Hanging with Prez Billy Jeff

As I have mentioned before, during my second semester at GMU I interned at EMILY’s List. This was an amazing experience and gave me so many wonderful opportunities to learn new things and enhance my knowledge in US politics. However, this is not a post about my time at EMILY’s List (I know I keep promising it but seriously keep your eyes peeled, it is on the way!) This is a post about one of the incredible opportunities my internship gave me. I got the chance to volunteer at a Clinton Foundation event and see President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton speak!! This is something I never imagined I would do, EVER, let alone manage to do it whilst studying abroad. But then again, this past year has been a year that has given me so many incredible experiences, I don’t know why I thought doing something like this would be impossible.

The event was held at ‘The Hamilton’ which is a hotel/restaurant/bar/live music venue in DC and is pretty expensive! I arrived at 4pm, having to head straight into DC after back to back classes at Mason. When I got there I met the person in charge who divided all the volunteers into groups and gave us a brief of how the evening would go. I was put on the VIP door, where I checked in guests who had paid enough for the event that they would get to meet President Clinton before the talk. This was pretty exciting, although it meant I had to stand outside in the rain for a large portion of the evening. Whilst standing outside checking in people on the ipad, one of the guests sauntered straight past me through the door. To my amazement it was Gerard Butler! YES GERARD BUTLER! STOOD LESS THAN A METRE FROM ME!!!!!!!! I really was excited! But everyone who knows me should know that my excitement at standing so close to Gerard Butler was absolutely nothing compared to seeing President Clinton! Just before the event started, the person who was in charge of the volunteers let me go inside so I could watch the whole event. This was actually really nice of him, I guess talking about my year abroad to him helped me cause and meant I got to go in sooner!

Bill & Chelsea

Bill & Chelsea

The Clinton's

The Clinton’s

More of the Clinton's!

More of the Clinton’s!

Clinton Foundation Volunteer!!!

Clinton Foundation Volunteer!!!

Once I was inside the venue the pressure was off as a volunteer and I could just enjoy the evening. Which firstly meant hitting the free bar and grabbing a glass of wine! Then squeezing through the groups of people to get a good spot so I could watch the action! It was a basic Q&A event where people in the audience could tweet questions and then Chelsea Clinton and President Clinton would answer them. This meant that a whole range of issues were discussed. It was a really interesting event and I feel so privileged to have been able to attend.

After the talk, Carly Rae Jepsen performed. I literally didn’t know she had any songs other than Call Me Maybe and it pains me to say this but she was relatively decent live! Not that I actually paid much attention as I helped one of the other volunteers out on the photo booth as all the young (drunk) professionals were lining up to have their photographs taken. This was actually really cool as you got to take 4 photographs  and they printed in a strip there and then for you to take away. I thought it was a great idea and everyone there loved it! Unfortunately I had to leave, I really didn’t want to! It was such an amazing night and a once in a lifetime experience. I am so grateful to Kate at EMILY’s List for letting me know about the event and to Zac from the Clinton Foundation for letting me help out and giving me the opportunity to hear the talk!

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Chase Turns 21

Chase’s 21st birthday was on the 27th April. To celebrate we went cosmic bowling the night before and then went out for dinner with his parents on the night of his birthday.

Chase, Colin, Jarrod, Natalie, Adam, Kidd and I headed to cosmic bowling. Cosmic bowling is pretty cool. They turn all the lights off and have disco balls, the lanes are all lit up with lights and there is loud music playing. It was like bowling in a night club. I’m not very good at bowling, especially when the bumpers aren’t up, which they weren’t. They don’t even let you put them up during cosmic bowling. This really made me feel the pressure as I hadn’t bowled in a really long time! However, I actually did pretty well. You pay for unlimited bowling so we played 3 games (I think) and I got strikes in all of them! So I was pretty impressed with my bowling skills, especially compared to some of the people who were playing! It was really fun to all hang out together, whilst actually doing something and still be able to talk and what not.

Jarrod :)

Jarrod 🙂

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy!

Keeping an eye on the score

Keeping an eye on the score

Jarrod & I

Jarrod & I

Jarrod, Natalie & I

Jarrod, Natalie & I

So I didn’t take too many pictures of us actually bowling but whatever! We all know what bowling looks like!

