Currently Playing Along

I came across an awesome blog post by Jones Design Company today. Emily talks about what’s going on by saying what she’s currently loving, doing, working on, etc. At the end, she encouraged her readers to play along, so here I go.

Loving: This fantastic box of goodies that just came in the mail. I haven’t gotten a chance to dig too deeply in it, but I have found some M&Ms, socks, cake mix, and my Washington Journalism Center grades (FINALLY)!

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Reading: Although one of my goals for the new year is to read more, I’ve not been doing too well. I am reading my Bible, as well as reading a manuscript for a book by Dr. Blevins for my editing class.

Waiting for: Spring Break to get here! I miss my family.

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Excited about: Going to D.C. with my roommate over Easter Break! I can’t wait to get back to the city I love, as well as introduce Stephanie to all my favorite places.

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Trying to: Drink more water. I drink way to much Diet Dr. Pepper and coffee!

Working on: Job applications and news stories. It seems like all I ever do is write, write, write (not that I mind).

Enjoying: Downton Abbey. I can’t get enough of it! Sundays are my favorite day!

Using: iPad. One of my classes is in the experimental pilot program for using iPads on campus. So, we get to use a university owned iPad for the semester. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it, but I have a feeling that I’m going to be fully attached by the end of the semester.

Wearing: Pink scarf from Charming Charlie… definitely one of my favorites.

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Planning: My graduation party with my mom! Thank goodness for Pinterest boards that allow multiple pinners.

Singing: Behold our GodIt’s by far one of my favorite songs right now.

Needing: Consistent income. I start tutoring English next week and begin working at Chick-fil-A again part time the following week, but right now, finances are tight!

Learning: I’m taking 15 hours of classes this semester. My favorite, though, is photography. I’m really excited to learn more about how to take good photos.

Listening to: Ironically enough, I’m listening to my playlist entitled “Friday” on Spotify. It’s a mix of all my country and Worship music. Right now, Keith Urban’s song, “Stupid Boy,” is playing.

Wishing: That I’ll get the White House internship I applied for this summer. That I’ll meet a godly man who will cherish me. That I was at home. That May would hurry up and get here.

Doing: Hanging out in the new study rooms in the Tucker Student Center with Amy. She’s working on homework and I’m blogging, Pinteresting and getting job applications put together.

Dreaming of: Going back to D.C. for good. Having a job there, going to church there, living life there.

Here, there and yonder

After a particularly sweet Christmas, the Groh family is here, there and yonder. I’m back at Gardner-Webb University and I start classes later today, Mommy’s back in Raleigh taking care of some last minute medical appointments for Granddaddy and Daddy’s back in Appleton bringin’ home the bacon.

We started out Christmas with a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C. Mommy, Daddy and Grandma came up to pick me up from my semester, so we spent a few days exploring our nation’s capitol.

After a fantastic weekend, we drove home, slept and repacked, then drove to Florida the next day. While in Florida, we had lunch with my Great Aunt Ellen, went to Disney world with some sweet friends and explored Cocoa Beach (where I Dream of Jeannie was set).

On the way back home, we stopped in Charleston, SC. I loved the old homes and beautiful architecture (and the seafood wasn’t bad either).

The following day, two friends and I headed up to Roanoke, VA for a semi-surprise visit with Hannah (my old roommate) and her husband. I have missed that girl too stinkin’ much!

We hosted Christmas this year and things were surprisingly peaceful and fun.

After we ate, opened presents, ate some more, and opened even more presents, the “sisters” and their families went to see Les Misérables. OH MY GOODNES! Best movie of my LIFE… no exaggeration, I PROMISE!

I got to catch up with lots of sweet friends that I haven’t seen in a long time, and my family also spent time bonding over Downton Abbey.

All in all, this Christmas was probably the best break of recent years. Unfortunately, it has come to an end. It’s time to get back to reality and to tackle my next to last semester at Gardner-Webb.

