This is a compilation of blog posts current WMI students have written about their experiences while living in DC.

The nitty gritty of everyday court life

By Thamar Bailey

Going to court is not what TNT movies make it out to be. There’s not a mass crowd in the room, there’s no gavel calling for attention or crowd outbursts. As an intern for a homicide tracking blog, I’ve had the honor of going to court almost everyday and let me tell you there is definitely a break between reality and fiction.

For starters the judge is almost always late.

On a good day I leave my apartment in the morning around 8:45 and end up settling into a seat at the courthouse around 9:20 for a 9:30 case – only for the judge to stroll in anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes late.

And in that time delay I sit patiently watching lawyers walk in and out and court marshals talk about their night and catch up on how each other’s morning is going.

Also, in that time there has not been a case that goes by that I haven’t learned something I really didn’t need to know about a court clerk.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but there’s a seat to the left of the judges chair where the court clerk sits. The clerk essentially orchestrates the entire production. He/she tells the marshals when to get the inmate from holding, coordinates with the judge and takes in whether or not a lawyer or witness is missing.

One day a clerk got into an argument with the court marshals before the judge got in. This was after she had an over 20 minute conversation with her sister about how she wants to be a real estate broker because the commision is “crazy,” – her words, not mine.

According to this clerk, she runs the court, and even the court typist (the person who creates a transcript of every case) weighed into the argument, and agreed as she applied a full face of make-up.

The typist literally sat down, whipped out a makeup pouch the size of an elementary school pencil case, and pulled out so many different utensils you would think her pouch had some magical connection to the nearest Sephora.

By the time the judge finally appeared, the typist had miraculously put everything away and looked as if like she’d undergone a complete makeover.

So maybe I’m just too attentive and you’ve never really thought much about what happens in a courtroom prior to a case, but ever thought about what happens during the case?

From Law and Order I assumed that there was a serious amount of court jargon and strict formalities.

After a month of consensus I’d say that there’s a firm yes to the jargon and big no to the formalities.

I’ve witnessed a lawyer outright complain to the judge that her schedule was too busy to accommodate a speedy trial.

The day before I saw an inmate escorted into the room and declare to the room he was no longer angry with the judge – I didn’t know he was angry with the judge in the first place.

As for the lawyers, some of them are super nice and strike up conversation. Others will give you the side eye until you remove yourself from the front two rows of the pew. And if you stick it out and sit in “their space” (they only have rights to the first row) then you’ve just made an enemy – or at least that’s what it feels like.

Overall, the next time you head into the D.C. courthouse make sure you sit away from the lawyers and bring a notepad (electronics are prohibited in courtrooms) because the amount of things you hear will be priceless stories for the future.

A Different Kind of WMI Student

By Kristina Orrego

Most days, I’m up by 5 a.m.

6:30 is nothing short of glorious.

Then, I hop in my car and make the 45-minute pilgrimage from Stafford, Virginia (I chose to live with my uncle there to save money on housing) to the Franconia-Springfield metro station, swerving on the EZ pass lanes past all the other cars like I’m in a Fast and Furious movie. It’s a miracle I haven’t gotten pulled over. 

The blue line at Franconia is the first of the two metros I get on before I get to my internship, making my commute total a little less than two hours.

Seriously, there’s nothing I hate more than being late. And being on time is the same as being late in my book. I signed up for this. There are no excuses.

I heard about the Washington Media Institute at UF’s College of Journalism Career Day they hold every semester. I was soon to graduate, and soon after, I proudly walked across that stage in December 2015. I had the textbook-typical freak out moment of realizing I was an unemployed college graduate and scoured Craigslist for anything I could do to at least put gas in my car and buy groceries on my own.

I took up as many freelancing gigs I could at three different publications and became a scribe at a business transcription service. All the while, I never forgot about the WMI I was so enthusiastic about as an undergrad. I got back in contact with the staff.

I’ll be 90 and still remember the first conversation Jon, the Associate Director, and I had about the program. He asked me where I wanted my journalism career to go and about some of my experiences so far. He told me Gainesville and Alachua County Today, the main paper I was writing for at the time, were simply too small. His exact words: I had to get out of Gainesville and in front of the right people.

Someone I respected enormously saw something in me, and my heart could’ve actually exploded. For just a short time, the voice of doubt I’ve wrestled with since I can remember was silenced. I knew if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, I would always wonder what could’ve been or where it could’ve taken me.

