Hanging out with friends on a break.

Melanie Francis: Post #2

Starting this second blog has made me reflect on the fact that the entire program is already one-third of the way done! People who have done study abroad warned me it flies by, and it does!

There is so much to do on weekdays with classes, internships, and finding time to eat, do
homework and attend club meetings and events, and the weekends are booked with museum
visits, catching up on sleep, more homework and exploring DC!Art Museum Depiction of Former President Obama.I have made a bigger effort to meet more people not just in the WSP program but, people from other schools in DC! We have all arrived in DC from different parts of the country and the world on an adventure to experience a new place. Coming to DC all my peers, my internship
supervisor, and staff, professors, family, and friends have advised me to network! I found that
everyone here is trying to network 24/7 and I feel it be a bit surface level and not genuine when people network. However, my supervisor gave me a piece of advice that has changed my idea and mindset of networking. That is that networking is not about how many people you meet and about the number of contacts or business cards you get, it is about planting these relationships. She expressed how people misuse network for personal gains – that it should be about selflessness and not selfishness. She began explaining how here people want to network with each other to share each other’s connections and knowledge – to build each other up.

Melanie Francis Hanging out with mom!

That being said I have been attending more events within my internship to meet other people
who work for the Department of Commerce. I connected with someone in the office who is from Mexico but has lived all over the world. She invited me to her house for dinner along with other people from the office to meet them. When I arrived, I was introduced to the government VP of Boeing who worked for the White House under the Obamas, Department of State and Commerce, USEAC, ITA, BIS officers and DOC retirees who worked in US embassies. I was the intern. I felt very overwhelmed and felt huge imposter syndrome. How, can I be sitting at the dining table with such amazing and experienced people? I felt like they knew everything and have had so much to share. But, they made it such a safe space, we did talk about politics, but we mostly shared about different diets, favorite foods, our genealogy results (we have all done the 23andme), travel stories and much more. I learned these people are very down to earth and humble! After dinner, I gained a very valuable understanding of government employees’ life outside of work and helped me get a better idea of what to expect. I also gained very valuable connections – a few offered to be my mentors throughout my career development and willingly offered to meet for coffee and lunches to give me advice and further connect with them.

My parents and my dog – Sophie came to visit! I have been feeling a little homesick the past few weeks and when I shared that with my parents, they booked their flights to visit me. I have
Parents in front of the White House.enjoyed showing them around and felt like I was sharing a new piece of myself to them, I also felt like a local which was an interesting discovery – DC I starting to feel a bit like home.

Showing them around was fun, but I truly enjoyed more just spending time with them, sharing a meal, and having a conversation with them. Being my first time truly away from home I undermined how much I would miss my family and home. I am forever grateful they came to visit me and now I am counting down the days till I see them again – 60 days!

I have also made bigger efforts to explore a bit more. It is in these acts of travel, even just
throughout the DC area, that I have been able to expand my views of not only our country but the world. These past few weeks, I have personally been able to visit several amazing sites,

1. The National Portrait Gallery: a historic art museum that focuses on images of several
famous Americans. I was also able to see the iconic Obama Portraits!

2. The Smithsonian American Art Museum: an inclusive collection of art from the colonial
period to the present.

3. The National Archives: home to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the
United States, the Bill of Rights, and several other important documents of significance
that helped to create the foundation of our great nation.

Even though National Treasure is a hit movie, it still does not compare to the real-life
experience of seeing these documents in person. It truly was an incredible feeling to stand
right in front of America’s most treasured documents!

4. In my Political Communications elective, we attended the Sunday morning filming of
NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. The guests consisted of Democratic and
Republican Congressmen, the former Russian Ambassador, and Iran’s Foreign Minister.
It was great to hear different perspectives on the issue of impeachment and Turkey
relations, watch how the guests and Todd chose to approach the interviews, and observe
the actual filming process with the staff. I left the NBC studio with a new perspective on
politics and that is within the journalism and news perspective.

5. The White House: Our tour was canceled due to security and threats that day, however,
we got it rescheduled for the next day. We only got to see the East Wing, but it felt
surreal being inside the White House! A few things I learned, is that there are 4 security
checkpoints, it is way smaller than it seems, it is not white – it is an eggshell color and
Lincoln was the only president to be a licensed. bartender.

So, by focusing on meeting more people, exploring more and learning more I have gained a
better understanding of being intentional and genuinely being willing to learn and expand my

Last time I wrote about mindset because I was at a point where I needed to have a different
outlook while The Washington Monument.being in DC to grow. But now, feeling homesickness, imposter syndrome, a
feeling of falling behind and not being good enough I have come to learn that it will all be okay, and it is okay to grow slowly. To anyone planning to study abroad – yes, do it! Studying abroad will help you realize that it is okay to take the time to process the weight of change and it is okay to not know what will happen in the next few days, weeks and months because studying abroad is about being in the present! You will be exposed to so many new things you wouldn’t have experienced at Gonzaga. So, this is about yourself! About falling in love with taking care of yourself. With patience, compassion, and respect this journey will change you!

Meet new people and form relationships, immerse yourself with opportunities, and explore!


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