I’m excited about all the experiences this semester should bring. I have a new roommate and am living on a new hall—both seem to be good changes (although I most certainly miss the old roommate immensely). I’m meeting with two editors from the Shelby Star next week about writing for them some this semester. I also am planning to continue interning in the University Relations Office on campus. I have some really interesting classes this semester, and I also get to have some professors that I really respect.

A few of my favorite things: 2012 in review

I spent several hours deciding the best way to sum up this past year in a blog post. I could write a long, sentimental post spelling out the lessons learned or I could rehash the joys and heartaches of the past 12 months. Since this year has been filled with so many new experiences, I decided that perhaps sharing my favorite things  might be the best way to give you a taste of my year.

Favorite Places

Washington, D.C. Charleston, SC. Capitol Hill Baptist Church (D.C.). Eastern Market (D.C.).

The Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.; The Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.; The Atlas Theater (H Street, Washington, D.C.); Charleston, S.C.

The Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.; The Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.; The Atlas Theater (H Street, Washington, D.C.); Charleston, S.C.

Favorite Restaurants

Spize (Downtown Raleigh). H &Pizza (D.C.). Tortilla Cafe (D.C.). Georgetown Cupcake (D.C.).

Favorite “Firsts”

First time living in an apartment.

First country concert–Jake Owen at the North Carolina State Fair.

Jake Owen Concert at the North Carolina State Fair

Jake Owen Concert at the North Carolina State Fair

Favorite Songs

10,000 Reasons, Matt Redmond. Behold Our God, Sovereign Grace Music. Barefoot Blue Jean Night, Jake Owen. Wanted, Hunter Hayes. Cruise, Florida Georgia Line. Life Ain’t Always Beautiful, Gary Allen. Honey Bee, Blake Shelton.

Favorite New Tradition

Elf on the Shelf

Our Elf on the Shelf

Our Elf on the Shelf

Favorite Movie

Les Misérables.

Favorite Hobby

Cupcake Decorating.

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

Favorite Food

Sushi

Favorite TV Shows

Downton Abbey. White Collar. Hart of Dixie. The Mentalist.

Favorite Blogs

Our Single Purpose: I especially liked “Top 10 Perks to the Single Woman’s Life,” “The Art of Forgiveness” and “Getting Over Him.”

The Small Things Blog.

Smart, Pretty and Awkward.

Favorite Verses

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:7-8

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

The rest of my semester: Internship

ImageThe last time I blogged about my internship experience in Washington, D.C. was less than two weeks into my time at Religion News Service. I came to Washington, D.C. armed with a couple of canned classroom news articles, a handful of public relations stories and a whole lot of encouragement back home. I wasn’t exactly the most qualified person to become a reporter in our nation’s capitol city. Quite frankly, I was worried that I couldn’t do it, that I was unqualified. This semester taught me a lot about who I was and what I could do.

 

At the end of the second week, I attended my first congressional hearing. The topic of the day was Sikhs pushing for more legal protections. They want the government to track hate crimes against them and other minority groups not yet being tracked. It included moving testimony from a survivor of the Oak Creek, Wis. shooting, whose mother was killed.

The following week I covered the story of the anti-Muslim ads in New York’s subway system. While I didn’t feel like this was one of my better stories content wise, it was my most viewed story (from what I can tell) on On Faith. It was shared 152 times on Facebook and 31 times on Twitter.

The next week, I tackled two poll stories.

The first addressed how most Americans don’t believe that Scientology was a real religion. While doing my research, I came to the conclusion that Scientologists remind me of a used car salesmen. They’re slick, and they use deceptive figures that don’t add up. They’re too nice, and they only tell you what they want you to hear. They put on a well-polished act, but in the end, no one would  give me the information that I wanted.

The second story was about a poll that showed that Most Americans don’t mind religious athletes showing their faith on and off the field through religious gestures, prayers and comments. It is because of this story that Tim Tebow’s picture show’s up next to mine when you Google my name (trust me—I’m not complaining about that!).

Week five was a crazy week. It happened to coincide with the Religion Newswriters Association Conference, so Kevin and Lauren were particularly busy trying to get ahead that week.

