Reaching a Bittersweet End

Well hello there -

I didn’t go out of town this week besides a day trip to Annapolis (details to come), so it looks like this week’s blog post may be a bit more focused on thoughts and a few other occurrences here and there.

So this bittersweet thing is about all I have been feeling lately. I am going to be leaving Washington, D.C. in about two weeks and just wow. I have really fallen in love with this place and this summer has been fantastic. There have been ups and downs, but honestly I am so happy here. 

I have grown so much as a person - yes this is the first time I’ve really lived on my own - well, outside of a dorm/my parents’ house/my sorority house. I have managed to feed myself (and get pretty decent at cooking in the process), I have made a routine, gotten myself from A to B every day, taken care of myself when I got sick - lots of little things, but so far so good on this whole adult life. 

As for work, my internship has just been such a good experience and I am getting really sad about leaving all of the amazing people I work with. I have never been surrounded by such accomplished, well-traveled, driven individuals and I feel so fortunate to have been able to work with them throughout the summer. I also now feel like an essential member of the team. I am doing tasks that are absolutely necessary for the project to run smoothly with no supervision, I take care of things myself, I correspond with consultants and embassies on my own, I feel independent and valued and it is great. 

I guess that’s the bitter part. I’m going to miss my job, this apartment, Washington, D.C., my roommates, and just overall everything about this summer, but I have so many great things to come. I can’t wait to visit Boston, NYC, Miami, LA, and to move to Thailand. Holy crap I am moving to Thailand in 6 weeks. This is all the sweet stuff - I am about to live my dream and continue to see the world. Anyway, I just am overall so happy with my life and how all has worked out, but time really does fly. 

Now for events - I went to this networking event hosted by my internship program on Thursday evening and it was really cool hearing the speakers and doing a bit of networking with various alumni. Although these networking events are a bit out of my element, all went well and I did get a pretty awesome water bottle. 

Friday night, my roommates and I had fancy night. We got all dressed up - heels included - and splurged on a delicious dinner. After that, we headed down to view the monuments at night and take some photos. The sights were beautiful and I was yet again left in awe at the fact that I have been living in our nation’s capitol. 

Next outing - My internship program took all of us to Annapolis this past Saturday. Annapolis is adorable and we were able to tour the U.S. Naval Academy, the Maryland State House, and we had lunch at this crab shack place. After a good, long nap, we went out to Adams Morgan for the evening. 

And for Sunday, we slept in, late. We still managed to get a few activities in though including the National Cathedral and Georgetown. We also experienced another crazy rain storm - I am still not over how intense the rain is out here and I am really excited about the rubber ballet flats I ordered a few days ago. The not-waterproof shoes just are not cutting it anymore. 

Can we also take a minute for this photo of a squirrel I took?

Overall, I just am feeling so bittersweet. I have absolutely loved this past summer, and there are so many great things to come. I feel so fortunate to be living this life and to be able to create the life I have always dreamed of. Two weeks left in Washington, then it’s time to jet set and move halfway across the world for an undetermined amount of time. I just can’t believe it. 

A Weekend in Philadelphia

In West Philadelphia born & raised…

Okay sorry, I had to - the Fresh Prince was my life growing up, but we did actually go to Philadelphia this past weekend! An easy getaway from Washington, DC, as it is only about a 3 hour bus ride away. 

Where to Stay: We spent the night at the Apple Hostel and the location was fantastic. We were able to walk to most of the attractions we visited and there were plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops in the area.

How to Get There: We took a Megabus from Washington, DC’s Union Station to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. The bus ride was inexpensive, smooth, and comfortable. It was about 3 hours long, but there was AC and even plugs to charge your phone. From 30th Street Station, we took an Uber to reach our hostel. P.S. The blow up neck pillow was a fantastic purchase. 

What to Do - Day 1 (Saturday): 

- Saturday morning began with the bus ride up to Philly, but after arriving and checking in, the first thing we did was hunt down some cheesesteaks. I even managed to find somewhere that had a vegan option! Campo’s Deli was just around the corner from the hostel and the vegan works sandwich with vegan cheese was fantastic. 

- After enjoying our meal, we walked up the street to the Benjamin Franklin Museum where we learned a lot about him and his life. The museum was only $5 to enter and there was also a cute little gift shop and area where they were printing newspapers as they did back in the 1700s. 

- Next on our list was the Liberty Bell. The line was long, so we stopped at La Colombe for coffee. Delicious drinks, and they were even on tap. The iced latte with almond milk was wonderful to sip on as it was so hot outside. 

- Across the street was the Liberty Bell Center.  The line was long, but we waited it out and were able to see the bell! There are also a few small exhibits inside. 

- Next, we visited Independence Hall. It was just amazing being where the United States declared independence and where so many historical figures sat down to discuss and write the Declaration. Also, this was where a clue to the treasure was in National Treasure, so of course we had to stop by.

