The City of My Dreams

The City of My Dreams

Although I had always wanted to end up working in Washington D.C., I never thought it would be so soon. The whole transition happened so fast over the last month, it didn't even feel real. I got matched to an internship, packed a suitcase full of essentials, and the next thing I know, I’m living in the city of my dreams.

When I stepped out onto the tarmac of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport two weeks ago, I truly felt like Olivia Pope, ready to handle all of Washington's problems in my crisp new suit. I wanted to see every museum, meet every politician, and go to every networking event.

But as I've started settling into my new life in D.C., I've realized that I definitely forgot to factor in sleep (and several other needs…) when I was imagining my summer here. In the first few days, I signed up for almost every sightseeing opportunity and bonding activity possible. I was eager to find out where others were interning, where they were from, and what their hopes and dreams were. I was finally in the city I wanted to be in since I was a kid, so of course I had to do everything at once! Right?

Not quite. I quickly realized I couldn’t stay up socializing every night or attend back-to-back networking events every afternoon while only eating snacks sporadically to stay energized. So here are some quick tips from an intern who fell into the trap of being way too excited:

 

1. Go back to the museums - they’re not going anywhereIf there’s one thing I’ve learned about D.C. in the past two weeks, it’s that the museums are ENORMOUS. Don’t even try powering through “a few museums” in a day - it’s just not possible. My first experience with an actual museum was at the Newseum and despite spending three hours there, I only got through the first few floors (I returned the next day).

 

The next week, I visited the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the same thing happened - we spent hours in just two galleries! After these experiences, I've come to accept that I don't have to see every museum all at once. It’s okay to take your time and spread out the sightseeing. I keep forgetting I’m here for a whole two months, I have time!


National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian American Art Museum

 

2. You probably won't meet your idol in the first week - but that’s okay!Honestly, I half expected to see Bernie Sanders as soon as I landed at the airport. Unfortunately, the real D.C. isn't like the TV shows where you run into politicians while strolling down Pennsylvania Ave. The real D.C. is more about food trucks, packed Metro rides, and midnight strolls by the National Mall.

 

Although the political science nerd in me wants to camp outside the Obamas’ home just to get a few words with them, I’ve come to accept that probably isn’t the best idea. Networking takes time. So enjoy yourself and don’t worry too much about missing opportunities to meet people. Use the resources around you at The Washington Center and sign-up for events - it’ll pay off at some point!

 

Washington Monument at night

 

3. Take some “me time” - FaceTime your best friend!I didn’t realize how much I actually missed home until I spent three hours on FaceTime with my best friend, laugh-crying about our lives. I shared my experience in D.C. so far while she filled me in on the life I’ve left behind for the next two months.

 

Even though I’ve been having the time of my life during the “honeymoon” stage of my internship, I’ve found that sometimes it’s okay (and honestly essential) to let everyone go out while you stay in and catch up with pals back home.

 

Navneet & Rhiannon


The first little bit of my time in D.C. has been unbelievable, but I constantly need to remind myself to slow down and focus on personal growth as well as tourist-y things. I have the whole summer to take in the sights and culture - I just have to keep that in mind the next time I try to pack my schedule with too many events.

 

Read Navneet's previous blog posts

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