“Swamp” was definitely the right term; if there’s anything I’ve learned in the first few weeks of my internship, it’s that DC is perpetually humid. The commute to work is about 40 minutes, but it isn’t that bad. Each line’s trains run every 8 minutes or so, and the boards are accurate when it comes to tracking them down. Compared to my last internship, I can leave the house a little late and still make it on time to work. Since most people commute into DC, I’m usually going the opposite way into Virginia; this makes it easy to find a seat on the ten-minute subway ride. With a book and a bag, I step into the air-conditioned subway car, take an empty seat by the window, making sure I’m not in anyone’s way before I start my morning reads. My headphones are plugged in, the New York Times article I had read on my walk to the subway is X’d out, and I open my book for the interstate subway ride.
My office is located in the suburbs, a few metro stops away from DC. It’s far enough into Virginia where the environment is definitely quieter than the city, but not in the middle of nowhere. I pass by the Pentagon every day, looking at the bustling uniformed officers and suited employees swiping their SmartCards, just as I do every morning. I’ve never been surrounded by so many government employees, but nothing was unexpected. Just as every other intern and morning commuter on these 8 subway cars, I was just looking to get to work.
Yet unlike the employees, I felt a slight sense of wonder; would this job get easier? I was bombarded with information about visas and legal statuses on the first day. There seemed to be a million different forms that people had to file, only to wait a few years before getting a response or decision. Form numbers, fees, and titles flew over my head, but I was surrounded by twenty or so interns (hopefully) all equally lost. The first few days were filled with small talk and confusion; I was thrown into the deep end, but hopefully would learn the ropes and adjust quickly.