Guest Blog: Jacob

**We’ve asked our newest staff member, Jacob LaViolet, to briefly introduce himself through a guest post on the blog.**The Capitol at night

Hi everyone! I’m Jacob, Undergraduate Programs Assistant in the College of Letters & Science here at UC Santa Barbara. Prior to moving west and starting with UCSB, I spent three years working for the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., first as the office manager/intern coordinator, and later as the social media coordinator.

While not a UC graduate, I still had the opportunity to intern in D.C. through a similar program at my university, and it allowed me to get hands-on experience at an NGO that was invaluable in helping me secure my first job. So, if you’re considering participating in UCDC but are on the fence, I would highly recommend it! The opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital is an experience different from any other and will provide you with countless learning opportunities. It can be a great stepping stone from transitioning out of life at the university and into life in the workforce. You will have the chance to network, explore and learn with an incredibly diverse and talented group of people, and the opportunities for advancement in D.C. are endless.

Regardless of which quarter you decide to go to D.C., you will find no shortage of things to do or people to do them with. Whether you’re exploring the Smithsonian museums, the monuments or D.C.’s many delicious food spots, there really is something for everyone in this incredible city.

Please don’t hesitate to drop by the UCDC office in North Hall 2110 to discuss any questions you might have about UCDC, internships or life in the capital – my door is always open!

Chuckin’ Up Them Deuces

The time has come to pack my bags and head back to what I figured would be the best weather in the country, thank you Pineapple Express Storm, you’re really killing the vibe. This week I broke a heel at work as well as found my god given talent: packing. I’m not kidding I managed to pack an entire Tempurpedic mattress topper in the bottom half of a suitcase. Considering putting it as a skill on my resume, that’s how impressive it was. And while on the topic of packing some advice for incoming students to UCDC, especially those from Santa Barbara:

  • You do not need crop tops. It is far too cold and people will stare at you as if you were an alien.
  • Pack rain boots and an umbrella. And when the forecast says it’s going to rain, even if it is just a 10%, you take those rain boots and umbrella to work. I learned this lesson the hard way when I thought a 20% chance of rain was a joke only to walk out of the Hart Senate building at 5pm to torrential downpour. If looking like you just took a shower in a suit is the new cool thing to do, let me tell you, I owned it.
  • Do not jump on the beds out of pure excitement when you first enter your dorm room. Another hard lesson my roommate and I learned when I nearly broke my hip the first day. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating, but there is a Bed, Bath, & Beyond right off the Galley Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Red Line that has fairly priced mattress toppers. WORTH IT.
  • Girls: You don’t need what I would consider as “Vegas” or Downtown SB dresses. I brought far too many only to send them home when I realized I would look extremely out of place in the bar scene here. East coast vs. West coast style is very different so head over to J Crew and leave your ripped jeans and Doc Marten’s in California. White House Black Market, Anne Taylor, and Nordy’s are your new best friends when it comes to the ever looming suit hunt. Get it done stat in case you have to get them altered.
  • Bring pictures. There were so many times throughout the quarter when I would feel a little homesick that I was thankful to have pictures of my best friends and family covering my room.
  • A correction to one of my previous posts: Ethernet cords are no better than the Wi-Fi itself. Accept the fact that the UCDC internet is a troll now and you’ll be less likely to be disappointed upon your arrival. But don’t you fret, there is a Starbucks, book store, and multiple cafes in walking distance so as long as it’s not snowing (god speed winter term students), you’ll be fine.

The UCDC center is in the middle of DuPont, the nicest neighborhood you may ever live in. The distance it is from just about anything is extremely convenient. And for my last demands: Go to the US Botanical Gardens right in front of the Capitol and next to the Smithsonian American Indian Museum. It’s hands down one of my favorite places in DC. AND go to Bub and Pops and get the Fried PB&J. If you don’t I’ll be personally offended, that’s how good it is.

And now for my final farewell! UCDC has opened doors for me that I never thought were possible. Coming here I thought my life was going in one direction, but it turns out that just because you think you’re meant to be one thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what you’re supposed to do. UCDC taught me to explore options, take every opportunity with full enthusiasm, and expand on whatever you already thought you knew. If you come to DC with a closed mind thinking that whatever your parents engrained in your head growing up or whatever you friends told you to think is right is the universal truth, you are setting yourself up for a hard time. Being an open listener in a city with opinions and public policies and draws between party lines flying at you from all angles is not an easy task, but it is an important part of what I’ve learned here. The class I took, Washington Media, was taught by one of the most enthusiastic and passionate professors I have ever had the honor to take a class from. Not going to lie, I shed a tear on my final commute to work this morning. I’ll miss DC, but I’m beyond excited to get back to IV for my senior year and to move in to my ocean side home with 13 of the best gals I know. DC has definitely made me more of a “yes man” and to all that travel to study here at UCDC in the future I hope it has the same effect on you that it has had on me. Peace out for now DC, you’ll be seeing me in the future!


photo 1

Less than a Month Left

With less than a month left here in DC, I am finding myself scrambling to find enough time to get everything I would like to do before I leave done. There are so many things that I would like to do and see before I return back to California.  And I’m currently just trying to figure out how to squeeze them in between all the last minute events, interning and papers.

