Friday, December 19, 2014

What DC Has Taught Me

It’s difficult to articulate the fantastic experience that I had on the Washington Program this semester, but I'm going to attempt to.

In the last four months, I have managed to live on my own, work a full time job without pay, and feed myself, all while attempting to complete three courses. Needless to say, this semester was my busiest yet! But it was also one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had to date, and there are a lot of things I learned about myself in this semester full of excitement.

First, I’ve learned that the structure of a full time office job is inherently stressful. Even on slow days, I came home exhausted. I didn’t understand it, and I definitely didn’t want to do anything but put on my PJs and watch a movie, but then I had class, so two to three days a week I couldn’t just go home and relax. It was finding the strength to continue to push through even when I was exhausted that really made me understand my limits, and how much work was too much work. It turns out that I can handle a lot, but sometimes I did need to take some time for myself and watch TV, read, or go to the gym. Those times were necessary to retain my mental health, and I’m glad that I was able to do that sometimes.

That being said, I have also learned through this program that everything tends to happen at the same time. By this, I mean that my elections paper was due the midnight before my birthday, the research and memoir presentations were smack dab in the middle of House Democratic leadership elections at work, and the research paper and finals took place during the busiest lame duck session that we’ve seen recently, culminating in the cromnibus. Looking back, one of my biggest regrets was not realizing how busy I was going to be at points ahead and planning accordingly. Instead, I let things build up, put off papers, and ultimately ended up freaking out every time things were due. It was not the most stable form of accomplishing tasks, that’s for sure.

Another thing I’ve learned is that if you do your work well, and you’re polite and respectful, people will notice. Probably my greatest accomplishment of this semester was getting to know my coworkers, and working my hardest to be the best intern that I could be. It helped my attitude that my office was outstanding with thanking me for the tasks that I did for them, and for that I am very grateful. However, working is hard, especially when you’re the lowest on the totem pole, and I learned that it’s okay to fall sometimes as long as you work your hardest to get back up.

Finally, this semester I have learned that I am smart, kind and capable, and those skills can easily transfer to a successful life in the real world. While I certainly had slip ups, that’s all part of learning to be on your own.

The lessons I have learned this semester will be applicable to the rest of my life, and I am certainly grateful to all of the people that helped me throughout the program. I maybe/kindof/in a way know what I’m doing for the first time ever, and that’s a great feeling! Until next time, DC. Thank you for all that you’ve given me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Chinatown Gang Speaks, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part series, in which Nicole, Maryl, Charlotte and I talk about our experiences in DC so far, and what we have learned. You can also get a feel for our normal conversations from this. See part two below, and make sure to read all the way to the end!

Group Interview:

Maryl: “What is something that you’ve learned since coming here?”

Nicole: “I’ve learned that the Hill is a weird place. I had heard that it was fast paced and filled with young people, but I had no idea how accurate the description was. The Hill is filled with a large majority of 20-30 somethings who are working all the time, constantly busy. I definitely think I fit the mindset of getting things done very well, but it can be physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting at times. Especially in session. When we’re in session I just want to come home and go to bed.”

Maryl: “I find it interesting that we’re watching partisan politics evolve right now. We talk in class about the Republican Party become more partisan by just appealing to their far right base, and we are living these ideas first-hand.”

Charlotte: “But there are definitely also weird realities, like politics and government is all about winning and you have to pick a side.”

Emman: “Self-promotion is a plague. People network harder than they work.”

Maryl: “I think the best part of networking is just working. Just doing what you do well can get you a long way.”

Maryl: “Okay, who is your favorite politician and who is the most frustrating politician?”

Emman: “Elizabeth Warren is probably my favorite politician because she’s wonderful. The most frustrating for me was probably Mark Udall. I thought he needed to change his campaign and he didn’t.”

Nicole: “I am also a huge Elizabeth Warren supporter, and I don’t know if I have frustrating politicians as much as frustrating election outcomes. Kay Hagan? Didn’t see that one. Steven Horsford either.”

Maryl: “Who is the most attractive politician?”

Emman: “Hill-dawg.”

Nicole: “Beto O’Rourke. Hands down.”

Maryl: “Joe Biden. No wait, maybe I should choose a Jewish politician because we would have more marriage potential... Just kidding, it’s definitely Joe Biden.”

Charlotte: “Does Michelle Obama count?”

Maryl: “Oh yeah, we should include women. Why does this have to be heteronormative?”

Charlotte: “Michelle Obama is an icon.”

*conversation continues about Michelle Obama’s great characteristics*

Maryl: “Where would you ideally work next time you come to DC?”

Emman: “Senate office. That young Liz Warren Senate office though.”

Charlotte: “Senate Committee.”

Maryl: “EMILY’s List, National Partnership for Women and Families, or the Feminist Majority Foundation. In the Claremont bubble I don’t really hear too much about reproductive rights around the country, and now that I do, I am realizing how much those women having access affects me. I’m really passionate about that issue.”

