University of Calgary

Postcard from Washington D.C.

UToday HomeApril 27, 2012

Caitlin Gropp participated on a study abroad opportunity with the Washington Centre organized through the Centre for International Students and Study Abroad (CISSA). Here is her postcard home.

Q. Why did you choose to study abroad and particularly in that country/region?

A. I chose D.C. because it is a hub for American history and political culture. As a history major and a political science minor, it was something of a Mecca for me in terms of historical sites, museums, and monuments.

Q. Where and what are you studying abroad? What program was it with and why did you choose this type of program/experience?

A. I chose to study and intern in D.C. with a program called the Washington Center. I was in the Political Leadership program, and ended up interning at a lobbying firm called Financial Executives International. I chose this program to help me decide whether or not to pursue a politically related career, and also because of my passion for American history.

Q. How would you describe the country and people to friends and family back home?

A. The U.S. is very similar to Canada in some respects. I didn’t experience anything in terms of culture shock, but the city is very politically charged. The bitter partisan climate made me appreciate our parliamentary model, although I loved the lack of political apathy. One never gets tired of seeing the monuments and historical sites of D.C.

Q. Have you come across any interesting topics or findings through your courses/experience?

A. Another component of TWC experience was the academic course. During the semester I took Global Policy Issues: The United Nations and Global Challenges. The class included a National Model United Nations conference that spanned an entire weekend, with participants from universities all over the world.

Q. Tell us about an adventure/journey/trip/experience you have been on?

A. I tried to take advantage of the proximity of D.C. to other historical sites. I visited the neighboring states of Virginia and Maryland, and spent a weekend in Colonial Williamsburg and Richmond, Virginia. I also ventured up to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. I was fortunate enough to tour the naval academy at Annapolis, and finished my semester with a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Q. Did you try or learn any new hobbies/sports/interests/food/language?

A. I did not realize how big of a deal brunch was until I spent time in D.C. A vibrant foodie culture exists, with tons of restaurants from celebrity chefs the likes of Bobby Flay to José Andréas. I was even fortunate enough to meet Bobby Flay at a book signing at the historic Sixth Street Synagogue.

Q. Upon reflection, what do you personally feel this experience has brought to your life and possibly career?

A. My experience in D.C. was invaluable. I met what I am sure will be lifelong friends, visited absolutely amazing places and historical sites, acquired new skill sets, and learned so much about the American political system. TWC provided me with the ability to hone my professionalism, writing, and research skills and I believe I completed quality work at my internship. In return I was rewarded with amazing networking opportunities, encouraging coworkers, and a wealth of knowledge about a subject I was never before well versed in.

Q. Tell us about your plans?

A. I thought my time in Washington would give me more direction in terms of what career path I wanted to pursue. Instead, my experience in D.C. showed me that are plenty of career tracks I have yet to even consider. I plan to do my Master’s (hopefully in D.C.) and then perhaps continue onto academia or the Canadian Foreign Service, but who knows where life will take me.

Q. Would you like to share any words of wisdom?

A. Take advantage of every opportunity you’re presented with. While I was in D.C., I was fortunate enough to tour the White House, the Supreme Court, Annapolis, the Capitol building, the Pentagon, attend Congressional committee hearings and the National Christmas Tree Lighting, all through opportunities that presented themselves through friends or coworkers. Be sure to explore wherever you choose to study abroad, because you may never know when you’ll be back.


For more information on this and other study abroad programs. This postcard was supplied by University of Calgary International.