Between a Rock and a Far Place: A Review of the Rock & Roll Hotel

h-street-hipstersPeering incredulously at our crop-tops, denim cut-offs, and wedges at 11:45pm on a Saturday, the older lady across the row on the bus immediately knew we were going to “da club.” When we told her we were heading to the Rock & Roll Hotel on H-Street, she tisked, questioning, “Is it worth your life?” The answer: most definitely.

Clearly, I survived the supposed harrowing night on H. Although I enjoy a good concert, I am not willing to be a martyr for live music. Despite the unwanted—and insane— mothering of an old stranger, H-street is an energetic, upcoming street filled with lively bars and fun concert venues.

H-Street is definitely a place to explore. Unfortunately, the location adds hipster, grunge feel of the street: while I may sound like Stephan from SNL regaling about the out of the way, distant feel of the area, I actually mean it. Using walking and public transportation, I spent an hour commute time. For an awesome band, it’s definitely worth the trek, but I definitely recommend investing in an Uber for the way back.

Surprisingly, the “mothering” did not end once we got to the venue. We went to see Lower Dens, an emerging band from Baltimore who recently opened for Belle and Sebastian. Even though the music possesses an off-beat, almost ethereal, edge, some of the audience legitimately looked like they were coming from work. Don’t get me wrong: there were some plaid-shirt wearing, man-bun with amish-esque people there. But, it’s not too far out of our DC prepster comfort zone.  Most amusingly, there were two seventy-year-old women raging in the front row. I don’t know if they were particular fans of the band or if this is a recurrent theme of the venue, but be forewarned if you don’t like to rock out with old people.

With a barely-elevated stage, low-ceilings and a small audience space, the Rock & Roll Hotel provides an intimate and cozy concert experience. I legitimately made eye contact with the lead singer the whole time. The concert almost had a garage, private concert vibe. Compared to the 9:30, the Rock & Roll Hotel feels much more casual and relaxed.

The best part of the venue, however, is the features after the concert. While the concert space rests on the first floor, there are two bars on the upper levels. Boasting low tables, high circular chatting tables and string lights, the roof top bar particularly is fun to relax in after a concert. The venue solves the dilemma of what to do after a concert: before hitting up H street (or going home), you can debrief the concert and relax at one of the upstairs bars at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Overall, definitely check out the Rock & Roll Hotel—just be willing to make the commute!


Amidst Great Expectations, Hard Times Prevail in the Summer Internship Hunt

older-internDemanding exhaustive research, writing skills, patience and a healthy dose of B.S., the quest for an internship epitomizes a resume-worthy job in itself. Yet, in our endeavors to quench our hunger for career potential, we, smart, competent Georgetown leaders morph into Oliver Twist as we humbly beg for “more” hours, “more” pay and “more” responsibility.

The application process is almost Dickensian: while we work tirelessly to succeed, potential employers ignore us, minimize us and belittle us. Although I understand we are only interns, we still deserve the respect that accompanies the supposedly essential career steppingstone. Here is a list of problems we endure during the application process that if we ever did to a professor or boss we quickly would be axed:

1. The Time Delay: Waiting to hear back from an internship is like the less fun version of constantly checking your phone for a text from a friend. If your friend responds to you a month later, you’d be like “please, I asked to go to Wisey’s a month ago (but I’ll still go now because I’m always game).” If an employer rejects you a month after your application, it’s like responding to an invitation a month late saying you can’t come: it hurts both ways.

2. The No-Response: Can’t employers just send a form letter? There is no reason to completely ignore an application to which a student has dedicated time and energy. Ignoring a resume mirrors when the person you swipe right on tinder clearly swiped left and you pretend like you don’t care, but you kind of do. Except the stakes are slightly higher.

3. The Informal Language: Even though I’m not a monocle-wearing Victorian or my mom requiring no “text” language at the dinner table, I like to receive emails with a formal greeting and ending. Don’t write “hi there” and not sign your name to our first interaction. Maybe I’m being obnoxious, but if you are going to put me through two interviews and a potential security clearance, I don’t want to be addressed like a cowpoke.