The next day Chase’s parents came to Fairfax for dinner so we could properly celebrate his birthday. They arrived in the afternoon when only Chase and I were around. So we went to the shopping mall where the restaurant was to look around before everyone else was ready to arrive. We went into a bunch of shops. I managed to get a new purse which I had been after for ages. And we even went into a shop that sold British sweets so I bought two packets of fruit pastilles which just about made me life! No – that was a lie. They made me happy for like 20 minutes until we went to the restaurant. Now that made my life (or maybe week). We had made reservations at the Japanese Steak House, Sakura. Chase’s parents took me to Sakura in Fredericksburg when I stayed with them at Thanksgiving (which you can read all about here). This time we went to the one in Fairfax and it was even better than the one in Fredericksburg! Whilst we waited for Adam, Colin and Jarrod to arrive, we went to the bar and had a drink. I had a Long Island Iced Tea which was amazing, after they added more coke to it. It was pretty bitter when they first gave it too me. When the guys arrived we were taken to our table. As I explained before in my Thanksgiving post, you sit around the grill and the chef cooks all your food in front of you and puts it on your plate as it is done. As well as this, the chef does fun things like setting food on fire and tossing shrimp into your mouth. Yet again, I failed miserably at doing this 😦 I seriously love Japanese Steak Houses, I think they are so much fun! I actually found one in Birmingham which I really want to go to! Maybe a birthday treat?!

The table settings at Sakura

The table settings at Sakura

Chase, Jarrod, Adam and Colin waiting for our Chef to arrive!

Chase, Jarrod, Adam and Colin waiting for our Chef to arrive!

I ordered the chicken and shrimp combo, which is also served with fried rice, vegetables, a side order (I had the sautéed mushrooms), a side salad and a soup. Everyone had a combo of some sort which explains all the different varieties of meat and seafood on the grill that you can see below 🙂

Onion volcano!

Onion volcano!

FIRE!!

FIRE!!

All the vegetables cooking

All the vegetables cooking

Shrimp, steak, chicken and lobster cooking on the grill

Shrimp, steak, chicken and lobster cooking on the grill

All of us!

All of us!

Cookie Cake

Cookie Cake

I really enjoyed celebrating Chase’s 21st birthday and was so happy that it fell before I returned to the UK! I hope Chase enjoyed it too – I am sure he did 🙂

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Mason Day

Every year George Mason University has a day where students can go along, ride free fun fair rides, eat free food and listen to free music. I honestly didn’t expect much and didn’t think I would have a very good time. And really it wasn’t that big. But I had so much fun and ended up hanging out there for a few hours with Jessica, Lizzie, Noelia and Noelia’s little cousin. There isn’t really too much to say about the day, other than I am really glad I went in the end as I had fun! So here are some pictures from the day 🙂

Yeah - I went on that!

Yeah – I went on that!

I went on this too!

I went on this too!

All of us in the sunshine

All of us in the sunshine

Swing Ride

Swing Ride

Funnel Cake - heart attack on a paper plate but it was worth it

Funnel Cake – heart attack on a paper plate but it was worth it

Funnel Cake with Jessica

Funnel Cake with Jessica

I went on this crazy ride too

I went on this crazy ride too

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Exploring the Capital/Capitol

I managed to book a tour to visit the US Capitol early on in my second semester at Mason. However, I had to wait like 2 months before it actually came around! This really tested my patience as I was so excited to inside and look around. I had done this before when I went to DC with school in 2009. However, when I came to America before I knew very little about the history and politics so I didn’t really understand what I was doing half the time!

My tour time was the first one of the day, which meant I had to get up very early to get there. I had to stand outside in the rain before the doors opened which was not pleasant at all. However, once I got inside and cleared security I no longer cared about the rain and early start. You start your tour by watching a film about the building of the Capitol and its history which was pretty interesting and was surprisingly not very cheesy which seems to be the common theme in films in American museums. After watching this film you go through into the main building where you meet your tour guide. You have to put on these head phones that are linked to your tour guides speaker. The groups are big and there are so many of them that without the headphones you would hardly be able to hear anything. We walked through the building with our tour guide pointing out all the interesting things and telling us little facts about everything. The tour was definitely not as good as when I went in 2009 and it wasn’t as long. I guess that going as a pre-booked group gets you more attention. But it was definitely worth doing again as the building is beautiful.

