Week 9 Blog Post

This past week was full of events.

The weekend was uneventful. I finally had a weekend to take time off, but it was full of considerations for my final report. I eventually finished writing it throughout the week, because I made sure to take it easy over the weekend.

Tuesday was eventful in that NSF took us on a “tour” of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. We got to meet employees of the academies, but we were not given a proper tour of the facilities. We were given more of a tour of the employees there. They all had interesting stories that were somewhat relatable to our own, but the overall experience felt unfulfilling.

The following day we had another resume workshop. This one was a bit more insightful, but the overall information was not significantly new. I did get feedback on my resume though, which is a definite improvement from the last workshop we did earlier in the summer.

Finally, Friday was a great day that included an actual tour of facilities. We went to the Lockheed Martin Global Vision Center, an impressive facility filled with welcoming people. We received a tour of some displays in the building like the company’s most famous and influential projects as well as its history. We also received talks from employees of Lockheed Martin that had beginnings that were similar to many of the interns touring, which made the whole endeavor of gaining employment there seem possible.

Week 8 Blog Post

Week 8 Blog Post

This past weekend was fantastic! My family apart from my brother came up to DC to visit. They were in the middle of a week-long road trip across the country that started in San Antonio. We spent the majority of our time downtown near the National Mall. By Sunday, they had left DC to head to Virginia Beach.

My work week started off with the usual. I worked at my desk per the norm and began work on my final report for the internship. I have written many reports before, but not having a rubric or any guidelines made the whole process difficult.

Wednesday was an exciting day. Not necessarily an interesting day at NSF, but the rundown/professional development held at QEM was different. Although was shorter than the usual weekly meetings, it was extended by an invitation to participate in trivia with Kendrick. I am a trivia enthusiast and felt that I was a vital member of the team throughout the evening at Stoney’s. There was even a category about one of my favorite TV shows, 30 Rock. Though we didn’t dominate like I thought we would – in fact, we were in the bottom quarter of the teams that night – I still enjoyed the challenge and the different trivia style that DC has for trivia.

Thursday, there was a potluck held at NSF that was organized by fellow interns. We were encouraged to bring a dish from our culture in order to expose others to the food from our upbringing. I didn’t have the means to make anything, nor the drive, so I went empty-handed and was still welcomed. I met many other interns that are not from HACU or QEM there. Though it would probably be the only time I would see them throughout this internship, it was still an entertaining lunch. I am glad that NSF hires such a varied group of interns, it shows that they embrace diversity.

That evening, there was a Celebrate Invention Event held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) headquarters. The event consisted of a myriad of inventors who shared their stories of invention via presentation. I am not familiar with the association who organized the event, but I’m sure it was to welcome the inventors to the organization or something. Each of the presenters was given a pin at the end.

Throughout the event, my stomach was growling incessantly and Miranda, who was sitting next to me, was complaining of hunger as well. Once the event was over, we hoofed it to Hill Country Barbecue Market, a place we’ve visited before. It was delicious as usual.

This week has been busy at work as the internship is coming to an end. My mentors are sparsely in the office so communication is a bit staggered but tolerable. Next week will be a crunch and mostly focused on completing the report. I am actually looking forward to the challenge.

Signing off.

 

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 7 Blog Post

Last weekend started off with a BANG! Well, it technically started with a nice evening in with friends playing cards. Playing cards has become a staple of my free time during this internship and I quite like it.

But Saturday morning, Erika, Paola, Miranda, and I woke up before the crack of dawn to get on a bus to New York. We were planning to a take a day trip to Manhattan, get there early morning, then leave the next morning. Boy did we overestimate our endurance, but I’ll get to that.

We arrived in New York City around 9am and promptly walked to Time Square with the intent to buy discounted tickets to a Broadway show. Much to our dismay and our wallets’ relief, the tickets were too expensive even when discounted, so we decided to spend our time walking around the immediate area.

Before walking to any attractions, we stopped by an authentic New York City hot dog stand and partook in a very underwhelming, cheap hotdog that in all honesty could be purchased anywhere. But it was all about the authenticity, so we didn’t mind. I didn’t find the hot dog worthy of a picture, so I’ve spared you the mediocrity.

But immediately following our let down of a quick breakfast, we visited Hershey’s Chocolate World and M&M’s World. They had much more merchandise than chocolate, which I hadn’t expected. They had chocolate-branded underwear, if that gives you any idea of how far they go.

