On Seasons:

If you’re planning to leave sunny SoCal to study abroad, there is one thing I can guarantee will be a change for you: Seasons. This especially goes for those of you who grew up there.

Personally, I grew up in a place that has the extremes of every season. We have the hottest summers, the coldest winters, the most beautiful springs, and the most lovable falls. I know other places are probably colder or hotter but we pretty much have it all. Growing up, the seasons had more to do with the sports played during them than the temperature outside. Although I was in the gym for most of fall playing volleyball, I loved that fall coincided with football season: those bundled up nights with hot chocolate cheering on our high school team. Winter for me meant packing sweats in my gym back to wear in and out of basketball practice, and hoping for snow days on those days when I just didn’t want to go to practice, but not for game days. In the spring, there were days in a row that we couldn’t practice softball outside because the rain had made the field to muddy. Or where it was so windy that pitching wasn’t even realistic and the dirt was blowing in our eyes. We would even reschedule games because of it, and I knew my dad (our coach) would have to spend too many extra hours dragging the field to get it ready for us to play or practice on. But those perfect spring days meant a dreamy, green outfield of perfect grass, and Summer meant a number of perfect days that I wish I was at the pool, but instead I was headed to softball games or practice. It meant vacations I couldn’t go on because I had basketball tournaments on the weekend. It meant going home early from hanging out with friends so I could get up and be in the weight room and open gym in the mornings.

Blah blah blah. All that being said, I took the seasons for granted. Mind you, there aren’t a lot of trees in Kansas (Julian), or flower fields (Carlsbad), or anything that would majorly call for taking time out to explore nature and the seasons, but even if there were, I probably still wouldn’t have really understood how beautiful the season can be.

And then I moved to Southern California, the most seasonless place in the country. It’s always 70 and sunny and happy. Freshman year, I absolutely loved it. I just ate it up when I read my friends’ tweets about freezing on the way to class when I was looking down at my tan legs and flip flops. Then I went home for Summer to the burning heat, but actually had some free time to go to the pool and drink it in when I wasn’t working. Then I went back to San Diego for sophomore year and had a colorless fall. I really noticed it. The ocean was still blue and the palm trees were still green. Just like I had left them in Spring. I started to wonder, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE EVER HAVE A BAD DAY AROUND HERE?!?!?” Sometime I WANT to be a shut in an listen to weepy jazz music, drink hot tea, and read a book or watch a movie. You cannot do that in San Diego. You have to be jogging on the cliffs, or riding your bike along the bay, or building sand castles, or kayaking, or surfing, or mud-caving, or mountain climbing, or any number of outdoor activities that don’t include big sweaters or fuzzy socks. It started to bum me out, and when I got home to Kansas for Christmas, I was frozen. It’s like my blood thinned out in California or something because I was shaking the whole time, and my family was laughing at me. All it took was a three hour plane ride, and it was a complete 180 for me.

Back at school for Spring semester, my eyes were on D.C. I started to look into it more and finally decided to go. And honestly, one of the things I was most excited about was to experience a real Fall again. When trying to decided between Fall semester (Election season) and Spring semester (Inauguration) I chose mostly for the election, but also for the pretty pre-winter months on the East Coast that I had always heard about. And I definitely made the right choice. I know that the Spring in D.C. is cherry blossom season, but I wouldn’t have traded my semester among the row houses on Capitol Hill for anything in the world. My first few sweaty weeks led to weeks of joy and a grateful heart when the world transitioned to cooler days and cloudier skies. The gorgeous colored bricks and the blazing leaves of Fall have opened my eyes to what a gift from God the season really are. That’s not to say the gift of perfect California weather is not also a gift. As the temperature continues to drop here in my last two weeks in D.C., I’m sure I will be really ready to get back to beach weather in January when the snow and harsh temperatures hit. But for now, I am really taking it in. For example, I was close to tears the day, about two weeks before election day, that I walked the couple blocks to the mailbox to send my absentee ballot. It was a brisk day, with no clouds, and just enough of a breeze for the falling leaves to fly softly around a bit before hitting the roofs and sidewalks. The site of orange and yellow leaves floating among the row houses was breath taking, and I just had to stop and thank God for the beauty that he has created for our time on earth. If that was a perfect day on earth, I can only imagine what beauty must look like in Heaven.

Thanksgiving has passed here in DC, and the people here are beginning to sweep up their leaves and replace them with Christmas lights and decorations. I get to experience cold Christmases over break at home in Kansas, but seeing the transition from summer, to fall, to winter in Washington has given me clear eyes. They are now much more open to the little things, and I am really so full of joy from the simplicity of the change of seasons.

So if you’re worried about leaving your flip flops behind, know that it’s good for you. I know that I will even appreciate perfect San Diego weather more now, even though it’s different from real seasons. I always think that gaining some new perspective is always beneficial, and this is another one of those instances. My friends here at the program who grew up in California are struggling with 40 degrees right now, but I know they will never forget what they saw and felt in a real Summer-Spring-Winter semester.

