December 2, 2009
Best thing: Holiday season
Worst thing: Losing time
Time is running out. There are officially only 3 weeks left in the WII program, 3 WEEKS!! With my time here in DC literally slipping through my fingers, I have been trying to make the most of every opportunity presented to me. And so, I’m trying my hardest to fully immerse myself in as much American culture as I can.
To do this, I have become an American sport fanatic. Within the last two weeks I have been fortunate enough to attend my first ever ice hockey and basketball matches. Ice hockey was definitely my clear favorite. Coming from a city where I don’t wear a coat, ever, my only experience of ice hockey was from watching mighty ducks as a kid. Ice hockey is a brutal, violent, fast paced game and I found myself yelling FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! throughout its entirety. I loved it. Basketball was also great too, but I definitely have a thing for the skates. Something I was surprised at though, was how all the Americans I know told me that Washington sporting teams are hopeless and always lose. Yet, both teams won the games I went to….. clearly my support leads to victory! Wahoooo.
Not only have I discovered violent sports, but within the last month I have realized what I love most about America – HOLIDAY SEASON. It seems like every 2 weeks there is a new holiday to celebrate. And so the shopping begins, the crazy spending, the decorating, and my favorite part of all….. the eating!
First it was Halloween. I wanted to fully commit to every aspect of this American tradition, as it is something we do not celebrate back in Aus. So, as you can imagine, at the top of my agenda was carving a pumpkin. I have never done this before, so of course I choose the biggest, orangiest, heaviest pumpkin I could find. It was easily a quarter of my size!! And without a car, the mile long walk back from the supermarket was agony! Once home, the knives were out and I was ready. I definitely feel my carving skills are not nearly up to par with my American peers and need some desperate improving. Hence why my new nickname is “hacker”! But I must say, all was well and my pumpkin turned out to be a very good-looking fellow.
Not only was the pumpkin a new adventure, but costume shopping is whole different story. Never have I seen stores dedicated to this day, let alone filled with so much choice and variety of costumes. My roomies and I decided to do our costume shopping a week before the event and still the stores were packed with people, yelling and shouting, trying to get that perfect outfit. I’ve always had a fascination with little red riding hood. (I have little red riding hood pajamas – they are cool, ok!). So when I saw this costume in one of the stores, I was set.
The next holiday on the agenda is Thanksgiving. Again, something I have never before celebrated. However, everyone, including all my roommates are going home for the week!! But not all hope is lost. A fellow lonesome WII student and I have decided to head to New York City for the Macy Thanksgiving Parade. Personally I don’t know a whole lot about the event, but everyone I tell has responded with an “OMG, that is so amazing, you will have the best time!” I guess it is apparently the thing to do on this day so I am very excited.
Of course my next blog will outline the juicy details of this trip and many more I’m sure. Until then, happy thanksgiving…. If that is what you are supposed to say!
October 27, 2009
Best thing this week: no longer being referred to as the foreigner
Worst thing this week: 5 am wake up calls
Although I’ve only been living in DC for 8 weeks, I can now honestly say I now feel like a member of the DC community. A fully-fledged Washingtonian. I am no longer the ‘tourist’. You see, I am not that person asking others for directions, or what metro I need to take, or what area is popular with the locals. Instead, tourists now stop me for this advice!! My boyfriend arrived this week for a short, surprise visit and I have been eagerly showing off my newly acquired Washingtonian status. I have been dragging him around the city like a crazy person, taking him to all the amazing sites and areas I love the best. All without a street or metro map, of course.
This skill has proved particularly useful when navigating myself around DC in the dark. Each Wednesday for the past two weeks, I have had to wake at 5am to attend interviews for my internship. For those lucky enough to still be snuggled in bed at this hour, Washington is still dark….. and cold. Thus, it’s not really an ideal time to be travelling if you have no idea where you should be going. Fortunately, my knowledge of the city is continuously improving, so locating the Senate building and the Department for Health and Human Services was as easy as it is in full sunshine. Despite the horrible hour to which I had to wake, the interviews were fantastic, and I was able to meet some very important government figures.
Along with feeling like a true Washington resident, I have also developed a love of American food culture. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Apart from the burgers and fries, I have become officially addicted to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. A dessert I had never heard of until a fellow WII student brought it to my attention. I am now addicted and can’t go a day without it. The pimple on my chin is evidence of this. Whether it be chocolate fudge brownie, banana and strawberry sundae, new york cheesecake or chocolate chip cookie dough, there is a flavor for every occasion. Yummmm.
I still have no idea about what I should dress up as for Halloween this coming weekend. Since this is a festivity not celebrated back home, I am very excited to see if it is exactly like how it appears to be on the movies. Pumpkins, ghosts and lots and lots of candy. Maybe I should come as a giant tub of Ben and Jerry’s ??? Anyways, I am sure my next blog will be filled with the happenings of this event!
