Mahalet with her WSP friendmahalet tadesse
justice & law

November 19 | Hi Everyone! It is so surreal to be writing the last blog post. I still have a little over a month in the city, but I am betting that the time will fly by. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and after that I will probably be busy studying for the finals, and before I know it, I will be on a plane on my way home. I actually land in Oslo on the morning of December 24. I think that this Christmas will be extra special, since I will be reuniting with my whole family on Christmas Eve. Just the thought of it makes me kind of homesick. Thankfully, I have a lot of family here in the U.S. and I will be traveling to Dallas, Texas and Jacksonville, Florida next week. And I will be spending Thanksgiving with my family in Virginia, which I am ecstatic about!

Mahalet visited the Supreme Court with her class Although I have a lot to look forward to, I have some nice memories from the past couple of weeks I want to share with you. A couple of weeks ago, my Public Law and Society professor urged us to go to a Supreme Court Oral Argument. But the downside was that there are about 50 people who are allowed in to the argument, and our Professor said that we had to line up outside before 4 a.m. to make sure that we got in for the argument that begun at 10 a.m. To expect me to sacrifice sleep and stand outside in the cold was just unrealistic, but thankfully I was able to line up at 9 a.m. for a three-minute preview. It is safe to say that I was happy with my decision, and if you are not a morning person, I highly recommend doing the same. I got to sit in for about ten minutes, which was plenty for me. It is hard to understand what the case is about, but if you are only interested in seeing the justices and just get a glimpse of how an oral argument unfolds, like me, it is a cool experience. My class is actually going back to SCOTUS in a couple of days, where we will meet the clerk of the Supreme Court. The whole class was hoping that we would meet a justice, but unfortunately that wasn't possible.

Mahalet's friend On Saturday, my friends and I decided to explore Eastern Market and have brunch there. There were all kinds of stands there, and it is definitely worth checking out. We decided to walk towards the National Mall, and on our way we passed the National Museum of Art, and decided to go in, mainly because we were so cold. But the point is that I really appreciate that the museums in DC are free, because you can just walk in spontaneously. I think we all agreed on the fact that none of us were fans of modern art, but we had a lot of fun.

But the weekend’s highlight was unquestionably a carnival party two of my German friends hosted. It is a tradition in the German city, Cologne, where the carnival season officially starts on the 11th of the 11th month, at 11 minutes past 11. Everyone had dressed up in costumes, and we just had a lot of fun. I love participating in cultural events like this, and the cultural exchanges might be my favorite part of studying abroad.

I spent several months this past spring debating whether I wanted to come to DC this semester. I am extremely happy with my decision, because it has been a great experience, and I am glad that I wrote this blog, documenting memorable happenings. If I ever feel nostalgic in the future, I have some reading material that will take me back.

Blog History

Mahalet on the set of Meet the Pressmahalet tadesse
justice & law

November 5 | Hi again! I think that this is the first time in my life I have appreciated the fall. In Oslo, the season is generally really short, and it rains a lot. The winter usually announces itself in mid to late October. My internship is just around the corner from the White House, so whenever I need some fresh air I go towards Lafayette Square and just enjoy the cool air, and adore the beautiful fall colors. I was talking to my family a couple of days ago and they told me that it had started to snow back home, and I have to say that I am not exactly envious of them. What worries me a little is that I don’t have many weeks left here in D.C. and I honestly want to hit the pause button (I only have seven more Mondays left in this city!).

A view of the White House from Lafayette Square Between school and internship, I usually don’t have as much energy as I had at the beginning of the semester to go sightseeing or explore new places. But my internship is great, and a lot of the projects I have been working on are finally done and it is so rewarding to see the end results! With the Midterm Election coming up and the unfortunate incidents of the pipe bombs and the attack on the Synagogue in Pittsburgh, polarization in American society and politics has become a highly debated topic. My class was fortunate enough to attend a live taping of the morning show “Meet the Press” where the guests and the host discussed just that. My site Visit for my Public Law & Society ended up being relevant to the political discourse as well. I went to the National Museum of American History to see the exhibit about democracy and the evolution of voting rights in the U.S. If that exhibition doesn’t encourage people to go out and vote, then I don’t know what will.