SUMMER

FALL

Election Night in D.C.

 

This is the story of election day in D.C. Well, it’s my story at least. I’m not sure how it compares to anyone else’s but it was incredibly special for me, no matter what the outcome would be, or what other ways I could have spent it. This day is exactly what I came to D.C. for. I wanted to be here during election, one of the craziest days ever in the lives of reporters, and one of the most important days for citizens of the U.S. Here’s my story. Better late than never right?

The first thing you need to know is that I am an intern for the local news section of my paper. Washington has a very interesting city government, especially because it basically also acts as a state government. I have learned so much covering city hall since being here, and have found that D.C.’s city government is one of the most important in the U.S. They play a role in so many things here in Washington that people might assume are taken care of by the feds. But they also have an interesting relationship with the federal government, because, since the city gov. used to be run by Congress, the new city government, which is only a few decades old, still answers to Congress in some ways. It’s all very interesting. So that being said, my assignment on election day was to cover the election for city council members (which again, basically play the same roles as state senators). D.C.’s city government has been known to be pretty corrupt, so the council members are an interesting group, and have an interesting reputation. One of the men running to be re-elected is currently being investigated because a lot of his campaign money “disappeared.” There are also other stories even worse then that (that’s not to say there’s aren’t great, hard-working people in the city gov. that’s just what they are kind of known for at this point). So a few council members were running to be re-elected, but some new ones were trying to buck them out. It looked likely, especially because of the “corruption.” It was looking to be a tight race.

I usually go into work at the Washington Examiner at 10 a.m. every morning, but on election day, I knew I’d be out later. It was going to be a Red Bull kind of day. Instead of going into the newsroom, I went right out, around noon, to my nearest voting precinct. There, I interviewed the precinct captain and asked her how many voters they had had, if they had had any problems there, ect. We were hearing about huge lines in Virginia and Maryland that had voters waiting hours to get the job done, and wanted to know if that was happening in D.C. The polls were crazy. Apparently, that morning, the line and extended down the block from the hospital in which the voting took place, so when I went, many people were coming back for a second try. I stood outside afterward and asked people about their voting experience, and tried to take in informal exit poll to try to find out how the city hall race was looking. It was fascinating hearing about peoples’ decisions, and thing like that. Some were completely uneducated on the issues, others were very passionate. And this voting precinct was ON Capitol Hill, so that was an interesting element. There was a really cool energy in the air. D.C. is known for being predominately liberal, and huuuuuuuge supporters of Barack Obama, so it wasn’t too competitive of an atmosphere, but exciting none the less.

The next precinct I visited was downtown near the newsroom. It was in the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church to check out how voting was going there. Since it was later in the afternoon, things were getting crazy there. All over the big buildings down town there were posters saying “GO VOTE” and “OBAMA” and a man was driving around yelling at people through a megaphone who to vote for, and I just can’t tell you how buzzed everything was. It’s quite something to observe democracy in such a simple form like that, with people being excited to do their civic duty. This is so cheesy but I felt so proud of everyone. I could have sat there all day and watched all the people going in and out. One person in particular I want to point out was a German man who was taking pictures of the voting signs and the colorful balloons and everything. He said he thought that the American elections were exciting but was confused as to why we would hold them on a Tuesday. Apparently they are always done on Sunday in Germany, so people who work can’t have an excuse to not go. Just an interesting tidbit.

So then began the waiting game. I walked back to the office and compiled my notes and interviews with those of another reporter who did the same thing all morning, and we put an afternoon story online. My next task would be to go to the DC Board of Elections in the evening to be there while the votes were counted and to get the counts the very minute they were completed. I would then text/e-mail the info to my editors. So I waited around in the news room all evening until the polls closed at 8 p.m. I pretty much spent three hours watching my Twitter feed and trying to keep up with the national voting and stories as best I could. I was so happy to have that free time. It was amazing to follow it all as it unfolded. I seriously love Twitter. If you don’t have it, you should get it ASAP. And follow me, @abbyhamblin. Anyway, the buzz in the newsroom was insane. There was this total “all hands on deck” vibe going on and it was amazing. There was about an hour there where there wasn’t much to be done, and people were just kind of talking about different scenarios the night could bring. There was sooooo much coffee and Mountain Dew drinking. These are some of the most educated people on not only local but national politics, so it was amazing to hear their opinions and their experiences reporting. I may never have an opportunity like that, or be among people with that level or knowledge or insight on elections as those people ever again, so I am insanely grateful I was able to experience that. I should also mention that the editors bought a bunch of food from Pot Belly’s so that was delicious and much appreciated. Everyone was working major over time, and it helped us all get a second wind.

