Tag Archives: sightseeing

Dad’s surprise visit


Surprise visit with my dad.

My dad’s here, again. He’s stopped by D.C before leaving to go back to Italy. He’s scheduled to leave next Wednesday.

This time he came with his girlfriend, Erica, that I met for the first time. They met back in August in New York, when my dad came to help me move in. They met in a Starbucks. My Dad was in line to the cashier and could not understand a word of what the employee was saying. Not being able to speak English, he was just standing there trying to figure out what the cashier was asking.

Erica was the next in line. She was in a hurry, and paid for his coffee. And here they are, coming to visit in D.C.

They are funny together, they have their own way to communicate as they have no shared language to speak in.

So once again, despite my fast approaching midterms, I spent the weekend doing touristy activities. We went to see the Smithsonian American Art museums, where the portraits of President Obama and Michelle are exposed.

I have finally been fed good food for the entire weekend: we tried Ethiopian, Thai, Japanese and Indian cuisine.

We concluded the weekend watching the Italian elections that took place on Sunday, march 4th. I’d say this is the lowest note of the weekend. As I write, the votes have been counted, and the situation looks particularly dire. A center right, populist coalition has won a clear majority. The anti E.U 5 Star Movement comes second.

I find solace in the fact that I don’t live in Italy. My dad is leaving tomorrow, and flying back home on March 7th. I’m not envious.


The National Museum of Women in the Arts


    One of the reasons why I chose GWU as my exchange university is that its location makes it a perfect place for students to have access to rich resources. Among them, the great number of museums allow me to get immersed in the world of arts and acquire knowledge related to those artistic products. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is one of the famous museums on my wish list that I would like to visit once.

    NMWA, according to the introductory information on the website, is the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts. Inside the museum, there are abundant masterpieces from female artists on display. The museum itself is just like a huge palace, creating a tranquil space for the visitors to admire those works of art.

    Among the art works, “Sleeping Mask, 2014” by Gillian Wearing impressed me the most. The caption beside says, “Recognizing that self-presentation-in public, on the internet, or in written communication-is a form of masking.” Indeed, including men and women, most people in the world wear a mask in front of others for fear of social norms and regulations.

    Another work that impressed me a lot is “4 Seated Figures, 2002” by Magdalena Abakanowicz. I was not able to understand what the artist wanted to convey until I read the illustration beside. “These handless figures relate to the artist’s personal experiences: she witnessed her mother being shot in the hands as soldiers stormed their home in Poland during WWⅡ.” The story behind these figures made me feel sad about how cruel wars were and how people suffered during that period.

    I have also been to other museums in D.C until now, so I still have a lot to share with you. I might update them in the near future anyway. For those who are interested in women’s arts and how they fight for gender equality, NWMA must be the right place.

Celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year


    Chinese New Year is the most important event to Chinese people in a year. It is not merely a holiday, but the precious moment to have a reunion with all the family members and relatives that live far away. During this period, we have different traditions and events to celebrate every day. For example, on New Year’s Eve, especially at night, we sit in a round table and eat together. Later, we watch TV or play games and then all the family members will start to distribute red envelopes to each other. This is the most exciting day for kids because they do not need to distribute their red envelopes, but keep receiving them from the elderly family members. On the first day of the Chinese New Year, according to traditions, we will go to temples in the early morning to pray for good health and luck in the following year. On the second day of the Chinese New Year, those women who got married must return their hometowns to visit their parents. In short, this is both an interesting and busy period for us. This year, for the first time in my life, I cannot celebrate Chinese New Year with my dear family. It is a pity on one hand, but on the other hand, I have the opportunity to participate in different activities in D.C to experience how Chinese people here celebrate their Chinese New Year.

     There are a series of special events to celebrate Chinese New Year this week. After searching for information online, my friends and I planned to go to Kennedy center to enjoy traditional Chinese music performance, cook and have a nice dinner together, and watch the New Year Parade at Chinatown.

    The Kennedy Center is a nice place for all kinds of performances. Some of the performances require tickets, but some do not. The one we participated in on Friday, which was one of the special events for Lunar New Year Celebration, was free. We got immersed in the music banquet with the beautiful melodies played by traditional instruments like guzheng, flute, pipa, and so on. For those who are interested in the free performance held every day at six o’clock p.m., I recommend you to go earlier in case you cannot find a seat.

    On Saturday morning, I went to supermarket with my friends to buy all the ingredients we would need to cook for our dinner. At night, we had hot pot, salmon fried rice, curry chicken, tofu, salad, and we drank beer to celebrate Chinese New Year. Although I cannot eat with my family, the friends I meet here are just like my family and I had an adorable night with them.

    On Sunday, we went to Chinatown to watch the annual Chinese New Year parade. We got there a little bit late, so the street had already been crowded with people when we arrived. Thankfully, we could still find some space in between. During the parade, we saw a lot of national flags of Taiwan, so we were extremely excited. It felt like D.C was our second hometown! The parade was gorgeous, for all the people in the parade dressed so beautifully and the performances were all unique. It was my pleasure to participate in this celebration and I was really glad to see that so many native speakers came to know more about Chinese culture. This parade put a perfect ending to my celebration trip for Chinese New Year. I believe that every single event that I have enjoyed this week would become one of the most memorable memories in my life. Anyway, Happy New Year and may everyone keep healthy and happy in the year of dog!!!




Away from D.C


It was a random, rainy and cold Thursday night when we decided that we had had enough of D.C.