One thing I was excited about experiencing in the U.S. prior to my arrival was Halloween and Thanksgiving. I used to go trick or treating in Norway as a child, but it was not a big thing, and you had to expect that older people would give a long speech about how Halloween is an American tradition, not a Norwegian one, and therefore kids should not go around asking for candy. Halloween has definitely become more popular the recent years but it is nothing like over here. I live off campus in a suburban area, and some of my neighbors started to decorate their houses at the end of September! People here really put in the effort. My friends and I spontaneously decided to go to a Halloween party, but we didn’t have costumes, and by the time we went shopping most of the stores were sold out. Rookie mistake, I know. We ended up improvising with the stuff we had at home, and unfortunately, it was not a pretty sight. But it was definitely an experience.

My most imminent goal for the next weeks is to go to a Norwegian Christmas Market to eat Norwegian waffles and risgrøt, which is a rice pudding with sugar, cinnamon, and butter. It is to die for! The cafeteria at my home university usually serves it every Friday in November and December, and it has become comfort food my friends and I enjoy in the weeks leading up to our final exams.

Until next time!

Mahalet with friends at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.mahalet tadesse
justice & law

October 22 | Do you know how much the annual worldwide military expenditures are? The answer is 1747 billion dollars. Do you know where I learned that? At the UN headquarters!!

As you probably understand, I spent my weekend in New York City. We didn’t have class this Friday due to Fall Break, so my friends and I decided to take advantage of that and travel a bit. We were nine in total, and we rented a really pink and stylish apartment in Brooklyn. All of us have been in New York before, but there was still so much stuff we wanted to do, so the days were packed and the hours just flew by. The last time I was in New York, I was there for just a day and a half, and my family and I spent most of our hours rushing from sight to sight, and it was during high season. It was just really stressful, claustrophobic and I left the city really disappointed thinking that it was really overrated. I was looking forward to giving the city a second chance and just steer away from Times Square and the Statue of Liberty basically. We ended up having so much fun, and since we were so many we would all have different suggestions and inputs so I got to do a lot of fun things.

Mahalet surrounded by street art in downtown NYC. As you might have already picked up, I think that the coolest thing I got to do was go on a private tour inside the UN headquarters. I really can’t put into words how excited and starstruck I was. I was literally geeking out. My friend, Une, has two friends that are interning at the UN, and they were happy to show us around. It was so much fun and talking to our hosts made me really excited about applying for an internship after I am done with my degree. And of course, Henrik, Une and I had to take an awkward picture in front of one of my favorite quotes with the UN flag in the background just to document that we were there (pics or it didn’t happen, right?).

I think the second coolest thing was walking around on the High Line. It was really nice to just stroll down such a green space while viewing the urban landscape. We weren’t so lucky with the weather this weekend - it was so cold and windy - but the weather gods were kind to us while we were on the High Line - the sun was out, it wasn’t windy and it was just an ideal fall day.

Although I definitely had more fun in New York this time compared to my last time there, I still like DC better, (despite the humidity). I am currently on the bus on my way back, and I have to say that I am really looking forward to getting back to my home away from home.

Fellow WSP students at the National Botanical Gardensmahalet tadesse
justice & law

October 8 | Hi! The day after my first blog post, I started my internship at SOS Children’s Villages. SOS is a non-governmental organization which cares for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in 135 countries. I am part of the major gifts team, which means that I assist in identifying new prospective donors, develop research profiles and help identify opportunities to maximize fundraising potential. I realize that the description might sound dry to some people, but the work isn’t. None of the tasks I have been given are similar, so no days are identical. I think that the work I have enjoyed the most is reading reports on different countries the organization is based in. I get to learn a whole lot of interesting facts about the countries (every I.R. student’s dream, right?) as well as learn about the end results of the work we do (and I get to look at pictures of cute babies all day!).