Afterwards we proceeded to the Nintendo Store in Rockefeller Center and I was blown away. The place was overcrowded as there was a tournament for a video game called Arms there, but I still enjoyed the place. It was a wonderland for a Nintendo fan like me.

Immediately after that we visited the LEGO store in Rockefeller Center. They had outrageous and elaborate LEGO sculptures that probably took days to construct. It was significantly better than the LEGO store back in San Antonio.

After our shopping spree, we took a long walk to Central Park and immediately decided that we needed to go somewhere to eat. All the walking we had done that morning had made us ravenous, so we sought out a place called America’s Burgers and Wraps. I got what was called the America Burger, and it did not disappoint. They topped the burger with a thick onion ring, some French fries, and two thick slices of bacon. It would have only been made more American if it was colored red white and blue.

Once fed and somewhat rested, we ventured back to Central Park. While visiting the Bethesda Terrace, three street con artists put snakes on Erika’s, Paola’s, and Miranda’s shoulders. Erika and Miranda freaked out but maintained composure for one picture. But the snake owners demanded payment after we took pictures of the whole experience, which was sleezy.  We also visited the Alice in Wonderland statue. There was never a moment when no one was climbing the statue, so the picture included was the best that I could do.

One of the few places on my must-see list was Ground Zero and the World Trade Center. Sadly, we didn’t have the time to go to the observatory in the tower, but we were able to capture an amazing view of the atrium in the Westfield World Trade Center. The memorial is the greatest one I’ve ever seen and it was truly beautiful.

We had only a brief stop there because we were on our way to a boat tour that would take us close to the Statue of Liberty and Governors Island. Sadly, the boat was at capacity when we arrived, but we were able to catch a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, which would give us a great view of the statue as well as the Brooklyn Bridge. I was focused on resting during the ferry ride, so I only managed to capture one image of the Brooklyn skyline.

Once we got back to Manhattan, we took the subway to China Town, which neighbored Little Italy. Also, compared to the DC metro, the New York subway system is antiquated and complicated. It also reeks and is very muggy. 1/10, would not try again.

Back to our adventure, once in China Town, we visited many little souvenir shops. I bought a new bag for a great price in order to carry comfortably the many things I bought throughout the trip.

The short walk to Little Italy was pleasant as the sun was setting. While there we got gelato, which was overpriced but delicious. There were many instances of enormous art on the sides of buildings in Little Italy. It was unusual, but impressive.

By the time the sun had completely set, we had walked through Little Italy and made our way to a place Paola really wanted to visit, the Museum of Sex. It was interesting. The gift shop was a sex shop, and the museum itself was one third historical, one third artistic, and one third scientific and biological. Suffice it to say, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to post any images from the museum.

Afterwards, we took a pitstop at a McDonalds to refuel our phones. We headed to Time Square after that in search of a place to eat authentic New York style pizza. It turned out that the reasonably-priced Patzeria Perfect Pizza was just a block away. It was glorious pizza – as most pizza is – and gorgeous too! Don’t let my poor image quality fool you, the pizza was one of the most beautiful things I saw that day.

Even though it was around midnight by the time we finished the pizzas, we still had a few hours until our bus was scheduled to head back to DC. So we killed some time just sitting around Time Square. We were exhausted and didn’t understand why our past selves thought that taking an 18-hour trip to New York was a good idea.

On our way to the bus stop, the New York subway system failed us. The train we were patiently waiting for did not show up as scheduled, so we ended up having to speed walk to the bus stop on tired legs and sore, blistered feet. Also, I couldn’t for the life of me find a place on the way that had a public restroom. Though there were many places open at 3am, none of them had bathrooms available to the public. It should be renamed “the city that never sleeps and never lets you pee”.

We ended up making it to our bus with only moments to spare. I don’t think I had slept more heavily in years. One moment the bus had just taken off and we entered a tunnel, and the next, we were stopping in DC.

All in all, the trip was a success, albeit an exhausting, long, walking-filled success.

The rest of my Sunday was spent sleeping and resting and sleeping some more. I stayed off of my feet the best that I could.

The work week was a typical work week. Monday was not significantly different from any other work day. But Tuesday was July 11th, which made it 7/11, so the 7-11 down the street from work was giving out free slurpees, and It was great.

That same day, a few of us interns decided to go see a movie. To my recommendation, we saw Baby Driver. Everyone but Miranda thoroughly enjoyed it. Frankly, I don’t know how someone could not be entertained by such a good film, but some people are just dead inside. I jest.