- After visiting Independence Hall, we wanted to do a bit more exploring, but the rain of all rains decided to stop by and holy crap - I have never seen so much water dumping out of the sky. We were soaked and screaming as the wind blew the umbrella that our Uber driver was so kind to give us while we waited for him to finish another ride. Also shout out to him for letting us get into our car while we were drenched. Moral of this story? Never leave without your umbrella, rain coat, or something. Never. 

- Due to the rain experience, we were pretty sad and cold so we went back to the hostel to change into dry clothes and recover from that experience. Our hostel also was hosting a Wine & Cheese night with games, so we stopped by that to meet other travelers. Many were in town for the Democratic National Convention, so there was plenty of talk about this upcoming election. 

- After we dried off and rested, we went to meet a friend at Independence Beer Garden, right across from the Liberty Bell Center and Independence Hall. It was super cute, and there were great drinks and food options. They also had giant games you could play.

- We finished off the night with walking up and down South Street and we also ran into a couple walking a corgi that was nice enough to let us stop and love their dog for a few minutes. Sadly, a terrible headache caused me to end the night a bit early - stay hydrated out there in the heat!

What to Do - Day 2 (Sunday): 

- We began Sunday with breakfast at our hostel and then we took an Uber out to the Wells Fargo Center, but they would not let us anywhere near the area due to the DNC, so we headed over to thePhiladelphia Art Museum (mostly to see the Rocky statue and steps).

- We waited out the line to take a picture with the Rocky statue, then we filmed this fantastic montage of us working out and running up the steps to “Eye of the Tiger”. 

- Afterwards, we went across the street to this adorable little food truck event. They also had giant games for people to play and plenty of treats to enjoy. We got pretzels and also some popsicles to cool down

- To finish off the afternoon, I met up with my cousin and we got lunch at Green Eggs Cafe. Their veggie burger with tomato soup was delicious and so filling. I was so happy to satisfy my veggie burger craving and to of course visit with my cousin!

- After lunch, we went back to grab our stuff at the hostel then headed to the station to take the bus back down to DC.

Overall, Philadelphia was a fantastic weekend trip and I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to get up there! It is definitely good to be back in my (temporary) home of Washington, D.C. though! 

A Weekend in New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana has been on my bucket list for quite some time, and this past weekend I finally made it out there! I had a fantastic time in this city and was able to do quite a bit in just a few days and all for fairly decent prices. Here is a breakdown of my trip:

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Where to Stay: Madame Isabelle’s House was a fantastic hostel to spend the weekend at. The prices were fair, a little breakfast was included, and it was in a quiet neighborhood walking distance from most of the main attractions. I absolutely would recommend this hostel and I would stay here again if I return to the city! They also have a cool little courtyard with a hot tub and do many activities for guests throughout the week.

How to Get There: We were able to hop on the bus for $2 at the airport and take it downtown. From there, it was about a 25 minute walk to the hostel. We only had backpacks, so it was not bad at all. There is a connecting bus to take from downtown if you do not want to walk. 

What to Do - Day 1 (Thursday): 

- After making it to the hostel, grab some dinner down the street at Buffa’s! Some great creole food and live music. I was not disappointed and this was honestly the best dish I had in NOLA. 

- Not too far away from the hostel is Frenchmen Street. There is plenty of live jazz as well as many bars going down the road. This is a much more laid back area than Bourbon Street, but still a good time! There was also an art market with local artists selling their work. 

What to Do - Day 2 (Friday):

- Our first full day in NOLA began with breakfast at the hostel, then we went straight to Cafe du Monde for beignets. They are 100% worth the wait and the line does move surprisingly fast. 

- After grabbing some delicious treats, walk over to the Mississippi river to enjoy the view of riverboats passing by while enjoying the beignets.

- Next, head across the street to Jackson Square. There, you can enjoy the park, more art vendors, and the St. Louis Cathedral

- Next, head a few blocks over to enjoy the shops that are all over the French Quarter. We enjoyed walking down Royal Street, but all of them are full of places to pop into. 

- After this, you may want to get some rest before heading to dinner at Coop’s Place in the French Quarter. I loved my fried shrimp po’ boy sandwich. 

- Now for the nightlife. Bourbon Street is only a few blocks over from Coop’s Place and it is full of music, bars, and pretty much anything that you can think of. Bourbon Street was much more crowded than Frenchmen Street, but I had a great time. Have fun, dance, socialize, and enjoy the personality of this area!

What to Do - Day 3 (Saturday):

- After enjoying breakfast at the hostel, walk through the French Quarter to the street cars! You can get a day pass for $3 (definitely do this unless you are only taking one trip). 

