Tag Archives: national mall

DistriCt farewell

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 It sounds cliche, but it seriously seemed like last week when we were walking around with our group leaders around DC, taking in the sights and making multiple trips to Target for groceries. Three days ago, I sat for my last final and yesterday, I bade farewell to my home of five months – DC.

The final week was a whirl of meeting up with different groups of friends, trying out new restaurants and revisiting ones we’ve been before. Parties were held, apartments were cleaned and emptied. Sleepless nights weren’t because of cramming for finals, but rather the rush to pack to hit the move-out deadline.

In retrospect, choosing to do my exchange in DC was probably one of the best choices I’ve ever made. From the election rush and the slew of protests in January and February to the proximity of popular spots like Florida that came in really handy during spring break and finally to the host of lawn festivals and restaurant week when warmer weather rolled around in April and May – I constantly found ways to entertain myself regardless of the seasons. GWU presented me with an endless string of opportunities – from joining hikes with student group GW TRAILS to being accepted as a member of a co-ed fraternity to experience Greek Life to attending career fairs and related events, I had reaped immense knowledge and managed to immerse myself in a whole new experience this semester.

Perhaps one of my best memories from DC is visiting the
monuments at practically any time of day. From having picnics on the national mall and reading a book on the steps behind the Lincoln Memorial – these are experiences unique to DC/GWU students (to the envy of many). Bored at night? No problem, round up a few friends and go for a walk of the national monuments basking in moonlight. Feel like you’ve been eating too much recently? The scenic views of your running route along the national mall provide the definitive motivation.

I am grateful for the friendships forged, the memories created and the help I’ve received in navigating these 5 months of independent living. Thank you to everyone who’s made a difference!

Audrey out. (Mic drop)

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Easter Weekend

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Despite Easter not being a national holiday in America we still made the most of the weekend and celebrated with food, friends and family! A friend of mine was visiting from New York so it was the perfect opportunity to explore DC whilst making the most of the holiday.

 

Although we have been in DC for the good part of four months there are still so many things I have yet to see and do. When friends come to visit it gives you the perfect excuse to be a tourist in your own city. So many iconic and historical sights are situated around the Mall and one of the best ways to see the sights is by bike. City bikes are available all over the city and for $8 you get a 24-hour pass (although, make sure you check in every 30 mins else you will be charged an extra $2 every hour). We rented our bikes at the National Mall, checked out the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Korean War Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument. We looped around the Tidal Basin, passed the FDR Memorial and ended up at the Jefferson Memorial.

Along with the bikes, we rented paddle boats and spent the afternoon chilling in the middle of the Tidal Basin, soaking up the sun. For only $20 you get an hour in one of the paddle boats (although, it is more if you want the electric swan!) It is definitely worth doing as it gives you stunning views of the Jefferson and the MLK Monument. Make sure you avoid weekends as you will be queuing for around an hour!

On Easter Sunday we were invited to a proper American Easter dinner. We headed up to Columbia, Maryland to a quiet suburban neighbourhood for a feast! It was our first time experiencing a true American home and it did not disappoint! After being away from home for awhile it was nice to spend some time in a familial setting. The food was delicious and dessert was absolutely to die for! It was my first time saying grace, playing catchphrase and having an American Easter

It was not a typical Easter, and yet it was nice to experience it from an American perspective. Although they do not recognise religious holidays on a national scale, they sure do know how to celebrate!

A Weekend in DC

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This weekend it was my turn to play tour guide. A close friend of mine, who I met whilst she was studying abroad at King’s College last year had come down from Philly to catch up and check out DC. Her timing could not have been more perfect as the temperature reached up to 75°F (24°C) and the cherry blossoms came out in bloom. We have been so fortunate with the weather this year, the winter has been extremely mild and spring has arrived early. This time last year it was snowing and now people were out sunbathing. As I hate the cold I am so glad I have not spent the semester freezing my arse off.

 

 

We grabbed lunch, headed down to the National Mall and spent the afternoon sitting at the edge of the Reflecting Pool basking in the sun and catching up on all the events of the past year. To escape the heat we went and checked out the Renwick Gallery before heading to Georgetown for dinner. After eating way too much pizza we decided that we still weren’t full and went to the famous Georgetown Cupcakes for dessert. I had only tried the Baked and Wired cupcakes before but I definitely prefer the Georgetown ones. As the sun set on Georgetown and as the Oscars were in a couple of days we went and checked out the film Lion at the AMC cinema.

 

The next day we headed across town to Eastern Market. Although it is only a small market they still had a decent selection of food stalls. We had Mexican street food for lunch followed up by mini doughnuts. As the weather changed we decided to make the most of the free museums in DC and explored the Air and Space Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. The holocaust memorial was particularly sobering and extremely poignant in the current political climate. It was unsettling to recognise certain parallels between past and present events as the museum also makes connections between past cases and potential future risks of genocide.

