I wasn’t allowed to be too sad about my year abroad ending because I had made travel plans – I was going to Washington D.C. with friends! There was no time for crying or feeling miserable. (I was still lowkey crying on the buses to Washington D.C. but that’s because my friends said some really lovely things to me as we said goodbye and I became an emotional mess for 24 hours).
We left Wilkes Barre at 9.30 on Saturday morning after a stale bagel for breakfast. After dragging my luggage 10 minutes down the street I was thoroughly exhausted and regretting not taking advantage of the free gym membership to gain some muscle. It ultimately took 11 and a half hours to Washington and nothing too exciting happened. I took a nap, watched some Parks and Recreation, and hated myself for having such heavy luggage.
Sunday 13th May
The first stop on our trip was the Holocaust Museum. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but this site is a beautiful tribute to the tragic events of the holocaust. The special exhibit that demonstrated how the American’s responded throughout the 1930s and 40s was an educational point for me, not having been taught the US perspective before. There was also an exhibit on the Syrian violence and murders that continue today. It was a little bit small, but all the same important.
After lunch we did the most touristy thing and went to all the monuments. When I say all, I mean all of them. In one afternoon we looked at the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, and the World Ward One memorial for District of Colombia. Then we walked to the White House. We walked over 9 miles that day and oh boy did it hurt.
Monday 14th May
On Monday we went to something I had been excited about all year, Newseum: a museum dedicated to all things news and journalism. As a news journalist you can imagine that I was extremely hyped about this. On the lower level they had displayed a piece of The Berlin Wall which was pretty incredible. The top floor was dedicated to “Photographs of the Year” dating for the 1950s to present day. The next was the largest exhibit in the building which was about print history and featured headlines from the 1500’s to current news. There was a huge wall-spanning video that depicted the broadcast news from 1981 to 2017 called “Stories of our Lives”. These three exhibits gave me goosebumps – so much has happened and changed over the last fifty years it’s incredible.
I had only looked through two floors and it was time to go – we had a tour of the Pentagon to get to. After being searched three times in security (and repeatedly asked if I was over 18, we went on our tour which took us through the hallways and the guide discussed the history of the building and the different military aspects of the United States. We then took the subway to Arlington and viewed the Women in Military Service for America Memorial and the President John F. Kennedy Gravesite.
Tuesday 15th May.
We returned to Newseum! After rewatching the ‘Stories of Our Lives” (It was just that good) I finally explored the other floors. This day was plagued with small children, which quite often I got mistaken for which was concerning considering I’m a 21 year old adult.
Next was the Air and Space Museum. I’m going to be honest, I’m not that hyped over aeroplanes. Sure the technology that puts them in the sky is impressive, and yeah there are a lot of air crafts in existence but I just don’t care that much. So whilst my friends explored, I stayed strictly in the space areas of the museum. I even went into the planetarium and watched a fun video about the dark universe.
We then headed outside, Washington D.C. was humid and 32 degrees – it was kind of awful. Regardless, after finding a lost notebook on a shaded bench, we went for a walk in the sculpture garden and took many shaded breaks. The lovely weather then gave us inspiration to walk all the way back to the Lincoln memorial to take better pictures than the ones we took on the first day. We made it after an ice cream break – it was warm okay?
Wednesday 16th May
Our last day in Washington! The weather treated us to some rain which did nothing to cool down the heat. I hadn’t brought any waterproofs so I was left to just get wet during our time outside. The first stop was the National Museum of American History. Overall this museum was pretty good, one problematic element was the way in which the military exhibit was delivered. It was a room full of propaganda and I felt very uncomfortable – especially during the section that said the Native Americans embraced white society. Regardless, they had a small exhibit dedicated to the treatment of the Japanese in America during World War Two and information regarding the Poor People’s campaign and the current situation for poverty in the US (it’s still bad).
We then went to the United States Capitol building and the Library of Congress. These were both probably the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in America. There are no words for how amazing the architecture and art was so here are some pictures.
Then our Washington trip was pretty much over. We had a final meal in an Irish pub that served real fish and chips which was much needed after walking in the rain for half an hour after walking around all day. I packed that night and woke up at 6am to catch a bus to Boston.
Washington D.C. was wonderful and tiring. I’m a big museum fan so this was definitely the city for me.