Washington, DC: Global Gateway Summer 2022 (A Day in the Life 1)

Daily Life in Washington, DC by Noelle V. 

Our Daily Routine

Having been to D.C. last summer and having a plan of living here one day, I knew I wanted to make the most of this opportunity to immerse myself in the city like I live here permanently. I wanted to strike a careful balance between pretending I already live here and remembering that it is only temporary. 

This has caused me to maintain a careful schedule that balances my everyday routine that I operate on back home with the routine of being in one of the greatest cities on earth for only three weeks. 

Thus, my average weekday looks something like this: 

Image of the sun rising above the riverwalk along the Eastern part of the Anacostia River

Each morning I am up around 7:00 AM and I get ready for the day and head out for a walk along the Anacostia River. 

This is one of the perks of staying in the Navy Yard, we reap the benefits of the peaceful trail that runs right beside the river. This walk tends to make me feel like a total local- if I had a dog it would be even more realistic.

The trail is always filled with millennials and their dogs getting their daily walks in. Something about D.C. that I particularly enjoy is all of the dogs. They remind me of my own dog back home. There are dog parks all throughout the city and each one always has a dog running around. In no other city have I ever seen so many dogs. 

During my walks I call my mom to update her on my life and after about 45 minutes I head back to the hotel for some breakfast. Generally breakfast includes a blueberry or banana nut muffin and some fruit. Post-breakfast I chill for a while before leaving for the classroom shortly before 9:00 AM. 

Image of the remodeled homes that line the sidewalk on the walk to class along First St SE

The walk to class takes us past a Whole Foods, that we generally head to for lunch after class. Once we walk under the highway, we stroll through a quaint little neighborhood of old, narrow homes. Many of them appear to have been remodeled. 

Next we pass the Republican National Committee building which is attached to The Capitol Hill Club, which is a Republican social club. On the first day here while we walked past these buildings we saw Representative Kevin McCarthy be ushered into his car to presumably head back to his own office. We all freaked out just a little bit. 

Image of Capitol Hill Social Club, the National Republican Club

The last things we pass before the classroom is the Library of Congress and then the Supreme Court. Most days there have been protestors outside the Court advocating for their stances on Roe v. Wade. Only here can you see the first amendment right to protest being exemplified daily. 

Image of protestors outside the front of the Supreme Court Building





Once in the classroom, we settle down and engage in eye-opening conversations starting at 9:30 AM about the topics of the readings from the previous night. For example, voting rights, affirmative action, and Critical Race Theory are just a few of the topics we have discussed thus far. This lasts until 11:30 AM and then it is time to head to lunch. 

Lunch has included stops at Union Station, Chinatown, Whole Foods, and many others. 

After lunch we head to our activity for the afternoon. We have gone to many different places throughout D.C. such as the Museum of African American History and Culture – my personal favorite, the Museum of the American Indian, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and even a local non-profit that works to combat hunger called Food and Friends where we spent some time volunteering. 

After the afternoon excursion is over we generally head back to the hotel. If the activity is shorter in length, some choose to explore the city a little more by going to an art museum or going out to eat in an area other than the Navy Yard. 

However, by this time most of us are worn out, whether from the challenging discussions of the morning, the activities of the afternoon, the powerfulness of the city, or the beating down heat. This prompts a quick nap, shower, chill moment, or some combination of those. 

Then it is time to get to work on tomorrow’s readings and assignments and (or) get something to eat depending on the time. D.C. food is something else. Top notch restaurants fill the city with something for everyone. 

Lastly, it is time to call it a night. After catching up on the latest Twitter highlights of the minefield that is our political landscape, I plug my phone in and get some shut-eye. For me this is between 10 and 11 PM, but for others it is between 12 AM and 2 AM, it really depends on the person. 

And that my friends is an epically exciting day in the life of a Global Gateway in DC student. Hopefully one day this will be my permanent routine!

Connecting to the DC Culture

What is my favorite part of the day: the places we go, the things we do and see, and the experiences we have in the afternoons. They are not only the highlights of my day, but they are prime opportunities to immerse ourselves into the D.C. culture and the cultures of people across the country. 

At the National Archives we got to see the original Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Nothing is more D.C. esque than these documents, regardless of the fact that they were not actually written in D.C. 

Image of the Museum of African American History and Culture taken from Constitution Ave

At the Museum of the American Indian we got to immerse ourselves in a culture far beyond the one of D.C. The native culture spans hundreds of tribes around the world that each have their own special essence. 

At the Museum of African American History and Culture, we got to experience unprecedented excellence that makes up the black community. To me, this museum encompassed an often ignored or misrepresented part of our history and a culture that white people have tried and tried to diminish without success. To see and more importantly feel that resilience was very powerful. 

This is what everything in D.C. has the ability to do: to make someone feel power and become powerful. Whether you are here to work in politics or a think tank, run the metro system or staff a hotel, drive a taxi or protect the city on the force, there is a certain power that this city exudes. 

Just roaming the streets of D.C., going into a historically important building, volunteering with a local non-profit, or sitting on a bench along Capital Mall the power seeps into a person’s veins.

