Thursday, 10 April 2014

History and Politics Trip to the USA: Day Four

by Will Wallace

Watching the Nationals score a Grand Slam

Wednesday 9th April 2014


US Supreme Court
We're starting to adjust to the time zone and consumption of blueberry muffins at breakfast! We promptly left to return to Capitol Hill - this time to visit the Supreme Court, the place where nine justices determine whether the laws passed by Congress and decisions made by state courts and legislatures are compatible with the US Constitution. On our way to the Court, we passed a large group of lobbyists - members of the Alzheimer's Association - who were entering the congressional offices for matters of business.

The Supreme Court contained a great deal of information about the history, architecture and development of the Court, with some interesting attention paid to the historic decisions made by the Court, both regressive and progressive. I made a quick stop at the gift shop, buying two volumes of presidential inauguration speeches, from Washington to Obama. Little did I know that whilst I perused the shelves, the rest of the group moved up to the courtroom for a talk by a Court official. Thankfully, I made it up in time for the bulk of his spiel.

Dr Galliver had managed to get in touch with some chums at Georgetown University, the oldest Roman Catholic and Jesuit institution in the States, and so we walked to a nearby bus station. When we finally found the correct station (which, initially, we didn't), we were on our way!

Georgetown University
We arrived in the centre of the historic part of DC, and split up to grab lunch. After walking for ten minutes without finding anything particularly exciting, we resorted to a Johnny Rockets - which meant more heart-damaging burgers, as we had found at a Union Station on Day Two.

After waiting a short while at the university's reception, we were led into a room for a presentation about the university and the opportunities it provided. Funnily enough, they didn't mention the cost of their fees, which it turns out stands at around $62,000 - and to think we complain about £9,000 per year! We were taken on a tour of the campus by one of the current alumni. We were particularly struck by his closing words to the tour, which is that "If you're doing something you love, you won't work a day in your life!". A bit cheesey, and I've heard it before, but nonetheless an important lesson.

Nationals Park - baseball stadium
We ventured back to the hostel, and this included a rather bizarre encounter with a group of rowdy American twelve-year olds... It was then time to head for the baseball stadium, which meant a trip on the Metro. True to form, I managed to lose the Metro ticket that had been issued when we arrived! The train was heaving with Washington Nationals fans, heading for the game. We only just managed to squeeze on.

The atmosphere at the stadium was incredible. Despite my detestation towards Americans - for their exceptionalist patriotism and annoying accents - I found it very difficult not to be drawn into the buzz of the game. Supper consisted of the 'Dollar Dogs' available at the stadium. Most of us had bought merchandise, including foam fingers and baseball caps. Just before we left, the Nationals scored a Grand Slam, which sent all of us to our feet in manic excitement!

The train back was pretty crowded but we managed to get back to the hostel in one piece. The match was the perfect end to a great day, and we'll sleep well tonight! Off to Arlington Cemetery tomorrow.

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