My big story for the week was an event with the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University on Thursday. I spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for the event. I went through pages and pages of data trying to figure out what to write about.

I got lost on my way there, but thanks to my handy iPhone, I made it there (eventually). I listened to the event, and then I had a phone interview with someone from an opposing organization that I had set up earlier. His phone connection was horrible, so it took a really long time to do the interview, because he kept cutting out and having to call me back.

When I finished that interview, I found a coffee shop and tried my best to write my story. I was running really close to deadline by now, and under the pressure, I simply couldn’t figure out what the new information was and what the old information was and how to best present it.

I finished it up and sent it in, and then my phone died (before I could figure out how to get the Religion News Writers Association conference). So, I found the Apple store, bought a charger for my phone and plugged it into my computer. While I was in there, I also looked up bus directions for the place I was supposed to meet Lauren and Kevin. This was only mildly successful (the cord was WAY too short—5 inches), so I couldn’t make calls while it was plugged into my computer.

When I finally got my phone running again, I had several missed calls from Kevin and Lauren. They had some questions, and because they couldn’t get in touch with me, they decided to hold it.

The next week, I rewrote that piece, and rewrote it, and rewrote it. The final draft looked nothing like the first, but Kevin and Lauren decided not to run it, because it was old news.

I spent the majority of this week (that I wasn’t rewriting my Millennial story) updating our address with various publishers throughout the nation.

While this was fairly mundane, I did have one funny incident while making all these phone calls: the previous intern who made the list switched two digits in one of the phone numbers, so I accidentally called Home Depot instead of Harvard University Press. I’m not sure who was more confused, me or the woman who answered the phone!

During week seven, I wrote two stories. The first was about the Family Research Council shooter. He was the first person charged with terrorism charges since the District of Columbia’s 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act. I enjoyed this story because it was straight forward. It made me realize that I might just like cops and crimes reporting.

The second story was a fun one to write, although I had a hard time getting quotes. I wrote about how Muslims and Hindus are the least likely to have sex outside of marriage.

Since the story encompassed developing nations, sex AND religion, it was hard to find experts that could speak to the survey. I called about 20 people, think tanks, universities, etc. in a span of four days. I only got three responses, two of which I used (and the other just didn’t fit in the story).

Hurricane Sandy really threw us for a loop. We were supposed to move the week before, but couldn’t because we weren’t there, we couldn’t move. I spent the majority of my time that week researching for a story that I pitched about deaf churches, as well as getting contacts for a story of Adelle’s.

Week nine was split between researching and writing my “ What won, what lost on 2012 state ballot measures,” moving and interviewing people for my story on Deaf churches.

I even had the opportunity to go to Gallaudet and interview a professor. I also had my first conversation via video relay.

We spent an entire day unpacking our office and getting set up on the tenth floor.

My final full week was spent primarily researching for my story about deaf churches. I made phone calls, did internet research and sent emails.

I also worked on a story that talked about different versions of the Bible and whether or not the order of the books affects the way Christians read it. I contacted a number of Christian universities and interviewed Bible professors.

I also went to a pre-screening of Life of Pi.

On my last day, I wrote the story about Hispanics in America, finished up my article about Bibles and worked on my Life of Pi article. Then we went to lunch at the National Press Club.

Lauren was fantastic. I cannot say enough about her. She was encouraging, and helpful. She would edit my stories with me so I could see what she was changing and why.

Kevin was great, though I had little contact with him for the first half of the semester. He spent a lot of time out of the office because he was having issues getting an au pair for his twins. In addition to giving me many opportunities to write, Kevin tried hard to give me opportunities for experiences. He would send me to press conferences just to learn about topics, even if we weren’t going to run stories on them.

