Moving to any new place is bound to have a learning curve as you try to figure out how to get accustomed to your surroundings. Here are some things I wish I had known before I arrived in D.C. for my semester as an intern with The Washington Center. Hopefully these tips will help you too!
Always Carry An Umbrella With You Wherever You Go.
This might sound obvious for most people here, but it’s less evident than you think. D.C. weather has a tendency to change A LOT. You should carry an umbrella with you even when it’s sunny outside. No seriously, always carry one. When traveling out in the city it’s not always easy to find somewhere to stay dry and most of the time you won’t be close enough to the RAF to run back home and grab one. Plus, if you take the metro or bus, it’ll cost you money to go back home and get one if the weather changes. You might think it would be easier to just buy an umbrella every time it happens to rain while you’re out exploring, but that could cost you a solid $15 for one small umbrella each time, so don’t risk it.
Meeting With Your Co-workers? How About Happy Hour Instead?
Happy hour is a pretty big deal in D.C. This is especially true for people in the workforce. As an intern or employee, it’s super common to get asked to go to happy hour after work to relax and chat over a couple of drinks.If you’re over 21, it’s a great way to bond with your boss and coworkers in a less formal setting. If this happens to you, don’t be uncomfortable or shy…it’s totally normal!
Wear Comfortable Shoes On Your Commute To Work And Bring Nice Shoes To Change Into When You Get There.
Most people in D.C. ride the metro to work and usually that involves a good bit of walking from station to station as well as to your destination. If you wear your nice shoes (e.g., heels for ladies or dress shoes for guys) to work, you will definitely wear them out faster and you’ll probably get a crap ton of blisters, which makes walking around the city even more grueling. Spare yourself the hassle and just wear some comfy shoes on your way to and from work and pack your pretty shoes to put on when you get there. Everyone else does it so trust me, you won’t look out of place or off trend.
If You’re Touring Museums Leave The Pepper Spray At Home.
Many women, especially college-aged women, equip their purses with pepper spray to fend off the creeps of the world. However, if you’re going to tour a museum, it’s probably best to leave your pepper spray at home because certain museums do not allow such items inside. Pepper spray is actually considered a weapon and is categorized as being as dangerous as guns or knives. I did not realize this when I went to the Capitol Visitor Center the day John McCain was lying in state. I’m not entirely sure which places do or do not allow pepper spray. I would suggest leaving it at home just to be safe. After all, it would be a shame to pay metro fare to travel to a museum you’ve been anxious to see only to find out you have to throw away your pepper spray once you get there.
Get Lost Often? There’s An App For That.
I am that one person who is always getting hopelessly lost everywhere I go. I was so nervous about using the metro system when I moved to D.C. because I didn’t understand how it worked or how to use it. When I got to D.C., I found out that there are several apps you can download to help you route out your destination and figure out which buses, metro lines, or other forms of public transportation you’ll need to use during your travel. Transit and WMATA are my favorites and the ones that I found to be most reliable so far.
Learning from someone else’s mistakes is the best way to avoid missteps of your own and make your experiences more robust and enjoyable. Figuring out how to navigate life in D.C. during my first weeks definitely proved to be beneficial in making my transition smoother. To minimize frustrations and maximize smiles, be sure to follow these tips as you spend your TWC semester exploring the city looking like you’ve been here for years!