If you hop on the red car, it will take you up to some awesome cemeteries. All of the graves are above ground because the water table is so high in New Orleans, which makes the caskets would float and rise up if they are buried underground - it is a bit eerie. They call them cities of the dead for a reason.

- After exploring the cemetery, hop back on the street car and head to City Park. There, you can see the bayou, sculptures, an art museum, and if you are as lucky as I was, you may even see a crocodile in the water along with a bunch of turtles! Enjoy roaming around and maybe even take a paddle boat or kayak out onto the water.

- You’ll probably be hungry by now. The Ruby Slipper is only a short street car away and is a great place to grab a bite to eat after walking around all day. 

- Now that you’re all fueled up, get back on the street car and head to The Garden District. There, you can enjoy some of the old architecture, quiet neighborhoods, and views of the mansions. We got a free walking tour map from Commander’s Palace and were able to see some cool places (the Benjamin Button house included)! Magazine street is also in the area and is a good spot to do a bit of shopping.

- For dinner, head back to the French Quarter on the street car and stop by Pat O’Briens. This place was fantastic - such a great atmosphere and fantastic food. I definitely recommend getting The Hurricane. They are known for it for a reason! 

What to Do - Day 4 (Sunday): 

- After having breakfast and checking out, the French Market is just a short walk away. This place is full of your typical tourist souvenirs along with local crafts and foods. 

- For lunch, stop by The Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter (sadly, I forgot to take a picture) then head back to the airport for your flight!

Overall, I had a fantastic weekend in New Orleans and it was a trip I have been wanting to go on for quite some time now. Hopefully these ideas can help you if you are planning a trip down there! Also, be warned, it is very humid and there are mosquitoes. Have fun and bring bug spray! 

5 Tips to Save Money as an Intern

Being an intern in an expensive city can get a bit tough when it comes to getting by financially. Heck, this can be hard as an intern anywhere, or college student, or anyone. Life is expensive. 

After my first month of probably not the best financial decisions, I started to crack down on my budget and find little ways to save here and there, but they do add up over time!

Keep in mind, some of these are specific to my time here in Washington, D.C. and to my circumstances. This is by no means an exhaustive list and are simply tips that may come in handy!

1. Walk: The metro adds up. Fast. I did the math and I found out that I spend a solid $22 dollars a week or more on the metro just to get to and from work five days a week. That is $88 dollars a month. This also does not include metro trips anywhere else I choose to go outside of work. If you are driving, gas and parking add up as well. If you can and are able to - I very highly recommend walking everywhere that you can. It is a chance to get to know your area, get some exercise, run into cool events, and save money! The bike share is also much cheaper than the metro if your work is a bit too far to walk to. 

2. Limit your Drink Budget: Drinks add up very fast as well. More than the metro, actually. This is everything from coffee to happy hours to fun nights out. After a month of enjoying these things, I realized how much money this was costing and pretty much cut all of this spending off. You will save so much money if you buy some tea or coffee to make at home! (Travel mugs are the best). I also keep a box of tea at my desk at work to sip on during the day. 

3. Cook at Home & Pack Lunches: Following up on drinks, eating out also gets expensive if you are doing it often. Cooking at home will get you much more for your buck, and it will help you develop a life skill. Trader Joe’s is great for fairly inexpensive, fun groceries and as tempting as it is to try all of the restaurants in the area, spending about $8 - $15 per meal plus tip will make a dent in your budget after some time. You can also probably prepare healthier meals that will keep you full longer for much less on your own. 

4. Reusable Products: This is small, but makes a difference in the long run. Invest in a tupperware for your lunches and a re-usable snack bag for treats. Get some re-usable grocery bags (you will also get a $0.05 credit on your purchase for each bag you bring to the store in D.C. and they charge you the same amount for each you take). Also, get a water bottle to just refill. These are small steps, but when you don’t have to purchase snack bags, plastic water bottles, etc. you will save some money! You will also be taking steps to reduce your waste.

5. Minimize Spending on Things: Yes, I splurged on a few items I thought were really cool when I first saw them at the market and around town. Online sales are my weakness. I enjoyed these things a lot for a few days, maybe a week. Now, I realize the money could have gone towards food, an experience, or savings. Many things bring temporary joy and they can get pricey. Often times, you don’t actually need these things either or realize later that you didn’t really want them and that money could have been put to better use. If you really think about purchasing items that are not absolutely necessary, you will save money in the long run! Try to let the purchase sit on a wish list for a week or so and see if you still really want or need it at the end of that time. 

These are just some things that have been helping me save money out here as an intern in Washington, D.C. and I hope they can be of use to others! 

Until next time,

Natalie

Independence Day & More

The week started off the same as always with my walk to work, enjoying an audio book and the sunny weather. 