4. The Inflexibility: This isn’t a high functioning mafia network: since you took two months to process my application, I get at least a week to make a decision.

5. The Pay, or Lack thereof: [Insert sassy political statement about how the insistence on unpaid internships exacerbates economic disparities and imposes unfair barriers on many qualified, talented applicants who can’t afford to work for free]


A Sport and a Palestine: Roaming through Ramallah


Have you heard the one about a Jewish student at a Jesuit university travelling to Ramallah? This is no Scheherazadian tale: against the advice of my summer program and my parents (love you, Mom and Dad J), two friends and I decided to visit Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the West Bank.

Beneath my J. Crew sweaters, Sperry’s and standard Georgetown swag, I am pretty badass—remember this when you see me on a Friday night in Lau 3 proudly sporting my watermelon-patterned retainer! Besides a twenty-one-year-old’s futile attempts to cling onto some semblance of a teenage rebellion, I felt strongly about overlooking the program’s warning and visiting the Palestinian city. While studying at Hebrew University, I have mostly interacted with the Jewish-Israeli population. Even if I didn’t plan on discussing politics with any Ramallans, I, as a diplomatically minded Georgetown student, aspired to at least relate with an alternate perspective.

The bus echoed with the penetrating trill of Arabic music and the whispers of my Palestinian-Milwaukeean friend preparing us on what to expect at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. Entering the West Bank is easy: after we left the bus at the checkpoint and passed through three revolving doors similar to the ones at the exit of the Metro, we immediately were greeted with black-charred rocks and a putrid smell. My friend explained that soldiers spray “skunk-water” to disband protests, particularly repulsive for Muslims who fervently wish to maintain cleanliness in the final ten holy days of Ramadan. (It should be noted that only upon leaving the West Bank did we have to show our IDs and undergo security checks.) After passing through the checkpoint into the West Bank, a group taxi dropped us off in the middle of a fruit market. As we mingled between cars lurching forward in insurmountable traffic and fruit vendors hocking their mangoes, it hit me that I actually was in Ramallah.

The craziest part of my experience in Ramallah was the city’s apparent normalcy. Under overhanging lights, narrow streets, passable to two lanes of cars, merged into larger roundabouts; men and women, many of whom didn’t wear head-coverings, shopped in stores like Nike, which lined the street. Loud, overwhelming, yet simultaneously alluring, Ramallah has the atmosphere of a SAC fair (admittedly, this is hyperbolic, but you get the point).

Initially, we went to the Stars and Bucks Café. Replete with red velour and crescent-shaped couches, the café takes Starbucks to the next level: let’s see when Starbucks offers cheeseburgers, hookah and a view of Al-Manara Square. After our bout of touristic fervor, we went to a local clothing shop to pick up my friends tailored Abaya, a long dress for women. She even let me try hers on: putting on the black and red embroidered gown, I envisioned myself looking fly at Dip Ball. To wrap up our speed Ramallah tour, we tried Arab style ice cream: basically ice cream without milk, Arab style ice cream stretches and sticks more. Any ice cream that offers a Nutella flavor falls under a win in my book.

After we survived—aka made it back through the checkpoint and bus to campus— I sat in my Jewish history class, finding it impossible to concentrate on our lesson about nineteenth century rabbis. Pulling up Time magazine (because surfing the internet during class always seems better when you are not on Facebook), I stopped at an article about violent rioting at the Qalandia checkpoint, or the place I had just been two hours before. Not going to lie: this freaked me out. Looking back on the experience, I probably should have done more planning before I just YOLO’ed a spur of the moment trip to a politically volatile area. Yet, especially considering that we encountered no security issues, I am still glad I visited Ramallah. To understand a different group’s perspective, it’s essential to walk a mile in their Abaya.


Coping with Conflict in Israel

Coping with Israel Conflict

“Would you like your drinks before or after we go to the bomb shelter?” With unwavering calm, a waitress coolly inquired after our drink orders as incoming rocket fire compelled us to flee our oceanside table for the local Tel Aviv bar’s shelter. To quote the 2003 cinematic classic “Bad Boys 2,” shit just got real.