That was a long time ago. After working as a receptionist and a road trip to D.C. with my parents so they could meet Amos, WMI’s Director, I’m here.

I would be lying if I said that it hasn’t been hard.

I sleep in longer than I’d like to admit on the weekends to make up for what I lose during the week. I’ve had to spend all night and the wee hours of the morning finishing video projects because my commute cuts severely into my work time.

But so far, it has been absolutely worth the blood, sweat and tears. It’s pushed me to the point that I truly feel like I can handle anything.

And the greatest outcome so far?

I’m starting to believe I can, too.

Top Ten Emojis and When to Use Them

By Scott Silberstein

Here is the definitive list of the 10 best emojis (in no particular order), what they mean, and when to use them.

 

2. Yikes – basically that face you make when your roommate asks what you’re doing this weekend but you already made plans without them. Use sparingly, this personal favorite of mine can get out of hand quickly.

 

2. Fire – a term used for when something is really good, or actually on fire.Use in above situations, especially when it’s “lit”.

 

3. Chicken Leg– can be used in the broader sense to represent any food, or chicken specifically. Best used at lunch or dinner.

 

4. 100 – popularized by the phrase “I keep it 100” this emoji symbolizes the best, the cream of the crop, a 100% effort.

 

5. The Sailboat – Everyone knows the best way to travel is by boat, the scenery is unmatched by any other. Use this whenever you want to escape a boring conversation.

 

6. The Disappointment – to express disappointment or shame of oneself or others. Use whenever your faith in humanity is dwindling.

 

7. The Flag – this is the flag of South Africa, you can use whatever flag you like, but this one is my personal favorite. Use to express patriotism, or to be difficult when telling friends where you are traveling.

 

8. Love Eyes – used to express significant feelings towards a person, place, or thing. Important to note this emoji has never been used in relation to the DC Metro.

 

9. Money on my Mind – show others your appreciation for money through this little guy. Best used on payday — make it rain emojis.

 

10. The Dude – sunglasses make anything cooler – fact. Best used when accompanying an impressive feat, like scoring courtside Wizard tickets.

 

Now let’s use them in a sample conversation:

David: “Hey Scott, want to get KFC for dinner tonight?”

Scott:      

Translation: “Yikes. It disappoints me that you like that restaurant. Let’s go to Nando’s Peri Peri instead. They have delicious flame grilled chicken with a South African flair. Every time you eat there they give you coupons, so you can save money (which is cool). Nando’s keeps it 100, I love it there. Every time I eat Nando’s Peri Peri chicken feels like sailing off into the sunset.”

*This is not a paid promotion of Nando’s Peri Peri

Budgeting Done Right in the District

By Molly Farrell   

When I first moved into my apartment at WISH, I knew I was going to be doing a lot of cooking because going out to eat all the time was going to get expensive. In my opinion, cooking is so much more fun and healthier because you can make anything you want in the comfort of your own home. All you need is the right cooking tools and the right ingredients, then you’re set to make a delicious meal.

When I grocery shop in the city, I always come prepared with a shopping list so I don’t forget anything. It’s important to bring any coupons as well, so you can get the best deals. No matter which store I go to I look for the best prices, that way I am getting something for every penny I use. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve learned that going to the stores or markets in Woodley Park can be really expensive. Instead I go to Safeway or major grocery stores. But don’t get me wrong the stores near me are nice if I need two or three items to complete a meal I am making. Also, it’s walking distance, so I can get there quickly.

Another point to keep in mind: remember to keep your receipts, so you can reference back to them when you need to – even just to see how much you
spent for the next time you go to the store. I also found out that DC has a tax on plastic bags, so remember to bring reusable bags so you don’t get charged – that tax will add up really quickly.

Even though grocery shopping is a major element to budgeting, you also need to think about shopping and going to different places in the city. There are some great places to shop here, but you need to be cautious of what you buy because little by little it will add up. I suggest you go to different museums in the city instead. Most of them are free so take ad
vantage of them. Learning something might even be more fun than wasting money on another pointless shirt. “Think before you spend” is a line that people should remember while living in a city like DC.

In general, shopping or grocery shopping on a budget in DC is something that’s important and everyone should take note of. Keeping a budget is way more effective and enjoyable to do with friends. So the next time you are looking for a place to eat, or a clothing store to shop in, instead go be with your friends and live in the moment.

A Clown Wearing Heels to Work

By Makena Kelly

I look like such a buffoon in Washington. You might as well stick a clown nose on my face and give me unicycle to help me commute into work.

