Steven in Washington, D.C.

Steven will be conducting research with the head of the Russia-EU Program at the Finish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki. He was in Russia in Summer 2006.

My first adventure in the city!

Today is my first real day to see and explore the city. Getting used to using the metro and walking did take a bit of adjusting to, but all in all, I easily got the hang of getting around. I was able to meet up with a friend after sleeping a good deal after a long week getting adjusted to the new location for the summer.

We set out to explore the Smithsonian – well not only one, but many of them. This isn’t something one can do in only a day, it takes a few, and well, we didn’t realize this until we made it down to the area and were around the massive amounts of people. From Girl Scouts to FFA members, to regular tourist and school groups, Washington during the summer is not a quiet and lovely place to enjoy the sites and sounds without masses of people joining in the adventure.

We decided to enter the Smithson Castle, one of the main buildings. It houses the crypt of Smithson, the benefactor of Smithsonian. After getting tired of standing with the crowds, we decided that we would start our real exploration at the Museum of Natural History. Here you find the animals, the “Hope diamond,” and many other fossils and remains of people around the world, including a few mummies from Egypt. The time here was enjoyable, as well as a place to take refuge from the summer heat and humidity in Washington.

Between all of the Smithsonian buildings is a large open area, where preparations have begun for the Folk-life festival that takes place every summer. It will commence in a few weeks, normally around the Independence Day celebrations.

After being exhausted by both the heat and the people around us, it was time for a well-needed break. I departed for Foggy Bottom, where George Washington University is located, to rest before going back out to see the monuments at night. One of the most exciting things about Washington is seeing the most beautiful structures of the city lit and adorning this city skyline. Well, somewhat of a skyline. No structures are taller than the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. I met back with a friend and decided to walk around the monuments. We started near the White House and began our trek to the Washington Monument, then to the Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt monuments. My favorite of all is the Jefferson, which resembles the SMU Rotunda. The beautiful marble monument sits away from many of the others on the Tidal Basin.

After leaving the Jefferson, it was late and we decided to try to find a taxi. However, no taxis are around the Jefferson and we were told that our best option was to walk toward the FDR monument to find one. After hearing this we went to the FDR memorial and walked through it. It was fascinating, but hard to see, because some of the lights were out. I will have to return in order to see all of the quotes and enjoy it.

After walking through all 4 rooms at the FDR memorial, we started looking for a taxi and waited so that we could make it back home after the adventure. It was exciting. I don’t think that this will be the last time that I explore the monuments while here in Washington. There is just something about them that is inspirational and moving.

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