I see RNS’s move as a good thing and a bad thing for future interns. I enjoyed having my own office at the beginning of the semester. I think that having Lauren and Kevin there would have made it that much harder for me to pick up the phone and call sources. However, being in the same room as Lauren made it much easier to ask her questions and it gave the office a much homey feel. I think I would have gotten to know Kevin and Adelle (as well as Lauren) much better if we had been in closer quarters the whole time. I also work better with a steady hum or work going on around me, than I do in solitude and silence. So, being in an office with other people helped me be much more productive.

Perhaps the most valuable lessons learned were lessons about me. I learned strengths, and I learned weaknesses. For example, I am a slow writer and at times, I’m too thorough – I spend too much time researching, and not enough time writing. However, I am dedicated. I will do what it takes to get something done, even if that means that I will spend my entire weekend working on stories for work. I learned that I have a very “can do” attitude and that really counts for something in the work force. Above all, I learned that I can do this.

I am leaving this city armed with far more than what I came with. I am leaving with bylines, stories and confidence.

Home is where the heart is

As I write, I’m sitting at my gate in Ronald Reagan International Airport waiting for my plane to arrive to take me to a new apartment in a new town in a new state.

Even though I’ll be eating off of unfamiliar dishes and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, I’ll be with my family, and that makes it home enough for me.

#Last33

Today, Keely (my roommate) and I realized that we only have 33 days left in D.C, so we made a pact to do something new every day for the last 33 days. We will be documenting our adventures on Instagram using the hashtag “#last33.”

Today, our “new thing” was Tryst, a local coffee shop/restaurant. It was incredibly crowded, especially for a Monday night. We drank coffee and worked on homework while a live jazz band played.

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Catching up

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written! I’d say it’s time for us to get caught up on life… 

I’m getting ready to start the eighth week of my internship (is that even possible?). Time has really flown by! I’ll try to give you the best rundown that I can.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church

First of all… I’ve been going to Capitol Hill Baptist Church. I LOVE it!!! The services are a bit different than what I’m used to. CHBC services tend to be a little on the long side, but they are packed full of amazing content. The sermons are always Scripturally based and doctrinally sound.

Worship consists of responsive reading, prayer and singing.

The music tends to be a lot more traditional than I’m used to. We sing hymns and use sheet music. No power point. No flashy lights. No electric guitar. Just worship flowing from the hearts of hundreds of people of varying walks of life—politicians, construction workers, students, Hill staffers, journalists… I love that the music that we sing is so rich and encouraging.

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One of my new favorite worship songs is “Behold Our God.”

The prayer in service is probably the most distinct thing about CHBC’s Sunday morning services. Any church can sing traditional songs and read Scripture corporately—but I have never heard a church pray like CHBC prays. Every week, they pray for our nation’s leaders, pastors of other churches and individual members of their church. There is set aside time to pray for forgiveness and time to praise God through prayer.

The other thing that I love about CHBC is their intern Bible Study. Every week, about 10 interns from various organizations meet with several CHBC members. We read the Bible and pray together. They encourage us to live Gospel-centered lives (both by what they say and how they live out their lives).

Before I left for Washington, D.C., I told Kelley that I really hoped that when this semester was all said and done, the thing that I would miss the most would be whatever church that I ended up getting plugged into. Honestly though, I didn’t really think that was possible. While I love my churches at home and school, I don’t know that I can say that I’ve truly felt “at home” in a church in a long time—but now I can. CHBC has been such a blessing. I can honestly say that Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings are my favorite times of the week.

 

Birthday

I’ve had a birthday since I last wrote. I have officially made it to the exciting age of 22—no longer in the carefree era of teenager-dom, the newfound freedoms of being 21 have lost their novelty and I’m not quite a real adult yet.

But despite it not being an incredibly exciting age, I DID have an incredibly exciting birthday. My best friend came up to D.C. for the weekend and we had a blast. 

Kelley got here late Friday night. I had cooked a homemade dinner, and we ate it on the roof of the Dellenback overlooking the city and the Capitol building. We hung out for a while, then we went to bed. We were both really tired and we had a ton of stuff planned for Saturday.