After growing up in the Midwest and spending two years of college in the Georgetown bubble (where the greatest threat to my survival was Tuscany’s closing), I have found the gravity of the conflict in Israel difficult to fully fathom. While rockets have sporadically threatened Jerusalem, warning sirens echoed through Tel Aviv at least five times a day in the past week. Even in the relative safety of Jerusalem, I still consider the blaring of the alarm bells terrifying. I am not alone: Fearing an escalation in conflict, many universities have evacuated their students from Israel.

Unaccustomed to such a threatening environment, many students in my group have turned to humor in order to cope. From setting a picture of the Iron Dome demolishing a rocket as a Facebook cover photo to complaining that the bomb shelter doesn’t have Wi-Fi, humor provides the best medicine. By jokingly thanking Hamas for timing their missile firing during class time, we conceal our greater fear that the classroom — our supposedly sheltered cocoon of learning — cannot escape the looming menace of the outside conflict.

Yet, I wonder if this treatment of the crisis unfairly diminishes the suffering and fear both sides have experienced. Since I am a foreigner staying in Israel for only a short period of time, I can brush off the frightening moments I have confronted as an adventure, which will impress the SFS hotshots when I get back on campus. For most people, however, this is their home: Innocent civilians in Gaza have been killed and displaced, while various Israeli cities experience continued rocket attacks. We must remember this is no laughing matter. In order to reduce hostilities and begin to mend the widespread mistrust, it’s going to take more than a few one-liners: Both sides need to express a commitment for peace.

Jessica Tannenbaum is a rising junior in the College. Check out her other posts about her experience at Hebrew University this summer.


Under the Iron Dome: Experiencing the Conflict in Israel First-Hand

lifeundertheirondomeI did not expect to become a target of missile fire this summer — that was never on my intended agenda of tanning, shopping and padding the resume. Yet, during the middle of my Jerusalem summer program’s potluck dinner, our shrieks of delight at the watermelon and feta salad succumbed to deadening silence as a siren suddenly blared over the loudspeaker.

Nothing kills a dinner party like an alarm and the voice of God — or in this case, a man sputtering forceful directions overhead in incomprehensible Hebrew. All seventeen of us squished into the bomb shelter — aka my friend’s room — which was equipped with a double-paned window and incredibly thick walls. Deeming the disturbance a drill despite its unusual timing, we passed around the chocolate rugelach and pumped up the One Direction (Harry Styles has helped me through many a crisis). After we waited ten minutes, or the allotted time for such practice security measures, we uneasily filed out of the room/shelter and continued our meal.

Soon, however, we learned the truth: Rockets from the Gaza Strip had not only targeted Tel Aviv and Beir Sheba, but even aimed at Jerusalem. Fortunately, the Iron Dome — an air-defense system which Israel recently developed — intercepted and destroyed the rockets.

Though currently safe from rocket attack in Jerusalem, I am most struck by the resiliency of the Israeli people I have encountered in the face of possible danger. While the architects of VCW absentmindedly forgot to include closets in the rooms, each building in Hebrew University was designed to withstand bomb threats and shooting sprees; each apartment has a bomb shelter. It’s incredible to me that the students here so easily live and study in such an oppressive and terrifying environment. After one mere alarm, I was freaking out! Luckily, my mom’s concern if (a) I was okay and (b) I did my laundry, promptly brought me back from diva-land to reality.

I also learned how to cope in this new reality by observing everyone around me. In the face of the escalating conflict, life here in Jerusalem, besides the occasional security cautions, carries on as usual. For example, on the top of Masada, an ancient archaeological site, we saw three unmarked planes fly close to the ground in the span of twenty minutes. While our group looked at each other nervously, our Israeli guide, clearly unfazed, just exclaimed, “that’s unusual,” and continued blathering on about the Romans.

Leaving aside any political conversation, I am amazed at many Israelis’ capacity to recover and thrive in the midst of crisis. If there is anything I will learn from my summer experience in Israel, it’s that nothing — whether a midterm or a hangover — is as bad as a missile hurtling toward you, and I can handle that.

