Monday, July 23, 2012

On to the Next!

Today will be my second and last day in Washington D.C. Its actually kind of sad that we have to leave this place after becoming so accustomed to the area. We started the day early in order to get the most out of it. 

Chilling with the president's... lawn. 

We headed on towards Georgetown University by foot. It wasn't too far of a walk but the lack of food made the conditions worse. When we arrived at Georgetown, I couldn't help but notice the beauty of the architecture. We had an information session and tour that lasted about an hour long. Afterwards we caught a shuttle and went straight to the Museum of American History and the National Archives. I was able to see the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution! I find it amazing that after so many years of hearing and reading about these national documents, I get to see it with my very own eyes. It's still hard to believe and I feel as if my brain hasn't processed it yet. I never knew that they were available for the public to see. I always imagined that it was much more isolated and secretive. After that, time was closing in on us, so we rushed on back to the hotel.

The wine was delicous with the steak.
Just kidding.
We arrived at 1789, a fine and lovely restaurant, around 6:15 p.m. Soon after, all the guests arrived and we began the dinner. Here I met several undergraduate and graduate students from Georgetown. The international studies offered there were interesting. A concentration of that major was in the environmental field. Little did I know, this restaurant was renown in D.C. I realized that after someone mentioned that the prime minister of Haiti was just up the stairs from us. He had his body guards blocking the entrance to his VIP room and secret service agents outside the restaurant along with two patrol cops. How cool was it to be able to eat literally 15 feet away from him? By the end of the dinner, my stomach was filled way beyond its capacity.

I would say my trip in D.C has been lovely. I certainly would like to come back here again but not during the summer! The whole day was packed with fun things to do and the night ended with a bang. I really should be sleeping but it's still hard to adjust my sleep patterns. Leaving D.C  on to the next!

Skull & Bones 3

Georgetown info session at 10:30, followed by tour at 11:05. What a great place Georgetown is for those who want to learn how to pull the levers of power; what an excellent place to learn, to learn how to apply that learning, and to walk out with a resume that proves it. (But more on that below.)

After the tour, we catch the hotel shuttle back to the hotel, and take the 32 bus to the Mall: White House, check.

The American History Museum is our first stop, a real winner with the kids. I let them lead me through all the dioramas and scratch’n’sniff exhibits, all the while wondering about the future of American civilization; but hey, who am I to wonder. And the exhibits are, when one gets right down to it, engaging and informative, despite, or because of—Einstein would agree—their childish gestalt.

Then it’s on to the Archives, which are cool if one has time, which we didn’t. Besides, the Declaration and the Constitution do not get their gravitas from the age of the paper on which they were originally written.
The lunch counter that launched the liberation of African Americans

36 bus (and nap), back to hotel, to get all gussied up for dinner at 1789 Restaurant. 1789, by the way, is the date of the official founding of Georgetown University, by free-thinking Jesuits. (I know, I know; but look it up, if you have to ask.)

Speaking (tangentially) of Jesuits, “The Exorcist” was filmed at Georgetown, and we have stood on the steps to prove it.

The famous steps are across the street from 1789 Restaurant, where we had fantastic food, and the even more fantastic company of Sean Redmond, Matt Talvacchia, Clara Gustafson, Kara Brandeisky, Vail Kohnert-Yount, Alex Bodaken, and Jake Sticka.

What did I get out of it, besides the irreparable yearning to be young and beautiful again? This is what I learned: Georgetown is the place to learn to do work that matters, in any and (almost) every field of endeavor, by way of internships, in the halls of power, which are only a mile or so away.
P.S. On the taxi ride back to the hotel, Tanya asked a question, which I will roughly paraphrase here: why go to all the expense of wining and dining us and guests? Couldn’t the money be spent in more worthwhile endeavors for the students of our district? (Give it up to Georgetown: it is the university’s intense focus on social consciousness and good works, reiterated in the info sessions, on tour, and by the former and current students at dinner, that gave Tanya the courage to speak up.)
I left the answer to her question up to our cab driver. His explanation was two-fold: 1. practically speaking, you have to learn how to be comfortable in the trappings of power (the Prime Minister of Haiti happened to be dining in the next room); and 2. person-to-person connections are everything; and therefore, compared to the value of your acceptance into and matriculation from a school like Georgetown (and into the halls of power, perhaps), the money spent on this dinner is an excellent investment.