It was crazy how I felt like i was on a mission when 7:15 rolled around. I was the only one from the Examiner that was going over to where the voting results would be coming in. I got on the metro and prayed the whole time for our country, for our government, and for the job I was about to do. I was really scared I would mess up! They were putting a ton of trust in me! I got off the metro at “Judiciary Square” and headed up to the DCBOE floor of the building at 1 Judiciary Square. It was pretty quiet there, but when I got up to the press room, I saw one of the reporters from the Washington Times that I had run into at a couple city hall meetings and asked starting talking with him. I was so happy that he was able to tell me how things would go down and give me some advice. That was really nice to him. Then he told me we could go downstairs where they were starting to count the early voter ballots. THAT was crazy. This is what I saw:

There was this precious older lady named Dorothy down there and she works for an organization called WatchDC I think. They keep tabs on city hall and make sure they are doing a good job and stuff like that. Well, she had been around the voting process for years, and gave me a really good education on how it all works. She was so kind and I <3 her. She is also a fireball. So when the first official ballots from election day we said to be coming in, she just blew through a bunch of doors and took me and one other newbie reporter out back to where they were coming in. It was amazing. A police escort rolled up and there was soooooo much security and I couldn’t believe I was watching the exact votes that would decide who would become the President of the United States would be come in to be counted. I will never forget that.

So it was getting really close to 8 p.m. after that and I needed to go back up to the press room, where they would be passing out results as they were coming in. They were also putting them on their website, but we were able to get them to our editors that way just a little before they went online I think. It was insane. They would come in with a print off from a group of the percents and all the reporters would go crazy trying to type them up or call them into their editors. I thought my head was going to explode from all the caffeine I had that day, and I was going cross-eyed trying to read all the numbers. It was was all just little black and white data that we had to skim through to find out what we wanted. (I should mention that the votes for president were on there too, which was insane, but I was just focused on city hall.) So I would texted them as fast as I possibly could to the editors. I can’t tell you how important or pressured it all felt, but I wanted to do the best job possible so I was really focused. I haven’t felt that sort of intensity since high school basketball haha!

Also while I was texting the data too my editors, I had accumulated a bunch of followers on Twitter from people referring their followers to me for election results. So that was a big deal. Here’s a look at my Twitter feed. I’m telling you, I was going nuts. (For non-Twitter users who don’t know, the oldest tweets start at the bottom).

 

I should also mention that meanwhile, I was trying to keep up with the results coming in nationally, because obviously I wanted to know who was going to win for president. Twitter was going berserk, of course, so that was fun. And friends and family were texting me too, so my phone was blowing up. I was all hunched over like a crazy scientist with my phone for about four hours straight. But now I should mention the waiting game. I should note that the Examiner, along with the papers that most of the other reporters in the press room were working for, had a print deadline of about 11:30 p.m. We can put as much as we want online, but obviously we want complete information for the next morning’s paper. So that deadline was crashing down on all of us while we waited for results. And it was SUCH a tease because the results were flowing in in chunks of about 25 precincts, every 45 minutes. I was DESPERATE for the next batch of data, but just had to sit there going crazy like everyone else. I’m getting worked up just typing this out and thinking about how that all felt. I’m writing this pretty fast, but I hope it’s all coming across as well as I hope it is.

I don’t even know what time it was when I got done there. Somewhere around midnight I think. But the good news is that I didn’t mess up and my editors were really happy with me! It was such a great feeling! I felt so accomplished! It was some of the most important work I have ever done, and I loved being a part of it! I could barely tell what was going on in the outside world, so I spent an extra twenty minutes after I was allowed to leave catching up on Twitter. I found out Obama won and knew thousands were headed to the White House to celebrate. SO OF COURSE I WENT THERE! If you check out the photo at the top, you can see just how crazy the atmosphere was. I’ll do my best to put it into words.

First, I had to walk there. It was too late for the metro to be running and I didn’t want to waste any time figuring out bussing, so I just headed out by foot. THAT was a great decision, because the streets were so high-energy. People were honking non-stop, and there were hundreds of young people outside on every block. People were SO HAPPY. I haven’t experienced something like that in awhile. My only personal experience of that large of a group of people full of genuine joy for a moment in time like that might have been high school graduation. People were hanging out their car windows, screaming “FOUR MORE YEARS,” hugging strangers, blasting music, clapping, blowing whistles, high-fiving, dancing around, and so much more. With every block the buzz grew, until I made it to the White House. It was PACKED. People were shoulder to shoulder singing patriotic songs (the national anthem again and again) and chanting “FOUR MORE YEARS” and “U.S.A!” It was incredible. People were climbing the statues and trees and hugging and screaming. I can barely describe it. Someone brought out these cut outs of the president and first lady and people lost it:

 

Here’s a look at my Twitter feed as I was getting crushed by patriots:

 

I wanted to stay out there all night but I was exhausted. I didn’t get home til 2:30 a.m. I stayed up to watch Obama give his acceptance speech and all the other interns in my house were watching and it was still such a cool vibe. I have gone on far too long describing this, but I just wanted to get it all out. I hope this explanation gets across what an incredible experience I had. I’ll never forget Nov. 6, 2012.