Jessica Tannenbaum is a rising junior in the College. This is her third post about her experience studying abroad at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Eat, Pray, Rest: Shabbat in the Holy City


While most Georgetown students worship the weekend as much-needed time to catch up on homework and binge-watch Game of Thrones (let’s be honest, though, when did midterms ever truly thwart us from GOT?), Jerusalem regards the weekend very differently.

As Friday evening approaches (weekends in Israel are on Fridays and Saturdays), supermarkets crowd and bustle with a fervor similar to students dashing to the Leo’s pasta line. Yet, once the sun begins to set, a siren ushers in a silence discernibly grasped throughout the city. From Friday evening to Saturday evening, Jerusalem respects Shabbat, or the Jewish day of rest. Restaurants close; buses and light-rail cease their customary routes. For tourists—and students looking for a fun time—the choice is simple: pray in Jerusalem, or play elsewhere.

Initially, I considered this strict practice of Shabbat overly daunting. Observant Jews not only are unable to check their email, drive a car or prepare a snack during Shabbat, but they cannot even turn on the lights. Is this lifestyle possible at Georgetown? Given our busy schedules packed with difficult classes and leadership engagements, students rarely take the time to even breathe, much less dedicate twenty-four hours to “rest.” Nevertheless, in my study abroad program, four incredibly intelligent and talented modern Orthodox students at a rigorous American university still manage to fulfill their obligations to their religious practice and their academic studies.

Although we cannot expect to fully embrace such stringent observances, Georgetown students can learn a lot from Jerusalem’s Shabbat. Winding down and decompressing after a hectic week can actually help us achieve more in the subsequent days. By dedicating even a few moments from our week to reflect on our lives and the world around us, we perhaps may enjoy a more restful — and meaningful — Georgetown experience.

Jessica Tannenbaum is a rising junior in the College. She has previously contributed to The Fourth Edition.


From the Hilltop to the French Hill

Georgetown in Israel

​After two semesters of trekking to Lau and whining about Leo’s food, summer provides a much-needed escape from the Georgetown bubble. Yet, even while exploring Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, Mount Scopus—my new campus home for the summer—I have begun to put Georgetown in perspective. Located in its nation’s capital, world-renowned and buzzing with cafés and students lounging on the lawn, Hebrew University is actually a lot more like Georgetown than I would ever have thought. Here are some surprising similarities:

1. Call Animal Control
Let’s be honest: no one came to Georgetown for the rats and squirrels. I intentionally bypass Old North to avoid mice Mecca. At Hebrew University, however, cats prove an inescapable presence. Not only do cats roam the library and the student center, but students also maintain an area on campus specifically to feed the cats. Maybe if we took some cats to Georgetown, we’d at least lose one problem.

2. Dead Man Walking
While Georgetown houses a cemetery for Jesuits between Harbin and the ICC, Hebrew U actually boasts two: the British War cemetery and the American Colony cemetery. Nothing like looking at graves for some encouragement on the way to class.

3. Satellite Struggles
If you haven’t heard of the infamous and much-bemoaned proposal to introduce a satellite Georgetown campus, then you probably were living in Hebrew University. Although Hebrew U retains six different campuses depending on subject area, Georgetown students would universally protest the Mount Scopus layout. While the dorms sit on one side of the campus, students have to walk twenty minutes to the library and the academic buildings. Forget about waking up five minutes before class.

4. Campus on a Hill
Both Georgetown and Hebrew U are situated on one of the highest points of their respective cities. What a geographic sense of superiority!

5. The Village People
Rooming in VCW and Village A, I have always lived in some sort of village. Out of all the Georgetown idiosyncrasies, I considered this the most peculiar. Instead of being super confusing to visitors and new students, can’t the university just find some rich people to buy the name and then use the money to put treadmills in some common rooms? Yet, in Hebrew University, my dorm is number 7 in the Student Village. I guess some seemingly unique eccentricities really supersede countries and customs.

Before arriving at Hebrew University, I considered my summer to be a very different, if not completely opposite, experience to my first year at Georgetown. But I guess it just goes to show that no matter where you go as a Hoya, memories of the Hilltop will always travel with you.

Jessica Tannenbaum is a rising junior at Georgetown. Thanks, Jessica!