However this past week I did manage to get a day off from my internship and spend four days and three nights in New York City. I went the past weekend, in which Veteran’s Day fell on Tuesday (November 11th) and was able to get the Monday before off. I headed off to the Big Apple and had an amazing time! [Btw: I got my tickets for the MegaBus a month in advanced and only paid $7 round-trip]. I had a longtime friend who is currently living in NY so that took care of most of the details, including  where to stay and how to get around as well as what to do, so my trip was pretty smooth. She showed me around and not just to the big tourist spots but also to the smaller boroughs and hole-in-the-walls that give the city so much character. From taking the ferry to Staten Island and seeing the Statue of Liberty to seeing live music in the lower eastside, my experience was nothing short of what I expected. On my last night we went to a bar where I ran into a former co-worker and friend from UCSB. It was such a pleasant surprise coming across another Gaucho on the other side of the country. We really are spread out everywhere!Photo 4

Upon arriving back to DC from NY my friend and I still had time to make it to the Veteran’s Day Concert of Valor. Photo 5It was an incredible free concert put on by the city to honor those who served.  It was a crazy turn out with hundreds of thousands of people coming out to the National Mall to support and hear the once in a life time line up. Despite not being able to see the actual stage the national mall was lined with huge screen that made it possible for everyone to see what was going on. It was a great time full of inspiration, great music and an overwhelming sense of pride.

Some more suggestions on making the most of your time in DC:

  • Plan ahead and write things down. Know what things you absolutely HAVE to do and see before you leave and plan dates to do them. Write them down – my roommates and I use post-its above our desk as a constant reminder.
  • Planning ahead also allows you to give your internship proper notice so it doesn’t seem like you are irresponsible. Try to figure out any time off you may need early, it’s a lot more professional and way easier when both of you know in advance.
  • If you’re like a majority of us, your internship will be unpaid and you will have to rely on your financial aid, savings or parents and other family to provide funding while you’re here. Plan ahead and try to keep a weekly budget.
  • Almost the entire city of DC follows the federal holiday calendar. Try to plan trips and extended excursions around holidays, it just makes the most sense.

A Midterm Report

Get it? Because I’m halfway through my time in DC and the midterm elections just occurred?? Laughing to myself because play on words… but really where has the time gone?

Something I learned very quickly upon moving out of California and starting my internship on the Hill was that the rest of the world could care less about what the surf is like in Huntington Beach and what Hollywood stars are going to be spotted in LA for afternoon lunch. I must say, while I would consider myself far from ignorant or oblivious, living in Washington is like waking up every morning to a big slap in the face by this thing called reality.

People like John Stewart and Stephen Colbert shed light on the humorous side of all things ranging from political to social to economic issues and most people I know from home get their daily dose of politics from Buzzfeed. While all of these are completely legitimate sources, I have read more actual newspapers (like big shocker to some Millennials that they actually still print newspapers) while in DC than in my entire 21 years growing up in California. I am currently working in the press office as part of my internship, and being exposed to papers like The NY Times, The Washington Post, and Politico on a daily basis has changed my perception of reality for the better.

One thing that isn’t necessarily spelled out for you when you apply for UCDC is the amount of common knowledge and current events intellect that you will pick up on your time spent living in DC. On every corner there is someone selling a newspaper. At every metro stop there are signs with an ad recruiting support from NGOs, activist groups, and lobbyists. It is unescapable and honestly, I don’t think I would try to escape it even if it were possible.

The vast range of political ideologies and opinions people hold in DC opens up a new world into the way I have learned to process my own political thoughts. For the sake of being politically correct, and for not alarming my extremely conservative grandfather, I would have to say that living in DC has made what I thought were my political party allegiances more watered down and in the grey area. Everyone here has an argument for why their view is better than the opposing, and the majority of them are passionate people who know full-well the background of the issue they are taking a stance on, and have formulated arguments void of ignorance that really just make sense.

While the midterm election may have put the legislative and executive powers on opposite sides of the party defined lines, I think the forbidden word of “compromise” is going to need to be thrown around quite a bit more if anything is to get done during Obama’s fleeting years in office. Who knows, it may good for America to get a little dose of vitamin GOP back in its life as long both parties are able to meet in the middle on issues like immigration, LGBT rights, and the ever pending threat of Ebola and ISIS.