How to survive a hurricane when studying abroad

Even though I’m not technically “studying abroad” I’m sill more than 1000 miles away from home, and more that 2000 away from school. That’s a recipe for some seriously interesting logistics in dealing with a disaster. Here’s a little summation of what happened here in DC, and some tips for future study abroad-ers.

We started to realize how serious this thing was going to be on Friday when our Resident Director came to our classes and announced some safety measures that were in place. For example, BestSemester has extra water and flashlights in case we need them and we learned the area we would go to if we needed to take cover underground. We were also given a midnight-6 a.m. curfew through Tuesday, which leads me to my first tip:

This probably goes without saying, but listen do your program directors. Even if 100 other sources, including your mom, are telling you something else, your program director has your safety in mind, and knows your actual situation the best.  So just do what they say. Your life depends on it.

Saturday, the anticipation began, but it was really Sunday that I started getting prepared. I made it out to church but really could feel the temperature dropping (don’t forget, the hurricane was planning to crash into a winter storm coming at us from the West). I went out to stock up on some extra non-perishable food and kept getting calls from my parents asking if I was safe and ready:

This part is important. Even if you are completely safe, if you have access to cell service or internet, keep your friends and family updated. Looking at the radar, what my parents saw on the weather channel was a lot worse that what was really happening. The images flying around the internet were awful, and I should have been updating them more often. I began to do a better job of it after I realized how much they were concerned (obviously) but try to make sure they know what’s up. You might get caught up in the excitement of everything, but make it a point to keep them posted. (Thanks to everyone who prayed for me and kept checking in!)

So we were told the storm would be picking up over Sunday night and would hit for sure around noon on Monday. So obviously we made a fort in our living room to sleep in:

But all jokes aside, it was probably a good idea anyway. We were away from glass windows and it was a lot quieter in the living room than in my bedroom where the wind was howling.

We had class on Monday as usual, mostly because our classroom is next door to our apartments. But over lunch we had another safety meeting. Also, I was asked to go out into the hurricane and do some reporting at the nearby metro station. That was cool/crazy/insane/exciting. When I got back, the mayhem ensued. Afternoon class was over and people were getting excited. We were asked to not go outside for any reason, and our leaders recommended we cover our valuables with plastic bags. The rain started pouring hard and the wind picked up. We were all having a lot of fun imagining the possibilities, and the calls and texts were pouring in from my family and friends asking me what was going on. I could barely tell, beside what was going on outside my window, which brings me to my next tip.

If you don’t already have twitter, it’s time to get it. You don’t have to post a single tweet, but it is the best source for centralized aggregation of important information. I was able to recieve updates and advice from local officials, as well as the National Weather Service and the President, all in one place. I can’t stress enough, how valuable of a tool it is, especially in a disaster. Even if you don’t have cell service, often you or a friend with a smart phone can get internet access via satellite (3G) If you don’t believe me, check out how Twitter saved lives in NYC last night.

So we stayed up as late as we could last night, at tried to get some homework done, but it was so hard when the trees were raging outside and my twitter feed was going berserk. Basically, DC got a lot of rain and some seriously rough gusts of wind, but the worst damage was a few fallen trees. My roof leaked a little. Not much else bigger than that. A lot are without power, but my apartment stayed strong. However, NJ and NYC got it bad, and I continue to pray for them. I can imagine that those in places hit worse than here could agree with some of the tips I have provided, but here are a few more:

Keep your phone and computer charged as much as you can, in case power goes out.

Because you might lose power, and eventually, cell battery, write your emergency contacts in on a piece of paper in a plastic bag or somewhere else that it won’t get wet. We wrote ours on a mirror with dry erase marker.

Stick together. The students in your program are your family at this point and everyone else is scared like you. We held a small prayer group ahead of time to pray for safety and encourage each other and that was great.

Obviously there are a ton more safety tips out there from more official sources that I would highly recommend, but these are some that were important to me. I pray that no one else would end up in such an event so far away from home, but it’s important to be smart. I’m so grateful for my safety and the safety of Washington. We must continue to pray for the rest of the East Coast!

xoxo

What it feels like to be in Washington during election season

Image

Before I came to Washington D.C., I thought I had a pretty good picture in my head of what it would look like. I dreamed of seeing the Lincoln Memorial, spending hours in the Smithsonians and walking where George Washington walked. Washington seemed so powerful and impressive and I couldn’t wait to drink it in.

But the reality of the city is a little bit different than the postcard version. “Federal Washington” is a lot like what you’d think. You get to certain areas and see “the department of” this and the so and so “agency,” one after another until that tiny part of your brain holding what little you learned about the government in your high school social studies classes wants to explode. And being here during election season, you can seriously feel it. The debates are treated with more like Superbowls, with people hosting huge parties at bars or in living rooms all over Washington. Every bus stop greets you with another political discussion. The newspapers and tweets coming out of DC make sure you know what’s going on in national politics. But that part of the city is just a portion of what’s really going on in the District of Columbia.

