Floods in D.C.

Floods in D.C.

By the time you are reading this, the program will already have finished. This means that this will be my last blog post. This is probably not such a big deal for you, but the program coming to an end is pretty sad. However, I will not waste my last blog post on describing the recent floods that took place all over D.C., due to the TWC students who were crying because they had to say goodbye. I think you can kind of imagine what it feels like. Because this is the last one, this blog post will follow a format that is slightly different than the one for the other posts. Instead of telling you what I did during the last week, I will kind of reflect on the whole semester. You could compare it to Christmas evening. Dinner is finished, but no one really wants to go home because the wine is really good. Everyone is tired, but hey, that is what coffee is for! Your family members, especially those who are already a little older - I mean those with more experience in life - will reflect on everything that has happened throughout the previous year. And they will discuss the years before that as well. A lot of stories will be told. You already know some of them. You are already tired of some of them, but some of them are new. Christmas evening is not that far away, so let's practice a little bit with this foretaste!


Top three saddest moments

Remembering a friend. As I wrote in one of my previous posts, my roommate celebrated his birthday here at TWC. As one of his birthday gifts, he got a gas balloon that he very proudly attached to his bed. Throughout the whole semester, the balloon was in the middle of the room. Although it was really cool in the beginning, we began to get annoyed as the semester progressed. We started noticing that the balloon took a lot of space, and that it also made a lot of noise. How can a balloon make noise, you obviously wonder? It's difficult to explain. It involves the combination of the circulation of the air and the way the balloon was attached. Just assume that I am right, okay? We didn't really want to destroy it ourselves; we simply couldn't do it. But we have to admit that at some point, we were kind of waiting for it to finally pass away… and it took so long! You saw it getting worse and worse every day, but for some reason it remained up in the air. At some point however, the balloon gave up and came down. We had been waiting for that moment for a while, but it still was kind of sad when it actually happened. Also, we named the balloon Fidel.


Saying goodbye. I think this is pretty self-explanatory.


Saying goodbye. Really, it's very sad.


During his last moments: Fidel (* 2014  -  † 2014)



Top three biggest failures


Changing the lamps. You can read our endeavors regarding changing the lamps at my internship in one of my previous posts. Let's just say for now that it's a good thing that I am not trying to become an electrician!


Having a philosophical conversation with President Obama. I know that in one of my first posts, I somehow lied about meeting President Obama. I have to admit that I was pretty jealous of my roommate, who actually managed to meet him. As I was not able to match up to this huge success, I photoshopped a picture and made everyone believe that I met Obama as well. But I am a very honest person, and I couldn't go through with the lie. That is why I admitted what I did and apologized for my mistake. However, this does mean that this it is probably my biggest failure.


Getting an exotic girlfriend. As you could read in one of my previous blog post, some people at TWC started to like each other. A lot. That is when I remembered a remark of a very helpful bank employee, who said that students who go on to study abroad, regularly end up with an exotic significant other. However, this has not happened to me. Maybe I should work a little more on my introduction.  Tips and advice are thus more than welcome!


I am still convinced that if I hadn't told you, you would have believed it!



Top three biggest achievements

Getting here. As I explained before, getting to D.C. was not exactly easy. It took a lot of sweat, blood and friendly embassy staffers to make sure I got here in time. However, everything turned out great!


Getting away with a federal crime. As I explained in my post about the electoral campaign in New Hampshire, you are not supposed to put electoral campaign flyers in mail boxes of the United States Postal Service. If you do it, you commit a federal crime. Because no one told me this until I already posted several flyers, I committed a crime! However, I somehow succeeded in finishing the program without getting caught and being deported back to Belgium! I count this as a huge success!


Getting a new Facebook profile picture. As I told you in my first post, I am a huge fan of taking pictures, as long as I am not in them myself. When I somehow end up within the reach of a photo camera, I try to make myself look so ridiculous that the person planning on taking a picture, changes his mind. This strategy usually works, but sometimes pictures are taken anyway and I end up looking ridiculous. On several occasions, my mother has told me that if I ever went missing, she wouldn't have a decent picture of me for the police to spread in the media. Apparently, also my profile picture on Facebook was not that great. However, thanks to the TWC photographer, I now have a professional and decent looking picture! This by itself makes the TWC program a huge success!


I honestly don't see why pictures like this would be useless if I go missing...