The dome

The dome

Influential women in US history

Influential women in US history

Inside the Capitol

Inside the Capitol

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

Emancipation Hall

Emancipation Hall

Replica of the Statue of Freedom that sits on top of the building

Replica of the Statue of Freedom that sits on top of the building

I used the rest of this day to try and do some things that were on my wish list. I headed over to the Woodrow Wilson house. I was supposed to be going here as a part of my American Presidency class, however because of the awful weather the trip got cancelled. I decided that this was something I really wanted to do so made an effort to get there! Woodrow Wilson is the only president who lived in DC after his presidency, this decision was made by his wife who decided he was too ill to travel home after serving two terms so she bought a beautiful town house for them. And when I say beautiful, I mean beautiful! It was on a long row of wonderful houses, when you get to the house you have to ring the doorbell and wait for someone to let you in. It sounds ridiculous but waiting for the door to be opened transported my mind to the 1920s…I was full of anticipation as to what would be waiting behind the door! I was greeted by a woman who invited me into the house and proceeded to take me on my own personal tour! The house was so so beautiful and I am so pleased I made the decision to visit. I guess I have to thank Professor Norton Smith for bringing this place to my attention – so thank you!

Wilson's Study

Wilson’s Study

Wilson's Bed

Wilson’s Bed

The Kitchen in the house

The Kitchen in the house

Wilson's House

Wilson’s House

After visiting the Woodrow Wilson House, I hopped on the metro and headed to Chinatown. I went to Nandos for a late lunch as I realised I was actually so hungry as I hadn’t eaten anything for hours and had been super busy. I probably should have gone somewhere a little more adventurous but I love Nandos!  After eating I walked over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This museum was actually really great, albeit slightly overpriced. The museum consists of various collections of art work by women. It was actually really great to see a museum dedicated to showcasing the talent of women. There were some really incredible pieces.

Inside the Museum

Inside the Museum

Interesting Art

Interesting Art

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter

Dress made from Wax

Dress made from Wax

Headless Sculpture

Headless Sculpture

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts

I had such a great day and saw so much more of DC, making me feel slightly less of a tourist as I was able to piece together streets to make sense of all the places I have been to! I would highly recommend the Woodrow Wilson House and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. And of course, the US Capitol is amazing!

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My Apologies….

I have completely lost track of my blog since returning home from my year abroad. I promise you all that I will be finishing the US posts so please keep an eye out for them! I aim to have them all finished within 2 weeks…if not sooner!

Thanks for reading all my posts and please don’t give up on me just yet!

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Catch It Before It is Gone

Once every year the Cherry Blossom trees come into bloom in Washington DC. This is a huge thing as the blossom usually only lasts for 2 weeks. The city of DC plays host to thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to catch a glimpse of the city in bloom, which means hotel and travel prices are extortionately bumped. However, living so close to DC meant that I wasn’t subjected to these and could hop on the metro and see the blossom before it fell. However, it was actually not this simple at all! I went into DC a couple of times prior to the Cherry Blossom parade but because of the cold weather we have all been experiencing the blossom did not bloom until late in the second week of the festivities. No matter though as I managed to get there for the parade and had a really great day.

We headed out very early to get to the parade, however I don’t think we really needed to get there that early as it wasn’t anywhere as busy as I thought it would be. We were by the Washington Monument and near a crossroads which was great because many of the people in the parade stopped at the crossroads to do mini performances. It was a pretty decent place to be to watch. There were a whole range of things involved in the parade so I will just include pictures of what I saw 🙂