Did you know that DC’s infant mortality rate is almost double the national average? Or that more than half of family households in DC are run by single parents? DC’s high school students have a graduation rate of just 62 percent. DC has the widest income gap between the rich and poor of any city in the U.S. 3.2 percent of Washingtonians over the age of 12 are living with HIV/AIDS, which is an infection rate higher than in many developing nations. I could go on all day, and I’m talking about “The District.”

People live here. Although they are not represented in Congress (taxation without representation), they’re here. Washington is about at urban as it gets, and there are a ton of issues to be overcome here. The poverty rate is high and gentrification has the city fighting against itself. The state of public schools here is about as bad as it gets in America. And this is where the President of the United States lives!

I was so excited to come to Washington and become wrapped up in politics and the high energy of election season. I did find that here, but that’s not all I found. Living here and walking among the citizens of D.C. has shattered my perception of politics’ holy city. I’m not as impressed by the huge buildings and all the power anymore because I walk right by them with single moms, unemployed dads, and homeless street performers. The power of Washington is in its people. The buildings, leaders, money, and fancy suits are nothing without the people they exist for.

The biggest thing on my to-do list coming here was to see the White House. The “Executive Mansion.” The amazing things that happen there have always fascinated me. Before I came here, I wondered, “How close can I actually get to the place where wars are considered and treaties are signed?” When I finally made it to 1600 Pennyslavania Ave., I found that I could get just about as close as anybody else. Standing at the fence out front with hundreds of other Americans, I realized that I care less about the building and more about the nation it represents. Although there are gates around it, people still come from hundreds of miles to stand in awe of America’s power and might. But those people standing side by side along the fence are who really matter. I might have access to a few more places here in D.C., but I’m no more important than I was when I lived in a one-stoplight town in Kansas.

So this election season, know that even though you’re miles and miles away from the power and the home of the man we’ll decide to elect, you’re just as important. Just because you aren’t near the buildings that house the issues and the men and women who make the decisions, doesn’t give you an excuse to be uninformed and inactive. You do matter, and every vote counts, from the District to San Diego.

WJC: A Day in the Life

Can you believe I’ve been here for a whole month? Me either.

We’re starting to get into a rhythm here and here’s how it goes:

MONDAYS:

We have class from 10-noon and 2-4. As you can probably guess, these are pretty weird times, so we don’t fit alot in around them. Sometimes I get up at work out around 7 and by the time I show and get ready there’s not much time to do much. But we have a really nice gym here in our building that has an elliptical, a treadmill, and a big screen. What more could you need? I usually start a movie while I’m on one of them, but then have to stop halfway through, so that is absolute insanity, really. All day I wonder if the guy is going to choose Julia Roberts or stick with Camron Diaz. But alas, there’s the motivation to go back the next day. During our awkward 2 hour lunch break, we either take awkward 45 minute naps or do something awkward in the apartment. Usually it means working on homework or stuff for our internships that happen Tuesday-Thursdays. We typically have a family dinner at 6 each Monday, so there we have another awkward 2 hour break. Not long enough to go anywhere, but long enough to wonder about the meaning of life. After family night dinner we work or do homework or something else. IDK why but Mondays fly by. Especially when dinners go long, like it did this week when we did it as a picnic on the National Mall (where the monuments all are…and the capitol…and the white house, ect.). That was fun.

TUESDAY-THURSDAYS:

My internship is quite interesting. I have a couple daily internship-ish assignments, like doing what’s called “The 3-minute interview.” It’s this little side bar that runs in the news section, where we interview someone briefly, Q&A style. My favorite has been a rock and roll guitarist/singer who opened a chain of pie shops. SO RAD. And hilarious.  However, it’s hard enough to find someone who has time to do an interview, let alone come up with a headshot of themselves to send you. It works well if you get a hold of important people ahead of time, but those people have you work with their Public Relations person, which can be helpful or complicated. The average, interesting people are fun too, but they don’t often have the photo of the PR person. So either way it’s a gamble. I also do a weekly feature called “Top Cop” where I find “good news” happening in the area police departments and write it up. It’s fun and interesting, but again, a challenge to get a hold of people and get photos. But that stuff should be simple compared to my daily stories. Almost every day I have a real story to report on that takes research and multiple interviews. I have done a couple stories on stuff happening at city hall, which has been a great learning experience. What would be the “city council” in other cities also does the job of state government (district of columbia) and works with congress as well, so it’s all very interesting. D.C. didn’t even have its own representative government until a few decades ago, so it’s quite a situation. And then there’s the whole taxation without representation thing…… really an interesting place to be. There council members are all interesting as well. It’s stressful and a little scary but I’m learning a lot and it’s been so far so good at this point. I don’t often get home til 6 or 7 from there, because I take a 30 minute bus ride before and after (that’s a whole other story), so by the time I get home, it’s really dinner, homework, bed. I DONT KNOW HOW PEOPLE DO THIS WHOLE 9-5 THING IN REAL LIFE. Honestly. Tell me how. Advice needed. IDK if I can do it. And throw in a family on top of that and church and committees and blah blah blah? Madness.