Work was the usual this week, various contracts and reports and such, but I did get to go to an embassy - my favorite errand - to pick up a visa. All went smoothy, I was just in and out, but getting an Uber back to my work was quite an adventure. I waited a solid 30 minutes for my driver to come before giving up. I called another one only to wait another 20 minutes while the car didn’t even move. End of the story: I called a Lyft and was pretty late getting back to work. Here is a picture of D.C. street art because I had plenty of time to snap a few photos. 

Our Chief of Party from our field office came back to D.C. for a couple days this week. It was really great actually meeting him in person rather than just talking on Skype during our regular weekly meetings. I was able to learn a lot more about what is actually going on in the field. 

I was able to go to a meeting with USAID as well, which was definitely quite an opportunity. Now that I sit and reflect to write this post, I really did do some different and cool things at work this week! 

After work one day, I made my way to a farmer’s market and I loved it - all of the local produce and products + some music = a happy Natalie.

This weekend was a long, holiday weekend. To make it even better, my sister came to town to visit! Aside from how great of a travel buddy she is, I was really happy to get to show her around the city that has started to feel more and more like home to me. 

Since it was Independence Day weekend, there was plenty to do here in D.C. over the weekend. Saturday started with  me visiting another farmer’s market in the morning before meeting my sister at the airport.

We spent the rest of the day on Capitol Hill and exploring the National Mall (this day ended up being 12.23 miles of walking - jeez) and we also met up with one of her friends who lives out here. Good day, plenty of sight seeing, and wonderful company.

Sunday, we spent the day in Georgetown visiting the shops, waterfront, and the cute little food places. I was so satisfied with the food we got out there. 110% recommend Chaia for delicious tacos and Dog Tag Bakery across the street for some baked goods (you also will be supporting a good cause). We also enjoyed the waterfront, but were a bit worn out from the previous day so we took a break before heading out to get Ethiopian food for dinner.

Now for Independence Day Monday, we started the day with a fantastic breakfast at Founding Farmers (also very highly recommend eating here) before visiting some of the museums.

The day consisted of the Renwick Gallery, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of Natural History before winding up at Dupont Circle to enjoy some Indian food for dinner. All the museums out here are great, and I really enjoy the fact that they are free. I don’t think I will be able to finish seeing all of them this summer though as they are just so huge and there is so much to see inside!

Now, I am about to end my evening by watching fireworks on the roof and sipping on some tea. Can’t complain as per usual, life is good and I am happy! This weekend did not disappoint and I am happy to have been able to spend it in great company. Now back to it tomorrow morning - work week and another weekend adventure coming soon! 

Just a Week in the Life

Well, well, well – hello there again blog. Back with the weekly update of the happenings in my life as an intern here in D.C. More experiences, more learning, more exploring – pretty much the usual, just in new places!

First note I want to make as I am writing this is that I am really growing to appreciate the rooftop terrace on top of my apartment building a lot more and I absolutely need to take more advantage of it. It’s fantastic just sitting up here reading, writing blog posts, and relaxing after long days at work. Plus, sometimes you just need a break from it all. I definitely plan to make more use of this area throughout the rest of my time here.

Work this week was filled with activities such as writing more consultant agreements, attending meetings, organizing finance records, and my favorite – embassy trips. I think there is just something about walking down the street and seeing the flags of all these different countries and knowing that soon, I’ll be heading up to the Embassy of Thailand to get my own visa – time is really flying! I also enjoy being able to see new areas as I visit these embassies and stumbled upon some street art! Very thankful for that step-stool as I would have been too short for those angel wings otherwise. Oh – I also finally got bagels. My absolute favorite thing ever almost and the guy even gave me an extra free one, so you can say I came back to work in a very good mood.

One evening after work, I was able to do some exploring and wow the monuments at night are quite a sight – everything is just so beautiful, quiet, and I just love it. I also love all the water here – there is something that gets me about walking down a river at sunset (oceans and such are equally, if not more fantastic). I finally made it out to the Jefferson Memorial as well! It was a pretty solid walk, but hey another item checked off the D.C. bucket list!

Another evening, some of the other interns and I went out to the ballpark to watch the Congressional baseball game – Democrats vs. Republicans and trust me – it was quite entertaining! I hope to make it back there before I leave to go to a Nationals game. I also highly recommend the strawberry ice cream there.

Now onto the weekend, I just did some more exploring after sleeping in quite late on Saturday. I made it to a few more museums and enjoyed some art. I have to say, laying under this was probably my favorite.

I also got to see the white house from the other side!

A bunch of us also decided to take a break from the city for a day and made our way out to Great Falls Park – beautiful scenery – made me miss Utah just a little bit, but back to me loving walking down along the water and I even enjoyed a lunch and nap on a “beach” type thing down by the river.  A lot of walking again, but I can’t complain with views like this:

Finally, I cannot believe it is almost July. I have been out here for over a month and jeez time is just flying! I cannot say enough how amazing of an opportunity this is and how thankful I am to be out here with a group of such solid people. This summer has been great so far and there is still so much more to come.

