Saturday, July 14, 2012

Perfect Ending

I woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning, just to make sure I'd have enough time to get ready. I was still half asleep when I heard it. I thought I recognized that particular sound, but I doubted myself. It wasn't until I looked out the window that I saw it, rain! It was raining, and it looked as if it had rained all night. I had to step away from the window to pick out a rainy day outfit. We were going on a day long trip to Washington D.C., and Cameron's iPhone said it would also be raining there. It was around 7:58 AM when I took one last look out the window, and guess what I saw! Not only was it no longer raining, but the sun was shining bright and every evidence of rain had disappeared. I had absolutely no time to change since they were already boarding the buses. I was stuck with my rainy day outfit on a beautiful summer day.

The bus ride was maybe a bit over two hours long. The bus was filled with early morning chatter and noises coming from the movie they were playing for us. We were dropped off at the National Mall, and were given three hours to explore. My cohort and I spent the majority of our time inside the Native American Indian Museum. The rest of our time was spent taking pictures in front of the capital. Before we knew it, it was 2:50 which meant it was time to head back to the buses. I was so glad to be back in the air conditioned bus!

Our next destination was Georgetown University. Well, actually you had two options, you could take a self-guided tour of Georgetown University, or walk a mile down to M street. On our way to the university we drove through M street, and it was a really long street with many stores, but it was a mile from where we were dropped off. The RC's described the walk to M street as walking in San Francisco's hilly neighborhoods. Taking the heat into account, the girls of the Penn cohort and myself decided an early dinner/late lunch sounded much better. We found a really well hidden place a couple of minutes from the university, and decided this would be the spot. We spent all of our time at "The Tomb", and I'm so glad we chose not to go to M street. I've been with these girls for practically three weeks, yet there are still so many things I don't know about them. Spending all of that time there really gave us the opportunity to get to know each other better!

Our final destination of the day was up next, back to our dorms. The bus ride back to Philly was a lot quieter than the morning had been. I'm assuming everybody was too tired to talk, but that didn't stop the laughs that echoed throughout the bus thanks to the movie that was being played for us, The Incredibles.

This weekend has been such a perfect ending to my second week here at Penn. Tomorrow will just make it even better! I will be going to the King of Prussia Mall, and then later on meeting my cohort and chaperone for dinner. Now all I have to do is go to sleep and wait for morning to come. Goodnight!

Let's Go To The Capitol

Today, I pulled a miracle waking up early on a Saturday at 7:00AM. Some will say that I am crazy waking up that early, especially on a Saturday, but I did it because today we were going to Washington DC. Since we were scheduled to leave at 8:00AM, I had to rush myself a bit so that I could get breakfast and pack some snacks for the ride. The ride was long, but went by along a lot faster with the help of two movies: The Book Of Eli and Big Fish.
What Does This Mean?
We arrived at The National Mall at 11:45AM and were given until 3:00PM to explore. There was so much to see and since I this was the first time I have visited Washington DC, I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, it wasn’t the same story with Mariko, who has visited before. She guided us around The National Mall, where we went through a sculpture garden. The sculptures were very interesting, some were a bit stranger than others, but they were equally filled with depth. After the garden, we moved onto the National Museum of the American Indian. It felt great to escape the heat and enter the nicely air conditioned museum. I loved the layout of the museum because instantly there were artifacts of various tribes, including a totem pole, clothing, and canoes built from animal hide. As some of my cohort went to the cafeteria to chow down on food that reflected the regions of the US, I explored as much as I possibly could, reading all the little details about each display. I found it very cool that the natives used nearly everything they possibly could, and putting almost nothing to waste. We then went up to an exhibit that talked about the different tribes. I loved sitting down and listening to a screen that displayed stories of the various tribes.
Making Faces Infront of Museum of American Indian