FRIDAYS:

Fridays are different here because it isn’t like we can just jump in a car and go somewhere. There is a lot going on here in DC. Almost every day there is something, but you have to plan it and figure out what bus or metro to take ect. We don’t quite know a lot of people outside of the Dellenback so we either plan stuff amongst ourselves or everyone goes their separate ways. Honestly, like PLNU, there’s not a lot to do for people under 21 in a big city, so you have to come up with your own adventures. We always remind ourselves that “WE’RE IN D.C!!!!!!! LET’S GET OUT AND DO SOMETHING.” But often, at the end of an exhausting three days of interning, and trying to get our volunteer hours in and homework done for Friday’s classes. Sometimes it’s nice to just stay in. And often, we have big plans for Saturday, so we want to go to bed early anyway.

SATURDAYS:

Saturdays are different for all of us, but most of us try to make big plans. For example, today, because we have a lot of work to do, my roommate and I went to do some reading and work in the Library of Congress. I mean, if you’re gonna study on an awesome fall Saturday, at least do it in a place as rad as the LOC. It’s sooooo beautiful. Then we walked around the National Mall for awhile, and zipped in and out of a few of the Smithsonians, (I DON’T UNDERSTAND SCIENCE, THEREFORE WHAT AM I DOING LOOKING AT A ZOOMED IN PHOTO OF A GALAXY AT THE AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM? BYE.) and then headed to a great restaurant called “We, the Pizza.” You work up a pretty good appetite walking around here all the time. Last weekend I went to Ford’s Theatre where Abraham Lincoln was shot. I try to watch K-State if I can. Last weekend they were on TV so that was awesome! Any number of things come up on Saturdays, but there’s also plenty of chores and homework to be done as well, so it’s pretty much like any typical college Saturday. Again, we try to get out as much as we can, but WE’RE SO TIRED!

SUNDAYS:

Church in the A.M. of course! Last Sunday “church” was in Eastern Market, a cute area of shops and restaurants about a mile from my apartment. I took my Bible down there and enjoyed some worship music via laptop as I people-watched. On Saturdays and Sundays they have an amazing farmer’a market there (which I usually go to every single weekend…CHEAP AND DELICIOUS GROCERIES!) and I just love sitting outside at a table. I try to watch the Chargers too on Sundays, but sometimes DC is more important. Last week my friend called me while I was working on the book that I’m reading for class (All the Presidents Men). She was at the National Book Fair at the National Mall and she told me the author of the book I was reading was there speaking! I jumped on the metro and raced to the tent to see him. It was incredible. What a genius, that Bob Woodward. Afterward he signed a copy of his new book for my friend while I just stood in front of him and stared. We told him we were journalism students and he said “That’s great.” It is great.

LIFE:

The District” is full of surprises, such as splitting a slice of pizza with a chatty homeless man or seeing a KKK rally that has more protester protesting THEM than there are KKK members protesting. White supremacists? in 2012? D.C. has it all, and I’m trying to soak it up, one surprise at a time. It’s finally cooling off here, and I am sooooo excited for fall. There haven’t been a lot of things going on that have been cool enough for photos from my real camera, so here are a few iPhone photos to bring you up to speed on a Day in the Life.

XOXO

A first addition of “Common Sense” one of the first books in America. It is very important to journalism history :D It was a Library of Congress exhibit called “Books that made history” or something like that.
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This is where the DC council meets. I hang out here a lot.

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A blurry photo of the journalism students here!

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This is how the bus ride home looks right when I get on it. Soon after, it becomes packed with stinky people who all squish together and mumble under their breaths about how much they hate the bus.

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The Queen of Sweden! Saw her in a construction zone :0

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Where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Right over there in that seat on the right. Crazy right?

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Awkward roommate situations…….

Study Abroad Veteran: Ellen Martinez

So Abby has asked me to tell you all why Point Loma Students should study abroad…yikes, where do I begin?!

Well, in terms of logistics, you can still be completing courses you will need to graduate.  I was able to complete both Spanish 101 and 102.  For my particular program, which took me to wonderful Costa Rica, it took two months to finish eight units that are typically taken over the course of two semesters.  But the course completion is not even the best part.

Our world has so much diversity and beauty to offer! Studying abroad allows one to experience that diversity and beauty in such tangible and memorable ways.  Oftentimes, that experience was challenging and intimidating.  You will probably find yourself outside of your comfort zone (what with the new language and new set of social patterns to add to your knowledge).  I was outside my comfort zone for sure, but that created a pathway for some new perspectives on life and culture.  Plus, in addition to being challenging, living in another country while doing schoolwork was refreshing and humbling because I realized firsthand that there are so many ways to thrive in this life.  I had to get out of my bubble to truly see that.  Who knew all of the answers didn’t come from the classroom alone?