Sitting on the roof, soaking it all in, enjoying the sunset and a good playlist. Really, I cannot complain. Fourth of July weekend coming up next – can’t wait!

By the way, they sell White House gingerbread house kit things at the Trader Joe’s here.

District Adventures

Well hello again, back here with the weekly blog post to give updates of life here in our nation’s capital - beautiful Washington, D.C. 

To be honest, work has mellowed out a lot, probably because I am actually getting the hang of things - I know who people are, I know what is going on, I understand all the acronyms - it’s pretty awesome that I’ve finally made it over the learning curve! This also means I get some more important tasks and get to work more independently. Sadly, there weren’t any embassy runs this week, but I believe there will be quite a few in my near future and the Chief of Party from our field office is coming to visit soon, so I am definitely excited to hear about how things are being carried out out in sub-saharan Africa and how what we are doing here in the home office impacts those activities. Plus, I have gotten to see a bit more of the area as I have been walking to and from work almost every day.

One thing I do have to say about work is that I am really learning a lot about myself, my interests, my strengths and weaknesses, and what I want to do with my future. I have had some time to think and I am starting to realize the types of programs I hope to enter in the coming years. This opportunity, experience, and absolutely everything that has happened has opened these doors for me and allowed me to come to these realizations - I’m very excited for what is to come! But for now, I am just enjoying the ride :)

On a side note, I also have to comment on how weird it is being done with school. I think it is finally sinking in that my undergraduate studies are done and I am off to the “real world”. I have been in school since I was 2 - so this newfound free time is definitely interesting and the feeling that I can go in absolutely any direction I want to from here is just crazy. There are so many possibilities and I just know amazing things are in store for the future. I am 110% excited for this gap year that I will be spending traveling though. International experience, here I come! 

Now for my random adventures around the city - you definitely can’t run out of things to do here, that is for sure. Most of my activities occurred on the weekend as I spent most of my evenings during the week roaming around areas between my work and my apartment - I did stumble upon a pretty awesome park with a great city view and plenty of dogs (did I mention I miss my dog?). 

Friday night, we decided to take a trip out to the National Harbor, which was entirely worth the gorgeous sunset over the water. We also got to explore the are a bit, my roommates enjoyed the merry-go-round, and we also went to the dueling piano bar and dang that was impressive - they can play and sing everything from Grease and Footloose to Guns N’ Roses. I was throughly entertained and the atmosphere was great - we also managed to stumble upon someone’s 50th birthday party? - hey we got a cut out of her face to take home with us.

Saturday was a busy day - many things going on in the area! First, we decided to go to a neighborhood festival in the area and enjoy the local food, crafts, and entertainment. Next, we made our way to the National Mall to the Cultural Food Festival. Almost all of my favorite things - worldly activities and food. I enjoyed some Indian cuisine and traditional music from a variety of countries with an awesome view of the Washington Monument in the background. This was another moment I just sat and realized what an amazing place I am living in. To top off our Saturday, we went to the Museum of American History to an after-hours event called “We the Party People”. This event included everything from informative booths and interactive exhibits to face painting and a dance floor. Plus, there was even more out on the balcony. We got caricature drawings done of us with a historical American theme too - pretty happy with how mine turned out and I had a fantastic time singing Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi while learning about the things Americans have invented in the past. 100% recommend this event if anyone happens to be in the area when (if?) it happens again!

Now for Sunday. We finally made it out to brunch and it was absolutely fantastic. Eggs Benedict may just be one of my favorite meals - throw in some lox and an iced chai? I am in heaven.

 After brunch, we went down to Chinatown to see Finding Dory and oh my gosh - I won’t ruin it for anyone but absolutely go see it. We also stumbled upon some street performers on the way out of the theater and I was one of the lucky individuals he pulled out of the crowd to do a backflip over (yay for only being 5′2″?). I was scared to death - but hey it turned out pretty cool! Due to videos being a bit more complicated to add to this post - imagination will be necessary for this section. They were America’s Got Talent/Las Vegas performers - hopefully that information helps! 

Well, I cannot believe I have been here for one full month now. I have been loving this experience and know this next month will be full of many exciting learning experiences, outings, and some weekend trips in the near future. Stay tuned. 

The Weekly Update

This week’s update isn’t going to be too exciting since I managed to get myself sick and ended up just staying home for a few days. Good times, that’s for sure! I was still able to get a few activities in though despite drowning myself in honey, lemon, and ginger. 

Work went well at the beginning of the week - I was able to continue to do more things for this project and I got to make another visa run (my favorite job) and this time, the embassy was on Massachusetts Avenue, aka Embassy Row. I was just amazed walking past embassy after embassy. One day, I will be getting my own visas here and have a passport full of stamps like the ones I drop off and pick up. 

