Alyssa CluneAmerican Politics
October 8, 2018 | Greetings! Last I posted, I talked about how crazy it felt to be launched into such a new and fast-paced environment so quickly. Now that I’ve been here for a little over a month, I finally feel like I am getting the hang of DC life. I am starting to know my way around the city, visiting different farmers markets, sites, shops, and events around the city. Last week, I even directed tourists on how to get to the Jefferson Memorial. The tunnels below the Capitol, House, and Senate buildings are still a challenge, but I no longer spin in circles figuring out which direction the Rotunda is.
Besides being navigationally impaired, I am loving my internship! I attend briefings and events almost every single day on issues ranging from gun violence to LGBTQ immigration, and fiscal policy. I write memos on almost every brief I attend, which is doing wonders for my professional writing skills. Milwaukee Night, an annual celebration for my office’s district, was a few weeks ago, so the staff threw an event in our building, and I got to see Senator Tammy Baldwin and Paul Ryan in person!
I also finally got a tour of the Capitol building (which helped a LOT with my wayfinding skills) and was encouraged by the Capitol staff to just take a couple of hours, get lost in the building, and wander around until I knew it like the back of my hand. I never thought I’d have Capitol Hill staff encouraging me to get lost wandering around one of the most important and heavily guarded building in the country, but hey, what do you know?
In both my classes, we have had some amazing speakers and site visits. My favorite was probably the Newseum, where they had exhibits on everything from 1st Amendment rights to 9/11, and the Berlin Wall. We also had to the chance to hear Congressman Ryan Costello (PA-6) speak about his political experiences and how they led to Congress.
In my most exciting development, I celebrated my 21st birthday last weekend! My Washington Semester friends and I celebrated in style at The Front Page, a classic journalism-themed restaurant in Dupont Circle with the #1 happy hour in the city. Coming into the program, I was a little nervous about celebrating such a milestone birthday with people I had only known for a month, but all my new friends went out of their way to make the day special for me with cookies and little gifts.
This weekend, I’ll be attending the Embassy Masquerade Gala I mentioned in my first blog post, and am beyond excited to eat cannolis and tiramisu with Italian diplomats! On top of that, my twin sister is visiting me, and I can’t wait to show her around DC. My professor gave me permission to invite her to our Face The Nation filming this Sunday, so it should be a crazy, jam-packed, amazing visit.
If you’re interested in hearing more about this weekend and my other DC adventures, follow @WSPIntern for my Instagram Takeover, where you can follow my week post by post. It will be October 15th–18th, so make sure to tune in!
Alyssa CluneAmerican Politics
September 24, 2018 | You know that feeling of standing on the edges of a rapidly moving treadmill, knowing that as soon as you set your feet down on the belt, you’re going to have to sprint like crazy to keep up with the pace? That zero-to-100 sensation is the most accurate description I can give of my wild, fun, and all together unpredictable time here in DC so far. My name is Alyssa Clune, and welcome to my crib. And by crib, I mean student blog documenting the highs and lows of what promises to be my craziest semester yet.
As a native Bostonian who chose to pursue their undergraduate degree in New Orleans, I thought I knew exactly how to dive headfirst into the new and unpredictable. Turns out that even after 2 years of college in a city known for its spontaneity and nonstop events, the start of the Washington Semester was still a little overwhelming. The adjustment to a new environment with new friends and new sites to see made me feel like a freshman all over again.
The first week was a whirlwind of introductions, interviews, and incredibly confusing metro trips. The biggest highlight was definitely the WSP’s version of the Amazing Race, which had my team and I running around DC collecting menus, campaign posters, and postcards from famous restaurants, museums and monuments. But our long, frantic day was worth it when we won first place, and all scored tickets to a Venetian Ball at the Italian Embassy (more details coming in October)!
Not being one of the greatest navigators, and notorious for my laughable directional confusion, learning a new subway system proved to be a slight challenge for me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve ended up on the wrong platform of Metro Station, missed my bus, or taken the metro a couple of stops in the wrong direction. However, between my morning commute to Capitol Hill, seminar fieldtrips, and exploration of DC’s monuments and restaurants, I’m finally getting the hang of DC public transportation.
My classes have been fantastic so far, and involve a lot more experiential learning than any coursework I’ve done before. As a double major in Political Economy and Philosophy at my home school, most of my courses are lecture-styled, so the WSP seminars are a refreshing change of pace. My Public Law & Society class took us to the National Archives on our first day, and the following week, my Politics & Policy class visited the American Enterprise Institute to hear from an expert in the field of polling analysis. Meanwhile, my Political Communications course is planning a date to see the live filming of Meet the Press, my favorite Sunday morning political talk show!
Finally, I started my internship on Capitol Hill last week. I am working in the House of Representatives with Congresswoman Gwen Moore’s office, and am so excited to see what it is like to work in a congressional office. So far, I have been learning the lay of the Capitol Hill campus, researching legislation, writing constituents, and attending briefings. This week was the Congressional Black Caucus’s Annual Legislative Conference, so our office has been busy hosting briefings, scheduling events, and catering luncheons. I am excited for what is to come with this position, and to take on more responsibility in my office as I learn more and more.