Shoe Display Near Entrance

Talked About Gender And Age Roles In Native Culture
After the Museum, we walked over to the Capitol. Unfortunately, we were unable to go inside, but still being that close to the Capitol made me feel special. The building was very beautiful and I loved the architecture. If only we could have gone inside, I would have been in complete happiness. Then as I turned around, I am hit with the most gorgeous view of The National Mall, seeing all the museums, the Washington Monument, and a little bit of the Lincoln Memorial. The clock started to tick closer to 3:00PM, so we decided to back to the buses. As we walked back, I got ice cream and water from an ice cream truck, it was expense, but it got the job done by making me forget about the heat.
The Capitol
The View From The Capitol
Our next stop was Georgetown. Cameron and I started to feel hungry, so we went to a Mexican restaurant and ordered burritos. I was disappointed with the place because I asked for their spiciest salsa, which they gave me, but to me was not even close to being something spicy. I felt homesick as I was eating, missing all the foods I loved. We decided to go to some stores. At first we were just hoping on buying something, but then it turned out that we just wanted to get out of the heat. Instead of getting ice cream, we got frozen yogurt, which was equally as satisfying. Then as it was time to go back to the meeting point, the weather started going nuts. I was raining, yet at the same time it was really sunny. It gave me a weird feeling about whether or not I should have put on my sweater. At one point, I looked up and there were literally no clouds above us, yet it still was raining on us.
After having all the energy drained out, I got a chance to relax on the bus ride back.  On the bus ride, I talked with people about their experiences’ at the different museums, which made me think. I will return to DC in the future and I will see it all, especially the inside of the Capitol. For now, I just can’t wait for tomorrow’s trip to King of Prussia Mall! 


Although I have been to Washington D.C a couple of time previous to today, I was able to visit a few new sites with different friends.  Like the New York trip, our RCs handed out maps outlining our "home area" or the boundaries we had to remain within during our visit.  Once these were passed out and the rules explained again, they let us go to find our own adventures.
In the Sculpture Garden

When we first arrived in D.C the home area was restricted to the National Mall, but the perimeter around the Georgetown area was a little bigger. We only had a few hours in the National Mall area, so I was not able to fully explore more than one museum during this time. To begin, we decided to walk through the National Museum of the American Indian, which none of us had even been to. Since our buses parked right in front of the Smithsonian, we had to diagonally cross the park in order to reach the American Indian museum. On the way though we spent some time in the Sculpture Garden, which was full of beautiful sculptures, trees, and flowers. I love how each sculpture had its own space, so that when I looked at any one of them, my focus was solely on the particular on I was enjoying. The greenery within this garden was woven into the display of the sculptures and they complimented each other excellently. If I am to return to D.C one day, I could easily spend hours just sitting in the beauty of this place and be perfectly content.

Within the American Indian Museum
The American Indian Museum on the other hand was filled with much more emotionally moving displays. From native artwork and tools, to the "Our Universe" exhibit, I saw powerful stories that convey the struggles, accomplishments, and desires of American Indians. While I walked through the exhibits however, I did not remember to think critically about possible biases within the information presented to me, and instead I just took in the words and videos as absolute factual history.  I am not at all saying that the museum is laying out a false history of these people, but we have talked about in class how it is important to carefully analyze museum exhibits in order to pick up on context clues that may provide more information than is directly presented.  Obviously this is something I need to work on.  I did however pay close attention to my surroundings when we entered the gift shop.  American Indian music, jewelry, decor, and books were all up for sale and the store was filled with tourists trying to buy their own piece of history.  To me, I feel like selling off all of these emblems of American Indian history is just another trap to get consumers to purchase more stuff that, in this case, makes them feel closer to the people that they have just spent the past hour learning about.  It's strange to think that we want to buy all of these items, as opposed to actually going out into the world and getting real life experience with American Indian people.  In addition to this, I know that a great deal of work goes into making the pieces of art that were on display there, but I don't understand how they can try to sell rocks for five dollars a piece.  While rocks were and are an important part of American Indian history as they are a part of the earth, I don't know how there can be any real connection made between the person who purchases the store rock and the person who actually lived near a river bed, near their rocks.  This is what I do not appreciate about museum gift shops, because it all seems impersonal and detached.  People feel that if they buy these items they can make some sort of connection to the creator of that item, but it seems like a superficial attachment that will never unify the two people.  That is all I could think about during the time we spent in the gift shop, and that is why I could not bring myself to purchase anything at all.
Georgetown University