It’s not like anything horrible has happened. In fact, these past two weeks have been the most fun I have had in a long time. However, I’m a girl from Lincoln, NE. I travel frequently so it’s not like I’m incompetent, but there are a few things I have noticed about myself that make me go, “Oh, crap. I’m that girl.” – you know, that girl who obviously is not from here.

For one, I’m trying way too hard to look like I know what I’m doing. I’ll wear pretty heels into work and by the end of the day, I’ve tripped and scuffed my knees while going up the infamously steep Woodley Park Metro elevator. Heels that click on tile make me look like I know what I’m doing; when I fall in them, it
just looks like I need medical attention.

Walking around the city is the best means of getting anywhere. A fluorescent man means “go”, but apparently a flashing red hand also means “go” when it’s 5:30 pm and you’ve had a busy day and you don’t care whether or not you live or die. Let God decide whether or not you matrix your way out of traffic as other pedestrians watch you dodge cars like Morpheus dodges bullets.

Escalators are here to help—not here to haul. And, if you want to be hauled and herded, stay on the right hand side. Otherwise, I will grumpily huff at you from behind at a volume that doesn’t disturb you, but lets the people around me know that I hate you. I want everyone else around me to also recognize my escalator strife.

When I grabbed my credentials to get into the Capitol building with CQ Roll Call, I realized why they call them “Press Galleries”—they’re actual art galleries. George Washington on the Potomac? That painting is bigger than my apartment.

When I was headed down to the cafeteria in the Capitol, I saw Senator Tammy Duckworth and threw my hands to my face. The man who was pushing her wheelchair looked at me like I had just had a stroke.

I also thought it was a brilliant idea to leave for the presidential inauguration at 4 am. I emphasize idea, because I woke up at 5:30, threw on a pair of hole-y jeans and froze my butt off waiting for a parade of motorcycles and flag-twirlers to lead President Trump from one end of the street to the other.

I’m bound to make mistakes while I’m here. I’ve been fortunate enough that my mistakes haven’t resulted in jail time, but just a couple bruises and confused looks from strangers. Washington is wonderful and it’s an absolutely crazy time to be here. It has only been two weeks, but I’m already certain that it will be an equally as enjoyable four months.

If you Hate the News, Go to the Newseum: A museum dedicated to all things news

By Prachi Parmar

Washington, D.C is a city that is rife with possible weekend excursions.

I have been here since the first week of September and somehow after 12 weekends of almost nonstop exploration, I still have a checklist of places that I want to see. There is history from before the beginning of the nation to be seen within the city limits. The best part lies in the fact that people are able to see this history for free for the most part.

But this blog post is not being written to tout the very well-known, well-supported idea that one should come to DC and take advantage of the free sights/history this city has to offer. Rather, it is here to argue that one of the most stunning things to do in the city is actually considered “new”, and in fact costs money – $24.27 after tax, to be exact.

While I understand that paying such a comparatively absorbent cost might be a hard sell, I argue that my visit to the Newseum located on 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW was unquestionably one of my favorite memories in DC.

The DC Newseum opened its doors in August of 2008 and is a seven floor, interactive modern-day tribute to anything and everything news – ranging from generations ago to the latest news.

I argue that one need not be a news fanatic to enter. In fact, I would say if you are skeptical about today’s media and potentially disgusted by modern day news partisanship, the Newseum is an honest, sometimes uncomfortable, review of how the news has done over the years. It showcases mistakes and rewards triumph.

From the front pages of newspapers around the world that are refreshed daily and run across the border of the building to the bathroom tiles that are inscribed with faulty headlines for a little lighthearted reading, this museum has something to offer the spectrum of news consumers.  

Beginning with a wide shot view of the Capitol from the seventh floor, visitors have the chance to walk down winding hallways while discovering the history of the news.

One of my favorite stops: An exhibit  that allows people to look at glass encasings of preserved newspapers, some dating all the way back to the 1600’s. Among these encasings lies a newspaper detailing the USA’s miraculous triumph against Russia. Next to that, the front page of a newspaper that detailed the hurt the US felt after the explosion of the Challenger.

Other notable exhibits include a curving glass memorial to slain journalists, a room filled with Pulitzer Prize winning photographs, and a wall mural dedicated to all of the First Dogs this nation has seen.

News has two different definitions: first, the people, programs, networks that report on the stories that occur in society and second, the stories themselves.