Charlotte: “Being on the Hill would be a cool experience. I’m a hamster and I need to be on a wheel.”

Nicole: “The State Department. I feel like my personality lends itself well to that type of structured environment, and I would be able to succeed.”

Maryl: “What is your most important policy issue and how has your time here changed that or informed your enthusiasm for that issue?”

Emman: “I realized how much I care about economic policy and issues. Getting a more big-picture view in DC has shaped that a lot. Especially with my race policy research, I can see how central the economics of an issue are.”

Charlotte: “Criminal justice stuff. If you want to go into government, you do have to understand a variety of areas. It’s good to focus, but you need to be able to talk about everything.”

Maryl: “Reproductive rights. I’ve become more aware of the limited access around the country. One that has arisen while I’ve been here is the issue of voting restrictions. States are essentially instituting poll taxes! It’s so disturbing. And why do we have these laws? Voter fraud. VOTER FRAUD DOESN’T EVEN EXIST.”

Nicole: “Probably reproductive rights, but not necessarily because of my time in DC. That has always been a constant, and being here has actually allowed me to see the whole picture and how things get done, not just the lack of improvement that I see at home. So that’s pretty cool.”

Maryl: “We’re towards the end of the semester now, what do you think will be the biggest thing that you will take away from this experience?”

Emman: “Girls are funny.”

Maryl: “I think how to live on my own. How to work, go to school and still feed myself. How to budget, cook, what to do when appliances break, what to do without an RA. It’s made me appreciate all that I have at Scripps, but I also know that when I graduate next year, I will be fine. I also met 11 CMC people who are not bad.”

Nicole: “Mine is similar. I feel like I can rely on myself much more for life, I’ve become closer to understanding how I work, and how that fits in a professional environment. I’ve also learned that I have a decent internal map and actually do have the ability to not starve on my own. And not eat gluten.”

Charlotte: “I don’t know I’m not done yet.”

Hilariously Irrelevant Extras:

Charlotte and Maryl: “Scratch the ham, leave the chicken, and add fish.” “And keep the Joe.”

Charlotte: “The CMS volleyball team is in Virginia right now?!”
Nicole: “I don’t care.”

Charlotte: “I’m like the cuddliest person on Earth.”
Emman: “No I’m the cuddliest person on Earth!”

Charlotte: “American geography is confusing. Maryland…. Where does it start, where does it end? I don’t know.”
Charlotte: “YEAH!”
Emman: “Delaware is a good place to have a start up apparently.”

Everyone: “Guys, being an adult is hard.”

And this concludes our two part series! I hope you enjoyed our conversation as much as we did. See you in a month!

The Chinatown Gang Speaks, Part 1

Hi, Nicole here. For our blogs this week, Emman and I wanted to give you a little bit of an insight into our home life by chatting with our roommates, Maryl and Charlotte about our experiences in DC. The four of us live in a 9th-floor apartment one block North of Chinatown, a block away from a Safeway, a five minute walk from the metro, and across the street from another group in the program. I can truthfully speak for everyone when I say that we love our housing situation, and we are all satisfied with our internships now. Living with these three has been one of my greatest experiences so far, and I hope that in our interview you can see why. I give a little bit of background of each person below, and then the first part of the interview below that.

Nicole Hohnstein, CMC ‘16
  • Government and Biology dual major
  • House Democratic Caucus Intern
  • From Boise, ID
  • Celiac (allergic to gluten)
  • Roommate to Emman

Emmanuel (Emman) Hurtado, CMC ‘16
  • Government and Philosophy dual major
  • Center for American Progress intern, Race Policy Team
  • From Salt Lake City, Utah
  • No known allergies
  • Roommate to Nicole

Maryl Evans, Scripps ‘16
  • Politics and International Relations major
  • National Jewish Democratic Council intern
  • From Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Lactose-Intolerant, doesn’t eat red meat
  • Roommate to Charlotte

Charlotte Bailey, CMC ‘16
  • Government major
  • American Bar Association intern
  • From Orangevale, California
  • No known allergies
  • Roommate to Maryl

Joe Koronkowski, U of U ‘16
  • Emman’s friend from home
  • Government major
  • Republican Representative’s intern
  • Liberal
  • From Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Allergic to penicillin
  • 5th roommate who lives on the pull-out couch one or two nights a weekend
  • Very lovable

Group Interview:

Maryl: “What does it feel like to be in a city with so much history all around you?”

Nicole: “It doesn’t really hit me that much when I’m actually in the city. I mean, I work in one of the most historic areas in the District on Capitol Hill, and I don’t realize how much history is around me, because I’m usually focused on beating the caterer to the room in the Capitol or something similar. But once I get out of the craziness for a bit, like on our day trip to Annapolis, I remember how much history is in DC and make a mental note to do more and see more while I have the chance.”

Emman: “It’s cool to see the Washington Monument and the Capitol all the time from our view at the apartment, too. That’s when I really remember how much history there is around us. ”

Maryl: “What did you think of our program day trip to Annapolis last Saturday?”