When we rode over to Georgetown University, I was really excited to walk around campus because it is so beautiful.  I loved all of the brick buildings that made up the university as well as the surrounding neighborhood.  It is interesting and strange to see so many buildings made up of bricks because we have practically none in shaky California.  Besides the look of the area, we found a great place to grab dinner at called the Tombs Restaurant.  We discovered that this spot is quite popular among Georgetown students during the school year, and I completely understand why.  The food was delicious and cheap compared to the shops down on M street near by; a perfect place to grab a snack or eat a meal at.  The whole atmosphere of the Georgetown area was so friendly and beautiful that I could picture myself living there, so I am glad we went on this trip.  Finally, the weather there was really cool as well.  It had been pretty humid all day in D.C at the National Mall, but in the Georgetown area it began to rain while there appeared to be no clouds in the sky at all!  It was so beautiful to have the warm sun out, shining down on me, and then to have a cool rain pour down as well.  This experience was wonderful and I am quite fond of Georgetown University after making this visit today.

Washington D.C

After a long Friday , today summer discovery was taking a field trip to Washington D.C. I was very excited because I hadn't been to Washington D.C in about four years . Also recently, a cousin of mine moved down near the area , so I took this as a chance visit with her because I do not see that often.

When the alarm rang at 7 am , I had only gotten approximately 5 hours of sleep , so you can imagine what kind of mood I was in. after taking about 10 minutes to get out of bed ,my head seemed to way many more pounds than it actual does.When I looked out the window, it was raining, so I put on a long sleeve shirt , jeans and a jacket like I usually do at home.I later learned that this was a big mistake. I hopped on the bus and off we took for the 3 hour drive to Washington D.C. I luckily had the two back seats two myself , so I layed out and caught up on some sleep.

 When we arrived , we were in the Nation Mall facing the Capitol. The gang and I headed toward the nation museum of the american Indian, which was quiet interesting . When we sat down to eat , I got a phone call from my cousin that she had arrived , so I walked out to the front at met her and then introduced her to the rest of the cohort. We spent a lot of time discussing how we were actually part Indian and diving back into our ancestry. Many of the things she told me actually made sense because of the characteristics that our family members have.

Me And My Cousin
When we left the museum , I found out what such a bad clothing decision I made. In the east coast , it can be 90 degrees with humidity ( which makes it about 100 degrees) and can also rain, all at the same time. I had to deal with and if a similar situation presented itself I would make a better decision. We then headed towards the nation capital . I remember walking down the same path towards the steps of the capital 4 years ago. After this it was time to head back to the buses. I dropped my cousin back off at her car and said my goodbyes .( I wont be seeing her until Christmas :( )

The Capital

We visiting Georgetown for the remainder of the day , which was full of shops but me and David were so worn out by the heat that we just went in out of stores, for the air conditioning. The long bus ride home was well needed, because I finally was able to be in cool environment.

Washington, Direct Current

It isn’t every day that I get the chance to visit the nation’s capital, living all the way across the country as I do. However, I have been to Washington, D.C. twice before, once with my family when I was ten, and again on an eighth grade field trip. I definitely didn’t think I would be bored, since I was returning to D.C. at an entirely different season than either of my previous trips. I was expecting blistering heat, but was startled to wake up to the sound of rain beating on the roof. Based on the morning’s weather, Christine and I both decided to wear jeans. Unfortunately, the day turned out to be pretty warm after all, but with the assistance of air-conditioned museums and buses, I managed just fine.