October 19, 2009
Best thing this week: Meeting up with a fellow classmate from home
Worst thing this week: Not getting into the Whitehouse.
It seems writing this blog has had more benefits then I first imagined.
- I get myself out of writing reflections for class.
- My parents can check out what I have been up to without me having to call them. haha
- They think blogs are so cool (my mum is still trying to work out how email works) that they have now forwarded this link to all their friends…… great.
- I’ve managed to meet up with a girl from my university back home who I didn’t know was in DC as well.
Apparently she was sent the link via mass email from my university (guess everyone at my school knows about it too) and realized she took some classes with me. Although we have never really spoken, she commented my blog saying she was also in DC undertaking an internship and asked if I wanted to meet up. We went out for lunch and have become instantaneous friends!! I never would have thought this blog could help me make new friends.
Anyway, I have come to the realization over the last few weeks that I must ensure I travel with the correct belongings at all times. First it was no passport. And this week, it was bringing a camera when I am not allowed one. I was fortunate to score the opportunity to do a tour of the Whitehouse a few days ago….. something you must usually sign up for months in advance. Having seen a friend post a photo from the tour on his facebook, I assumed that cameras were allowed. Well apparently they ARE NOT! After waiting in line for over an hour, in the rain and 5 degree Celsius or 46 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, I was refused entry. Well….. someone could have told me sooner. The annoying thing was, everyone with a phone was allowed in. I’m not sure if security guards from the Whitehouse are up with technology, but every phone today has a camera and recording device!!! Geeeeeessssss.
In talking about the 5 degree Celsius wait, I must say the weather in DC never ceases to amaze me. At the start of the week I was sun baking on the balcony of our apartment. And now, I am curled up in blanket inside with the heat on, as fierce cold winds blow and rain drizzles outside. I have gone from wearing a bikini to a coat and gloves in 7 days!! The ever-changing weather and temperature makes dressing in the morning a particularly challenging event, as I find I get too hot or absolutely freezing during the day. I have now developed a system to best ensure I am appropriately dressed for whatever DC weather is thrown my way. Every morning when I wake up, I go outside and stand on the balcony of my apartment. If I freeze within 5 minutes, I know layers, a thick coat and a hat is necessary. However, it is always necessary to pack an extra cardigan, scarf and an umbrella wherever I go, as the weather is so unpredictable.
It’s sad to think that almost half a semester has already flown by. What will the second half have to offer…… all will be revealed.
September 28, 2009
Best thing this week: Discovering Georgetown
Worst thing this week: The mad rush to get the forgotten passport.
My parents are in the United States at the moment. Even though I have only been away from home for 3 weeks, they were missing soooo much. So last weekend they came to visit! Which gave me a great opportunity to don my tourist hat and explore more of DC. We did all the sites….. walk around the Whitehouse, Capitol Building tour, Air and Space Museum, Washington monument, Jefferson memorial, Lincoln memorial, Arlington Cemetery…. In three days!! It was a huge effort, but definitely worth it. I am surprised my legs haven’t fallen off from all the walking.
Living in the city for only a while, I’ve found that Washingtonians always want to share their favorite hangouts with newcomers. So, unsurprisingly, the concierge at the hotel my family was staying said we HAVE to check out Georgetown, as this was THE PLACE to be. Upon arrival in area, I understood why. Georgetown is beautiful. Quaint little brick buildings, streets that are buzzing with people, stores that are pumping with people and restaurants are completely filled (you guessed it), with people. I guess the concierge did know what he was talking about as this definitely seemed like the place to be. Anyone who knows me well knows I love and live for shopping. So when I discovered a Zara store there too, I instantly fell in love with Georgetown!! I now frequent there often, and claim to all my roommates how it is the place to be!
After my family left DC for New York, I returned to my internship at NBC. So far it has been going very well. I have found that I am either crazily busy, or sitting twiddling my thumbs. But I guess it just depends on what “news” is occurring that day. I did have a star struck “OMG” moment this week when Jenna Bush came waltzing down our office hall – she is now working for the Today show now. Shamefully I actually didn’t know who she was until later, but I am still bragging about it to everyone I know! Another cool thing that happened was that I got to be the special effects cameraperson for an interview we shot in one of our studios. My footage will be appearing on the show next week, so I am eagerly waiting to see how is turned out.
