American University Washington Semester Program Students visit the Google headquarters in Washington DC

Ingrid Skrede

American Politics

February 8, 2018 | Hello everyone!

My name is Ingrid. I am currently working on a bachelor's degree in International Relations at the University of Oslo in Norway, and I am doing a semester abroad at American University. Ever since I discovered this possibility, I have been so excited to come to Washington, D.C., to enroll in the Washington Semester Program. Even though I am very interested in foreign policy, I figured that there is no better place than the capital of the United States to study American Politics, so that will be my concentration this spring. I am new both in the U.S. and D.C., so tag along if you wish to share in this adventure with me!

We have already finished two weeks of classes, and so far it has been great. In our American Politics class, we have discussed different topics each week, such as the U.S. presidential campaigns, the electorate, and the two major American political parties. The readings were penned by people who have authority in each field of topic, which makes it more exciting but also more important to be critical of the source. The past two Fridays, we went on site visits and spoke with people working in politics either directly or indirectly through organizations or corporations. We went to the Google office in D.C., the Fair Vote organization, and the Democratic National Committee. These meetings have paired really well with the theoretical discussions we have had in class and gave a heightened understanding of how American elections, campaigns, and politics work.

Hopefully, something that will pair even better with what I learn in theory is my internship placement. Three days a week I will intern at an organization called Running Start. They work to encourage and educate women to run for office. Running Start was founded to address the absence of equal representation in the halls of government and provides young women and girls with the skills and confidence they need to become the political leaders of tomorrow. I am eager to get started and to learn more about female empowerment, organizational work, and of course political impact.

Washington Semester Program student Ingrid Skrede on the National Mall attending the 2018 Women's March Washington is certainly more than I hoped and expected it would be. It is definitely a political hot spot - everyone who wants to be something within politics should come here. There are endless possibilities when it comes to political organizations, consultancies, lobbyists, and the media. Whichever way you wish to influence, D.C. can provide it. It has been quite special to be here during the budget discussions which resulted in the government shutdown. However, it is not all about the frantic battles of politics. The city offers beautiful and charming districts such as Georgetown. Last Saturday I spent the entire afternoon strolling, eating, and looking at all the exciting stuff happening there. Furthermore, there is also the cool and vibrant Dupont Circle, where I have found everything from art and history to entertainment. It is a really great place to hang out with friends. And of course, while Washington D.C. is a modern capital, it is filled with history. There are many museums to visit, and the best part is that several of them are Smithsonian, which means they have free entrance. I especially liked National Museum of American History. However, everything in America is bigger, and the infrastructure is no exception. My first day here, I spent the entire day walking from monument to monument, from the awe-inspiring Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument, the White House to the Capitol building, and my, it really takes a while to walk everywhere! Yet, it is a great way to get to know the city. A really cool tip, though, is to take the time to inside the Capitol. If you have a foreign passport or other valid form of ID, you are allowed to enter the galleries and see the Senate or the House of Representatives in session!

All in all, the past three weeks have filled me with so many impressions, and I am overwhelmed with what the city and the Washington Semester Program can offer. In just a few weeks I already feel richer in terms of new friends, new knowledge, and new favorite places to visit. (Though not financially, hello fancy Sunday brunches!) I look forward to feeling more at home here and to figure out what else D.C. will bring me.