The Capitol Building in downtown Washington, DCWhen I wrote the last blog post I was pretty amazed by the field trips I had been on, but it just gets better and better. Last week, my professor got free tickets to the Newseum museum for my Public Law and Society class, and I must say, hands down, that museum is the best museum I have ever been to. Unfortunately, I only got to be there for two hours and had to rush through all six floors, but it was really great. I think that all of the exhibitions are interesting, but if you are planning on going you should definitely check out the exhibitions called “1968: Civil Rights at 50”, “9/11 Gallery”, and my all-time favorite - “Pulitzer Price Photographs Gallery”. It was a dynamic experience because some of the pictures were so pretty, creative and joyful and others were just so hard to look at and nightmarish.

Mahalet with friends at the DC Navy Yard Our professor also brought us to the U.S. Capitol for a panel debate about Congress and the separation of powers –currently a hot topic due to the Kavanaugh hearings. And if you are wondering, yes the political climate in D.C. is crazy right now. I must say that it was intriguing, and at times provocative, to hear the panelists’ view on the European parliamentary system and the American form of government heavily influenced by checks and balances. I found myself often disagreeing with the panelists, but I enjoyed the experience.

Although I have been occupied with school and the internship, I have still managed to have some fun on the weekends. My friends and I went to the United States Botanic Garden a couple of days ago. We were there on a Saturday, so there were a lot of people there, but it was still really soothing and peaceful. I was there with my good friends from Norway. We are all studying at AU this semester but the four of us haven’t been able to spend that much quality time together lately, so I really enjoyed hanging out with them. We also went to an Oktoberfest at NoMa Square that evening. Although the event wasn’t as inspired by Bavarian culture as I had hoped for, it ended up being a really fun night. And, we got to take a picture with a huge pretzel, so we were happy.

Till next time, then!

Mural of the Obamas and Prince with the American flagmahalet tadesse
justice & law

September 24 | Hello everyone!

My name is Mahalet and I'm an exchange student from Norway. I study International Relations at the University of Oslo, and this is my senior year. At American University, I am enrolled in the Justice and Law concentration. After discovering the show Suits in the tenth grade, I kind of became obsessed with the American legal system. However, corporate law lost its charm when I saw The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which led to my obsession with the civil and criminal law. (Yes, I watch a lot of TV). Anyways, I am super excited to learn more about civil rights, law enforcement, the judiciary, and correctional system here in the US from actual reliable sources.

I have had classes for three weeks now, and it has taken me some time to get used to the educational system at AU. At the University of Oslo, lectures at the undergraduate level involve large numbers of students, with a limited room for interaction between the teacher and the students. I appreciate that my professor at AU lets us contribute in class and that there is an ongoing dialogue between the professor and the students. Although the seminars are great, I really value the field trips our professor takes us on. The reason that the field trips are my favorite activity is because we are able to get to know the city as well as visiting cool places and actually learn something - we are killing two birds with one stone!

Mahalet and friend by the American eagle statue on campusSpeaking of getting used to things, I am still struggling with the metro system. You would think that it would have been easy for me, growing up in Oslo where I have taken the metro by myself since I was in the third grade, but that is not the case. Until now I have gotten off at the wrong station twice, and also taken the metro the wrong way. And don’t even get me started on the buses. I still haven't figured it out, so if Google Maps suggests taking the bus, I usually just order an Uber.

Mahalet with her friends in front of the White HouseThis is my sixth time in D.C., so I haven’t had the need to do a whole lot of touristy stuff. I have mostly been trying to see sights I have not seen before. Which is why I woke up super early at the beginning of September to get tickets for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I am currently counting down the days to December first. Only 12 more weeks to go.

Although I have been in this city before, I had never been to Georgetown and U Street. So I have been spending quite some time in these neighborhoods. Although Georgetown is really nice, I must say that U Street is my favorite neighborhood. First of all, I don’t have to take a bus to get there. Second of all, it is such a vibrant area, with a lot of cool street art and murals. I don’t have a sense of direction, and I get lost a lot, but wandering in the wrong direction isn’t too bad when I am in U Street.