As I said earlier, my family went to New York. Currently I am on a plane there to visit them for the weekend before they fly home to Aus. However, it is actually lucky that I made the plane. I arrived at the airport early, exactly 1 hour before take off as every traveler should. I got to the terminal security check and the guard asks for my passport. OH NO! Somehow, stupidly, I forgot to bring my passport – the one thing necessary to board any plane in the US. It was now 45 minutes until my planes departed, and there was now way this security guard was going to let me through. So, the only thing to do was run. I ran back to the metro, took the metro back to my apartment stop, ran to my apartment block, grabbed my passport, ran back to the metro and ran back to the airport terminal – all the while dragging a suit case, a laptop bag, a coat, and wearing heels! Surprisingly my frantic dash to get the passport only took only 20 minutes (an advantage of only living 1 metro stop away from the airport). As you can imagine, by the time I made it back, I looked like I had run a marathon. There was sweat, there was pain and there were almost tears. The security guard who denied me earlier laughed when he saw me and said, “ohhh you made it, you didn’t need to rush, your plane has been delayed another 40 minutes!!” Are you serious???? At least I know now that I will never, ever, ever forget to bring my passport and that planes never run on time in DC.
I can say with confidence that there has yet to be a dull moment in DC. Whether it be chasing planes, discovering new areas or chilling around the Whitehouse. So I am very much anticipating what will happen next…… who knows??
September 14, 2009
Best thing this week: Meeting and hanging out with fellow WII students
Worst thing this week: Internet battle with Comcast
I have never been one to blog. Sure, I have a Facebook and a Myspace page which I manage to waste an overwhelming and disturbingly alarming amount of time checking, (who doesn’t??) but I feel writing a blog is a whole different situation. It’s like writing a diary, something I always tell myself I will start and then lose interest about a week later. A digital version however may just be the thing I need and I am not one to give up on a challenge. Not only this, but it will be a great opportunity to gather my thoughts and reflect on my semester in one of the most significant cities in the world. So here goes, I guess.
I should probably start by giving you a brief overview of who I am and what I do and why I am here. Firstly, my name is Carla. I am 20 years old and I am from the Gold Coast in Australia, a small city about 10 hours north of Sydney. Yes, Washington is a long way from home, 40 hours transit time in fact, so it is lucky that I like planes. I’m studying Journalism at home and so will be completing my internship with NBC’s Today Show in their Washington Bureau. Ultimately I would love to be a television reporter/presenter and so am hoping the internship will give me some on hand experience that I can use to dazzle future employers in Australia when I return.
Right now it is almost 3.30pm on a rather chilly and overcast Saturday afternoon. I’m sitting in a Caribou Coffee store, about 4 blocks from the apartment block I am living in, making the most of the free internet, although I did feel pressured to buy a hot chocolate. You see, we have yet to have it installed in our apartment. My roommates and I (2 New Yorkers and a Canadian) are in the middle of a battle with Comcast. I never knew internet installation could be so difficult. However it seems that in Washington, just because you have booked an appointment for installation, doesn’t actually mean the technician will turn up. In fact, on Wednesday I wasted the entire day sitting in our apartment in the hope he would show. No luck. And so, the gruesome battle continues. Hopefully next week, we will be victorious.
Internet is not the only thing that hasn’t run as smoothly as I imagined here. Something as simple as ordering a coke is difficult if you have an accent, let alone an Australian one. It is like I speak a completely different language. Apparently when I order ‘coke’ I sound as if I am asking for a ‘cup’, an empty one at that. Coke is a universal word, is it not? A woman who was in the food queue at the time told me Americans aren’t very good at dealing with accents. Great! So a little over a week in America has taught me that in order to survive, I need to change the way I speak. I now pronounce my name caRRRRRRRlaRRRRRR, emphasizing heavily on the R. Otherwise, I am met with a confused expression and I end up repeating myself a million times. Putting on a faux American accent is just easier.
Apart from these minor hiccups, everything else seems to be going fantastically well. I have met and become great friends with most people doing the program, especially those who also live in the same apartment block. They all put up with my very strange ‘Australianisms’ and are always on hand to fill me in on the American way of life. For example, several of us went to watch a baseball game -Washington Nationals v Florida Marlins. Apparently there is more to baseball then just giant fingers and hot dogs and so I became a baseball expert with help from them.
Also, I started my internship with NBC and I love it. My supervisors are so friendly and welcoming and everyone I meet is so excited that I have come. The first week has generally been like an induction, learning all the fundamentals necessary to be a helpful intern (learning all the programs and procedures) as well as getting to know fellow staff members. I am hoping this week I will be let off the chain a bit more so I can get some hands on experience. The Washington bureau of NBC is huge so I am constantly getting lost, but I always manage to find my way back to the Today show area eventually.
So I guess, so far, so good. I have my first class day at Wii tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that. And I’m sure this coming week will bring about some new, exciting and unexpected adventures.
Until next time,