I also enjoyed walking to and from work a few days taking in the sights around various neighborhoods here in DC and getting to know my way around a bit more. I can officially do the walk without a map! I love how many cute little cafes and restaurants I walk past along with all the people walking their dogs, and of course the townhouses. I’m definitely happy the rainy weather has let up - for the most part at least!

On Thursday evening, all of the interns out here with our program gathered on the roof to enjoy some Cafe Rio, which is always fantastic, and to check in regarding out internships, apartments, and overall experience here in Washington, DC. We also found out about some cool upcoming events being scheduled ranging from networking evenings to a day trip to Annapolis. Everything sounds so fantastic, but I am also realizing my weekends out here are really filling up and although I thought 12 weeks was a solid amount of time to be here, I already know it will probably be hard to do everything I wanted to. So much to do here - my bucket list for DC just keeps getting longer.

By the weekend, I started to feel a little better, so my roommate and I went out to explore the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. It was great - so much food, so many crafts, and we also found this great bookstore that was recommended to us by a past intern. I definitely enjoyed it, and I also bought too many travel pictures (this may be one of my weaknesses), but hey I finally have some decorations in my room! 

After we left the market, we went down to explore the Library of Congress, the Botanic Gardens, and then we made our way to the Capital Pride Parade. That was a great time as well, I love how lively Pride events are and there is just always such a positive atmosphere, plus the amount of colors and costumes just adds to it. I loved seeing how many supporters were in this parade ranging from various churches, politicians, companies, and being from Utah, my personal favorite was the Mormons supporting LGBTQ rights. Overall, it was a great time!

Hopefully I will be fully over whatever sickness I caught this coming week and will have much more to talk about in next week’s post! 

Settling into the Intern Life

Yet another week of living in Washington, D.C. has passed by and as usual, a good amount of things happened and I have to say it has been an overall successful past few days. Where to start though - probably updates with work since, after all, that is what I am here for.

My internship has been fantastic so far and after getting used to how the office runs and learning more about what is going on with the project I am working on along with who the main people involved are, I have been gaining more responsibilities. Yes, this does mean more work, but this also means I actually feel that I am contributing to this office and am part of the team as I am getting to do things essential to the successful completion of this project. Some examples of what I have gotten to do this past week include creating and writing a consultant agreement, coordinating travel for this consultant, preparing financial records for an audit, and adding items to our action plan. I am even reviewing CVs for a new hire for one of our field offices. This also has shown me how much competition there is out there, we got 106 applications for 1 position.

Washington D.C. has also started to become a bit smaller and I am growing to know my way around! Without mountains to use as a marker, I still have no idea which way is North, South, East, or West, but I can successfully get most places I need to go without my map now, so that is an accomplishment! I even decided to walk home from work one day (I plan to do this much more), and all went smoothly. This allowed me to be able to explore some more local spots and enjoy the weather that is not scorching hot just yet. Plus, I got to enjoy a donut on National Donut Day!

Now that work and getting around has become much more routine and easier, my roommates and I have started planning some trips. Hopefully Philadelphia and Boston are in our near futures! Along with a day trip to Alexandria - who knows what will come up, but that’s what we are hoping to do this summer!

Speaking of trips, we went on our first excursion out of D.C. this weekend to Baltimore, Maryland. Only about an hour drive away and completely worth the trip, despite the awkward Lyft ride there. In Baltimore, we enjoyed walking around the Downtown Inner Harbor, drinks at a cute little local coffee shop nearby, and the real adventure began when we decided to take a boat tour of the harbor.

The tour was absolutely fantastic - we got to see so much of the city from the water and our guide was absolutely hilarious. It was so much fun, but a lady on our boat thought otherwise. I have no idea what happened, but something just set her off and she spent the entire time chewing out our tour guide and eventually pissed off a family nearby and a fight almost broke out. The guides had to sit in between them to prevent them from pouncing on each other and the cops escorted them off. I applaud the guides for still providing an outstanding tour and handling the situation extremely well, but wow. That was a scene.

The rest of our day in Baltimore consisted of roaming around the city, venturing to Little Italy and enjoying a delicious cannoli at a festival that was happening there, then heading back to the harbor to eat the well known Maryland crab and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

To end the night, we wound up back at the navy boat we toured earlier in the afternoon for a party and it was a great time. Turns out it was the Argentinian Navy and I also realized last night that I am absolutely helpless when it comes to the Spanish language (that might be the next language I try to learn).

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Overall, I have to say it has been a successful week and our Uber ride back was 100% better (awkward long drives are the worst). This coming week should be pretty great too, excited to see what comes as D.C. definitely seems to be able to keep things interesting! Thankful for my awesome roommates as well.

Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C.

