Stuck in D.C. for Spring

Spring break is a vacation no matter where it’s spent, whether it is tanning on the whites and beaches of Jamaica or walking down the concrete streets of the city. So instead of whining about being stuck in D.C., venture out beyond Foggy Bottom and enjoy the break from classes. Here’s how to make the most of a week alone in the District.

Try some new things. D.C. is full of restaurants serving food from countries most Americans can’t locate on a map. Chances are, most students haven’t the vaguest idea what people eat in Nepal or Ethiopia. Head down to Adams Morgan or U Street, pick a country and dig in. A few places to try are Fasika’s Ethiopian Restaurant and The Rumba Caf?, both in Adam’s Morgan. It can be surprising how good food from the parts of the world that haven’t been marketed to death can be.

Because many people on campus will be off getting food poisoning in the Caribbean or making their debuts on “Girls Gone Wild” in Cancun, take the week to make some new friends. Get together with a few other people who are sticking around and head out to an area nightspot. Aside from drinking and dancing, the city has plenty of alternative hangouts from which to choose. Why not play pool at Georgetown Billiards, Atomic Billiards or any of the other pool halls in the city? Brush up at the Hippodrome beforehand, maybe watch The Color of Money a couple of times and then go rack ’em up.

Or do something really out of the ordinary and go watch the Sunday night competitive slam poetry readings held at Teaism in Penn Quarter. Slam isn’t the typical flowery verse read in English class or the abstract language poems that grace the pages of literary journals. Like the name implies, Slam poetry is edgy, explosive and energetic. Slam is something between traditional poetry, performance art and freestyle rap. Poems are not just read, but performed and even half acted out. Contestants read their original material and may not use props. They are awarded points for content and delivery as they compete for spots on the D.C. slam poetry team. Entry into the contest is open, so students are welcome to bring their own original works and see how they stack up. If reading poetry aloud sounds like a daunting task, patrons of Teaism can also serve as amateur judges during the slam contests, scoring the poets on a scale from one to 10.

Mundane things will inevitably come up over the break, but try to do them in less ordinary ways. For example, instead of just going to the closest movie theater to see the latest blockbuster, see it at the Uptown Theater in Cleveland Park – easily the best movie theater in the city. The screen is bigger than most D.C. theaters, the plush chairs are more comfortable and the theater’s atmosphere is straight out of a 1930s movie palace. Sure, it’s about two bucks more expensive than Union Station, but it’s especially worth it for action movies, epics and any other movies that benefit from a really big screen.

Whatever the case may be, try to make every activity a little special. This can correlate to simple domestic tasks as well. Instead of nuking Easy Mac in the hall microwave, look up a decent macaroni and cheese recipe off the Internet and try making it the old fashioned way. Cooking can be relaxing, and the food comes with a sense of satisfaction that makes it extra tasty.

Many GW students have been cooped up inside for 12 weeks, waiting for the snow to melt and the grass to return. Even if it doesn’t feel like spring yet, get outside and enjoy the fresh air. A cheap kite can be bought for about 10 dollars at the Pentagon City Costco, and spending the afternoon down on the Mall trying it out and watching the clouds pass is great medicine for a frazzled post-midterm mind. Or go jogging along the Rock Creek Parkway. Visit Arlington National Cemetery. Walk to some of the less appreciated monuments – Jefferson, Roosevelt, etc. Summer, and the bathing suit season that comes with it, isn’t far away. Don’t wait until the last second, start getting outside and getting active now.

Speaking of the simple pleasures in life, it’s easy to forget many people read for pleasure. It doesn’t have to be a classic work of literature, but go out and pick up a book, any book, so long as it is of interest – whether it’s Harry Potter, a cheap romance novel, or a do-it-yourself guide to hypnosis. Take a little time to unwind from all that academic stress and get lost in a book. Besides, Kramerbooks and Afterwords in Dupont have the best apple pie in the city.

Many students have just been getting farther and farther away from their schedules the entire semester, swearing if they could just get a few days to themselves, they could get all caught up. Spring break is a week without classes, friends or family to provide distraction, so it is good a chance to get something productive done. Research classes for next year, go job hunting, clean up that room and, if desperation sets in, get caught up on some class work. When everyone comes back from break broke and hungover, they’ll be stuck doing homework and you’ll be the one partying spring break style.

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