In one exhibit, on a widescreen TV, the stories from our lifetime continuously flash, causing people to stop and reflect on the good, the bad, the hurt, the saved. Even if you hate the news and no longer engage in it, news is still happening around you.  And being in this museum forces you to realize, its problems aside, how important the documentation of news is. More importantly, what things in our history that we can’t afford to forget.
It might not restore your faith in the system, but it will show you just how damn important the system is. And maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to go fix it.

Spending My Last Semester of College in DC

By Tja Shorr

I never thought I would find myself in the middle of the election season in my last semester of college standing in the heart of Washington, DC.

But here I am. And I couldn’t be happier. 

The CU in DC Media Track program – that partners with the Washington Media Institute – has been one of my most fulfilling, enriching, extensive and exhausting semesters of my college career, and I have loved every moment of it.

I love how busy I am throughout the day, interning from 10-5pm and then walking home through the colorful leaves and cobblestone streets. I like to admire the brick and pillared houses, some with leftover Halloween decorations and some already decked out Christmas décor, while I head to class.

It’s a non-stop energy – and yet every part of the day is filled with something new, something challenging, something exciting, and something important.

I’ve toured most of the museums, seen the Gettysburg battlefield, and explored the Capitol. I’ve hosted exclusive events at Moncler, a Jill Kargman Book Signing Party, Bethesda Row, The Hepburn, CityCenterDC, and Room & Board through my internship at BrandlinkDC. I’ve met famous authors, fashion bloggers, painters, and news reporters through my classes and internship. And I can say I have done all I could to take it all in and soak up the sights and scenes so unique and special to Washington, DC.

This semester is so different because it packages and delivers so much in one program. I have learned tech skills and how to create video projects that, as a News Editorial major, I never thought I could learn to do. I’ve held responsibility at an elite public relations internship where I learned that I was capable and confident undertaking complex tasks with lots of pressure attached to it.

It’s been a hard semester, but definitely worth it. It’s so different from being at CU Boulder – where I have attended the last 3 years – because it’s a completely different place, different schedule, different people – all with such a cool, upbeat energy here in Washington, DC.

I share a unit with 4 other girls who also attend CU Boulder, and together we’ve become great friends – sharing laughs, hanging out, and going on weekend explorations in the city. Nearing the end of the program, I can see how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learned here – maybe even more so than I have from a year at CU Boulder.

I graduate after this semester, so I feel like I’m halfway in between going to school and getting a full time job – and this program has been the perfect stepping stone. The Media Track program has given me a semester of challenges, adventures, and true friendships that have allowed me to graduate feeling especially accomplished and deserving.

No, this program is not easy – it’s not a stroll in the park, partying and clubbing every night like one might expect out of a semester abroad – but it’s an adventure and it’s challenging and it’s so, so much more interesting and relevant to thriving in the changing world of media. Through this program, I’ve learned skills and I’ve learned things about myself that will allow me to go out into the world and really make an impact and a career out of something I’m passionate about. Those are things not taught in school, but definitely accomplished through the Media Track program.

So if you’re up for a challenge and an adventure and something totally new and out of this world, I say go for it and do this program! I sure did and it made all the difference.

Originally posted December 8, 2016

My Time at Monumental Sports & Entertainment

By Mark Couch

A couple days before I left to begin my semester in D.C., I thought about how I would be interning for Monumental Sports & Entertainment and getting to see the D.C. sports scene first hand. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but I figured it would be a good time.

My experience at Monumental has been everything I thought it would be and then some. I’ve gotten to meet and talk to some of the most high profile athletes in sports; there’s nothing like going into work every day and wondering who I’ll meet next.

First I met John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the Wizards. They’re a fun team to be around and all the guys have great senses of humor. The fans love to come out and support their franchise point guard, John Wall.

Next, I met all the Capitals. That was extremely exciting for me because I’m a huge hockey fan. Meeting Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and the rest of the guys was amazing. I was able to work the Rock the Red Carpet event at their home opener in October and that was a blast. Hearing those guys joke around off the ice was a fan’s dream and being able to watch them play two-touch every night in the tunnels of Verizon Center is truly a privilege.

I’ve also gotten to meet three-fifths of the Final Five, the U.S. gymnastics team that won gold in Rio over the summer, when they stopped at Verizon Center during their Tour of Gymnastics Champions. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, as well as 2008 Olympic gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin.

Thanks to WMI, I’ve had the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to work in sports and meet all these incredible athletes and role models. Creating a relationship with some of the Capitals and Wizards players has been amazing, and I’ve truly created memories that will last a lifetime.