Marching Band

Marching Band

Cherry Blossom Princesses

Cherry Blossom Princesses

The Wizard Girls

The Wizard Girls

Giant JapaneseLantern

Giant JapaneseLantern

Japanese Drumming Band

Japanese Drumming Band

Swing Dancers

Swing Dancers

Bicycle Group

Bicycle Group

Another Marching Band

Another Marching Band

The parade was good and I really enjoyed it, however what I really wanted to do was see the cherry blossom that lines that tidal basin – my favourite  of DC. We did this but not until later. We decided that first we would go to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. This wasn’t the happiest of things to on a day when we were celebrating cherry blossom in the sun! But it was well worth it. The museum is free however you have to get a timed ticket to be able to get inside. We managed to get the last timed session, so we were pretty lucky. Before we went inside the main museum we went around the downstairs section. We watched a couple of films about the Holocaust and looked in the gift shop, then we headed out to get food before our entry. We went to the Ronald Reagan building that has a food court downstairs. The food really wasn’t anything special but with so many of the streets closed off because of cherry blossom festivities it was the easiest option. I had Mexican food, it was good but no where near as a good as a Chipotle bowl. I swear I may hit up London just so I can get my hands on a Chipotle!

After eating we went back to the museum so we could look around. Before you enter the giant lift that takes you to the top floor you take an identification card. Every card tells the story of a real person who lived through the Holocaust. It tells you about their life before, during and after. As you make your way down the museum you turn the page to see how what you just saw in the museum relates to your card. This makes everything in the museum much more personal as you are able to relate it to a real person. The museum was really good, they discuss so many issues in an informative way which makes you really think about the issues. I am glad I went and would highly recommend it to anyone that is every in Washington DC. However, for me, having been to Berlin, visited a concentration camp and the Wannsee Conference Villa where the leaders of the Nazi Party made the decision for the Final Solution, it didn’t quite have the same impact on me as it clearly did on others. That doesn’t change the fact that it did upset me and was also incredibly informative. But it just didn’t affect me as deeply as everything did when I went to Berlin.

Holocaust Memorial Museum

Holocaust Memorial Museum

Artwork outside the museum

Artwork outside the museum

After the museum we walked down to the tidal basin to see the cherry blossom and just to sit at the TJ memorial (my most favourite place ever!) The whole area was swarming with people as it was the last day of the cherry blossom festivities. However, that didn’t change the fact that it looked beautiful. If you ever get the chance to visit DC during the cherry blossom season I would definitely recommend it. It is beautiful. I have never seen anything like it. There are so many trees all over the place.

Blossom at the basin

Blossom at the basin

Beautiful Blossom and Blue Sky!

Beautiful Blossom and Blue Sky!

Cherry Blossom Trees

Cherry Blossom Trees

The Tidal Basin covered in trees

The Tidal Basin covered in trees

The cherry blossom is really beautiful and I am so glad I had the opportunity to see it without having to pay extortionate prices for flights and accommodation. I would love to have the chance to see it again but that probably won’t happen for another few years!

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The Day I went to the Niagara Falls

So I went to the Niagara Falls.

Sort of.

Technically.

Me at the Niagara Falls!

Me at the Niagara Falls!

OK, not really but it got you interested in a post about an art gallery!

I went to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery with Colin and Chase. We were supposed to be going to the Holocaust Memorial Museum but we ended up leaving campus way later than planned and figured we wouldn’t have enough time to see it all. So instead we jumped on the metro and headed to the Chinatown area to see what we could get up to. First we went to Ford’s Theatre but they had stopped giving tours because of a matinee performance. This left the art gallery. I am actually super pleased we got to do this! I really really enjoyed it! The building is split into two wings: one side is the American Art Museum, the other the National Portrait Gallery. This means that as you walk around each floor you get a mixture of each. There isn’t much more to say about this part of the day, so instead I will just show you some of the art work on show 🙂

Modern Art?

Modern Art?

The US o fA

The US o fA

FDR composition

FDR composition

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Benjamin Franklin

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

License Plate Declaration of Independence

License Plate Declaration of Independence

Bottle Caps

Bottle Caps

LL Cool J

LL Cool J

After this incredibly cultural experience, we had another very cultural experience. Except it was a very very different experience! We went to Hooters for dinner. This is a place that describes itself as ‘delightfully tacky but unrefined.’ I literally can’t explain it any better myself, except I should probably add that the waitresses (Hooters Girls) basically wear nothing. Very tiny hot pants and very tight t-shirts. It was actually pretty good, the food was cheap but tasted great! I think it is something everyone should experience if they are ever visiting the US. They are everywhere so you don’t just need to be in DC.

Chicken Strips, Cheese & Texas Toast

Chicken Strips, Cheese & Texas Toast

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