If you’re anything like me, moving across the country to a place you’ve visited once briefly can be overwhelming. And while I didn’t grow up in the smallest town, Waco, TX, has nothing on Washington, D.C. I planned and packed meticulously so I could be ready for anything D.C. could’ve thrown at me. Still, one thing I didn’t expect or plan for was to fall in love with this city the second I landed. Now that I’ve gotten into my new groove of life in D.C. I’m sharing some of the expected and unexpected lessons I’ve learned!
1. Public Transportation, aka the Metro
If you’re anything like me, the thought of navigating the metro was a daunting but necessary task. I’m here to tell you the metro is actually very simple and easy to navigate! After you ride it twice, you’ll be good to go where you please on it. The metro has several online apps and interactive maps that show you where the trains are and give estimated arrival times so you can plan ahead and not sit in the station for 15+ minutes. As silly as it might sound, nothing makes you feel more like a local than being able to ride the metro!
2. Your roommates will be your lifeline.
One thing that appealed to me about TAMU was that I didn’t have to stay in a dorm room my first year. So, living with 6 other girls in one apartment was something I wasn’t sure I’d like, but my roommates became my best friends and lifeline very quickly. Not only are they going through the same adjustment as you, but they are also there for the same reasons as you, so it brings a level of comfort and home I didn’t expect. We go on new adventures, try new things, and grow and learn from each other in a way that you can only get through a program like this.
3. You’re going to make mistakes; EMBRACE THEM!
I’m a perfectionist at heart; it, in my opinion, can be a fatal flaw. The truth is you will make more mistakes than you’ll like to admit, but not every mistake will feel like a mistake. My best advice is to use your mistakes as learning opportunities! So, don’t beat yourself up over making mistakes but embrace the lessons that come from them. One of the biggest aspects of this internship that I didn’t expect was just how much I would grow personally, and making mistakes is one of the best ways to grow and get better!
4. Southern Hospitality in D.C.??
Undoubtedly, the biggest shock moving up here for me was the cultural shock. There is no denying D.C. is nothing like College Station, TX. Anytime I told someone about moving up here, I got the same advice, “watch out for people; you better have tough skin; people aren’t nice up there like they are here.” However, I’m happy to report that most people here are so nice and genuinely want to help you. While there are the occasional rude people you will encounter, the good interactions far outweigh the bad ones.
5. Expect the unexpected
This town is full of surprises, some good and some less good. From being stranded in the middle of D.C. because the metro unexpectedly had to shut down to randomly seeing your mom’s childhood best friend walking down the street (I mean, what are the chances?!), you never know what will happen on any given day. So the best advice I can give is to start each day with an open mind and embrace whatever the day throws at you!
(One thing I expected but wasn’t prepared for was the amount and the severity of the blisters you will inevitably get. So bring TONS of Band-Aids and comfy shoes to wear on the way to work!)
6. This is your chance to be whoever you want!
One of my favorite aspects of living in a new city where you, quite frankly, don’t know a soul is that you can be whoever you want! There is a sense of freedom and endless possibility that comes with living somewhere like D.C. that I’ve fallen in love with. This is an opportunity to try new things and explore a new city, new interests, and grow as a person!
Office of Congressman Michael Cloud
Fall 2022 | Washington, D.C