In some ways, living in Washington D.C. has been how I expected. Before I came, everyone tried to warn me about how humid and rainy D.C. can be during the summer, and they weren’t kidding! I made the mistake of leaving my umbrella at home on a few sunny mornings, only to be caught in a downpour on my way to a meeting in the afternoon. I imagined myself visiting lots of museums while in D.C. and I made a significant dent in my mental list of museums I wanted to go to. Museums are an especially attractive option when you’re an unpaid intern, because almost all of them are free in Washington. Along the same lines, I expected living in D.C. to be expensive. I applied for scholarships for housing and I saved up my money for extra expenses. I tried to find as many free/inexpensive activities as possible, but everyday necessities like food were definitely where I had the most trouble with being frugal.
In other ways, though, living in D.C. was surprising. I didn’t expect to get so close to the other interns I was living with. I had the great opportunity to live with 15 other University of Michigan interns through the PSIP program, and although the unit we lived in could feel crowded sometimes, I wouldn’t have wanted to live any other way. We all had different kinds of internships around D.C. and each night I would come home and get to hear about what my roommates were doing on the Hill, or at a think tank, or at a nonprofit. It wasn’t all work talk though; we also brunched together (on a budget), walked to Georgetown, and museum-hopped. Even though I didn’t know any of my roommates before coming to D.C., I instantly had a tight-knit community of friends who all had one thing in common: being proud Michigan students. It was especially comforting while getting used to life in a new city.
Despite the unpredictable weather and expensive lifestyle, I think I could see myself living in D.C. one day. It’s a lively city with lots of young people in their 20s and 30s just starting out their careers. People say it can be competitive, which I observed to be true, but competitiveness is important because it motivates everyone to be the best they can be.