The setting sun lights the sky in orange above the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington DC
Student Voices

Summer Adventures: DC Edition

I find it hard to believe that it’s been a month since I started my media internship in Washington DC through the SBS in DC program. While I spent my weekdays in June compiling media lists, writing pitches, and making Canva graphics, I dedicated my weekends and after-work hours to exploring the nation’s capital and the DMV area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia for those in the know!). There’s so much to see and experience, especially as we gradually step into a post-quarantine world. Allow me to take you on a tour of my summer adventures thus far! 

Tidal Basin

A group of University of Massachusetts students enjoy a ride in the Tidal Basin in Washington DC
Selfies in our paddle boat in the Tidal Basin​

Have you heard of the Tidal Basin in DC? You might not know the name, but if you've been to see the Jefferson, MLK, or FDR memorials, it is the body of water near them. I first learned about the affordable pedal boat rentals at the Tidal Basin after grabbing coffee with a fellow Filipina, who also happened to be a lawyer and entrepreneur (networking is an essential part of DC intern culture). For just $32, I could rent a boat for four people, and we could split the cost. 

One thing to note about living in a cohort of twenty-plus people — it can be very hard to plan outings together. There are always some people who aren’t free, some people who want to stay home, and some people who want to do something else entirely. The Tidal Basin expedition was the first one that I personally organized — and I did it successfully. 

Granted, not everyone could make it as some internship sites didn’t observe the day off for the Friday before Juneteenth, but many of us were free that day. In the end, half the cohort went pedal boating with me. We took up three boats and pedaled together towards the Jefferson Memorial. 

After racing back to shore when our time was up, we walked down to The District Wharf, a waterfront area on the Potomac River in the Southwest part of DC. Nostalgic Avril Lavigne songs bursting from a portable speaker served as the soundtrack to this cute Teen Beach Movie-like adventure. There, we enjoyed oysters, calamari, and ice cream. We also attempted to use the swing sets by the water, but apparently it’s a popular destination for book lovers who like to read entire novels while others wait their turn for a swing. In any case, we took some pretty cute pictures by the boardwalk. 

Eden Center, VA

A porkchop is visible on a rectangular plate along with portions of rice, salad, and noodles
The pork chop — before I inhaled it.

I am a huge proponent of spontaneous trips. After two trains and a bus, four other cohort members and I ended up in Eden Center, a Vietnamese-American strip mall in northern Virginia. 

Our first stop was, of course, bubble tea. We found a small shop with ambient fairy lights and a convenient discount: buy four drinks, get one free (cute bear cup included). 

Next, with the help of my Vietnamese cohort members who could speak the language, I ordered an authentic pork chop dish—which I practically had to inhale because by the time we got there, the restaurant was closing in fifteen minutes. I’d never eaten so much so fast, all while enjoying every last bite. 

It’s also worth noting that we went to Eden Center on Father’s Day, and our time at the restaurant truly felt like a warm, comforting family dinner. Our whole night in northern Virginia was like a mini family vacation. 

Lastly, we shopped at an Asian supermarket, where I finally found the kimchi ramen packets I’d been craving since coming here. We also got very distracted at the lifestyle section. So many cute mugs with so many cute animals, and so many cute, nonsensical phrases adorned the aisles. This made for so many cute inside jokes to remember our time in Eden Center. 

U Street

Six students from the University of Massachusetts take a selfie by circling their heads around the camera while wearing colorful sunglasses

To celebrate the first day of summer on June 21, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams on U Street hosted a big promo. And, as interns, we very much love free stuff. However, I was not expecting the sheer amount of such stuff. We got free sunglasses, free fans, free ponchos, and more quality free ice cream than I ever imagined. Even the waffle bowl that held the ice cream was free! 

Afterwards, we went to Colada, a nearby Cuban rooftop coffee shop where we shared empanadas — not for free, but for very cheap.  

Old Town Alexandria

After Eden Center, I knew I wanted to take more trips to northern Virginia. Alexandria is a scenic, not-too-busy city just south of DC. 

As we walked down the brick sidewalks illuminated by summery fairy lights, one of the cohort members claimed that she could feel this place in her soul. There was something so magical about Alexandria. 

The shops were very unique too. We found a Tibetan small business that sold incense, singing bowls, palm reading books, and reflexology guides. I bought a ring with a purple gem and three metal pedals crowning the top. Not much of a ring wearer, it took me a while to get used to my new statement piece. It wasn’t until my Mom texted me a beautiful, reassuring message in Tagalog that I stopped second-guessing myself and started appreciating my new ring. Now it’s a meaningful souvenir from my travels in DC. 

Shish taouk
Shish taouk

We had dinner at Pita House, a Lebanese restaurant. It was cuisine that I’d never had before, but luckily one of our members is Lebanese and recommended the shish taouk, the chicken version of shish kabob. SBS in DC members come from such diverse backgrounds; I would be very interested in trying food from all of our different cultures.  

I’m looking forward to trying more delicious food, discovering more magical areas, and finding even more unique souvenirs. My adventures in DC are nothing short of exciting, and I can’t wait to share what the rest of my summer has to offer.