This is my third full week in DC and the government is still shutdown. My hope for the government to reopen before I leave at the end of the month is slowly dwindling away...so I thought it would be fun to come up with a list of things I have been able to do in DC despite the shutdown.
1. Walk Around the Mall
I did this my first weekend in DC, and it was lovely, the weather also was on my side as well which helped. You can walk around the Mall area however you want, but what I did was start by the Washington Monument and then walk towards the Jefferson Memorial, then I made my way to FDR's memorial, and MLK, and lastly I walked by the WWII memorials and to the White House.
2. Tour the Capitol
This is a great option if you want to learn a bit more about DC and ask questions. It also is a great way to get in contact with your representatives. I was able to book a tour for this Saturday through Amy Klobuchar's website. I get to go to her office, meet some of her staff and tour around the capitol with one of her staffers. You can also tour the White House, but you will need to book three weeks in advance for a background check.
If there is one thing I have learned since moving here, it is that DC is all about your connections. People get their jobs through the people they know, you get "coffee" with people to build your network, and you go to happy hour to meet people. I was lucky enough to attend a PLEN seminar this past fall, and now have been able to follow-up with my connections, but it doesn't stop there. In DC, you have no idea how connected people are, and you never know who knows who. It is always a good idea to ask and see...
4. Go to a Panel
Another one of my favorite things about DC is being able to attend so many events. They have any event you could think of, tons of panels, group discussions, concerts, you name it! My first week I went with my coworker to a panel at the Capitol on International Disability Rights. Then later that same week I attended a PLEN panel for "Women on Capitol Hill". At the panel I met some students who invited me to join them for dinner afterwards. Once again, you never know what will lead you to the next connection, or dinner out in DC!
5. Read a Book
I have more than enjoyed turning on my heated blanket and reading a few dozen pages of Michelle Obama's Becoming this January after an eight hour day interning. Her writing has taken me to so many places in Chicago, DC, even Iowa! It feels like I was there with her, and that we could even be friends. Sometimes slowing down after a long day of work is the perfect way to enjoy DC...or maybe it is just me.
6. Find Events Online
Additionally, if you are having a hard time finding something to do, the internet is your new best friend. There are tons of webpages full of events that are taking place every day in the DC area. I found out about an author coming to the Silver Spring Library my first weekend, and I ended up going to the meet and greet and buying her book. Then I met some more people, and exchanged business cards.
7. Go to a Museum that is Open!
Just because the Smithsonian museums are closed, doesn't mean you cannot go to other museums. There are many fantastic museums in DC. Just to name a few: Holocaust Museum, Newseum, and Women in the Arts. You can also schedule to tour buildings, like NPR! The downside to these museums is that for some you may need to pay for them, but check and see if they have any student discounts, events, or free admission days coming up!
What is more DC than a protest? This weekend was the third Women's March and I was lucky enough to be able to participate in it with my boss, her daughter, and her friends. If you want to know more, read my last blog post!
9. Explore Night Life
Regardless of the shutdown, DC's night life should be the same. There are happy hours each evening for people to network, events happening, and so much to explore. I went to the Gallery Place last weekend to go bowling with a friend and it was fun to just walk around and see all the people in the area.
10. Email your Elected Officials to End the Shutdown!
If I haven't convinced you by now that there is a ton to do in DC during a shutdown, then maybe you should just email your elected officials to put an end to the madness. Just leaving this for all of you...