In other news, the leaves are turning beautiful shades of red and orange, and the fall weather is starting to kick in. As long as I don’t see an extensive amount of snow during my time here I think I’ll survive the 30 degree weather… maybe.

Fall Leaves anf the Washington Monument


It’s Finally Fall

These past couple of weeks have been some of the most memorable thus far. For starters some of my sorority sisters flew in from California to hang out and spend time and attend Howard’s homecoming. Howard was the first university established for African American students in the nation, right after the Civil War, and also home to the founding of our illustrious organization. We had a great time all weekend networking and attending the many events put on by the students at the school. It was quite a different experience from being at UCSB as it is a much smaller university and you definitely can feel the difference as it seems like all of the students literally know each other.  It was a wonderful chance to experience what football culture is like at a college and I think maybe UCSB should consider tailgates as part of our soccer pre-game rituals!sorority

The following week the core seminar I am taking which focuses on the Media’s role in Washington, took our class on a field trip to the Newseum. The Newseum is one of the few museums in DC that charges an entrance fee but it is definitely more than worth the cost. Not only do you get a two day pass but the museum is huge and full of interesting exhibits that range in topic from historical events such as the Civil Rights Movement and 9/11 to a Hall of Front pages which is updated daily and features the front page of a major new source from each state in the country. The Newseum has easily become one of my personal favorite museums. Newseum

This past week was filled with excitement at the center as we were given the chance to speak with Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This was the chance of a lifetime and while some students were a little disappointed in her talking points, I greatly enjoyed how candid and engaging she was as she spoke about everything from what initially sparked her interest in law to the greatest advice she every received which happened to come from her mother-in-law. Justice Ginsburg was careful as she spoke but open and honest about her opinions and positions and still considers herself an ardent feminist and has no intention of stepping down early. She fully embraces her fan given title “Notorious RBG” and even gifts shirts possessing the name.RBG

This week was also a first for the weather as temperatures have finally dipped below 50 degrees. Nevertheless fall in DC is absolutely gorgeous as the leaves have changed and fallen from the branches and coated the capital in a beautiful tint of orange and green. So while I do miss the warm California sun, fall in DC is definitely a new favorite of mine.

Museums, Monuments, and Memorials

While I must agree that taxpayer dollars are not always used in the most beneficial ways, the one thing I would never oppose coming out of the check I get at the end of every week of my unpaid internship (jokes) is the funding to light up the National Mall every night. The Mall is everything that represents why the US of A lets freedom ring on a daily basis. If the weather were to not to be growing colder with every passing day, I would spend every night watching the sun go down behind Pentagon City and the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflecting Pool that covers the area between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial takes in the light of the setting sun and displays a mirror image of the sky at dusk. This may be a shock to some of the residents of IV, but the DC sunsets definitely rival your polluted Instagram feeds of cotton candy colored skies. And while on the subject of IV, I’m starting to deeply miss Hana Kitchen and Kaptain’s Mac… and my friends, I guess I miss you guys too. Hi Everyone!

rachael sunset washington monument

A review on the museums, monuments, and memorials I have spent time at thus far:

The Newseum: Located on Pennsylvania Avenue right across from the National Archives. If you have the time, and are willing to pay upwards of $10-15 then definitely go check it out. I was lucky enough to go in for free with my class, Media and Politics (which is one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken and I highly suggest it if you are studying at UCDC), but if you are not in the class ask for a student discount and it will take the $20 ticket down by half. The Pulitzer Prize winning hall of photographs was both moving and amazing. Everything in that hall is iconic, and you would be surprised at how many photos you automatically recognize. There is a small theater with a short film on the press coverage of 9/11 (be prepared to cry) with a beautiful dedication to those we lost that day. There are also halls of old newspapers ranging from anything having to do with Buffalo Bill and the Wild West to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also displayed are portions of the Berlin Wall and an exhibit of the dogs of the First Families throughout the years (my roommate and I were quite upset Barney Bush was not featured since he is one of the most legendary). Located on the sixth floor is also a patio that gives a good Insta opportunity of the Capitol building.Rachael and friend at newseum

*Also speaking of student discounts, my newly learned advice from this week is to ask for a student discount whenever and wherever you go. DC loves its students and there is never harm in asking*

The Natural History Museum (Smithsonian): Located on the National Mall, this museum is one of the most interesting of the Smithsonians. While I did not spend crazy amounts of time in the animal exhibits, because who wants to see stuffed animals when you can go to the National Zoo (also a Smithsonian) that is right on the other side of town, I did spend a lot of time in the gemstone and ancient artifacts exhibits. The Hope Diamond resides in this museum and it is beyond worth it to check it out. There are also exhibits of ancient Egyptian mummies and relics as well as a walk through butterfly exhibit.

