Student Blogger: Michaelyn

Annnd the first week is officially done! Congrats everyone, we’ve officially survived a whole week in the real world. (Well, sort of.) While most of us have started to settle into our new homes, workstations, and personal circles, an entire new chapter of our lives still waits to be unlocked here in DC. With internships ranging from the White House, to the DOD, to various NGOs, the participants of UCDC will slowly, but surely, begin to make their Californian mark on District soil.

So let’s start off by recapping the first week here. Students first navigated themselves from the airport to UCDC, took a good look at what would be their home for the next three months, and then unpacked what we had stuffed into our suitcases. Then (most) made a mad dash to the nearest Target to grab comforters, towels, pillows, and I’m sure at least one unnecessary item… (because who doesn’t love to get lost in Target only to stumble upon things they really don’t need, but think to themselves, “Hmm, this is pretty neat. Only $5? I’m sure I can find a use for this somewhere… Maybe.) From there, the traditional errands were carried out: finding the nearest grocery store, coffee shop, and CVS. Then, **small breath to relax** prepare yourself for your internship, classes, and yes, the arrival of the Pope.

Yea, the Pope. Well, what an amazing time to be a UCDC student. In real estate, it’s always about location, location, location. And boy, did we have location for his visit. At one point, the Pope was only a mere 0.2 miles away from our own front door, across the street at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Even if you stayed in your dorm, you were practically 2 minutes away from his mere presence. Then the Pope made his way around the East Coast, and sooner than we knew it he was gone. But then the Chinese President stopped by. And then we were blessed by a once-in-every-33-year “Supermoon.” Not to mention all those orientations. A lot seemed to be happening the first week at UCDC. And once we finally got a chance to take it all in, the week came to a close.

However, during this time, I was lucky enough to get my internship off due to the Pope’s visit. (Thanks man, I guess that whole “The Pope is Dope” saying really does apply here.) Since I didn’t need to come into my office until the following week, I made it my personal duty to try to accomplish everything I could within those 7 days. I wanted to explore, shop, try new food, as well as experience DC’s trademark nightlife. And let me just say– so far, DC has already surpassed my expectations.

DC food and architecture

From L-R: A Bub & Pop’s “Jewish Hoagie”, classic DC architecture and some empanadas from Julia’s Empanadas.

Exploring: **Whenever moving to a new city, I try to walk around as much as possible. It’s very easy to lose your bearings when you’re underground on the metro, so I tried to take it as minimally as possible.

First off, the architecture! Coming from the West Coast, I love seeing all the historic buildings that surround us. Walking from Dupont Circle to Adams Morgan, there are a ton of impressive homes. There are pops of color on almost every block, and the walk is quite enjoyable. Capitol Hill has some as well. However, Georgetown is my favorite neighborhood thus far. The brick, the lanterns, the trees–they all seem to do it for me.

Nam June Paik's "American Highway"

Nam June Paik’s “American Highway” 

I then explored around where the Nationals Stadium sits. A nearby park titled “Yard Park” boasts a beautiful view of the Potomac as well as a wonderful place to sit, read, and relax. About a fifteen minute walk from there is the Eastern Market, where people sell everything from fruits and vegetables, to jewelry, to paintings, to slightly strange refurbished denim outfits. This only happens on the weekends, but I would highly recommend. And beyond that the typical Mall walk was completed, exploring sites around the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Oh, and check out the Smithsonians if you can! The American Art museum has a really cool piece by Nam June Paik titled “American Highway.” Says a lot about American culture if you ask me. I would check it out.

Shopping: So far, Georgetown seems to be the spot. It has everything from Free People to Nike to Papersource (stationery geeks will love this spot). I also ventured out to Pentagon City which seems to have almost everything (including a regular Nordstrom), but will most likely not need to make the trip over there again unless I need something specific. Dupont has some great stores as well. Downtown if you want to do some business shopping, and Adams Morgan if you want some vintage. Seems to be that all around DC there are a ton of consignment and second hand store that tailor specifically to high end working attire labels, so if you’re interested in some good bargain finds, I would definitely check those out as well. Pretty much everywhere you go there’s some sort of shopping to be found, which is pretty convenient.