Saturday, we walked to Eastern Market and perused through the vendors’ tents and farmers’ stands. We admired tomatoes, jewelry, art and cowboy boots (I’m still kicking myself for not trying any of them on).

Next, we went to the Library of Congress, so Kelley could get her Library of Congress reader’s card.

After that, we took the metro to Metro Center and walked around the heart of D.C. We saw the F.B.I. building, Warner Theater and the National Press Building (where my internship is). We also stopped in a shop and I fell in love with beautiful, blue dress and I bought it.

We took the metro back to Union Station and had really yummy chicken salad and gelato. We walked around Union Station for a while, then we realized we were going to have to book it to get to our next destination.

We made it to the Barracks Row/D.C. State Fair about an hour before it closed, and it was a bust! Now, I understand that North Carolina has one of the largest ten day agricultural fairs in the nation and that I’m spoiled, but there was neither agriculture nor carnival rides. THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE COTTON CANDY (or caramel apples)!!! To make it worse, it was on Barracks row and there weren’t even any cute marines around! Lame, right? They did have some pretty cool acrobats, but other than that, there wasn’t much to see.

After  the “fair,” we went to Georgetown for cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake. We waited in line for about 30 minutes to get in, but it was worth the wait! I got a chocolate birthday cupcake (appropriate, right?) and Kelley got a coconut cupcake. They were both absolutely delicious (and they had a pink, sparkly Kitchen aid mixer… can you say, “I want!”?)!

When we got back to the Dellenback, Kelley and I got dressed up as quickly as we could (I wore my new, blue, sparkly dress) and headed to the roof for a mocktail party, where we chatted with WJC and ASPers for a bit. When we got tired of socializing, we watched movies until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday was pretty chill… Kelley left early/mid-afternoon, which was incredibly sad. I’m so glad she got to come. I had so much fun with my forever friend.

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Internship

My internship has been an incredible learning experience. It’s been an opportunity to grow and be stretched. Some days are slow, and other days are packed full of excitement. Some weeks I have 2 or three things published, other weeks, there’s nothing at all. Learning that every day isn’t going to be something to write home about, has probably been the biggest thing for me. My first week was so successful, the lull that hit after was discouraging, but Lauren and Kevin have both been really encouraging.

That being said, I have done some really cool things. I wrote about an article featured in National Geographic exposing religious influence on the illegal ivory trade, I’ve tried (in vain) to get in touch with Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae, and talked to a former pro-baseball player (totally by chance).

I also got my congressional press pass. It’s probably my most prized possession that I’ve acquired this semester. Now, I’m not wanting to sound vain, but I normally take really good ID pictures, but if you look at the picture, you might notice that I look like a hot mess!

Well, I had a 2 o’clock deadline on my story that day, so I rushed down to the Corner Bakery in my building after I finished writing it and rushed to the bus stop. I didn’t get a chance to eat before the bus got there and I knew I wouldn’t be able to take it into the Capitol building, so I decided to scarf it down once I got off the bus. It was extremely windy, and the sky looked like it was about to pour—and pour it did. I barely had enough time to get my umbrella out before the heavens opened up! The wind was so strong that I had to throw away the rest of my lunch because I couldn’t hold my umbrella upright and hold my Panini at the same time.

I made my way towards the Capitol building as quickly as I could through the pouring rain, when a particularly strong gust of wind hit me and brought a wall of water with it and knocked me smack dab in the back. By the time I made it to the Capitol building I was drenched from head to toe, but it made for a good conversation starter though. While I was there, I got to take the subway under the Capitol building and I got to see the press gallery—most importantly though, I got my press pass.

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Wow, it’s getting really late and this post is getting really long. I’m going to call it a night and hopefully get you caught the rest of the way up later this week (perhaps tomorrow?). Stay tuned for a road trip, the North Carolina State Fair (it was a Bumper Crop of Fun), bus day and a slightly rekindled passion (pah!).

Here I go!

Well, it’s finally here! I start my internship with Religion News Service tomorrow! I will admit, I am both excited and nervous.

