In a city full of politicians, entrepreneurs, and average joes, Hanna Lisenbe, that’s me, and my five roommates try to do the impossible, create a guide that will help you survive DC.
If you’re anything like me moving to DC is a major change; I went from 10-hour days in a sheep barn to 10-hour days in an office and the transition was huge. The truth is if you’re coming from any type of Texas background DC is going to be a big change. It’s kinetic yet motionless, historic yet young, passionate yet heartless; DC is full of contradiction and somehow, I still love it.
The adjustment to the Metro was probably one of the hardest jumps I had to make. There’s a lot of freedom in having your own vehicle, being able to leave whenever, wherever, that you lose coming to DC. So, my personal recommendation is that if you have the option, most definitely bring your car. It’s more convenient to have your car if you want to go on a weekend adventure or even just pick up groceries (a very difficult task if you are a metro user). Without a car, the Metro itself is going to become your best friend whether you want it to or not. If it all possible try to make your first trip on the Metro outside of the crowded rush hours, because the people that know what they are doing do not want you in their way. My first few trips included a wrong way train to the airport, leaving my friend behind on accident (learning that Metro doors are NOT like elevator doors in the process), and finally mastering the Golden escalator rule (step to the right or face the wrath of the businessman who missed his train because of you).
Unlike the Metro, the weather has been one constant that has made me feel at home here in DC. Just like College Station, DC has a certain humidity level that can make you sweat off your makeup after a mere five steps out of your front door. Beyond the humidity DC’s weather tends to have the temperament Texas weather as well. One day it’s 95 degrees with 100% humidity and the next day it’s 70 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze; I am sure ice and snow are next in the queue. My point here is to make sure you bring layers, check the weather app before you leave, and always carry an emergency umbrella.
Besides the policy process that I love and came to the city to experience and learn more about, I’ve also grown to love all the fun that the city of DC has to offer. One of the best things about the must-see spots in DC is that they’re almost all free, so for an intern on a budget, like me, it’s perfect. Of course, some tours require $20 here and $15 there, but you can choose to trek on foot, free of charge, up and down the National Mall, to every museum, to Arlington National Cemetery, to the Capitol, and everywhere in between, you can see a huge part of our nation’s history, talk to the locals, and begin to understand what DC is all about. I enjoy the weekends in DC because people lose their masks and put away the diplomacy. Late weekend nights at the Lincoln memorial are a must, not only are the monuments beautiful at night, but they are also less crowded, filled with locals rather than tourists.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I recommend you gain a taste for coffee if you don’t already have one. In DC, coffee is more than just a fuel to keep you going throughout the day, it’s a networking tool. If you get here and you find somebody that has an interesting position or history, even if it’s just someone you want to get to know better, I cannot stress this enough, ask them to coffee. It may only be a 20 to 30-minute conversation, but it can be filled with valuable information and help you develop connections that will serve you in the future. Along the same lines try to stay up to date with current news and policies because like I said this city is, at its foundation, about our government and politics. Whatever you’re doing, being well-informed will just make you that much more marketable.
At the moment I’m surviving in a city, doing what I used to think was only a pipe dream for me. I’m getting the opportunity to work in our nation’s Capital. I am so lucky to be a small part of the big picture that changes lives here in America. It’s not fast, easy, or perfect, by no means (listen to Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” if you don’t believe me), but for the most part it’s filled with people working, not only to make a living, but a difference. Those are the people that I love squeezing onto the crowded Metro with every day. I have an open mind and I’m taking every experience thrown my way. If you get a chance to come to DC, live it up, and try to make a difference in your own way; DC will give you countless opportunities you just have to reach out and take them.
Office of Congressman Kevin Brady
Washington, D.C. | fall 2019