. The TA, who is a doctoral student, is amazing, though, and has helped me learn much more than the professor.


Q: What are your class sizes?

A: International Affairs and Economics have 250 people in the lectures but also have much smaller discussion sessions afterwards with 17 people each. Russian and University Writing are small compared to I.A. and Econ with 17 people. The maximum for the writing class is 17.


Q: Have you joined any clubs?

A: I’m on the executive board for Young Americans for Liberty (the Libertarian organization on campus). Most people join either the College Democrats or the College Republicans. I go to events hosted by CR and College Dems too.  

Another society I am in is the George Washington for Israel club, which is a pro-Israel group of students at GW. WIIS (Women in International Security) is also really cool, and they have some cool speakers.


Q: Have there been any interesting speakers at GW?

A: Yes, GW brings in a lot of really cool speakers. I try to go to as many of them as possible. It does not matter what political side they are on; I find them all interesting.

The school I’m in, the Elliott School, has really good speakers. We had the defense minister of Estonia, Juri Luik, speak about what’s going on with Russian intervention in Eastern Europe. We have also had NATO general Dennis Mercier speak about NATO. There have been a lot of speakers on the Middle East.


Q: Who are your favorites?

A: There are too many to choose just one, but I have a few that I really loved.

The Swiss Embassy and head of Judaic studies at GW held a panel about Holocaust remembrance and education for Holocaust remembrance, which was very well done. We got served dinner afterwards, which was a plus.

(And) a Kazakh professor by the name of Sanat Kushkumbayev talked about the state of Islam in Central Asian states. He talked about how Islam has influenced the governments in the region and inspired a return of public piety (e.g. face veils). It was held in a small boardroom, and I was the only undergraduate student.

(Photo used by permission of Nicole Wolkov)
The view from the roof of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

Q: How is your dorm?

A: I live in a single dorm, and I really like it. I get a sink, but the bathroom and showers are communal.


Q: Did you transition well?

A: Yeah, it was easy. I had already done a college-level summer course at Bryn Mawr, so I knew generally what to expect from college life.


Q: How is the student body?

A: The overall tone of the students is very much “work hard, play hard.” People study and work in tons of internships and extracurriculars while also partying quite a bit. I never expected that someone who is such a crazy partier could also be such a good student.

My friends and I do not party like the other students; we are more quiet.


Q: Do you have any interesting stories?

A: There have been nine fire alarms in my building so far this year, which has been 12 weeks.

They are mostly started by freshmen who think they can cook in the communal kitchen but forget to open windows or turn on fans.

It happens so often that most people don’t want to leave now and only get out of the building reluctantly. I’m also really scared that I’ll be in the shower when (an alarm) goes off, so I have started taking very quick showers.

Since GW is in Washington, D.C., my friends and I went to the Senate hearing where Secretary of Defense (James) Mattis and Secretary of State (Rex) Tillerson testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


Q: Since you were on the Octagon, will you join the GW newspaper?

A: I thought about it, but the answer is no. It’s mostly because I’m doing other things with my time, such as going to speakers and other clubs.

One thing that splits the Octagon apart from the newspapers here is that the Octagon published more relevant articles. I don’t need to read the GW papers to know what’s going on, but the Octagon would tell me about the things I didn’t know.


Q: Do you have any tips for seniors?

A: Get to know your professors and TAs. They are incredibly helpful with your classes. At GW especially they have connections to research and internships.

Also, if you are going to take International Affairs, take Microeconomics and Macroeconomics in high school. I think they’d be easier in high school.

By Spencer Scott

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