Food: Here, I’m just going to mention some of the places I have gone to for a quick lunch or bite to eat. From a friend’s personal tip, my first stop was Bub & Pop’s. Wow. This. Place. Is. Impressive. I ordered a half order (which was actually quite enormous) of their “Jewish Hoagie” that came with corned beef, roast turkey, brisket, salami, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard, thousand island, and was topped off with coleslaw. Honestly, it was pretty amazing. Overwhelming when first presented to me, but amazing. They also have a fried PB&J… (yea.) Julia’s Empanadas right around the block is also very tasty and they’re open late. Roti Mediterranean is basically like a Mediterranean Chipotle, which is great for a flavorful and quick bite to eat. Alberto’s Pizza has pizza slices bigger than your face and Ice Cream Jubilee has exceptional flavors such as Thai Ice Tea, Cold Brew Coffee, Gin & Tonic, and Mango Habanero. At Jubilee, the flavors constantly change, but I’m assuming they’re also constantly tasty.

Nightlife: I’m going to keep this short since this post has been so long, but DC’s “Art All Night” event was great. Around five different neighborhoods of DC (including Dupont Circle), many galleries were open where you could come on in, enjoy the art, talk to artists and curators, listen to live music, and even create your own art. That was an all around success. For more of the bar scene, almost every neighborhood surrounding us has something going on. U Street is lively, around Dupont is always packed, and I’ve heard Adams Morgan has a great scene as well. Wednesday nights: Madhatter’s $1 beers. Great rooftop bar: Point of View. Open late, a calmer experience: Kramerbooks & Afterwords.

Thanks for reading! And if you’re a sandwich lover, trust me– make that lunch trip to Bub & Pop’s.

Student Blogger: Laurie

My name is Laurie Browne. I am a senior at UC Santa Barbara majoring in Cultural Anthropology, and I will try my best to write interesting and entertaining blogs while here during the fall quarter. My family lives in the DC area, this was one of the main reasons I joined the UCDC program. The fall in DC is also the perfect time (in my opinion) to come to this city as the weather is not such a shocking difference. A little bit chilly on some days but the transition to the cutting cold of winter is softer, and the humidity of the summer has dissipated. Pretty soon the leaves will change colors and you will see many photos from me.

My first week at UCDC was a little bit nerve racking. I hadn’t secured an internship before arriving and by Thursday I was feeling anxious about it. After waiting for four days, on Friday I had secured an internship with my first choice, the World Affairs Council, thanks to our fabulous co-coordinators. It has all been a time to trust the process. The staff here and the other students are more than helpful and I really feel like I’m part of a supportive community, even though I have been kind of sticking to myself this week.

Moving to the city was a bit of a transition because I live in a beachside town where everyone knows everyone. In saying that, Washingtonians are very welcoming. The UCDC Facebook page is also helpful in meeting up with new friends and getting a heads up to different events that your fellow students are attending or organizing. There is so much going on in this city from music, art, grad school fairs, NGO informational nights, even a visit from the Pope. The Facebook page is a great form of communication with your neighbors to find events outside of the UCDC hosted meet and greet and if you need to borrow a corkscrew, computer charger, or if someone has left their laundry in the dryer, it all gets posted!

DC is easy to navigate and this is a safe neighborhood, but please make sure to cross the road safely. DC drivers don’t wait for you to get to the other side. Sometimes they don’t even stop, they just slow down. I saw a woman and her baby navigate between cars crossing the street today. However it is now Monday and I have survived all street crossings. The metro is close by and kind of a fun place to people watch. I encourage people to be brave in the big city and take every opportunity to explore DC. There is so much history here to dive into, the Smithsonian museums are free and amazing, visit the monuments of the mall (also free), the zoo is free, on top of all this DC has an active music and art life. I’m not one for political events but I guess there are some around haha (they are everywhere)!

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.