I’ve visited Washington D.C. many times before my internship this summer. Every time I fell in love with the city a little bit more. However, there is no comparison from being a tourist in the city to actually living in it. I’ve learned a lot about the city whether navigating its public transportation, finding the best happy hour, or learning how to avoid some of those pesky tourist areas.
Days in the district are long. I quickly learned that. Much like being in Ann Arbor, you always have to have a bag or backpack full of the essentials — an umbrella, a few personal items, maybe a snack, and anything else you might need to keep you till the end of the day. Whether its grabbing dinner with friends, going to a networking event, or even just an after work happy hour with your coworkers, you most likely won’t end up getting home until 9:30-10 (and that’s the earliest!).
Always plan to be late. And by late, I mean always plan to leave extra early. Whether it’s problems with the red line or your Uber pool taking extra long, you should generally expect at least a 30 minute commute across the district. Always leave early or your friends will be waiting! This is yet another reason why the days are so long here in D.C.
I think one of the best things about living in Washington D.C. is the people. Not everyone is actually here to make a living. Nowadays when you think of D.C., you think of evil politicians and greedy lobbyists. I’ve found that to be absolutely false. There are so many people here working for NGOs, nonprofits, think tanks, and even representatives on the hill that are here to earnestly try and make a difference. The people here are passionate go-getters and I’ve found that they really look out for each other. Whenever we share our ideas and passions, it’s always about how to connect or help each other reach and meet our goals.
In a city that keeps pushing you forward, I’ve also learned how important self-care is. It’s incredibly easy to let the district take you for an exciting ride and burn you out. I’ve learned the importance of making sure I schedule enough time to sleep and that some days its really important to make it home early.
I will definitely return to Washington D.C.! From the people, sights, organizations, and everything else the city has to offer, I can hardly imagine not living here after graduating. As I reflect upon leaving in a few weeks, I’m excited to know that I will eventually return.