But after the movie we visited Burger Tap & Shake for some shake and fries. It was delicious as always with that establishment. They never disappoint.

The remainder of the week was typical. I apologize for usually explaining my work weeks as typical or normal, but they are. I sit at my desk and run analysis on the data I get. Sometimes I cluster data, sometimes I run statistics on data. I find it enjoyable and rewarding, but it’s not the most exciting thing to reiterate.

Anyways, I think this past trip that I took to New York might be my last for the summer. My feet definitely need time to recover.  So does my wallet.

Signing off.

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 6 Blog Post

Week 6 Blog Post

This past week was the most eventful one yet! As it was Independence Day weekend, some of the interns and I (Erika, Miranda, Paola, Leonardo, and myself) felt it fitting to take a trip to Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation!

Our trip began on Friday. We rented a car and drove to Philly, taking our only stop at Great Falls Park in Virginia. It was such a beautiful place that I didn’t know about before planning the trip. It was a phenomenal way to begin our weekend trip. We hiked for what felt like miles over cliffs covered in jagged rocks to capture as many great photos as we could.

After our stop at the falls, we proceeded to travel through hours of traffic until we made it to our motel right outside Philadelphia. By then it was midnight and we hadn’t had dinner. Luckily, we were on the same block as two 24/7 diners! We chose Philly Diner over the chain establishment as we wanted an authentic experience we couldn’t have anywhere else. They had a robust menu, but the choice of what to eat was easy to make. Breakfast for dinner, there is no other way to go.

The next morning, we had an early start to the day and grabbed a quick breakfast at the local chain of corner store/gas station combo, Wawa. I had heard great things and was not disappointed. For a very competitive price, I was delivered an amazing, memorable meal to start my day: French toast and bacon. I didn’t have the patience for a pristine shot, but while chewing, I found the self-control to take a picture.

Our first attraction on our Philadelphia trip was the Liberty Bell. To be honest, it was a tad underwhelming, but there were other destinations we had planned. Paola had a comprehensive list of must-see places she acquired from a friend, so our adventure was bound to impress. We ended up in what I could only describe as a hammock park. A truly bewildering sight, but a damn-good place to rest mid-trip. We stopped there for a few minutes and rested in the hammocks, until it began to rain. We took shelter at the Independence Seaport Museum until it died down.

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We then took a trip to Elfreth’s Alley, a quaint, historic alley that resembles old European architecture. Afterwards we rented bikes at one of the many rental stations in Philly, we rode towards the center of town to visit the popular Love Park. To our dismay, the park was under construction and closed off to the public. We then proceeded to bike back to the car, pedaling sadly and heart-broken.

After reuniting with the car, we drove Miranda to one of her family members’ house to drop her off. She wanted to visit the family that she had in Philly for the day and we parted ways. But our next stop on our trip was to the world-famous Geno’s Steaks. Although the line was long, the wait was short because they practically only had one thing on the menu; wiz (cheesesteak). That, paired with their cheese fries made for a truly memorable lunch in downtown Philadelphia.

After lunch, we made our way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made especially famous by the Rocky movies. Erika and I made the infamous Rocky run up the steps that
was capped off by both of us raising our arms over our heads in victory. And from the top of the steps in front of the museum, I was able to capture a shot of the Philadelphia skyline.

As we made our way down the steps and discussed what may be next on our adventure, a storm abruptly interrupted us. The wind was so strong and so sudden that foldable tables and chairs were sent flying across the street. The downpour was so heavy, and we were so unprepared that we had to sprint back to the car, which was only a block away, but that didn’t prevent us from getting absolutely soaked. Never before had I been so profoundly rained-on. Although it completely halted our plans for that afternoon, it was very exhilarating and memorable.

For dinner that evening we truly went all-out. I cannot even begin to explain how decadent our meal was. I can only really capture its glory in an image. That’s all I can say. We then went down the road to a local place, Richman’s Ice Cream, which was desert heaven. They had anything involving ice cream. I, being too full from dinner simply went with some soft serve.

We began the next day by hitting the road. Our next destination was Baltimore, but before that, we needed to get some breakfast. We went with something quick and cheap, McDonald’s. Erika had been craving pancakes for the entirety of the trip. Why she didn’t get any at the
diner or Wawa the days before eluded me, but I ended up sharing my hotcakes with her.