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Once again we hit up 14th Street for dinner. This time around we headed to Thip Khao, which specialises in Laos food. I had never tried Laos food before as it is not something that is commonly available in London. However, it is definitely something I will be searching for when I return home. We devoured a range of dishes from chicken hearts to pig ears (trust me it tastes better than it sounds!) before finishing the night off at Eighteenth Street Lounge.

It was great to be able to catch up with an old friend and show her around the city. As we explored DC I realised how much I had come to know and love my new home.

President’s Day Weekend in DC

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While most of my friends are exploring the East Coast over the President’s Day weekend, I stayed behind in DC to do some sightseeing and bring some friends around who were visiting from out of town. Sun’s out guns out – woolly coats and puffy jackets were replaced by shorts and dresses in the sunny 70 degree weather.

Recreating some of the magic I experienced at the Monuments by Moonlight Walk during orientation, we did it in the daytime this time round. National Mall was bathed in sunlight with plenty of people playing casual baseball, football and having picnics. Crowds milled by the reflecting pool and filled the steps outside the Lincoln Memorial – it was a challenge trying to get a good picture. Word of advice – if you’re planning on photographing the monuments on the national mall, it would be a better bet to go later at night. Not only will you be able to get an unobstructed view, you will also enjoy a breathtaking rush of unparalleled tranquility in the company of historical heavyweights.

Food dedication

Remember how last week the spot I was planning on having brunch at had an hour’s wait? Well, I remembered to make reservations this time round and went during dinner hour.

medium-rare

Medium Rare is a steak diner located in the chic Capitol Hill neighborhood. The menu boasts a grand total of 1 main dish which is served in 3 courses: baked bread, rocket salad and 2 sets of steak and fries (refillable). It also has a great wine menu and whenever in doubt, ask the waiter for tips on how to get the best wine-steak combo. The best part is, it only costs 20 dollars (minus tax)!

Also, if the night is still young and you desperately don’t want to go back to good ol’ Foggy Bottom just yet, head across the street to Banana cafe and piano bar for some sweet treats. Located on the second floor of a yellow building by the road, the puerto-rican and cuban style diner serves up some fancy cocktails (and mocktails if you’re not of age) and there’s always a jazz pianist available to entertain. On the weekends, pop piano is available at certain hours.

Midterm week is coming up so all the best everyone! Don’t forget to study and play hard.

lincoln

 

DC – Cologne Fusion

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After my quite serious and long blog entry last week, this week will be much lighter – I promise. In fact, this will probably be the first time, where I report from my time in DC and at GW from as a proper tourist. The reason? It is simple, I am actually spending all my time with two tourists right now – my friends from Germany. The day of the 25th anniversary of German reunification (10/03/2015) was chosen to have very own little reunion. Well, okay, them being here on such a symbolic day is only a coincidence, but still a very ironic one. Their timing was great or maybe not so much considering that they are here during my Midterm week. We will see how that plays out.

Since they will only stay in DC for a couple of days before we take off to the Big Apple aka New York City, I felt huge pressure on me to show them everything. Initially my goal was to be the best tour guide they ever had. However, my wish was crushed after I noticed that myself is still a bit of a tourist in this city after we jumped into the Red Line going into the opposite direction of our destination twice. I also forgot the way to Shake Shack so that we ended up walking the biggest detour ever shake shack
I like to be positive though, so to look for the silver lining at least they saw much of DC that way. Plus, we had a lot of time to talk.

It is a strange feeling; I’m not going to lie, to walk around with friends from my hometown back in Germany in DC. Walking around with people from Maastricht is different. I just share a different connection to them. My friends from Cologne are people I grew up with. They have witnessed all my good and bad days, have gone through crazy times with me and seen me change and grow. People from Maastricht only know the Bahar of the last two years. They do not know all of me. So having my friends from Cologne here is a strange feeling, because it creates an even stronger bond between us. Now they witness me being here. They can experience some of the things I encounter during my time in DC themselves now. It is not only me telling them about all my experiences as it was the case after my exchange year 6 years ago. They understand me better now and it makes us feel even closer to each other.

Hurricane Joaquin or lets rather say what one could feel from Hurricane Joaquin in DC was not the best sightseeing weather. We still did not let go of the chance to walk passed Obama’s little cabin and take a typical tourist selfie in front of it white house touris.

If shopping counts as some form of sightseeing, too, then we also did a lot of that in Georgetown– according to my friends even too much since they might be broke by now. The bucket list for places my friends have to see has still some important things on it:

 

The National Mall.

Eastern Market and H Street.

U Street with dinner at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The Pentagon.

Georgetown Cupcakes & the Waterfront.

El Chuco.

 

We also walked around the GW campus, which apparently has inspired my friends a lot. They really want to buy a GW sweater now. They are showing full on college spirit.

It is great to have them here. Now I can share my enthusiasm about DC and GW with them directly instead of only awkwardly talking to them via Skype, which 90% of the time consists only of me asking: “Do you guys hear me?”

Being here they hear me clearly and they can see and experience for themselves. They like DC and are very happy. We all are. The major reason is probably that we are together with DC being the icing on the cake.