Yesterday afternoon, Sydney (a fellow WJCer) and I met with our mentor, Annalisa. Annalisa is a WJC alum from past semester. Since graduating from Gardner-Webb in May, she has taken a job and moved back to the D.C. area.

During our time together, Annalisa shared with us what she experienced last semester. She talked about the good things and and the hard things that we would face and shared with us from her experiences last semester.

Our talk with Annalisa combined with Friday’s internship oriented class and pizza talkback session with WJC alums have stressed me out. I’m definitely starting to feel overwhelmed… well, it’s more like I’m feeling overwhelmed because I know I’m going to be overwhelmed in the near future (if that makes any sense whatsoever).

This feeling has led to many nagging questions and feelings of unworthiness in my mind… Why am I even here? I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m going to fall on my face this semester (metaphorically AND literally–have you tried to walk on D.C.’s brick sidewalks in heels?). I’m not prepared for this. I’ve never written a real news story before. What if I get two weeks into my internship and realize I hate it? I’m a slow writer, what if I can’t keep up?

Annalisa had the same internship last semester that I have now. She’s told me that my editors are fantastic. They’re really good at teaching and guiding interns through the ins and outs of journalism.

Another thing that Annalisa talked to Sydney and me about was how even though she went through the program last semester and really enjoyed herself, she really didn’t think that she had been called to be a journalist. Her current job actually involves very little writing. She reminded us that we’re constantly learning, growing and developing and that it’s okay if we don’t know what we want to do now or when we finish WJC or even when we graduate from college.

Annalisa’s transparency on that subject meant a lot to me. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I don’t even know why I’m here. I’m not a journalist, nor had I ever planned to be. I enjoy writing and maybe I do have a future in journalism, but the thing is that I just don’t know yet. All I do know is that this semester is about discovery.

So, to help me stay focused during this semester, I’ve come up with a list of goals for myself. They may seem silly and I’m sure my list of goals will change over time, but this is what I have for now.

  • Have at least one story published in a major newspaper (Washington Post, New York Times, etc.)
  • Meet/talk to someone really famous.
  • Learn a lot.

We’ll see how all this goes as the semester progresses. I’ll do my best to get a quick update up about my first few days at RNS sometime this week.Image

Getting Settled in D.C.

Well, it certainly has been an eventful few days here in Washington, D.C.

My parents and I left Raleigh early Thursday morning. We stopped for lunch outside of D.C. at Uno’s pizza (last lunch as a family until November). Then, we made our way through D.C. traffic to the Dellenback Center.

We made it here, checked in and I unpacked myself. After my parents left, I spent some time getting to know my roommates. Speaking of roommates, I have five of them!

Our apartment has two floors. The bottom floor has a kitchen, sitting area, kitchen table, a half-bath and desks. Upstairs has a full bath and two bedrooms. Four of us live in the larger of the two bedrooms, and the two others sleep in the smaller bedroom.

Friday night and Saturday morning were spent in Orientation activities. We learned about the safety and transportation in the city. We also went over the Community Covenant and academic expectations. Saturday afternoon, we were divided into groups and went on scavenger hunts throughout the city. My group visited Senator Burr’s office, the Giant Chair, Arlington, The National Press Building, and the Smithsonian Natural Science Museum. We had to make a video, so I’ll post it once I have the link.

Speaking of the National Press Building, that’s where my internship is going to be.

This morning, about 10 of us went to Capitol Hill Baptist church. After church, we came back, fixed lunch, and then went grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping was definitely the adventure of the day. One of my roommates, Elizabeth, wanted to find her internship, so we took the bus to downtown. After we found her internship, we got on the Georgetown Circulator, which EVENTUALLY was supposed to drop us off at Safeway near our apartment… or not… it took us all the way to Georgetown. We found a Safeway in Georgetown and did our shopping there. Then, we went to the bus station and took a different circulator bus to Union Station. During this ride, our bus driver got lost. When we finally got to Union Station, we walked back to our apartment. Total trip time: 4 hours.