Memorial Day Weekend is one heck of a weekend to be in the Capital of the United States of America and we sure found a lot to do! Yes, it may have been very hot and crowded, but all of the activities and things to do here in DC definitely made it a weekend to remember. 

 

My roommates and I began our long weekend by visiting Georgetown on Saturday. This area was so much fun to explore as we got to visit the Georgetown Waterfront, many shops (some give you cookies and free things - just so you know), and we ended the afternoon with a large, delicious cupcake from Baked & Wired (the line was definitely worth it). Overall, it was a great time exploring this area and I definitely plan to come back! The entire town is just too cute and I definitely want to visit Georgetown University & kayak on the river!

 

Following our afternoon in Georgetown, we had a sunset BBQ on the rooftop of our apartment with the other interns - can’t complain about the great view, food, and people!

Sunday, we ventured out to the National Mall to explore museums and ended up at The Museum of the American Indian and it was fantastic. I really learned so much about Native Americans, their culture, and their interactions with the White Americans throughout history. We also got to see some live Hawaiian/Pacific Islander dancing! On our way out of the museum, we glanced out the window and noticed that it was dumping rain. Great day to forget my rain gear. 

We headed up Capitol Hill to seek shelter as most things on the National Mall were closing and we wanted to wait until the National Memorial Day Concert started. We stopped at the Supreme Court and Library of Congress on the way for photos, then wound up at a Starbucks behind the Hill that Chai Latte was probably the best thing to sit down to after being soaked with rain. No joke, it dumps buckets out here. 

The National Memorial Day Concert on the Capitol lawn did not disappoint though and the rain seemed to turn away a lot of people, so it was not crowded at all and it was so much fun. We got to hear many veteran stories, listen to the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Beach Boys even performed. I did not realize I’d be dancing to Surfin’ USA live this Memorial Day Weekend, but I can’t complain! Plus, the Capitol at night was quite a sight. 

 

Now Monday, actual Memorial Day, definitely has been a great day and will not be one I will forget. This is due to our early morning trip out to Arlington National Cemetery. There, not only were we able to see the graves of thousands that have served our country throughout time, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and where JFK was laid to rest along with the Eternal Flame, we were able to see President Barack H. Obama speak. I have been hoping to see him in person before he finishes serving as President of the United States and I cannot believe it has actually happened - really, I have no words besides it was absolutely amazing. I took this photo. How unreal is that? I am so thankful to have had this opportunity and it was amazing to pause to remember those who have served our nation and those who have lost their lives doing so with the President. 

 

Lastly, my weekend ended with a parade down Constitution Avenue. The steps of The National Archives building provided me with a pretty great view of many marching bands, floats, veterans, troops, and more as they marched down the street. Plus, free mini flags. 

 

This weekend is not only one I will never forget, it is one that has caused me to think in a new way, especially regarding those who have served, are currently serving in the military, and those who have lost their lives in war. It makes me so sad that war even has to happen in this world, but the bravery of those who go out and put forth the effort to keep these horrors from reaching our homeland and to end the violence all together deserve the utmost respect and honor. 

Happy Memorial Day from Washington, D.C. 

First Days at Work in D.C.

Well, my internship has started and wow what a past couple days it has been! I have learned so much and I am actually fairly surprised - pleasantly of course! I just did not expect to immediately dive in like this, but I already know this will be such an amazing experience as I continue through the next few months. Here are some updates! 

Day 1:

Well, I have to start every day with my typical breakfast consisting of greek yogurt, honey, chia seeds, granola, and some form of fruit. A cup of warm lemon water is always involved of course, but there is no better way to kick off a Monday morning, in my opinion!

After successfully taking the metro to my stop (I even exited the tunnel at the correct side - very thankful for this because I saved myself from many extra blocks of walking), I arrived at my new office. I was warmly greeted and promptly given an introduction, tour of the building, and I was introduced to the staff as I visited their offices. Everyone was extremely friendly and I felt very welcome - I still do! I was already thankful to be in an environment like this as who you work with really can make or break a job.

Following this, I was shown my desk & work area, got my keys (I have 6 to be exact - just for work), and headed to the Monday staff meeting. There, I was able to head updates regarding all the projects my internship office is working on. I was able to introduce myself as well (practicing that elevator speech). I also had a chance to sit and talk with the president and founder of the organization and hear his story, which was very interesting and awesome to get that opportunity on my first day as an intern. 

Overall, my first day went very well and I am very excited to be working on such an interesting project taking place in Sub-Saharan Africa. I am also very happy that I actually get to contribute to many aspects of this project - Day 1 and I am already getting involved! I did leave with quite a bit of reading to do though. I did take some time after work to explore with other interns and came across this cool mural (loving all the street art here in D.C.) as we searched for a cool, local spot to talk about our day. 