Top three coolest moments

Note: there is actually no real difference from the previous category, but now I can list six amazing things without anyone noticing that I am bragging!


Eating a real, self-made Thanksgiving turkey. As you could read in one of my previous blogs, our Thanksgiving turkey was delicious. And that by itself is great. However, after everything the turkey had to go through, the taste was nothing less than a miracle!


Taking shelter for a tornado. As you read before, at some point during the program, a tornado warning was issued for the D.C. metropolitan area. We needed to find shelter and stay away from doors and windows. That was so exciting; I had never experienced this before! The tornado never came, so I could have listed this as a failure too. But I already had more than enough topics there...


Being escorted by the U.S. Capitol Police. Okay, maybe the introduction is a little exaggerating. Let me explain. Last week, when I went running, I had to stop for a red traffic light. Although there was no traffic coming through from the opposite direction, there was a police officer of the U.S. Capitol Police sitting in his car looking in my direction. Because not following traffic rules is not a great idea with police officers around, I decided to wait for the light to turn green. However, suddenly the emergency lights of the police car started flashing and the police officer got out of the car and came towards me. He looked at the road and let me cross the street! I know; I kind of felt like a rock star! Although not an incredibly famous one, I guess there would be more police officers then. And also a lot more fans.





Top three moments when I felt like a real D.C. inhabitant

Learning how to metro. I take the metro every day to go to work. As I wrote on several occasions throughout the semester, my internship is pretty far away. More or less a one hour commute let's say, including half an hour and 11 stops on the metro. This means that I hear following sentences at least 22 times a day. "Dingding. Doors opening. Step back, to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car." "Dingdong dingdong. Step back, doors closing". Occasionally, when someone gets stuck between the doors, there is also a "Dongdongdongdong. Step back, to allow the doors to close."


After a while, you know these by heart. You also start recognizing some of the voices of the metro drivers. I for instance remember the guy who was joking when the metro was delayed and packed with people, due to some rail problems. "Now y'all wish you were walking, right? It's pretty nice outside," and "we're going a little slower than usual, with all these people. This is kind of a work out for us, you know." I also recognized the guy who was really very polite. "Dear customers, I'm gonna need your help if we want to keep this train moving," and "dear customers, thank you once again for boarding the train safely." I have always wondered why in heaven's name someone would try to board the train unsafely? A third metro-related way to know if you are a real D.C. citizen: you actually manage to understand at least some of the announcements by metro drivers.


Getting election information. During the midterm elections, several people started giving me information on the candidates for the D.C. mayoral race, and some of the candidates for city council. I always had to tell them that I was not a U.S. citizen, and that I couldn't vote, but it's nice to know that I kind of look vote-worthy!


Giving directions. Instead of walking around with a map and getting lost all the time, such as in the beginning of the semester, people started to ask me for directions! And most of the time, I was actually able to explain where they had to go to. This is surprising because I am usually not good at this. At all. I still get lost in the city where I have been living for years. Although navigating in D.C. is not really complicated, with most of the streets having numbers or letters, it still took me a while before I got it. I'm not sure I ever did, actually. So I kind of  hope that everyone got to the right place…

Map of D.C.


Map of D.C. in my head.



Top three statements

15 million. Whenever my roommate and I disagreed on something, he would always get back at me by screaming "15 million". He referred to the amount of people that were killed during the colonial rule in the Belgian colonies. Although the actual amount is unknown, researchers estimate the amount of people killed to be somewhere between 2 and 15 million. However, my roommate somehow only remembered the highest number.


Banco Popular. As I told you, I happen to be around Puerto Ricans a lot. Puerto Ricans speak Spanish and I don't. "Banco Popular" has become a symbol for my desperate attempts to say something that makes sense in Spanish. Even when I somehow manage to remember a whole sentence, it goes wrong while saying it. Apparently, I have a Colombian accent in Spanish which somehow is very funny! I pronounce even organizations and companies, such as Banco Popular, in the Colombian way. I should totally add that to my resume!


Politically incorrect. Yet so accurate. Whenever someone said something that was not really politically correct, but had some kind of truth in it, this was a great sentence to use. It was primarily my roommate who liked to use it. He was also responsible for most of the politically incorrect statements. And no, I won't provide any examples!



So, that was it. I know, blogs have nothing to do with music, and ABBA has nothing to do with D.C. But you get the point. Thank you for managing to survive all my blog rants and my sarcasm, and for being my biggest fan.

You were a great audience!

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