Around the World in 80 Seconds

Around the World in 80 Seconds

Or a little more, depending on how fast you decide to read this post.  As American as it is, D.C. is also a cultural crossroads.  Many equate a summer here to a semester abroad and rightfully so.  Here are little snippets of things I've experienced within this 20 mile radius of my stay that have made me feel an ocean away.


Fast, Casual, and Foreign

A way to the heart of a place is through the stomach.  I've learned that D.C.'s ethnic dining scene is limitless, even for those on an intern budget!

From day 1 I raved about Roti, but I'm going to do so again because this Chipotle-style Mediterranean joint is just that good.  They bake all of their pitas in-house, and if you're lucky you get to watch them bake it fresh and magically rise in the oven before they hand it to you, warm.  Tip: Snap a picture of your receipt after your first purchase, and receive a side of free falafel.   I will admit though, the falafel did slightly disappoint...



But that's okay because Amsterdam Falafel makes up for it ten-fold.  If the name isn't enough of a culture-clash, I don't know what is.  Coming from a pretty diverse region of Florida, I was shocked to learn upon coming to D.C. that "falafel" wasn't a part of many people's vocabularies.  Falafel is a mixture of ground chickpeas and spices, fried and served in a pita.  In the Middle East, it is known as "poor man's food", but I honestly think it's a meal fit for a king.   An ecclectic, tiny, hole-in-the-wall in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, Amsterdam Falafel takes this Israeli street food to a whole new level.  You can actually see them scooping falafel into the fryer and then pile on toppings from their unlimited topping bar and end up with a massive pita for under $6.  The catch?  No utensils.



If you're still wondering why a place specializing in Israeli fare is named after the capital of the Netherlands, I don't know either.  But like any good Dutch shop, they sell virgin brownies, if that says anything.


To complete the culinary trifecta is ShopHouse, another Chipotle-owned, Asian-inspired chain.  Udon noodles or sticky rice? Beef or chicken satay?  Papaya slaw or curry? Everything on the menu looked so good that I decided to be that difficult, indecisive costumer and go halfsies on everything.



Since I liked curry, I'm thinking I'll try Indian next.  Or maybe Ethiopian?  There's always Korean.


Humans of D.C.

For those of you familiar with Humans of New York, I experimented with a similar project of my own getting a feel for the residents of the city.  Turns out, there are hardly any residents of the city.  Mostly everyone is a transplant/tourist/temporary visitor who brings something of their own culture that gives D.C. its own culture.


I'm the type of girl who, if I overhear someone speaking a foreign language, will not stop thinking until I figure it out.  If that little guessing game doesn't work, you'd better bet I ask them.  I've learned that strangers, foreigners especially, love to be approached and love watching you react in amazement when they tell you what they think it a pretty average fact. Had I never asked, I never would have met people from:


Belgium Like these guys, who said they were part of "the crew."  What "crew"?  Turns out, they're flight attendents spending 48 hours in D.C.! After so kindly snapping a picture of my roomates and I near the Georgetown Waterfront, they decided to go all out and take a selfie.  #wheninAmerica, I guess!




Not sure if this is a custom or just personal preference, but while at a pub in Georgetown the table of German girls next to us were eating their french fries with a fork and knife.  Way to make an American pasttime classy!



Some TWC interns from the University of Istanbul informed me that in Turkey, you don't need more than a bachelor's degree to practice law.  I was even more shocked to learn that there is a huge push for Turkish women to become STEM majors.  Needless to say, the intern who told me this was a mechanical engineering major, on her third internship in international finance, and a WOMAN.  Talk about triple threat.  You go girl.



During a lunchtime stroll along Constitution Ave, I volunteered to take a picture of three tourists outside the Archives.  Upon hearing their accents, we struck up a conversation, and I learned that they do indigenous African dance and encouraged me to watch them perform at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  So naturally, I did...


Folklife Fest

Held every summer on the National Mall, this two-week extravaganza features the art, music, traditions, leisure, and cuisine of two nations.  This year, the spotlight was on China and Kenya.  I've only had a few minutes to walk through during lunch breaks but plan to explore more in-depth this week.




Storytellers, craftspeople, artisans, and performers from two continents converge in a single space, halfway across the world.


A county apart, a world away

Okay, so maybe this doesn't necessarily qualify as "cultural", but this weekend's excursion to Fairfax County was a much needed getaway.  As if I didn't love D.C. enough, northern Virginia is absolutely beautiful. There are actually hills (!!), horse trails along the side of the road, brick architechture, and space between people's properties.  A native Floridian's dream.  I enjoyed a hike from Riverbend Park to Great Falls Park with my aunt, uncle, cousins, and their new dog.  With zero humidity and a cool breeze, the shaded trail ran 5 miles alongside the Potomac until the calm waters turned into this:



Check out the view:




Props to the guy who is crazy enough to kayak upstream.


If I can experience so much within a 20 mile radius, imagine what will happen when I pack my bags for a real trip outside the District next weekend!  (Surprise!)


Stay tuned to see where I go!

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