National Mall Monuments: Walk the Mall! It takes about 2.5-3 hours so wear comfortable shoes. The best way I found to do it was to take the Metro to the Smithsonian stop and walk through the middle of the Mall itself, hang right to check out the Vietnam Memorial, go back towards Lincoln, head through the Korean War Memorial, and walk around the Tidal Basin passing through the MLK, FDR, and Jefferson Monuments, ending back on the other side walking past the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the Washington Monument and heading back towards the White House which is only a few blocks away from the Washington Center.

Washington Monument – Go to the top. While I have yet to be to the top of this towering obelisk this trip because my office is scheduled for the National Interior Monuments tour later in November, I have been up to the top before and it is one of the best sites of DC.

World War II Memorial – One of the most well thought out memorials on the Mall. The design has both Atlantic and Pacific towers on either side as well as pillars for each of the 50 states including territories and districts. There are scriptures on the walls surrounding a fountain in the middle and on one side of the wall there are hundreds of gold stars that represent hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought in WWII. There are engravings of all the battles surrounding the smaller fountains on each side as well as massive statues in each of the Atlantic and Pacific towers. Take the time to read the scriptures on the walls, and take a tissue *commence feels*.

Lincoln Memorial – I would also take the time to read the engravings on the walls inside the Lincoln Memorial. They consist of some of his most famous speeches including the Gettysburg Address. After you stand in awe at the statue of the man, the myth, the Lincoln himself and get your snap chats out to everyone in your contact list that is sick of your snaps of iconic places around DC, take a seat on the steps of the monument and people watch. While I was there I saw a pre-law fraternity give their pledge oaths and many a type of people from all over the world come through the pillars of the memorial of America’s favorite top hat wearing, slavery abolishing president.

War Memorials – Both the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials are also worth checking out. I advise seeing both of these during the day though if possible. By the time I got around to them on my night time stroll, they were dark and hard to read the inscriptions.

MLK Jr. and FDR Memorial – These both lie on the edge of the Tidal Basin. I was surprised at how amazing the MLK Jr. Memorial was because I feel like it is one of the least talked about, but it was one of the most impressive in my opinion. They managed to carve him out of stone with some of his most famous quotes of hope and aspirations for civil rights into the walls surrounding him. The FDR Memorial is further on your way to the Jefferson Memorial and is worth stopping by. It is a longer maze sort of structure and the builders even gave shout outs to his dog Fala and wife Eleanor, both part of the A team during the Roosevelt Administration.

AND FINALLY the Jefferson Memorial – Positioned on the furthest side of the Tidal Basin possible, bordering Virginia, the Jefferson Memorial is a structure like that to the National Archives. It is a dedication to one of our country’s Founding Fathers and is an architectural feat. Quick warning, if you go there at night you are bound to see red foxes on the side of the basin as well as cruising around the Jefferson Memorial. While they are cute enough to pet, I’m sure they have rabies or something so let them do their thing and be on your way.

Till next time,


My One Month Anniversary in DC

Hello again,

I honestly can’t believe how fast time is passing. Its officially been one month since I’ve arrived and I’m having the time of my life to say the least. I am really learning a lot at my internship and have had the chance to get a real feel and I can really say that I love it. I’m gaining a lot of hands on experience and enjoy the professional yet friendly work environment. The attorneys in the office really work as a team and have made me as well as the other interns really feel like we are a part of that team.

As with everywhere else in the nation it is prime time for Midterm election campaigning and of course it hits DC in a big way. Because I work for the district’s Attorney General and this is the first year they are not going to have a mayoral appointment I was fortunate enough to sit in on a closed panel and meet all of the candidates running for the position.

Last week I had the chance to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was one of the most humbling and somber experiences I’ve had in a long time. It’s a really beautiful museum with a multitude of exhibits that definitely requires a half of day to be able to take in and see everything. I would personally dedicate a day to each museum especially the ones that are a part of the Smithsonian Institute and other free ones.Photo 1

Here are some of my first month tips and tricks:

* Always have an umbrella! Rain is frequent and varies between a light sprinkle to a very heavy pour.

* READ, READ, READ! There are signs and posters and flyers everywhere. Reading could be the difference from getting on the wrong train, walking down the wrong street, and ending up in a completely different neighborhood or missing out on a great opportunity.

* Talk to people. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make connections and gain new friends!

* Have fun! Work life balance becomes important. Besides work and school there are so many things to do at any moment. Plan ahead but also be flexible and accept on the spot invitations.