After a three-hour bus ride, everyone was grateful to tumble out of the buses onto the sidewalk of The National Mall. We were given maps, instructions to stay in groups of four, orders banning us from taking public transportation, and set free into The Mall. I really wanted to revisit the National Museum of the American Indian, as I’d visited it eight years ago and loved it.

When I was younger, instead of taking my sister and me to Disneyland or shipping us off to summer camp, my parents took us on road trips throughout the western third of the country to see various National Parks. This definitely shaped my love and reverence of nature, but it also somehow translated into an interest in the culture and history of different Native American tribes. Funnily enough, the movie played on the way to D.C. was Avatar, which I thought tied in nicely with a visit to a museum about Native American culture.

The buses had dropped us off at the National Museum of American History, so we had a long trek into the opposite corner of The Mall to find the museum. The walk felt long, but there is also something rather spectacular about looking behind you and seeing the Washington Monument and a bit of the Lincoln Memorial peeping out from behind it, and turning around again to see the Capitol building looming in front of you.

The Washington Monument
The Capitol as viewed from the center of The Mall
On the way to the museum, we detoured through the sculpture garden, which was a nice change of pace to something quieter and more reflective than the masses of people traversing the main streets of The Mall.

A piece from the sculpture garden
Ivette hangs a wish from the Japanese wish tree
When we arrived at the National Museum of the American Indian, we stopped at the cafeteria and Clara and I bought ourselves some lunch. I remembered the cafeteria from my previous visit, and I had wanted to eat there again. The meals served there are supposedly traditional dishes from the different geographic regions of the U.S. I bought fry bread, a staple food of several different tribes. I ate tons of fry bread with my family on our trip to the Grand Canyon several years ago, and I became a little nostalgic during lunch. The food was pricey, but I personally felt like it was worth it to get a break from dorm food and eat something that I wasn’t likely to get any other time at this trip. Rest assured, we didn’t go there just to eat food. We visited an exhibit called Our Universes, which featured displays explaining the way that various tribes felt about the natural world. I wish we could have spent more time there and seen more exhibits, but we only had three hours and we wanted to see the Capitol building.

The ILC girls in front of the American Indian museum
A Native Hawaiian canoe
A Lakota buffalo hide
We didn’t go inside, but we walked around the side of the Capitol building facing The Mall and took lots of pictures. I can’t begin to imagine what it must feel like to be a Congresswoman and go to work inside a building that looks like it belongs in ancient Greece, but I suspect that if it were me, I’d be pretty excited. The architecture in D.C. is truly something, and it’s pretty cool to look out the window of the bus and see white marble edifices with thick stone columns, arches, and domes dominating the rest of the buildings.

Clara and Ivette in front of the Capitol
Our D.C. experience next took us to Georgetown. We were dropped off at campus, and although we weren’t given an official tour, we were free to wander around within the home area. The majority of people walked down to M Street to shop and get food, but we’d had enough of walking and stayed near campus. Elliot, one of the RCs, gave us handouts with a self-guided tour, so we checked out a few of the buildings along with going to dinner at a campus restaurant, The Tombs. Apparently the restaurant is extremely popular with the college kids, as the food is good but not too pricey, but we were lucky to find it relatively empty. There was one rowdy table that had racked up a $150 alcohol tab by the time we arrived at the restaurant around 5 PM, but we weren’t sitting anywhere near them so I wasn’t alarmed. As it turns out, the RCs also decided to eat there, but we didn’t really talk to them or anything so I didn’t feel too weird.

Everyone was worn out from the trip, so the bus ride back was pretty quiet. There is something magical about traveling by coach down the highway in the nighttime, watching the lights whip by, listening to music, and having random conversations with your seatmates about whatever pops into your head at that moment. I think that most people were glad to get off of the bus when we got back to UPenn, but for some reason I really like long bus rides with groups of other students. The whole day was amazing, from The Mall to Georgetown to the bus ride, and I’m so glad that Summer Discovery plans these events for us. I’m sure that Ocean City next Saturday will be as fun as New York City and Washington, D.C. have been.