Originally posted December 5, 2016

The Election Night No One Expected

By Lauren Gantenbein

A few weeks ago during a Friday discussion centered around politics, a political journalist guest speaker told our class, “The election is over.” I think the majority of us, no matter what side you are on, thought the same thing. However, the election night took us all by surprise.

Election Tuesday was a day I had been looking forward to for a very long time. Instead of coming to Washington, D.C. during the summer, I decided on the fall so I could see what an election was like in our nation’s capital – especially after attending debates for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton back home in Wisconsin, hearing many guest speakers from news sources such as CNN talk about the election, and working for a communications firm focused on driving social change on progressive issues. With so much time and anticipation, I couldn’t believe election day was finally here.

I began the election day with lots of coffee. At my internship, most of my work was focused on the election, but by 5pm that evening, I headed to CQ/Roll Call where nine of us from WMI volunteered to help call the House and Senate races so they could get the news out and begin writing articles as soon as possible. Each of us were assigned about 9 states to call and some worked exclusively on finding race results via Twitter.

We were all anxious, working diligently and amped up on sugar and caffeine as the night began. Working in a newsroom during election night was fascinating, from people running around making sure that everything was running smoothly to the students feeling excited to be a part of this historic night. In the newsroom there is absolutely no bias. As the night continued, no matter how we felt about the results coming in, we had to stick to doing our job and getting the information right. Sometimes it was hard not to cheer or cry, but we had to keep a straight face. To me, working in the newsroom was the perfect way to spend election night because the main stress we had was making sure we were calling the results as soon as they came in. We were also the first to know who won the House/Senate races from our home states and around the entire country, which are often forgotten races for many in the wake of a presidential election.

We left CQ/Roll Call once the House/Senate races were called around 1:30am ET, but before Donald Trump was named President-elect. After we left our job for the evening, we decided to head to the White House to see how the people of Washington, D.C. felt on election night. Ninety two percent of voters in D.C. voted for Hillary Clinton, so it comes to no surprise that the majority of the action was protests against Trump – with a couple of “Make America Great Again” hats in the crowd and protesters climbing trees outside the White House. From Black Lives Matter chants to rainbow flags flying through the air, tears of joy, fear, and sadness filled the outside of the White House. As the journalism students that we are, we took in the history around us by taking pictures, taking videos, and just observing what was happening on this historic night.

The next day, the only thing heard throughout the city was talk of the election. There was shock over the results, many were fearful of our country, and some believed that this is the change the U.S. needed. People talked about this on the metro, on their walk to work, and even in the local CVS. Anywhere you went in D.C. it was a topic of conversation, and it still is two week later, with protests still taking place in front of the Trump Hotel.

The 2016 election was anything but ordinary and I could not be more thankful to have experienced it in our nation’s capital. While the results shocked the nation, it has been amazing and fascinating to see the reaction right here in D.C. Thank you to WMI for providing the opportunity to talk to many journalists involved in politics on both sides, and to encourage us all to fully embrace what D.C. has to offer during the presidential election.

Originally posted November 22, 2016

Getting out of my comfort zone and never going back

By Chandler Gould

I do not get outside of my comfort zone. I have always tried to push myself, and I have, but all inside of my bubble. When I first heard about the Washington Media Institute, I knew I had to apply. It had the perfect mix of politics and journalism, and it wasn’t in another country like other programs.

When I first moved out here, all I could ask my family was, “What if this is a mistake?” I was worried about being too homesick. I was worried that I wouldn’t get along with anyone in my program. I was worried that I would do terrible at my internship. That feeling lasted for maybe the first three weeks, slowly fading all of the way.

Quickly, I realized how wonderful my roommates were. We all have the same sense of humor, and we became friends easily. Nothing beats all of us coming home from our various jobs and laying around sharing the craziest things that had happened that day. The best part is, when this is all over, we will all go back to the same school together.

My internship with WJLA ABC7’s Good Morning Washington has started me on the career path I have been striving for in college. I have been able to write copy, create graphics, assist in producing, edit video, write blogs for the website, and I have even produced my own segment. Every single day is something different, and each show is filled with amazing people that teach me more about life.

I have learned that I can succeed outside of my comfort zone, and that I can handle a little pressure. I get to learn applicable skills from my courses, develop in my career, all while seeing national monuments and museums. This experience has been amazing for me in regards to my education and my career. Even more, it has been amazing for me in regards to myself.

Originally posted November 15, 2016