We arrived at the National Aquarium in Baltimore soon after. We spent a few hours there and I was blown away at the array of specimens they had. And although I took many pictures of the many aquatic animals, I was especially interested in the jellyfish. They are so tranquil and majestic in a way that can’t be captured in a picture, but I sure did try. The view from the skybridge in the aquarium was also wonderful.

After leaving the aquarium, we took a look at a bike rack that Miranda thought was a real bike.

After leaving the aquarium, we took a look at a bike rack that Miranda thought was a real bike.

Because we were in Baltimore, Paola wanted to visit her dream school, Johns Hopkins University. We spent about an hour walking through the main campus and looking up the history and the size of the university. She seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Afterwards, we ate a late lunch at Grano Pasta Bar, which apparently Guy Fiery had visited at one point. I, being a fan of Flavortown, needed to try their meatballs along with their pesto sauce. It was delicious and filling in a way that only pasta can be.

The pasta bar was our last stop on our trip. We got back to DC that afternoon and played cards for the remainder of the night. It was an amazing and unforgettable weekend with friends. But that was only the beginning of this week!

Monday was more of a half day considering that some of the systems were down at NSF as the IT department was in the middle of a move. That in addition to the fact that the majority of NSF staff, including my mentors, were not in attendance made for a short work day.

Tuesday started off with delicious breakfast at &pizza with Daniel. The Maverick, which is essentially an all-meat pizza topped off with pesto, is always my pizza of choice, and it never disappoints.

In the evening, I attended a party with the rest of the QEM interns hosted at Dr. Toldson’s beautiful house. He had an amazing spread of food and the greatest view of DC you can get. It made the holiday even better because we could view all the fireworks along the horizon in the entire DC area. The view was also made better with Justin right next to me.

Wednesday was my first full work day at NSF and was just like any other. I tried to complete a component to my project because I knew that on Thursday I would have my midterm evaluation.

Speaking of the evaluation, it went very well. It was much shorter than I had expected and I only needed to talk about my project briefly. I guess I’ll have to reserve a long presentation for the end of the internship.

That evening, I had the pleasure of witnessing a culinary disaster. A chicken pot pie collapse and explosion. Justin had slaved over his premade, frozen pot pie and waited half an hour for it to bake in the oven, bathing in its delectable aroma. In his excitement, while pulling out the impeccable finished product from the oven, this happened.

Oh well. At least the oven has a clean setting.

Oh well. At least the oven has a clean setting.

This past week was downright amazing, and this upcoming weekend we will be taking a trip to New York, which will be another great way to start the blog.

Signing off.

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 5 Blog Post

Week 5 Blog Post

Last Friday began with a tour of the capitol building that was facilitated by NSF. The HACU and QEM interns were all wrangled together to participate in the tour and although it was very informational, it felt short and most of us me wanting more. I would have loved to see the House in session. Anyways I took more video than pictures on the tour because the rooms we visited were massive and too great to capture in a single image. But I did capture a shot of The Apotheosis of George Washington in the dome of the capitol building. It literally depicts how the American people have elevated Washington to a state of divinity.

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That Friday evening, fellow interns, Erika, Miranda, Justin, and I went out to Adams Morgan, a side of town that was littered with clubs and bars and pizza joints. I, not being a drinking man myself, tagged along for the jumbo slices of pizza, which definitely did not disappoint! The single slice I got was longer than my forearm, which made it difficult to capture on camera. We also stopped by a few bars, many of which I forgot the names. The only one I remember is Shenanigans, an “Irish pub”. I use quotation marks because the place was just like any other bar in style and music, but they had dollar-store-esque St. Patrick’s Day decorations up and green lights. I guess that’s what qualifies for Irish.

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On that Saturday, many of the interns and I went out for an overpriced, but delicious brunch buffet at The Front Page. I was too enthralled by the food to take any pictures, but let me assure you, it was good. We followed that up with a visit to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, which was my second time going but almost everything we saw was new to me. I took way too many pictures of the animals but I am only going to share the highlights of my selfies with statues and a panda.

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On our walk back to our apartment, we took a forest trail and witnessed the most amazing-looking bridge I have ever seen. It was covered in vines and moss on one side and was enormous and surrounded by forest. I don’t know the name of the bridge – though I can surely look it up – but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share it with the world… through my blog.

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Then the work week began and it was business as usual.

For an after-work snack, on Monday, I visited the McDonald’s near the Rosslyn metro station and I was blown away. It was the most technologically updated McDonald’s that I have ever experienced. They had kiosks for customers to place their orders and a fully touch screen fountain drink dispenser. They also had a bar for customers to sit that was lined with outlets, so they could charge their devices. The only thing that place was missing was ethernet ports and fiber internet speeds. I am going to find myself there a lot throughout the summer.

