American University quad in the fallethan johnsonforeign policy

November 19 | My final blog post is here and as I am writing this, I am thinking about all of the wonderful and fun experiences I have had this semester so far and how it will all be coming to an end soon. I will miss the city and all of the people that have taught me so much, but I am also excited for next semester as I will be at the University of Glasgow studying Philosophy.

These past two weeks have been full of excitement. Two weekends ago, I took a Greyhound bus to New York to visit my cousin. I had been there before, but I only got to see a few of the things that the city has to offer. This time around, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, got terrific New York pizza, walked the High Line, went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and saw a Broadway show. I'm thrilled I was able to visit my cousin since I had not seen her in a while and since I'm so close to the city, there was no excuse for me not to! Then this past weekend was one of the first weekends that I had nothing planned and was able to relax. When you're living in an exciting city, it can be hard not to fill up all of your free time with plans. However, during my years of college, I have learned that it is absolutely necessary to make sure that I get some time to relax. The excitement in Washington is not going anywhere!

My classes continued to keep me very interested in foreign policy and this past week, we covered human trafficking. During the week, we met with a person from Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. It was really an insightful briefing. I had never known too much about human trafficking, but I learned that it is a lot more prevalent in many industries that I could have ever imagined.

It is still so surreal how fast this semester has been going. It has really started to feel like fall over the past two weeks. All of the trees on campus have changed color and it reminds me of being home in Wisconsin!

It seems not too long ago that I started this blog. Now, weeks later, I am writing my final one. This blog has been a blessing because it has helped to encourage me to do more and to see more in the city. So far this semester, I have gotten to experience the city and all it has to offer, and I have been able to visit other cities like Baltimore and New York. I hope that those of you who have read my blogs have enjoyed reading about my experience in American University’s Washington Semester Program. I also hope that those of you who have read my blogs really consider enrolling in the program. It is a lot of work, especially if you decided to do the optional research class, but it seriously worth the effort. After this semester, I will know a lot more about foreign policy, I will have experience working on Capitol Hill, I will have completed a HUGE research project that I can share with prospective schools and employers, and I will have the experience of living in a major city.

Blog History

Ethan at a Broadway playethan johnsonforeign policy

November 5 | These last two weeks have been hectic for me! My girlfriend came two weeks ago to visit for the weekend, and then last week my dad and stepmother came to visit. It was so nice to see all of them and to show them around the city. None of them had ever been to DC before so I took them to see the famous monuments. Great tip: use the rentable schools to view all of the monuments. You save a lot of time, and they are a blast to ride. Currently, I am sitting on a bus on my way to visit New York while I am writing this. I have been to New York before, but I am excited to visit again!

My classes have been going really well since my last blog post. In the previous two weeks, I have given two presentations in my classes. Presentations usually are not my favorite thing, so I was a little nervous going into the last two weeks. Now that I am done, however, I am so glad that we were given the opportunity to do the presentations. I feel much more confident in my presentation skills and I learned a bunch the material I presented. I could even tell the difference in my performance from the first presentation to the second. Additionally, in a recent class briefing that I had, the founder from Project Hope International talked to us about what she does to prevent human trafficking. A big part of what her organization does is use technology to give people a better understanding of how human trafficking affects people. She brought with her an “empathy machine,” which is a virtual reality headset. Project Hope International created a video for people to watch through the headset that gives them a more personal experience with human trafficking. I got to try the headset, and it was truly a memorable experience. I had never used virtual reality before, and I did not expect it to transport you to another world in the way that it did. I believe the “empathy machine” does precisely what it was meant to do.

My internship has been continued to be as exciting as it was the first day I got here. For the entire month of October, we have been out of session. Since we have more free time in the office, I have been able to go to more events happening on the Hill, and I have been able to work on things that I was not able to when we were busier.

Lastly, I recently discovered the BEST restaurant I have ever been to. Over the weekend, I went to American Eats Tavern with my dad and stepmother. American Eats serves amazing BBQ and I got the best smoked sausage I have ever had. We also split some fantastic sides. We got side of brussels sprouts, carrots, and mac and cheese. All of which were outstanding and I have already made plans to go there again with some friends!

Ethan at Union Marketethan johnsonforeign policy

October 22 | The weather in Washington is finally starting to cool down, which is a relief as I had been missing the cool Fall that we have in Wisconsin. I have been staying busy with my internship, class, working out, and sightseeing, so time has been flying by.

Over these past two weeks, I have been trying my hardest to fit in as many sightseeing trips as possible. Just this past weekend my roommate and I spent a day going around the city. We first went to Meridian Hill Park. This was a beautiful park to walk around in, and it is also the home to the longest cascading fountain in North America! After the park, we went to Union Market to get some food. I had my roommate snap a picture of me inside of the market in front of the sandwich shop we ate at and that sandwich was hands-down the best Italian club sandwich I have ever had. The market was a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon walking around in. They have many food vendors and stores with cool items for sale. After we got some food, we headed to the National Botanical Garden. The garden was huge and had a bunch of places you could sit down and relax. In the center of the yards, they had an open courtyard and I was so surprised by how quiet it was considering how loud it is outside of the garden!

