Expectations vs. Reality of D.C.

Expectations vs. Reality of D.C.

In case you didn’t pick it up from my blog last week…I really love facts and numbers. Although I’m a proud journalism major (and have been since the beginning), my close friends often say I should have majored in an area less open to creativity. For those friends still holding out hope, it’s not too late. According to USA Today, 80 percent of college students nationwide change their major at least once before graduating.

But…enough with the facts for this blog. This week, I want to focus solely on my experience and point out a few expectations I had coming into D.C. and how those expectations compared to reality.

 

The Metro

Expectations: Having ridden the D.C. Metro only once before coming to TWC, I was a bit nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen pictures of people packed like sardines inside the trains and heard the horror stories of changing lines at 8:00 a.m. in Metro Center. The only concept I was certain I knew was to not stand still on the left side of a moving escalator.

Reality: Having lived without a car for the past three years, the Metro has been an absolute blessing. Although the rush hour trains are very busy (see D.C. population statistic from last week), the convenience of being able to get anywhere in D.C. with a SmarTrip card cannot be beat. For $81 a month, I can visit all the memorials, landmarks and sights I want to see. Oh…and it gets me to work, too.

 

 

Living Costs

Expectations: Coming from Birmingham, AL, one of the most affordable cities in the country, I expected the cost of living in D.C. to be substantially more. I consider myself pretty thrifty, so I knew my only major expense other than transportation was going to be food. I was certain of one of two things coming into this semester: either my wallet would be taking some serious damage, or my cooking skills would be drastically improved.

Reality: Although I cannot confirm that my cooking skills have improved, I'd sure like to think so. I’ve been able to save a lot of money by making the majority of meals in the apartment and have taken advantage of the affordable lunch options offered within the Capitol Hill office buildings. A pleasant surprise I found in terms of cost was the amount of free museums on the National Mall. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the vast history and knowledge offered by the museums, you can rest assured that your wallet will be able to enjoy the experience as well.

 

Environment & Opportunities

Expectations: Like I mentioned previously, I truly believe people across the globe view D.C. as the most powerful place on the planet. I didn’t see it any differently. The opportunity to walk in the same steps that presidents and members of congress have for so many years excited me. However, I couldn’t have prepared for the pace of the city and my work environment. And I certainly couldn’t have prepared for the neat opportunities that I would be afforded in my first two weeks.

Reality: Whirlwind. If I’ve talked to you during my time in D.C., that word will definitely look familiar. The non-stop pace, never-ceasing energy and “work mode” mentality has been tough to keep up with. Working on Capitol Hill is undoubtedly a lifetime opportunity, one I could have only dreamed about. In the words of a former Hill intern, “The privileges and benefits that your intern badge will give you in these next 15 weeks…you may never get them again.” However, accompanied by these neat privileges, these last two weeks have required me to be more focused, diligent and hard-working than ever before. I have been challenged more than I could have ever imagined. And overall, in what feels like a blur, I believe these last two weeks have already led me to grow in ways I never expected.

 

 

Living the Dream,
Austin Ferrer

D.C. Fact: George Washington was supposed to be buried in the U.S. Capitol so that his spirit would help lead the government. His will, however, stated that he wanted to be buried at his home in Mount Vernon, VA. A star remains at the center of “The Crypt” in the Capitol where he was supposed to be buried and is considered good luck.


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