On Tuesday I attended a meeting that was specifically about text analysis and clustering of data, which is exactly what my project is about. It was very insightful and a new tool for analysis called, Lingo4G, was essentially debuted to those who were interested. Though it is still in a developmental stage, I am sure I can make use of it during the course of this summer.

And on Wednesday, QEM took us interns to an MLB game, my very first and probably my last (baseball is a bore). I did have an enjoyable time because I was there with friends, and the food was good albeit overpriced. But that’s stadium food for you. Daniel and I split a chicken tender and fries bucket between the two of us. It came with about 3 pounds of fries and six chicken tenders. There were so many fires that we had to enlist the help of our fellow interns in order to finish them.

And throughout the end of the work week, I worked on fixing a problem that I had with the data I pulled from the server. Though I don’t know how into detail I am allowed to get, I essentially consolidated duplicate entries into the data without compromising the other information for the entries. It sounds boring, I know, but it was an interesting problem to overcome. I have grown to thoroughly enjoy data analysis, which I had always perceived to be very boring before this internship.

This upcoming weekend will be an eventful one, so be prepared for a flood of selfies and pictures of gustatory exploits.

Signing off.

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 4 Blog Post

This week was eventful! To start off, over the weekend a few friends of mine visited DC on vacation and we toured the town. We visited many places I had already seen, but this time around I made sure to capture the moments on camera.

Among our touring of the city, we also ventured to many places for food. It was another delicious weekend in DC. We visited Ben’s Chili Bowl which was delicious and messy. I was too eager to eat so the burger in my picture is incomplete. Chili on a burger is too good to wait for apparently.

We also visited Burger Tap and Shake which was another delicious burger place. We had Captain Cookie for dinner. They make their cookies in-house, and use them in their ice cream sandwiches, which are too much for a single person to have, so we split among three. We had poor diets that weekend, but it was their trip, so to each their own.

 

And to send them off, we ate at the renowned Founding Farmers. According to some list my friends referenced, it had the #2 chicken and waffles in the DC area. To that I say “blasphemy!” This place had life-changing chicken and waffles. If it’s #2, then I am afraid to try #1.

Then the work week proceeded. Which was typical work, but very productive. I met with my mentor Dr. Ron Buckmire – who is hardly in the office due to his traveling – to discuss the progress of the data analysis and my potential leads on code for text analysis and he was pleased to see the progress.

For our weekly rundown, Kendrick took us to a tech meet-up at a synagogue. It was interesting, I had never been to an event like that one. It was meant to promote tech start-ups and tech positions in DC. It was quite the welcoming community with many positions for those in the STEM field.

Immediately following the meeting, a few of the interns ventured to a southern Texas barbecue place called Hill Country Barbecue Market. The few of us from Texas wanted a little slice of home, and boy did it deliver. Delicious Texas barbecue up the wazoo. My pulled pork sandwich was overstuffed and big, much like everything in Texas.

And my week was finished off with more work on my research project. Nothing too out of the ordinary, though I am making strides in my knowledge of Python. I have finished two courses in the tutorial and have a better understanding of certain packages that are meant for text analysis. Dr. Alejandro de la Puente has been walking me through it.

This week has been eventful and productive. I hope that I have many more like it.

Signing off.

 Sergio A. Melendez

Week 3 Blog Post

This week was quite the roller coaster! It began like a typical work week. I was continuing the groundwork for my project on Monday and Tuesday, using excel to analyze trends in some NSF data. Fun stuff for a mathematician like me.

The TDIS interns all attended a Networking workshop on Tuesday. Some found it very helpful and others found it redundant. I was more in the middle as I do know the basics to networking, so the information was nothing new to me personally, but the exercises we did were good practice in a welcoming environment.

And in the middle of the week we were introduced to our first rundown at the QEM Network office. Boy was that an evening. We learned about the intricacies of procrastination – a problem from which everyone suffers to some degree – and the differences in knowledge about mid-2000s trivia topics categorized in an outdated way. All in all it made for great team building and I am definitely looking forward to the next one. But hopefully during the next one, the AC could work.