My class has continued to challenge me and change the way I have thought about the world in regard to foreign policy. Since my last post, my class and I have met with experts on Turkey, Syria, the Rohingya, and the Middle East. I am preparing for a group presentation on forced migration in my global politics class. Forced migration has been a topic that we have been studying thoroughly since the class has started so the project should be an interesting one to work on!

My internship at Congressman Mike Gallagher’s office continues to be exciting. I got to see the confirmation and investigation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. I listened to the opinions of many constituents on the phone, and I saw the protests in the Congress office buildings first hand. During my lunch one day, I watched protestors outside of the Supreme Court building. On the Saturday that the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, I went down to the Hill to witness the protests. Protestors flooded the streets around the Supreme Court building and I saw Senator Elizabeth Warren speak to the demonstrators, which was an incredible experience.

I have had an eventful last two weeks since my previous blog post! The next two weeks will be busy ones for me because my girlfriend is coming for one weekend and then the family is coming the following weekend. I plan on showing them around the city and taking them to a couple of Smithsonian museums. I'm hoping to include them in the next blog post’s picture!

Ethan somewhere in downtown Washington DCethan johnsonforeign policy

October 8 | I have been in Washington now for six weeks, and I have finally gotten into a routine that works for me. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, I intern at Congressman Mike Gallagher’s office on Capitol Hill. While I am at my internship, I answer calls from constituents, give tours of the Capitol building, attend briefings, and assist the staff in any way I can. My favorite part of the internship is leading tours of the Capitol building for people from the Congressman’s district, which is in northern Wisconsin. I love getting to talk to fellow Wisconsinites, because it makes me feel like I am back at home. Interning on the Hill is an excellent experience for anyone interested in learning about and seeing how our government functions. Working in a Representative’s office, I get to see firsthand how much work happens behind the scenes in our government.

My classes have been going really well so far, and they have been pushing me to learn a lot. My Global Politics class is structured so that we spend each class focused on a particular topic. At the end of each class, we go on a trip or speak with someone who has a career related to the area of interest. Last week, we studied Turkey and the week before that we studied the Syrian conflict. While we were studying Syria, we went to a non-governmental organization called InterAction. InterAction has done humanitarian work in Syria. This past week, my Global Politics class went to the Turkish Embassy to talk to some representatives from Turkey. The picture to the left is a picture of me in front of Turkey’s flag and a statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a former president of Turkey.

On the weekends, I have been trying to go to the museums and monuments around the city. There are a total of nineteen different Smithsonian museums and I hope to get to them all before my time here is over. This past weekend my roommate and I went to the Washington National Cathedral. It is a short way down the road from campus, so it made for a quick adventure. The cathedral was absolutely beautiful! We got to see many of the chapels, and we were able to go up one of the towers. The view from the tower was incredible, you could see the entire city from up there. I could not get the best photo from the top of the tower, so I had to take a goofy selfie instead!

Overall, the past two weeks since my last post have been filled with excitement! I have gone to a couple more museums and have gotten to explore the city. Interning on the Hill has allowed me to see the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process first hand. I am excited for the adventures to come and I cannot wait to share them!

Ethan with WSP friends at Nationals Stadiumethan johnsonforeign policy

September 24 | My name is Ethan Johnson, and I am a junior at Beloit College in Southern Wisconsin, where I am majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. I am originally from Kenosha, Wisconsin and have lived there my entire life. I have decided to travel this school year and do a semester at American University in the Washington Semester program and also do a semester at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Making the decision to spend a year away from home was difficult for me, but I am glad I am doing it. I enjoy traveling, sightseeing, reading, skateboarding, and watching movies.

Since I arrived in Washington three weeks ago, I have started my classes, started my internship, toured the city by bicycle, gone to museums, and met new friends. It has been incredibly busy, but I have loved every minute of it and it only took a couple of weeks before I found a good routine that helped me maximize what I could get done here in D.C. Before I came to D.C, I was worried about figuring out transportation around the city, but I found out that the metro is excellent to use and since I got a metro pass from American University, it's much more affordable than other transportation options!

In the Washington Semester Program, I am in the Foreign Policy concentration. I take two classes a week, Contemporary Foreign Policy and Global Politics. Most of the courses that I have taken at my home school have been on American Politics, so I was a bit worried about whether I would be able to do well in these classes. However, I really had nothing to worry about because my professor is terrific at explaining everything and I feel like I really understand the basics of foreign policy now. My classmates are from all over the world, and they each bring a different perspective to class which makes for great class discussions. Most days that my classes meet, we meet with someone who has a career in what we are studying that week. During our first week, my global politics class went to the UNHCR office. This past week Ambassador Kenney came to campus to talk about what she did as ambassador. This was a perfect opportunity to discuss what we had learned in class with a professional in the matter.

Washington D.C. is the most exciting city I have ever lived in. There are so many museums, monuments, restaurants, and parks to see. During my second weekend here, my roommates and I went to see a Nationals baseball game. The tickets were very affordable, and it was a great experience. This upcoming Tuesday, the Washington Semester Program has organized a group of WSP students to go to a Capitals game. I'm excited because I have never been to a hockey game before!

I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences in D.C. through this blog, and I hope that the blog encourages me to go out of my comfort zone and experience more during my time here!