Take Shelter Now!

Take Shelter Now!

On Wednesday, my fellow interns and myself were called into the office of our internship supervisor, who also has the title of President of the company I work for. In the middle of our conversation, my cellphone started making a lot of noise. You should know that I bought a cheap, prepaid cellphone when I arrived in the United States. Apparently, it is not possible to buy a SIM card without buying a phone. That is how I ended up with a 10-dollar Samsung T199 (and believe me, as an incredible Nokia fan – which is European, not Asian as lots of people seem to think here – I still don't sleep at night). All this just to say that my phone sometimes does very weird things, so at first I didn't really pay attention to it.


This is how I fell while using my cell phone here.


But then the others' phones also started making a lot of noise. That's when we decided maybe we should take a look at them. Apparently, we all received a tornado warning alert. Since we are all very good citizens, we immediately did what was asked. Taking shelter was rather easy – we were already inside – but we also turned on the local radio and CNN. In Belgium, we almost never have extreme weather conditions, so you can imagine I was very excited. I was told that a tornado warning means that there is actually a tornado forming, contrary to a tornado alert or watch, which means that there is an increased risk for tornadoes. CNN even stopped its 24/7 coverage of the Ebola outbreak for news that was even more pressing, the tornado warning.


A weather forecaster appeared on the screen, accompanied by a map, which he used to try to explain what path the tornado could take. Although the map kind of looked like a Jackson Pollock painting, we were able to understand that the tornado would probably go from Alexandria, Virginia (where I intern), via the National Mall and NoMa (where the TWC apartments are) to Maryland. At that point, I was a little less excited.


I always thought my first tornado encounter would look like this...


instead of like this.


Half an hour later however, the tornado warning was retracted. There had been no tornado, and there wasn't going to be one either. This is how I survived my first "tornado" (which is great!) even though there was not really a tornado (which was a little disappointing…). If my roommate were writing this blog, he would certainly mention his internship site here. Since he doesn't have a blog, I'll do it for him. Did you know that weather alerts are issued by the National Weather Service? Did you know that the National Weather Service is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? And do you know what department the NOAA is a part of? The Department of Commerce!!! No one really knows what it is doing there, but it is nice to have it in the place you're interning at!


What they do is pretty cool. They fly into hurricans and stuff!


However, this was not the only part of the week that was a little disappointing. On Tuesday, my fellow interns and I had planned on going to a Supreme Court hearing. We arrived almost two hours before the second session would start, which was the hearing we wanted to go to. Then, we saw a huge line. After talking to a Supreme Court Police Officer (literally everything has its own police force in D.C.), asking him if there was a line for the second session, getting a surprised look and the answer that they hadn't even started with the line for the second session, we decided to wait in the line for the first session. That's when we started to look around. There were a lot of tourists! Lots of them! Apparently, as another police guard would tell us later, lots of people who came to D.C. for Columbus weekend, thought it would be a great idea to attend a Supreme Court session. That is why almost no one could enter for the second session, since a lot of tourists decided to watch two Supreme Court hearings! The moral of the story? Sometimes, it is not good enough to arrive two hours early and wait in a line that hasn't even been formed yet!


Luckily, I also had a lot of fun this week! For instance, I was finally able to talk to the Head of the European Parliament Liaison Office with the U.S. Congress! As an assignment for TWC, we have to do an informational interview and a resume reflection. The first is supposed to give you an idea of what a career in your field of interest looks like, by talking people who are already well-established in that field. By looking at their career, you learn how you can advance your own.


The resume reflection enables you to show your resume to the same  kind of people, so they can help you improve that apparently important piece of paper. It is of course an assignment, and therefore, I was not very enthusiastic about it in the beginning. I was especially wondering who would be willing to talk to a random Belgian intern. In the end, I have to admit that it was actually very interesting, and not just for me. Other people here have talked to their Senator's Chief of Staff, Senior Diplomats of the European External Action Service, Foreign News Correspondents and so on.


You Zany Americans


I tried some very American food this week!

(Note to my mother: this was only once! Usually, I eat real food with real vegetables! And I also eat fruit every day!)




I finally found the organization that has made me check commas and periods for hundreds of hours, thanks to their APA reference style!

I probably would have wasted that time anyway!

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

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