Sunday, July 3, 2016

Fit For A President

On the way to D.C.

For the second consecutive day, we had to wake up relatively early, this time to go to Washington, D.C. via megabus once more. Although the ride supposedly took three hours, I was still exhausted from the events of the previous day in NYC and soon descended into a slumber, so we seemed to arrive in D.C. fairly quickly. The megabus dropped us off in a parking structure inside Union Station (which, by the way, was quite impressive, as can be seen in the photos below). We made our way out of the station and started looking for a Circulator bus stop to go to Georgetown. The Circulator buses travel in circular routes around the city for a reasonable rate of $1 and there are supposedly only 10 minutes between buses, making them very convenient. Eventually, we spotted the bright red bus coming towards us and boarded it to go to Georgetown. 

As we rode the bus, we got a chance to see the city, which is quite short in comparison to others due to its building height restriction to avoid obscuring the view of D.C. After seeing the city, I agree with the policy, as it creates a sense of space and open air that I enjoyed, unlike other major metropolitan areas. 

We got off in Georgetown and walked for a while to get to Georgetown University itself, allowing us to experience the surrounding area, which was mostly residential, creating a more relaxed atmosphere.
Inside Union Station
Another area within Union Station
Healy Hall at Georgetown University

Once we arrived at Georgetown University, we went to the admissions office to check in for the tour and were directed to the auditorium in the Intercultural Center. Almost immediately after we situated ourselves comfortably in the auditorium, the presentation began, as the presenter talked about the university, its programs, and, of course, admissions and financial aid. Georgetown University was founded in 1789 to create a safe haven for Catholics, who faced religious persecution during the time, and is actually the first Catholic and Jesuit university in the United States. The university, given its proximity to D.C., affords many opportunities  for its students to get involved with the government. For instance, its students of political science are able to get internships on Capitol Hill. Georgetown University is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 16.4%, but, like many other prestigious private institutions, it offers need-based financial aid. It also boasts many notable alumni, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Academy Award-nominated actor Bradley Cooper.
View from one of the dorms at Georgetown

After the presentation, we continued our visit of Georgetown University with a campus tour. Our guide, Christian, was friendly and humorous, telling us many “dad jokes” and fun facts along the way. He greeted us by introducing himself and asking why it was a great day to visit Georgetown University, before enthusiastically responding that every day was a great day to visit the university, which set the tone for the rest of his tour, as he remained upbeat and energetic throughout, providing for a pleasant experience. The weather also contributed, as it was a picturesque day, with a bright blue sky embellished by several drifting white clouds and the sun bright but not overbearing. Although I did like the campus and the environment at Georgetown, it seemed to be somewhat lacking in engineering, even though my prospective major, computer science, was among those listed.
Another section of the Georgetown campus

Once the tour had ended, we stopped by the bookstore before proceeding back to the front of the university to meet with Chris, who is the vice president of the student body. We headed towards an area with some restaurants to get lunch and finally settled on Old Glory because there wasn’t much of a wait there, unlike most of the other restaurants we had looked at. We spent a few hours at the restaurant mostly conversing with Chris, who was easy to talk to, given his jovial and enthusiastic nature. We initially talked about Georgetown, asking him any remaining questions we had as well as listening to his experience of getting into Georgetown and of attending the university, allowing us to gain a better sense of what life and academics would be like there. Later, the conversation somehow ended up transitioning to society, where we discussed political biases and other social issues (appropriate, given our upcoming course) in our contemporary era. As natives of Northern California and for Chris, Miami, we acknowledged that we were somewhat biased towards the liberal side and conceded that in our areas, conservatives were rather frequently alienated and viewed negatively, to the extent that it is highly uncommon in our areas to hear “conservative” used in a positive manner. Eventually, we agreed that liberals, who want change, and conservatives, who want to maintain the status quo, are both necessary, as we need to adapt to changes in society without overthrowing the tenets that have gotten us this far. Eventually, our food came and we lightened the conversation from the more profound matters and redirected it towards Georgetown University once more and talked about the social aspect of life at the university, such as Greek life. The food was delicious, comprised of barbecued meat along with sides such as collard greens, potato salad, and coleslaw.

The White House

After finishing our meal, saying our goodbyes to Chris, and thanking him for all his advice and for his time, we caught another Circulator bus to go see the White House, which, with its shining whiteness and elegant simplicity, is even more grand in person than it is in pictures, although  the image was somewhat marred by the tall black fence that partially obscured our view. However, we reflected upon this and decided that it was necessary to protect the little privacy the presidential family and other residents of the White House already have. We also walked past the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which was almost as grand in its own right.
The Eisenhower Executive Office Building
As we continued to walk, we soon caught sight of the full Washington Monument, which, due to the building height restriction imposed in the city, towered over everything else. Mr. Hillyer pointed out that almost halfway up, the granite used changed because the Civil War disrupted progress on its construction, resulting in a visible change in color on the monument. We proceeded to see several other memorials nearby for World War II, World War I, the Korean War, and for an impressive finish, the Lincoln Memorial. We even stood at the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed “I Have A Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking the reflection pool and with a complete view of the Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument and reflection pool, as seen from the Lincoln Memorial
World War II Memorial
Lincoln Memorial from the exterior
Statue of Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial
The U.S. Capitol

Once we were able to extricate ourselves from the entrancing view, we took yet another Circulator bus, this one absolutely packed with people. On our way to see the United States Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court, we also passed the Smithsonian Institution (although we did not have time to see the museums, unfortunately). As the Capitol Building came into view, we asked Mr. Hillyer why there was scaffolding around some parts of the building, to which he responded that it had been damaged in an earthquake, a common occurrence in California but rare on the East Coast. As we approached to get a better view, we encountered a woman whose son actually works in the building. According to her, they had believed the building to be fully repaired earlier, but had discovered some new cracks and are currently working to fix them. We then continued on to walk to see the other side of the Capitol Building as well as the entrance, which is apparently a tunnel that leads underground.
The other side of the U.S. Capitol

Finally, we kept going to reach the last leg of our tour of Washington D.C.: the United States Supreme Court. Just in front of the Supreme Court were some protesters advocating for abolition of the death penalty, so we stopped to listen for a while. According to the speaker, execution of an inmate costs more than keeping them in a penitentiary for life and there are many innocent people wrongly convicted and subjected to death. Upon concluding his speech, we applauded before heading back to Union Station to catch the megabus back to Philadelphia.
The United States Supreme Court
Union Station from the outside

All in all, our visit to Washington D.C. was very pleasant. Of course, we had the benefit of picturesque weather on our side, but that shouldn’t diminish the value of our experience. Washington D.C. is full of historical landmarks and with its low skyline, it’s no surprise that the capital of our nation resides there.


  1. No mention of the Vietnam War Memorial? I’d love to read your thoughts on that one.

    While you were there, did you run in to say hey to my old pal, Barack?

    1. We actually didn't get a chance to see the Vietnam War Memorial, but Mr. Hillyer described it to us. It's pretty much a wall with names etched into it. We didn't stop by the White House for very long, but if I ever happen to see Mr. Obama, I'll make sure to send him your regards.