That is yet another cool thing about studying abroad: so much learning takes place outside of the classroom.  The language and culture you are studying are right there for you to genuinely know and take in; I loved being able to apply what I was learning each and everyday from the local produce stand and bakery, to using public transportation and visiting museums, to spending time with my newfound Costa Rican friends and family.  All of these new experiences, however, meant the necessity for being able to rely on God and others, not just myself.

Speaking of others, the friendships that are made on study abroad adventures can be so awesome.  Not only is there the potential to grow with other students from the United States, there is also so much to be gained from developing friendships with the people who are native to the place in which you are studying.  My classmates and I got to know such a loving and welcoming group of people from a church in Los Angeles, Costa Rica; they came to be just like family.  They were so eager and enthusiastic to teach us about Spanish and their culture, and wanted to know about our lives and our culture, as well.  It was through these people and their gracious church that the other students and I could experience and express God’s love in a whole new way.  That, for me, was one of the most valuable gifts of studying abroad.

Lastly, I loved being able to have adventures and see new sights.  God has created such a beautiful world for us to enjoy and get to know, with so many types of places and beings, and I am thankful for being exposed to a small but wonderful part of it all.  Studying abroad gave me both an appreciation for my home, as well as a craving to see so much more.

Study Abroad Veteran: Senior Tim Carlton

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I often view my study abroad experience as the best 4 months of my life. It has been a year now since me and six other Point Loma students went to Vienna, Austria and it is hard to believe how fast time has gone by. The program we went through is called IGE Vienna and it allowed us to take eight units of German (two semesters) as well as nine more transferable units. On top of the learning we did inside the classroom, there was plenty of learning to be done outside the classroom. We traveled to eight countries including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Denmark.

When looking back on my time in Vienna and Central Europe, I tend to reflect on who I was before and who I am now. Prior to going abroad, I had a desire to travel but that mostly stemmed from the fact I needed a vacation. Now, however, my desire to travel stems from my fascination with cultures and the differences in society from country to country. There is so much to be learned from having a meal with a native citizen of a foreign country because they view the world comes from a much different perspective than the view we share in our little Point Loma bubble. If you are thinking about studying abroad, I urge you to do so and explore what the world has to offer you. You won’t be disappointed. 

So you wanna study abroad?

First, you have to know that PLNU is a place that WANTS you to study abroad. I don’t really know how they do it at other schools, but PLNU encourages it! The feeling I get from other schools is that if you’re going to study abroad, they aren’t very helpful or accommodating when you return. I’ve had friends that did it and then got back to school to find that none of the classes they took transferred back.

THAT WON’T HAPPEN AT PLNU.

I huge percentage of students study abroad and PLNU even has its own programs to help make it happen! Of course you can do it with other programs, but there are a couple semesters available where PLNU teachers actually join the students abroad! It works out so well that way. Click here for a list of those options: PLNU Programs.

My BFF Ellen just got back from doing PLNU’s summer in Costa Rica. She knocked out both of her required foreign language units and had an amazing experience! Look for a testimony from her on her trip coming soon here on my blog!

Otherwise, you can search for programs by continent on this page: Study Abroad. Students from Loma go all over the world!

WORD TO THE WISE: Do NOT let your major get in the way of you going abroad, at least until you’ve checked out your options. And THAT is where Frank and Andra come in. They are soooooo helpful. The study abroad office is located on the very end of Bond Academic Center (if you’re walking down Caf Lane away from Chapel) and right next to Golden Gymnasium. Just walk in there and say, HEY! I WANT TO GO TO BORA BORA (Well I don’t actually know if there are ANY study abroad programs in the whole WORLD that send people there! haha!) and they will do everything in their power to help you go there! They are both sooooo nice and are really great at what they do. The PLNU Study Abroad office is the place to be, people.

ALSO IMPORTANT TO NOTE:

4:00 PM- STUDY ABROAD INFO SESSIONS EVERYDAY

EVERY DAY, PEOPLE! THERE’S NO EXCUSE. And now for a note from the office:

“If you are thinking about studying abroad any time during your college career, drop by the Study Abroad Office for one of our daily information sessions. Attendance at an information session is a required first step and they will cover the process, programs, forms, and deadlines for studying abroad.  Please stop by and see us at the Study Abroad Office, now located on the south side of Bond Academic Center in the Academic Support Center, any day Monday-Friday at 4:00 pm. See you then!”

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? At least go get some information and see what your options are. They are very helpful and honest about what’s possible.

My last tip is to not let finances get in the way of checking out a study abroad opportunity. There are a lot of programs that are actually cheaper than a semester at PLNU! And there are lots of scholarships out there! They help you with that at the Study Abroad Offices too!

If you have any questions, please please please email me at abbylhamblin@gmail.com. I would love to talk more with you about it! Or just head to the Study Abroad Office! Duh!

Getting the travel bug?

Here are the study abroad blogs from my fellow Fall 2012 Bloggers. Check out what they’re doing abroad by clicking on their names and locations.