 

Day 2: 

On Tuesday, I woke up to beautiful weather - quite glad the rain has stopped (for a good while I hope!). My morning at work consisted of reading the quarterly report for the project I am assisting on and learning a decent amount of acronyms - oh the world of international development. I was able to learn so much more about what is actually taking place on the ground in the countries our project is based in and all of the accomplishments made this past quarter along with the challenges faced.

My afternoon consisted of meetings galore - but I learned so much more there. I learned a great deal about both the administrative and the financial sides of this project and I was able to put in input regarding both of these areas and to get to learn even more about this project. The third meeting I went to was the meeting regarding the overall status of the organization regarding current projects and projects the organization is planning to bid for -  I definitely enjoyed being able to interact with more staff and hear about additional projects is other countries. All of them sound so interesting and rewarding!

My commute home allowed me to enjoy the great weather before arriving at my apartment for dinner and a workout at the gym.

Day 3:

Wednesday I was definitely kept busy! I began the day catching up with the emails I received overnight and familiarizing myself with more of the staff working on this project based abroad at the actual site. Soon after, I headed off to the international embassies to process some visa work for employees departing to work on projects in various countries in Africa! I loved seeing the embassies and definitely plan on going back to see more. I also know I will be sent quite a few more times for work to drop off and pick up visa paper work. Although I didn’t visit this embassy for work, it was nearby and turned out to take the best picture. Plus, I hope to go to the UAE one day! 

Finally, to end my third day after a 2.5 hour Skype meeting with the Chief of Party in the field office, I got to book his travel back to Washington, D.C. for meetings next month. Perfect for me as I definitely enjoy coordinating travel.

Overall, I have had a great past few days getting to know my office, learning about the project I am working on, and learning a ton about the world of international development and all that it really takes to carry out a project. Really every role is essential - admin, finance, field staff, everything. Often you just hear about these projects happening in developing countries but it really takes so much work on both the field office’s and home office’s parts to make anything happen.

I am so grateful to be able to get an inside look at this field and to really be able to contribute! More to come for sure! 

Day 1: Exploring Washington, D.C.

Day 1: Exploring Washington, D.C.

I have arrived in my new home for the next three months! I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity to work as an intern and I know this experience will allow me to grow and learn in so many ways. I finished settling in Wednesday night, so I was able to spend all day Thursday getting to know the area and exploring the National Mall! 

 

My first day in Washington, D.C. was full of new experiences. Bright and early Thursday morning, I woke up to the sound of car horns honking and sirens out on the street below. City living, that’s for sure! 

After showering, the first item on my to-do list was to grocery shop. This meant a trip on the Washington, D.C. Metro. Surprisingly, all went well! Having a metro stop right below my apartment is very convenient. I got my week metro pass and boarded the train smoothly (I even was on the right side of the platform). I consider this experience to be a success!

 

One stop away from my apartment is the Target, where I went for my first shopping trip, and since I have been a bit spoiled throughout college living in the dorms and my sorority house, this is actually the first time I have had to grocery shop beyond just buying a few snacks. I am overall quite happy with my food purchases and am hoping to make some great, healthy meals! 

 

After grocery shopping, I finally had breakfast then embarked on my next adventure to the National Mall. I was able to take the metro straight there and got off at the Archives stop and what an experience it was riding up the escalator and seeing all of these huge buildings containing so much of America’s history! 

Not to far away from this stop is Capitol Hill, which of course led me to venture up there. I was able to explore the United States Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress! This not only allowed me to see some amazing architecture, but also a place where so many important decisions have been made, many prominent people and figures have been, and I also was able to learn a bit more about US history. 

 

After leaving Capitol Hill, I walked down to the National Mall so I could see all the monuments. I walked through the Botanic Gardens and past all the Smithsonian Museums to the Washington Monument, which was great to see after the sky cleared up! I definitely want to go up to the top sometime and see the views of the National Mall from there!

 

What next? I continued walking down the National Mall, enjoying the sights along the way including more museums, war memorials, and I took many breaks to relax on a bench and just soak it all in - the fantastic weather, the fact that I am in, and living in, such an awesome place, and even to people watch a bit. 

At the end of the Mall is the Lincoln Memorial and the view is spectacular from here looking back at the Washington Monument. I was pretty much speechless as I thought about how Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech right here.

 

I walked back on the other side of the mall and got to enjoy seeing more memorials and monuments, I even got a peek at the White House a few blocks away! I’ll have to save that trip for another day though as my feet were definitely starting to hurt. After more bench breaks to soak in the sights (and rub my feet) and walking, I was back on the metro heading to my apartment.

I walked a total of 8.82 miles. Jeez. 

What a first full day in Washington, D.C.! There is still so much I want to do, see, and experience! I am sure this place will keep me busy over the next three months, especially after I start work on Monday!