What I Gained in D.C.

What I Gained in D.C.

It's difficult to condense the plethora of experiences and life lessons from my semester in Washington, D.C., but I was asked to write a reflection piece to wrap up the spring, so here it goes.


I came to D.C. believing that I had learned most of what I needed to know prior to graduating college and entering "the real world." How arrogant! My semester in D.C. taught me important lessons about meeting new people, making meaningful connections, self-care, balance and, perhaps most importantly, time-management. I discovered what life is like without a vehicle to take me from place to place, which forced me to use the legs I was born with to *gasp* walk places. I learned the hard way that living in the city is much more expensive than living in a rural village in northwest Ohio, and the real value of cheap frozen dinners.



My internship with Leadership Africa gave me unparalleled experience in the realm of nonprofits and international development. I owe so much of my knowledge and future successes to the people who shaped me throughout this experience. Without the guidance of my supervisor and the late president/CEO of the organization, I wouldn't be who I am today.



For three months, I was immersed in the hyper-political atmosphere of the nation's capital following an extremely contentious presidential election, one which I guarantee I'll tell my children stories about decades to come. I spent lunch breaks rallying in Lafayette Square, and weekends marching alongside fellow activists for causes ranging from science to women's rights. I rode the infamous D.C. Metro to and from work each day, and developed a love for the landmarks and museums that symbolize this country. I made friends with people from all over the nation and the world.


Getting to D.C. was easy. Leaving was the hard part.



Since the end of the semester, I've graduated college and relocated from my home state of Ohio to a suburb of Orlando, Florida. I continue to work part-time with Leadership Africa, and I have plans to regularly travel to D.C. moving forward. With the help of some fantastic individuals, I've achieved all of the goals I set for myself before I came to the District in late January.


My advice for students who are considering a semester in the nation's capital is to just do it. Even if you're from the middle of nowhere with no city-experience, take the risk, go into the unknown. Your future self will thank you!

Read Lydia's previous blog posts

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

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