I’m looking back on my first two weeks in D.C. and it has been a whirlwind!
Trading in the relative quiet of Upstate New York for the hustle and bustle of DC was nothing less than a culture shock. But, I got through it with some luck and a lot of planning.
Unlike a lot of college students, I came to The Washington Center after living at home for four years while attending college. While my bank account is eternally grateful, I missed out on some of the classic college experiences… most of all, living on my own!
If you find yourself in a similar situation it can be extremely nerve wracking, and sooner or later you’re going to have to leave home. But at least The Washington Center has a support staff to help you ease into it!
Before I arrived, I anticipated that I might feel a little homesick. So, to try and alleviate some of the sadness I would feel, I brought some of my favorite things from home: photos, blankets, mugs and some good ol’ Utica Roasting coffee. There’s nothing like a cup of cannoli coffee from from your hometown coffee shop to brighten your day, even just a little bit!
While my life has done a complete 180 in such a short amount of time, I’ve found that keeping to my schedules, routines and practices from home have helped to keep me sane. If you want my advice (and since this is my blog, you don’t have much of a choice) try to keep your new routine as similar to your old routine as possible. Now isn’t the time to try out showering in the morning if you always showered at night. It’s probably not the best idea to start making gourmet breakfasts if you’re used to scarfing down a bowl of cereal.
Your routine worked for you at home. Chances are, it’ll work here, too! You have so many new things to get used to. Don’t make your morning routine one of them!
Don’t put more pressure on yourself than you need to. I’ve found that making sure my lunch is ready, my bag is packed, my coffee cup is on the counter, and my clothes are picked out has taken years off of my life.
Commuting to a job via public transit was also something that was completely outside of my comfort zone. At home I was used to just getting into my car and driving to work in under 10 minutes. That’s why I felt no shame in practicing my commute ahead of time. In fact, you should as well. Before I started my internship, I did a dry run. I started from the RAF and went all the way to my office. Even though I still got lost on my first day, luckily I had left early enough that I was able to reorient myself, do some Google Map searches, and still arrive five minutes early!
On my first day, I used the WMATA website to map out how long it would take me to get to my office on Capitol Hill. I decided to leave an hour before I was supposed to be at work. Now that I have a better understanding of how often Metro trains come and how to navigate the different lines (to work at least), I’ve found that I have to leave my apartment about 45 minutes early to make it to work with five minutes to spare.
Also, word of advice: If you think you’re going to wake up early the next day to finish your homework, make your lunch, shower, etc. the truth is YOU WON’T. You know you won’t. I know you won’t. Again, plan ahead and make sure you budget your time wisely.
But, the biggest transition of all has been moving to a place where there’s always a million places to go, a million things to do and a million things to see. So far, I’ve gone to the White House and a Puppy Bowl. What’s next? Who knows!