Megan Barber and Lindsay Powell in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Ian Crane in New York City

Kate Bernath in London, UK and Budapest, Hungary

Megan Christensen in The Hague, Netherlands

“Study Abroad Tip” #1

Set ground rules with your new roommates right off the bat, such as who will do what chores and how you will take care of shareable items like milk, toilet paper, ect. Especially with people you don’t know, it can be really awkward to have those conversations later on. Trust me. My roommates and I are still stumbling around with it.

What can happen in a week

So much can happen here in a week.

I’ve seriously learned so much already about “studying abroad,” but I’m going to do a separate post on that in a bit. Also, I’m going to start trying to post tips through out the days from my phone. That way right when I think of something…BAM. There you have it.

Since we last talked, it’s really been all about class, although on Saturday I ventured out on my own to check out one of the Smithsonian museums. A lot of people were tired and were hanging out around the apartments and I thought, HEY, I GOTTA GO SEE THIS CITY. So I did.

HERE’S WHAT I SAW:

GEORGE WASHINGTON ACTUALLY WORE THIS (so they say).

Lady Bird’s signature look

Michelle Obama’s dress from the 2008 inaugural ball

The museum was amazing and I hope to make it to all of the Smithsonian’s! The only thing is that it iis so hot and muggy here and by the time you walk to the metro station, take a steamy underground metro car, get off and walk to your destination, you are lookin’ reaaaalllll good. Trust. I mean you have to do what you have to do but there have not been a lot of photo friendly moments! There were a lot items from old movies and tons of toys and inventions from American history. One thing that really stuck out for me was the African American history section where they approached the issue of slavery with the case study of Thomas Jefferson’s own plantation. It was really personal and touching. They actually had the family trees of different slaves so you could see the names and relationships of the people that worked for him. They had homes and working locations displayed and even had shackles that were worn by one of the slaves that was transported to his plantation. It was really emotional in there. The personal and realistic representation made it pretty hard to stomach.

On Sunday, I tried out a new church up the road. I can’t actually remember the name of it, but a group of us went! It was pretty cool but I think I’ll be going back to Capitol Baptist, the place I started here! We of course watched Downton Abbey that night as well.

Throughout the week we had class on some day and “neighborhood engagement” on others. That’s something I wanted to talk about last post and forgot. Everyone in the program is involved in some sort of ministry or neighborhood engagement project. This is for obvious reasons like doing good work for out community and serving our neighborhood, but they also want us to better get to know the people we are writing about and the city we are living in! My project is working at the “Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center.” The center invited those who think they might be pregnant to take a pregnancy test and discuss their options. They often pray with them but don’t force the clients to make it a religious experience if they don’t want it. They offer parenting classes and material services such as handing out clothes or cribs that have been donated. The people there are so kind and genuine and regardless of political or religious beliefs, I have learned so much from being there for just a couple hours. It has been a huge eye opening experience for me. Obviously as a woman I know certain things about pregnancy and all of that but the clients who go there and the workers there wrestle with extremely emotion and life changing decisions and challenges. I would recommend anyone interested in the issue, regardless of your beliefs, to check out a place like this to help either reinforce your beliefs, or help you to better understand what you’re against. It has really been good for all of us I think. Then of course, we all come back and spend a lot of time talking about what we’re learning about. It’s quite the experience.

A couple friends and I decided to go on one of the weeknights to the Lincoln Memorial. It was one of the ones we didn’t get to see on our first tour of the monuments. It’s hard to decide if this one beats the Jefferson Memorial for me, but it is definitely a favorite.

I could bore you guys with what we’ve been learning in class but I don’t know if you’d be interested. Mostly it’s all journalist-y blah blah blah that we all nerd out about. One interesting thing about it is that , because everyone here is from a CCCU (council of christian college and universities) school and this is a CCCU program, we talk about media and culture from a Christian perspective. It’s been really cool to hear about how it works at other schools and talk through the different Christian perspectives of culture, media, calling, and vocation. I have already learned so much!

Just last night (Thursday) we went to Fashion’s Night Out in Georgetown. For those who don’t know, Thursday marked the beginning of Fashion Week in New York City. It starts with Fashion’s Night Out, which is pretty much what you’d expect of fashion week (the scene and celebs and all that) but without the runways and shows, of course, and a lot more actually shopping. A lot of the funds raised go toward charities. Well, Georgetown (across the river from us…it’s a very ritzy colonial, east coast-y area) had it’s own version and we had a lot of fun getting dressed up and going over there for it! The highlights were defiantly seeing what people were wearing and the free vitamin water and cupcakes!

Tomorrow we’re going to try our hands a some real shopping here (meaning not at CVS or Rite Aid where we usually go because of easy access). It’s going to be an apartment bonding day with my other four roommates.

I have a couple papers coming up due so that will start happening of course but the other news is that my internship starts on Tuesday! I’ll already be going out on assignment that day so that should provide for an interesting blog post!

Until then!