A Capitol Day

Ah Saturday, a day for sleeping in, watching cartoons, and eating pancakes.  Or a day for an early wake-up and a 3-hour bus ride to Washington DC.  Today was the latter, although we did watch The Incredibles on the bus. 

We arrived at the National Mall at about 11:45.  It had been raining on and off during our trip, but humidity appeared to have taken the rain's place as we got off the bus. We had about three hours to explore the Mall and, on Mariko's recommendation, the cohort started off at the Museum of the American Indian.  We got lunch at their traditional food court, and although slightly overpriced, the food was delicious.  We then walked through an exhibit titled "Our Universes." It detailed the location, people, and traditions of many Native American tribes.  I enjoyed seeing the differences between each tribes and watching the video re-enactments of the traditional legends.  I've never loved history, but I think it's important to remember who came before us and honor them.  

From the museum, we walked to the Capitol Building.  Although we couldn't go inside, I was amazed by the pure power that the building radiated.  The lawn and fountains were beautiful and it felt crazy to be standing so close to where legislation is made.  After snapping a few photos, we walked back across the Mall to get back on the buses and drive to Georgetown.

The girls of our cohort decided we did not have enough time or energy to walk down to M street, the main shopping and dining area about a mile away from campus.  Instead, we explored the campus and the surrounding area.  We decided to grab a bite to eat at Tomb's Restaurant, apparently a popular spot for Georgetown students.  My falafel and berry shortcake were very good, but the conversation was even better.  Since starting our classes, the five of us haven't really had time to get together and hang out. I love how close we have gotten and I know we will be life-long friends.  I've met some amazing people on this trip, but it was great to take a moment and bond with amazing people I came with.

Tomorrow, I am looking forward to sleeping in and then going ice-skating with a Summer Discovery organized trip.  It should be a great day, though I'm starting to believe that's the only type of day they have here. 

A Day At The Capitol

I woke up to the strange pitter-patter of rain falling outside on the pavement. My heart sank when I realized that this was the weather I'd be experiencing all day. I got dressed and went to Wawa to pick up a few breakfast items and snacks for the trip. Today we were headed to our nation's capitol, Washington D.C.

The ride to D.C. was about two hours long and it was spent socializing with everyone else on bus #5. I was so excited to get off the freezing bus so I didn't mind that it was hot and humid outside. We were given three hours to explore the National Mall, which isn't a shopping mall for anyone who's wondering. The cohort and I spent the majority of  our time at the museum of American Indian history. After the museum, we started walking towards the capitol building. The capitol was something I absolutely had to see. I gawked at the buildings beauty. The palm trees that adorned the building made it seem like it belonged in some Latin country, rather than the state of Virginia. I was so excited just looking at the building and thinking of all the wonderful things that go on inside of its doors. 
The girls of the Penn team in front of the US Capitol.

At 3:00 we met with the rest of the program back at the drop-off area. We drove less than half an hour before we reached Georgetown University. The initial plan was to walk down to M street where all of the shops were located, but after one of the RC's compared the area to San Francisco with all of it's great hills we decided to just grab lunch. The girls of the Penn Team ate at a nice restaurant called The Tombs. The restaurant was very well hidden and I wonder if it's location has anything to do with its name(It's somewhat underground.) Over dinner we got to know one another a little better. You'd think that after spending three weeks together we'd know every little aspect about each other. 

Lunch with the girls!

The bus ride home was another long ride, this time filled with less talking. Everyone spent the majority of their time reviewing pictures they took, taking more pictures, or just taking in the lovely scenery as we passed through different states. Today was an amazing day to explore new places with the lovely cohort. Tomorrow we'll be split up; some of us will be going ice skating, while others(me!!!) will be going shopping at the King of Prussia mall. Don't worry, we'll all be reunited for a cohort dinner, complete with our chaperone, later on in the evening.