Sunday, July 17, 2011

Week One: Summer Internship in the District

After spending a few months back home, I flew back to Washington, D.C. on July 9th in order to start another internship for the summer.  I worked out a much better housing situation this time around (YAY) but since that room didn't open up for another day, I spent the weekend crashing on a friend's couch in Columbia Heights.  It was warm in the spring but July in DC is h-o-t and h-u-m-i-d.  We went out to a bar that night and met up with more people from MSU.  The highlight was the discovery that fried pickles are actually amazing despite how weird it might sound.  The next day, we went over to Chinatown Coffee (a pretty neat place where the cash register is an iPad) to do some work via free wifi then over to the National Portrait Gallery's courtyard to listen to the Roosevelt Institution's budget proposal.  We also went out to Silver Springs, MD to another friend's apartment to chill in the rooftop swimming pool.  That night, we went to a Silver Springs bar called Quarry House Tavern for their Sunday Night team trivia.  It was pretty fun.

Monday, July 11th, was my first day starting the internship on Capitol Hill with my state senator's office.  There were 7 other interns, all college undergraduates.  I was lucky when they assigned us Legislative Assistants (LAs) to work with because I got placed with the one who handles foreign policy and defense issues (among several other topics).  The staff seems nice and we jumped right into exploring the underground tunnels between the buildings of the Capitol complex.  I was able to drop my stuff off at the new housing before going into the office and the location is great - literally right next to Capitol Hill with air conditioning that is constantly set to "blizzard" and already is a dream compared to the place in the spring.  I met some people in my new building and after dinner, we all went over to Eastern Market and ended up at Good Stuff Eatery (the best burger & shake joint in the city - don't worry, I didn't forget that Ben's Chili Bowl is the best burger/dog/chili joint in the city).

Our second day of work kicked off with lots of seminars & orientation in the morning for the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  It's pretty amazing the resources that are available to people on the Hill.  The CRS issues non-partisan reports with good stats and figures on basically every topic ever and if, by some odd chance, there isn't already a report, their professional researchers/know-it-alls will get to work to help you with something good.  After work, I went to meet up with a friend from Spain at this amazing, authentic Spanish restaurant on 14th & Church called Estadio.  For the first time in a year, I was actually able to find my favorite Spanish drink, tinto de verano (it's like sangria, but more amazing) and authentic patatas bravas. And just to add to the place, there is even a huge mural of a shirtless Cristiano Renaldo in the women's bathroom (so this is a place for Madrilistas and not those annoying Barça fans, hahaha) as well as a mural of the 2010 Spanish National World Cup team.  

After work on the following day, I walked with a friend around the Capitol buildings and then all the way down the mall to the memorials and we ended up at the Lincoln Memorial.  We ended up walking about 5 miles from where we started.  Also, H.H. XIV Dalai Lama is in DC right now for the Kalachakra but the student "discount" tickets were about $450 for the week, so unfortunately, no nirvana for me this time.

The week went by pretty quickly and Thursday was there before I knew it.  After checking in with our supervisor, my project partner and I got good feedback that we were on track with our project that's due by Friday of our first week.  I signed up for a ZipCar membership so that my friend and I can get to a Lil Wayne concert, since neither of us have cars here and it's about an hour drive each way.  At least in DC, ZipCar has some really nice options, depending how much you're willing to pay per hour.  We went with the Honda Civic but before the membership expires, I want to try out the Mini Cooper, an Audi A3, and the BMW 328 xi.  

On Friday, July 15th, we finished our memo project 3 minutes before the end of the day, after proof reading and standardizing the formatting for our separate sections.  After work, I went over to Clarendon in Arlington, VA, on the orange line and checked out Liberty Tavern, which is a pretty cool place.  Clarendon in general is pretty awesome.  There are brand new, nice apartments right next to the metro and there are a lot of young people that live there.  The neighborhood is hopping all the time, the nightlife is good, and most importantly, the cost of living is much cheaper because sales tax is only 5%, compared to DC's 10% on everything, including food (jerks).  This is pretty much what Arlington is like:

For the weekend, I went to the Smithsonian Zoo in Adam's Morgan.  The zoo was pretty sweet, although not many of the animals for the Asia exhibits were out.  The zoo only had one tiger, but there were cheetahs that kept coming close as well as komodo dragons, gorillas, orangutans, and double-wattled cassowarys (which I love because of the name).

On Saturday night, my friend and I took the ZipCar we rented earlier in the week to Virginia for the Lil Wayne concert.  We got there just in time to park next to all of the limousines and see Rick Ross finish his opening act.  After the crew took down his set, Lil Wayne came on.  I really didn't listen to any of his music prior to this past week, but who can say no to a GroupOn deal for $10 rap concert tickets?  It was actually a really fun concert and we ended up with seats that were even better than we were expecting.  

On Sunday of my first week back in DC, I went and explored Georgetown.  We first headed over to the Old Stone House, the oldest building still standing in Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a tour, but I was surprised how big the house is on the inside, because it looks so small from the outside.  After the house, we walked down to Georgetown University's campus, which is beautiful, and then to The Tombs bars and the stairs where "The Exorcist" was filmed.  Those stairs were really steep.  To get out of the heat, we went to the AMC theatre by the water to see the final Harry Potter movie, which was pretty great.  After the movie, we headed up the street to Baked & Wired, this really good cupcake place (better than Georgetown Cupcake and with a much shorter line).


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