One can feel it strolling along the river with the local puppies, walking to class alongside local employees, eating at the local restaurants, zooming around on the metro, or meandering through museums and other buildings. 

The aura of power that rushes into the atmosphere here is unmatched. 

This power can be uplifting or it can be detrimental. 

It would be easy to crumble under, but it is also possible to let the power empower someone. 

Thus far, it has been very empowering and that is how I have connected most to D.C. 

I feel at home. I feel connected. I feel at peace. I feel the good feelings that D.C. brings. 

I feel the power. 


Places: Routine and Favorite by Rachel W.

Hello! My name is Rachel Witthuhn and I was a participant in the Global Gateway Study Abroad program to Washington DC this May. I’m going to be a junior at UW Madison in the fall, and my major is Psychology with certificates in Gender and Women’s Studies and Athletic Healthcare. I’m a WI native and have only left the state a few times in my life, mostly to travel the midwest, so when I heard about this program taking place in Washington DC, I was immediately interested. The topic of the course, Race and Politics in the United States, is something I’ve been passionate about since high school and is an area of study that I feel my generation can really benefit from understanding more deeply. I do have an interest in potentially working in a political environment after graduation, and I’d love to somehow contribute to the elimination of racial discrimination in this country. Regardless of the career path I follow, I hope to use the knowledge I’ve gained through this course to be a more well-rounded, informed, and impactful professional.

One of the things I found to be extremely important while I was in Washington DC was  a daily routine. The first few days of the program were hard for me because I was very nervous about how I would adapt to the life I would be living for three weeks. I am very much a homebody and this program marked the first time I have traveled outside of Wisconsin on my own for more than a few days, so on top of being nervous and wanting to do well, I was also very homesick. However, after the first few days, I started to get a feel for things and found my groove, and was able to truly appreciate and enjoy the opportunity I’d been given. Each afternoon, we were scheduled to tour a new location in the city, so there weren’t many places we went to more than once. However, each morning our routine was the same, and both the destination and the route to get there became familiar enough to feel like a home away from home. Let me take you through a typical morning… Immediately after exiting the hotel with a few friends, we would walk past our local Whole Foods market where we would return to get lunch on most days on our way back from seminar. From there, we would walk a few blocks through a residential neighborhood made up of middle-class homes. After about 12 minutes, we would reach First Street, by far the most memorable portion of the journey.

First Street view, the last and best street before arriving at our seminar building!

 This is a wide street, lined with trees, fences, and plenty of space for pedestrians to walk. Once on First Street, we went past some of the most iconic government buildings. Immediately on the right is the Library of Congress. Then, about halfway down the street, you can look to the left and see the United States Capitol. Just a bit further yet and you are standing in front of the United States Supreme Court building and right next door to that is where we had seminar each morning. This final destination where all of our lectures and discussion took place is the United Methodist Building, home to the Wisconsin in Washington program office. Our classroom was on the 4th floor and was the size of a small conference room. The first time I walked down First Street to our classroom, it was absolutely mindblowing. I never imagined seeing these buildings up close, much less having them be part of my daily life, and all of it was a little surreal. After the first week, the atmosphere felt more normal, but it never got less exciting to see, and First Street was by far my favorite part of our daily routine.

While choosing a favorite part of our routine was easy, choosing my favorite place to visit throughout the program is a much tougher question to answer. Since I don’t travel much, anything new is very exciting to me, and just being in the city where the heart of the United States government is located is thrilling However, if I had to pick one place, I would say the National Mall, where a majority of the famous monuments and memorials are located. On our second day of the program after our morning seminar, we went to the National Mall and toured all of the monuments and memorials located there, starting at the Washington Monument, then moving to the WWII Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial,  the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean American Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, and finally ending with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

check out this great view of the Washington Monument as the group walks up to get a closer look!

It was a long day with lots of walking, but it was very much worth it. Going to these monuments and memorials filled me with awe, as if I was dreaming and would wake up any second. These places, especially the WII Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial, were places I had learned or read about when I was younger, but to have the opportunity to see them in person as part of my learning experience really gave them a different meaning, and the experience is something I will never forget. The other great thing about being on the National Mall was seeing all of the other people who were there at the same time. Whether they were touring the monuments and memorials like we were, going to a nearby museum, or grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many food trucks lined up on the streets, everyone was there to enjoy something. Sharing these reminders of American history as part of a large group of strangers really put the moment into perspective for me, and put an exclamation point on the importance of why each monument exists. The feeling of being in the crowd was one of pride and joy, and I hope I can bring my family and friends to tour someday as well.

A great view of the National Museum of African American History building

In addition to visiting so many historic monuments, we were able to take in several museums. The great thing about Washington DC is that most of the museums are free and are open 364 days of the year (closed on Christmas Day), so anyone can come at any time and at no cost. I found something interesting in each of the museums we went to; however, my favorite was the National Museum of African American History. From the moment I walked up to the building, I knew it was someplace special. Unlike the average gray stone exterior of most other museums, this building was covered in gold designs and had a funky shape. There were four floors filled with exhibits depicting both African American history and current events. I started in the basement where the most historical exhibits were located. As I walked through, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information filling the walls and also had a sense of regret over realizing this was the first time I was learning about most of the details presented. It was a lot for me to take in, and the history portion of the museum took me over two hours to get through. The experience confirmed that the history of African Americans is a deep, painful, intense history that everyone should know about, and the fact that I didn’t know about a majority of the information was heartbreaking to me. I will need to come back to the museum at a time when I can study every single panel. I want to take the time to learn about it in detail on my own, since my education left much of that information out. I would summarize the history exhibit as shocking and necessary to see for every American. 

