Settling In

Entry #16.3 / 2nd June 2022

We ended up going to Popeyes for food – a place I had never been to before and felt a bit nervous about. Trying new foods or new places wasn’t always a great experience for me. But amazingly and easily, I trusted Ryan and Janette when they said I would like it.

                  And I did.

                  I didn’t order anything over the top – just chicken and chips. The chicken had a bit of spice to it, but not so much that it overwhelmed my senses.

                  I had a great laugh with both Ryan and Janette. After we finished eating, we decided to head to our respective accommodations (me at the hostel, them at the hotel) and meet up later at the White House.

                  Upon my return to the hostel, it was time for the full check-in process. After retrieving my rucksack, I took the lift up to my shared room. The atmosphere of the place was reminiscent of a mix between student accommodation and a hotel, defying traditional stereotypes.

                  “Woah…” I mumbled as I entered my shared room and took it in.

                  I was assigned to a mixed four-bed room, where the beds were built into the walls. They appeared exceptionally comfortable, even more so than the ones back at the university campus, and each had a curtain for added privacy. Below the bunk beds, there were drawers, each labelled with a number corresponding to the allocated beds.

                  Unfortunately, it seemed I was assigned to one of the top beds, while both bottom ones were already occupied. One had its curtain drawn open with belongings scattered across it, and the other had its curtain tightly closed.

                  Aware that someone might be asleep on the other side, I moved quietly as I placed my rucksack on the desk across from the beds, which had a mirror hanging just above it.

                  Just then, a door to the left side of the room opened and I jumped slightly.

                  “Hi.” The man smiled gently at me, walking the short distance to the drawn open curtain lower bunk bed.

                  I pushed passed my nervousness and returned the smile. “Hi.”

                  I’m not sure if it was because he saw how nervous I was or because he was just a friendly guy, but he moved an inch towards me and put out his hand. “I’m Justin.”

                  I let out a breath and shook his hand. “I’m Rose.”

                  His smile turned into small smirk. “I’m guessing you’re not from around here?”

                  I nodded, “And I’m guessing you aren’t either by your accent… or why else would you be here?”

                  He had laughed lightly which put me more at ease.

                  We spoke briefly about where we were from; Justin mentioned he was from Germany and had come to Washington DC for a diplomatic event or business meeting (although I’m not entirely sure if he said he was an ambassador, so don’t quote me on that). I mentioned my job as a camp counsellor, explaining I had weekends off to do whatever I wanted.

                  As our conversation came to a natural end, Justin nodded towards the bathroom he came from. “It’s free now if you need to use it.”

                  I grinned, “thanks. I probably stink from travelling!”

                  With a few “see you laters” to each other, I got some of my belongings from my rucksack and headed into the bathroom for a well-deserved shower.


Hours later, I had showered, dressed, and applied a light layer of makeup. Fortunately, I managed to get ready on time. After a few glances in the mirror, I left the shared room and the hostel, following Google Maps to the White House.

                  I decided not to take the bus, preferring to stretch my legs and soak in the realisation that I was in Washington DC. It still hadn’t fully sunk in – not just the fact that I was in the heart of the capital, but also that I was in America in the first place. It was difficult to imagine that roughly this time last year, I had entertained the idea of doing Camp America.

                  Now I was here, and still in utter, complete disbelief.

                  Walking down the city streets, I spotted a Sephora shop on one side and paused in my stride. Checking the time on my phone, I debated internally. I had enough time to browse in the shop, as the walk to our designated meeting area would take about twenty minutes, and I still had forty minutes left. However, I didn’t want to year the label of The Late Girl.

                  That is not something I aspired too.

                  But… I just wanted to check something. It wouldn’t take long and I’ll be in and out in five minutes.

                  With a determined nod, I crossed at the traffic lights and reached the Sephora shop on the other side of the street. Luckily, the shop was open, and I entered leisurely, absorbing the atmosphere. It immediately reminded me of the Superdrug shops in the UK, although Sephora had its own distinct identity – the bold black and white striped wall designs, the well-planned layout, and the spaciousness of the store.

                  Plus, it wasn’t like Superdrug that was trying to be the next Boots.

                  After anxiously looking around for a few moments, I ran into a shop worker and plucked up the courage to ask what I was looking for.

                  “Hi,” I began nervously, though my voice held confidence. “Do you guys hold Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty brand?”

                  The woman smiled, “yeah, of course, I’ll show you.”

                  I let out a breath of relief as I followed the shop worker to the designated area. I smiled when I saw the brand for the first time.

                  “Do you need any help with it?” The woman inquired, obviously knowing that I didn’t know much about the brand yet.

                  I hesitated before I shook my head. “No, not today. I just wanted to check that the shop had it.”

                  The woman nodded, “no problem. If you need any more help though, I’m just back over there.”

                  I smiled and nodded in return. “Thank you!”

                  Browsing the Rare Beauty brand for a few minutes more, I left and headed back in the direction of the White House. Determined not to be late for the third time that day.


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