It’s that time of year when students have to figure out housing arrangements for the next academic year. Living on campus in any one of Penn’s college houses comes with many perks, but I’d say living in Mayer (part of Stouffer College House) comes with the most. Aside from the rooms themselves (which boast a spacious living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom), the events (all “free”!) coordinated by the house staff are ones for the scrapbooks. From cherishing the changing seasons with an apple-picking excursion to Linvilla Orchards to organizing an impressive house-wide feast around Thanksgiving time to shuttling students to Dave & Buster’s for a nostalgic end of the year celebration, Stouffer College House has given me so many fond memories over three semesters time.
But this past semester, a unique opportunity presented itself as a fellow Stoufferite happened to be interning at the White House. After clearance from the Secret Service and a month in advance planning, Felicia and I were lucky enough to be part of the group of Stouferrites selected for the trip to DC. But there was one slight caveat… the trip was the day before finals! Despite my Organic Chemistry final the next day (and Felicia’s Chinese History final), we just couldn’t bring ourselves to pass on this opportunity. We hardcore embraced the YOLO/Hakuna Matata life philosophy and escaped the highly stressed Penn bubble for a day trip to the Capital.
The day before the trip didn’t really end before the day of our trip started as we were up by 3am to catch our 4am Megabus. By 7am we arrived at Union Station and breakfast was calling.
Our scheduled tour time wasn’t until 10:30am though, so in trying to redeem our good Penn student status we filled the time by looking over some printed notes (no bags are allowed in the White House so some notes stuffed in our pockets was the best we could manage).
To get to the White House, our group decided to walk so that we could sightsee along the way. From then on, we let ourselves forget about finals and just enjoy our time abroad.
Now although the White House holiday tour was the main attraction of this trip, no trip would feel complete without a foodie agenda. Having watched many episodes of TLC’s DC Cupcakes, Felicia and I finally had our first Georgetown cupcake when visiting our friend Maggie in Boston last Fall Break. Being in DC with a yearlong craving to satiate, it was a no-brainer; we had to go to the original Georgetown Cupcake!
A very convenient bus took us from the White House to Georgetown, but seeing the plethora of shops and restaurants Georgetown had to offer we spontaneously decided to get off a few stops early so that we could do some on-foot exploration. We got off the bus, took a quick look around, and guess what shop just happened to be a door over… Sprinkles! Having watched many manyyyy episodes of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars this summer, we were super excited about this discovery.
It took us a solid 3 minutes of conversation to figure out which flavor to get. The lady who worked there recommended their red velvet as it was their number one seller, but being set on getting the Rudolph red velvet at Georgetown, we went for their chocolate peppermint instead.
Continuing along the same street for another 7 minutes, we reached our final destination. This location at first seemed less busy than their Boston location according to foot traffic, but a glance over to their work area and you could tell they had a lot of online orders to fill.
Having done our research beforehand to avoid being overwhelmed by all their special holiday flavors, we anxiously order a Rudolph red velvet, chocolate eggnog, and sticky toffee pudding. To our bitter disappointment, they were all out of red velvet cupcakes (both the classic and Rudolph versions), so we opted for the Christmas caramel instead. But things got a little more bitter when they started filling our order and they told us they were all out of chocolate eggnog cupcakes too. I was pretty annoyed at this point, but agreed to switch it to a Gingerbread.
Each flavor was bold and on point, which in the end made me a cheerful consumer. However, one (debatable) drawback was that although I do love their frosting, the 1:1 frosting-to-cake ratio exhibited by our three cupcake sample did leave me searching for more cake.
Cupcakes devoured and the White House toured, we were more than content to board our 3pm Megabus back to Philly. On our return, we hit a lot of traffic so we didn’t end up getting back to Penn until 7pm. It was a long, tiring day, but running on a sugar high and the adrenaline from our impending finals we managed to get in some very productive hours of studying before dozing off for a good night’s sleep. And now looking back on this day after getting back those exam scores, these memories have become even sweeter. Having done the best I’ve ever done and quite possibly will ever do on a final (or midterm) at Penn, I think I’m gonna have to follow this “problem-free philosophy” more often.