We also attended the Tri-Caucus event at the Rayburn House Office building. Although there were many important speakers there, it was essentially a glorified mixer. Though I am not complaining because that had a great spread for all to indulge in. There were chicken parmesan sandwiches and fried shrimp. It was a very enjoyable evening littered with fellow interns to meet. Granted they were all political interns so finding common ground other than minority status was a bit difficult, but we at least all could relate in the new experience that is a DC internship.

This week was productive because I personally gained from the different exercises and events that occurred throughout the week outside of my project. As I make progress in my project, surely more of my updates will include more details about it. But until then, this week was nothing but work oriented and professional development, which I am always ready to improve.

Signing off.

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 2 Blog Post

Now that I am getting the hang of this updating thing, I can better document my experiences under this QEM internship. Even though there aren’t any pictures to go along with my entries so far, mark my words, next week’s update will be full of pictures of delectable food.

So my work week started off with an orientation to the National Science Foundation headquarters and it was very pleasant. Although the majority of the orientation was a reiteration of what is expected in a professional environment, I feel it was still important to hear considering young adults would be given access to sensitive information collected by a government agency. It is the kind of clearance that would give one a sense of power and complete anxiety. It is like a double-edged sword.

And getting to the good part, I met one of my mentors. Dr. Alejandro Delapuente. He is a dapper dresser and an avid cyclist from Peru, the land of great cuisine. And over our first lunch together, we took a stroll out in front of the NSF building where there were too many food trucks to count. Actually, I lied, there were probably a dozen. He made it clear that there was a Peruvian food truck there but that it was unsatisfactory (the actual word he used would not be appropriate to mention) and suggested I try something else. I guess Peruvians are very passionate about their food.

But the rest of my week was spent huddled at my desk. My desk neighbors my mentor’s in an office we share alone. It is quite serine in there, the kind of quiet that is only broken up by the taps on our keyboards. I prefer it because it makes for a calm mind while reading over proposals and writing code.

As far as food goes I have been the opposite of adventurous. I am still finding my bearings at NSF, so in I have failed to venture too far from the building as I am unfamiliar with the territory. So I have eaten Subway for lunch three times this week. One exception being at the coffee shop at the mall next door that also happens to serve burgers. Now, some would say that is a terrible combination, and those some are very right. I made the mistake. Coffee, good on its own. Burger and fries, good. Burger with coffee to drink and iced coffee at that, quite bad. Trust me, I made the mistake.

If I leave you with anything, reader, it’s that iced coffee and burgers do not mix. At. All.

Signing off,

Sergio A. Melendez

Week 1 Blog Post

Week 1 Blog Post

I have never created a blog post before, but I am all for trying new things. Now I am not one to travel – even though that contradicts my previous statement about trying new things – mostly because of my college student budget, but when an opportunity comes along to work at the National Science Foundation for a summer where travel is taken care of, one does not pass that up.

Washington DC is very different from San Antonio. Even though they both attract many tourists for their historical significance and architecture and whatnot, San Antonio is very spread out. The downtown area is quite small and frankly underdeveloped in comparison to the DC area. Washington is significantly more densely populated and very pedestrian-friendly, which is right up my ally considering I am young enough to appease walking.

In my many walks around the George Washington University and the QEM Network sides of town, I have noticed one thing specifically, the abundance of food. There are so many places to eat, too many for me to try in my time in the city, but that does not mean that I will not try! I am a complete foodie, probably stemming from my upbringing in the culinarily diverse city of San Antonio, so the prospect of eating my way through DC makes me completely giddy.

Which brings me to my complete appreciation for the QEM Network. They fed us breakfast and lunch for our first week and it was nothing short of delightful. It appealed to the foodie and the penny pincher in me equally, especially considering the fact that they provided enough food for us to take back to our dorm and have for dinner. Food tastes much better when it is free.

I am going to warn you, reader, that most of my updates will revolve around my many gustatory experiences of DC. They will also go into depth the many professional and academic experiences as well when they develop in time.

But this week was not all food. We interns also gained a lot of exposure to the very political side of the DC area with talks from the unforgettably charismatic Brent A. Sullivan (I swear I will never be able to forget his name he said it so many times) from Time on the Hill and the influential Ashlynn Profit from the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education. We also took a field trip to the House and Senate Offices where we all got a genuine feel for the policy that gestates throughout that place. Understanding the significance of politics in this city is going to help us network our way through the NSF.

After finishing my first week I am left with nothing but excitement to start work at the NSF headquarters next week. This city is lively and there is always something happening, so these weekly updates will never be boring, I assure that.

Signing off.

Sergio A. Melendez