So, two angels: Tanya, for asking, and the cabbie, for answering.

It Begins!

Today started relatively early for me - I woke up at 8:30. We got a quick breakfast in a locally owned coffee shop (which looked exactly like Starbucks) and made our way to Georgetown University for our information session and tour.

Personally, I think Georgetown University is one of the prettiest colleges I have seen. With its brick walls and castle-themed buildings, I could not help but connect Georgetown to Hogwarts. The information session and tour were both extremely informative because we learned a lot of fun facts about the school that we did not know before. Overall, other than the fact that Georgetown does not have an engineering school, I really liked the ambiance of the college.
View from one of Georgetown's dorms

After the tour, we took a cab back to the Mall to see everything that we did not yesterday, including the White House and the Supreme Court. We also went to the Archives and Museum of American History. Overall, we walked around for about three hours before returning to the hotel in time to get ready for our dinner with Georgetown students and faculty member.
White House!

We made our way to 1789, which is possibly the most lavish restaurant that I have gone to. My cohort and I had no problem talking to the representatives from Georgetown, as they were all extremely friendly and willing to answer all of our questions. I liked that they told us a lot about student life and other things on top of the academic aspect to Georgetown.

After such a long day, my cohort and I were extremely happy when our food arrived. To begin, we got a variety of bread, all of which were completely delicious.
Next, we had our appetizers. I got soup (the best tasting one that I've ever had).
We then got our main course. I had the mushroom-filled crepe.
Finally, we got dessert. Mine was a variation of Smores and ice cream.

Overall, regardless of how tiring the day was, I thoroughly enjoyed all the aspects to it. Attending the Georgetown tour and the dinner with the Georgetown representatives was so informative in so many ways, and touring DC with my cohort was fun and educational.

This is just the beginning...?

I couldn't sleep last night. I haven't slept in the past few nights. Whether it is due to my own scheduling or my growing anticipation over Yale, I couldn't sleep. Then I boarded the flight and sleep became far too enticing.
We prepare for the five-hour trek East.
Nevertheless, I am overwhelmed with the fact that I am currently here, in the Georgetown Holiday Inn in Washington, D.C., blogging about my first day on the trip. We certainly did not waste any time. There was much nostalgia here -- my very first trip away from home and from my parents was a one-week program to Washington. I had not been here for five years. That is why I felt a strange sense of overwhelming nostalgia.

But I am getting ahead of myself. We arrived in El Cerrito today, weary from endless reams of text and strategy, but ready to take on Yale. Don wished each of us well and sent us out.

My first real Turkish food.
After a few stopovers, passing out and waking up only to pass out more, we finally made our way to Washington, D.C. Mr. Litvin immediately found us a cab to the hotel, and we were on our way.
Roger and I in front of one of the many inscriptions on the World War II memorial.
Once we got to the hotel, we dropped our bags and began to explore the area. Mr. Litvin's brother-in-law had worked for the State Department, allowing Mr. Litvin to have strong familiarity with the area. He brought us to several of the sights around the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean Memorial, the National Archives, and the Capitol.
The Martin Luther King Jr. looks out over the waters of Washington.

The perfect reflection of the Washington Monument in what is left of the reflecting pool.
Roger and I took great pictures of a bird at sunset.
Having traversed the majority of the mall, we finally decided to relax for a bit and find the nearest eatery. Getting food was the hardest thing to do, as food venues were not common around the mall. We finally found a great barbeque place around the area, and we had a brilliant dinner outside in the night.

It's strange to be here, re-living memories and creating new, great ones. I had absolutely no idea how this trip was going to start, and I have to say, looking back at it, it was a wonderful adventure. It served as a nice introduction to our traveling week, and as a moment of happiness before the hard work really begins.

If this is just the beginning, I can't wait to see what happens next.
A very artsy photo of the Capitol.