Not actually, of course. But sometimes, when your routine gets overwhelming and the weather doesn’t help you power through it, it is normal to feel the urge to escape for a few days.

Me and my roommate felt that urge last Thursday night, as soon as we found out that there were no classes on President’s day and that we had not planned anything. We bought round trip tickets from DC to Philly, by bus. This type of short term, last minute planning is definitely my favorite. And the US East Coast serves that purpose pretty well. I mean, where else in the US can you get away for 2 days at a price of 80$ to visit a major city?
This isn’t something you can do if you’re in California, or Texas or even Chicago.  I like this European dimension of closeness that the east coast has.

We planned it out, recruited 2 friends and then we were ready to go. The details of our trip were as follows:

Departure on Sunday morning, and return on Monday night. 2 full days, 1 full night, 4 people and a full hostel. Full hostel meaning that other than us 4, our room was filled with additional people which, I know, is the very principle of a hostel. But as I had never sojourned in one, I was slightly weary of the concept. I did shared airbnb’s or even co-ops several times in the past, but never hostel. The bunk beds remind me of a military setting and the fact that you share them with strangers is a 50-50 situation. Either strangers are normal, or they are not. However, there is no room for such perplexities and considerations when the price for one night is so low: 26$. Unheard of in D.C.

We arrived at around 11 am on Sunday. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get rid of the D.C cold, as in Philadelphia it was about the same temperature. It was sunny, though, unlike in D.C. So the absorption of vitamin D compensated for the lack of heat.

We spent the day doing touristy stuff: the liberty bell, the independence hall, the museum of Art. We went to a pub at night, and the rest is history. No, we didn’t do anything malicious by American standards, of course. We chilled at the pub and then went to bed. There was no weirdo, and we made friends with the other people in our room.

On the second day, we visited a super cool garden (see pictures) made with re-purposed waste.


Philly is a cool city. Middle ground between a European city and New York. It is high rise, but also historical. Pretty hipster-ish, and more lively than D.C on a Sunday night. Food is good (shout out to Philly cheese steak!) and cheaper than D.C

My verdict is: great get away destination for a weekend. Hostels are mostly safe.



Zoo in DC


As the new year began, I vowed to put an end to procrastination. One of my new year’s resolution was to stop procrastination and putting off things to do. The main goal is that of getting to the end of the day knowing that I did not waste my time.

It is very likely that you end up not doing much of your day when it’s cold outside, warm inside, and school deadlines are not pressing yet.

It was a beautiful day in DC, at least 15º(celsius). It felt like a pause from the crippling winter-like cold that haunts most of the East Cost. So I decided I would do something I have been procrastinating since I was a child. That is, going to the zoo. My parents have always avoided taking me to animals-related attractions such as to zoos or circuses. There was no particular reason, it just wasn’t a family thing to do.

At 21 one years of age I have the chance to catch up with this long overdue childhood experience.

Here’s some pictures from the Smithsonian zoo.





    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.

    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.


    We had our lunch at a Spanish restaurant, Bodega, which my friend’s roommate strongly recommends us to go after shopping for a while. We ordered two sets of express lunch, including free bread, two starters and four tapas and they were really delicious (express lunch is only available Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM and each set is $16.)


    In addition to all those beautiful stores, Georgetown is also well-known for its cupcakes, so we went to one of the most famous cupcake stores, Georgetown Cupcake, to try one. There are a variety of cupcakes you can choose from and each of them is $3.50. I spent a long time pondering over which one to buy because there are so many flavors that I would like to try. Eventually, I got a confetti vanilla cupcake. It tasted awesome, but it was a little bit too sweet for me. For those who do not like to eat too sweet, red velvet must be your first priority.


    All in all, if you are planning for a tour not far away from campus, head to Georgetown and enjoy your time there. Just don’t forget to try a cupcake!




     It has been about two weeks since I arrived at GW. Although there are various American foods here that I have not tried yet, I still miss Asian Food a lot. Therefore, my friends and I decided to go to Chinatown to enjoy local Chinese food to relieve our homesickness.

    Chinatown is not too far from GW. You can get there by taking the metro to Metro Center Station and walk about ten minutes. When you see a huge colorful arch with Chinese characters “中國城” on it, you know you are at the right place. In addition to the arch, you can also see many Chinese symbols everywhere.


(Dragon is a symbol of luck in traditional Chinese culture and in ancient China, emperors wore dragon robes to show their authority and power.)


(Chinese Animal Zodiac Sign is a repeating cycle of twelve years with a specific animal that corresponds to each year. The order comes as: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Chinese people remember the animal that symbolizes the year they are born and the particular features that animal represents.)

It was so cold that day, so we decided to go into a restaurant and have our lunch to warm up ourselves immediately after taking photos of this beautiful place. The restaurant we chose is called “Chinatown Express.” It is quite a famous restaurant because The Washington Post and The New York Times have introduced the place. It was crowded then, but we were fortunate enough to find a table.


We ordered different kinds of foods and shared with each other. We did so not only because we wanted to save our money, but because it was a part of Chinese culture to sit together and share our food to show our intimate relationship.


(You can get a pot of free hot tea as soon as you sit down. For those who tend to eat a lot, I strongly recommend chicken fried rice!)

When we finished all our meals, each of us got a fortune cookie as our dessert. It was so exciting to pull out the letter in the cookie to see what it writes.


Chinatown is a really cool place for not only Asian people, but anyone who is interested in Chinese culture. If you feel bored after finishing eating, there are still a lot of stores that you can go shopping around there, such as GAP, Forever 21, H&M, etc.