Food in Washington, DC by Emily O. 

It has been two weeks since our group arrived in Washington DC. With that said, this  means trying new foods! Throughout these couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity  to try new foods in the city. Since I usually eat a lot of Oaxacan food because my Abuela cooks a lot for my family, I am so grateful I have tried new foods.  

First Week 

Once we arrived in Washington DC on May 16, we kicked off our trip with Whole Foods  for lunch. You may be wondering, “Emily, you have Whole Foods in Wisconsin.” You are absolutely correct.  

For me at least, I have never been to Whole Foods before, so this was new to me. In my cardboard to-go box, I had loaded mashed potatoes, chicken wings, one piece of fried chicken, and white rice. Of course, I had to put lemonade on the side for a hot day. I was hungry from the plane ride but with no regrets, it was delicious! 

Now, what did I have for dinner on our first day? Our group had the pleasure of dining at Él Bebe, only a few blocks from our hotel. I will get to the food part in just a second, but I had the chance to sit with two other classmates on the program, and the professor’s wife  Sarah. It was an awesome experience to connect with others on our first day. So, what did I eat? Of course, me being me, I got three carne asada tacos. They were amazing. I dipped my tacos in green salsa for more flavor and spice. 

Let’s move on to breakfast during my first week in DC. On the first full day, my  roommate and I went to Whole Foods since we really wanted to see the capital. Do not judge, but I filled my box with fruit and bacon. No matter what criticism I receive, it was delicious! 

For the rest of the week, I ate breakfast from the hotel. I ate a variety of things such as French toast with strawberries, a breakfast sandwich (includes bacon, egg, and spinach), avocado toast, and a bagel. They were all delicious but out all of them, my favorite is the French toast with strawberries! 

Now moving on to lunch, there is quite a variety. On the first full day, our group ate pizza. It was delicious! I had two pepperoni slices. Then throughout the week, our group tends to eat at Whole Foods for lunch. Usually, at Whole Foods, I would get the same thing; loaded mashed potatoes, chicken, and fruit. I have no regrets about my choice, it is so good every time.  

One day during the week, we went to Union Station, and we all got to pick where we wanted to eat. I decided on Chipotle. Of course, I had to get a bowl with chicken, white rice, black beans, guacamole, Pico de Gallo, and red salsa. It was amazing. Another day during the first week, our group went to Chinatown to eat at Rerens. It was so good! I got chicken stir fry with water to drink. I have no regrets and I will be going back there.  

Dinner during my first week mainly consisted of leftovers from Whole Foods that I saved in my refrigerator. 

Second Week 

With the second week approaching, I tried new things! Again, let’s start with breakfast.  My breakfast consisted of a breakfast sandwich, avocado toast, and a blueberry muffin. I also went to Starbucks twice for coffee! I’m a big coffee drinker. 

Let’s dive into lunch! Of course, we had Whole Foods. Then on Tuesday, I ate chicken tenders and fries at the National Museum of the American Indian. I loved this meal. It’s super basic but so delicious. Again, we went to Union Station, and I stuck with Chipotle.  On Friday, we had the opportunity to go to Busboys and Poets. 

Now, let me describe what I got. I had a very hard decision about what to get. The fried chicken sandwich looked amazing, but I stuck with a grilled cheese sandwich with fries. I  think it was the best grilled cheese I had in my life. I recommend going to this restaurant if you are in DC! 10/10 

Agua 301 Tacos

My dinner mainly consisted of leftovers besides Tuesday night. I and some other students went to Agua 301. It was taco Tuesday! So, they had a special of $3 tacos. I got the chicken tacos, and they were so good! I recommend going here if you want amazing tacos for a cheap price. 


There were other places I got to try without the group so I would like to describe what  and where I went. To start off with, I went to the Pentagon City Mall with others and had pizza! Yes, it was in the food court, but when you’re hungry, it’s amazing!

I also had the opportunity to go to Shake Shack. I have never eaten here before, so this was an experience. I had cheese fries with bacon and an Oreo shake! The fries were amazing, but the Oreo shake was so good! I have always heard good things about their shakes, and I was blown away. It was so good that I saved the rest for the next day. 

The last thing I would like to mention is that I ate a Circa. This restaurant is amazing. I  spent under $25 here. I got a burger and fries, and I was not disappointed. Surprisingly it was not busy when I went on a Saturday night. I recommend going there around dinnertime for the best experience.  


I am so grateful I have had the opportunity to try new foods in Washington DC. I would have never tried new foods if I were back in Wisconsin. I am happy I am pushed out of my comfort zone. With one more week left, I am going to try so many more new foods!