UW Global Gateway Week 1

Kelly Zhang, August 17

Washington D.C. was such a new experience for me. 

After months of preparation, one thunderstorm delay, and two hours of flying from Chicago O’Hare International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, fourteen of us finally arrived in Washington D.C on a sunny Wednesday morning. Once we picked up our luggage, we were heading to the Homewood Suites that we will be staying at for the following three weeks. The places we were staying were only twenty minutes away walking from the United States Capitol building, which is right next to our classroom by only one block. 

Washington D.C. is a place that nowhere else could compare. It is such a unique place that consists of countless museums, government buildings, and historical landmarks. The structure of the city seemed so different yet so attractive. Buildings from the street were designed to be approximately 10-15 floors maximum, which is very different from Chicago or New York. Instead of modern designs, Washington D.C. had more historical buildings, which I could see different designs and structures from both outside and inside. One thing I liked a lot was the metro underground transportation. The structure of the underground was neat and pretty. 

This is what the underground transportation station looks like.

The first few days after arriving at Washington were busy and fulfilling. We have visited some well-known museums like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, where there was a lot of information about the journey towards freedom from the 15th to – 21st centuries.  I was very impressed by how furnished and designed the Museum was. With three floors underground, four floors above — it was such a huge museum to visit. I have learned a lot from this museum, although I did not have the time to see each exhibit detail by detail, there were many things that I have never seen or heard before. My personal favorite was the three floors underground because it actively demonstrated the journey African Americans took toward freedom from the 15th century to current times. My classmates and I all found something we have never seen before, and something that shocked us — because we have not had to think about how much burden and pressure African Americans have experienced throughout history. 

From the National Museum of African American History and Culture

We ventured off campus to go explore. Some of us decided to explore Chinatown and had dinner there. Though we were meant for a revolving sushi restaurant, we decided to try some new Chinese food and step out of our comfort zone. It actually tasted really really good! There were some other restaurants that were tasting really good, I could not wait to experience and explore more of them. 

My classmates are people with different backgrounds. It was fascinating to learn about their experiences as students growing up in different states and the similarities and differences to my life. Many of them are speaking multiple different languages, living in different lifestyles, majoring in various areas. There is one student majoring in Psychology and Accounting, which is a very interesting combination of majors and interests. I am excited to know more about the different majors of my classmates, and their perspectives based on their expert areas. Since I am still exploring majors, they have offered me many great suggestions and recommendations of class selection. 

The Selfie in front of the US Supreme Court.

The first week was a blast with all these amazing people, I cannot wait to explore more about Washington D.C. and discuss race and discrimination with my professor and classmates. We have been doing forums and discussions in the alumni’s office. It was such a different experience studying in a different type of environment. Our relationship with our professor became closer than a normal class in UW-Madison, and we were able to talk about many different topics, not just the class materials with him. Again, I am more than excited to see what D.C. can bring me in the next few days!