Nicole: “I thought the town was adorable, and it was really nice to get out and see something new with our program for a day. It also made me kind of want to join the navy? Except for all of the swimming.”

Emman: “I liked the cozy little tavern we went to.”

Nicole: “Oh that tavern was wonderful!”

Emman: “We have an awesome group, too, so it was fun hanging out with everybody on a planned trip.”

Maryl: “So we had Kristen Mallory visit, and she said that most of the time groups have little conflicts in one way or another. Why do you think our group gets along so well?”

Emman: “We are a smaller group than usual, and we made a conscious effort early on to form a close bond. Planning group events early on really helped us out, I think. I would encourage future groups to follow our example, it’s worked out well.”

Nicole: “I also think that we just aren’t a dramatic group. We’re all people more focused on having a good time, rather than creating conflict. When you enjoy the people you’re with, those issues don’t come up nearly as much… and all of us know how to take a joke and not take things personally.”

Maryl: “You’ve worked eight hours, you’ve gone to class for two hours , what do you make for dinner?”

Emman: “Chipotle unless I’m feeling like a chef that day.”

Nicole: “Gluten free grilled cheese! Just because I can’t make a real grilled cheese doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my favorite food. It also helps that it’s simple and quick.”

Maryl: “Our living situation is a little unorthodox verging on unkosher. Emman, what is it like to live with three girls? What surprises you?”

Emman: “I’ve just accepted life living with women … honestly I can’t even REMEMBER what it was like to live with boys.”

Maryl: “How is it different?”

Emman: “ I just feel more pressure living with girls.”

Maryl: “To be clean?”

*entire group laughs*

Emman: “I just feel like girls have higher expectations for their roommates in general.”

Maryl: “Okay, Nicole, what surprised you about having a male roommate?”

Nicole: “It mostly surprised me just how similar it was to having a female roommate. I mean, the only issues are normal roommate issues like alarms going off and sharing the bathroom, not because he’s a boy and I’m a girl. I think he’s actually my most compatible roommate that I’ve had so far, just because we are both relaxed about things, semi-messy sometimes and have no real ‘sleep schedule.’”

Emman: “Yeah, I was actually surprised how quickly it became normal. I think within a few days I felt perfectly comfortable.”

Nicole: “Same! It only took about two days for me to feel normal in the situation.”

Maryl: “Does your readership know that you sleep on Tempur Pedics?”

Emman: “The beds are dope.”

Nicole: “Yeah we have a good set up.”

Emman: “Okay, now I have a question for you guys. How do you feel about Joe?”

Maryl: “I enjoy Joe very much! From day one, we just had a fifth roommate, so I got used to it really quickly. His company is enough payment, and he always puts away his bed in the morning and says funny things.”

Nicole: “Joe is awesome. I love our fifth roommate.”

Maryl: “Let’s switch it up, what is your favorite book for class so far?”

Emman: “The textbook for Congress.”

Nicole: “Gates. What about you Maryl?”

Maryl: “Probably Gates, but it’s a real tossup. Char? What’s your favorite book?”

Charlotte: “I’ve liked all of them, actually. Don’t say that, I’ll sound like a nerd.”

And that concludes part one! To see part two, look to Emman’s post this week, titled “The Chinatown Gang Speaks, Part 2.” You’ll want to read his, he got all of the really funny parts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fall into DC!

As fall lasts a grand total of about five minutes in Claremont it can be easy for those of us who come from colder places to feel like we’re missing out. I mean perpetually sunny Southern California has its own advantages, but there’s nothing quite like fall. Although I’ve been trying to take advantage of the changing leaves and sweater weather temperatures, it can often be difficult balancing a work-school life with outdoor activities. Between working all day and attending classes at night, sometimes it’s difficult to even see the sun at all. However, despite all the stress and the busy days, Washington D.C. is a great place to live and fall is the perfect time to see it. 

I’m lucky enough to live in a tree lined part of town which means that even a walk to the grocery store seems like a fall activity in itself. I’ve used the lingering pleasant temperatures and pretty trees as an excuse to better explore my own neighborhood and have been taking weekend strolls. The residential streets look prettiest in the fall and the leaf piles definitely make me wish I was a kid again (although the adult in me is now happy that I at least don’t have to rake).

Streets in the neighborhood

 View walking home from work

If you want to immerse yourself even more in the nature, there are plenty of hiking trails within D.C. itself and the views are undeniably the best in October and November.  Some hiking paths within Rock Creek Park are right by the Smithsonian Zoo are not very far from the Woodley Park Metro Station. Even if you don’t live that close to the trails they are pretty easy to get to during the weekend. 

Fall doesn’t have to mean spending any time outdoors though, especially if you’re used to warmer weather and think that 50 degrees is freezing. Fall is also the perfect time to spend the entire Sunday in your apartment drinking hot cider and baking pumpkin bread. 


There are plenty of ways to enjoy fall and, whichever you prefer, fall is the perfect season to spend in Washington D.C.