I’ve been home for about a week now and after hectically running around town to do all my Christmas shopping I finally have a moment to reflect on my time in Washington, DC.
While it is wonderful to be back in Arkansas with familiar friends, a slower lifestyle and easy access to the outdoors, I’m missing the finer points of DC quite a bit. In DC I could go watch people like Hans Rosling or Jerome Glenn talk almost daily, and TED events were held only minutes from me. Now those things are only available online, and while Hans Rosling is still great in a 20 minute format his hour-and-a-half talks are much more interesting and eye opening.
I also miss the sheer diversity of backgrounds and cultures. In DC my program of 25 students was represented by Brazil, Vietnam, South Africa, Botswana, India and people from all over the United States. Were lucky here in Fayetteville to have a better sense of diversity than say, southern Arkansas, but it is still nothing compared to what I experienced in DC. At my internship site alone over 20 languages were spoken!
But again, there are so many opportunities here in Arkansas that I am glad to be within reach of again, and to be really honest the best parts of DC came back here with me. DC helped me to realize how many people are out there trying to make a difference for others and how many opportunities I have to work in non-profit. I definitely would not have traded my time in DC for anything.
If anyone is interested in interning in Washington DC, I would definitely say go for it. It really is an amazing city with a lot to do and a lot to see. I do have a couple pieces of advice for you though. Firstly, grab hold of every opportunity you get in DC. Oftentimes I didn’t go out with friends or go to events because I was too tired or overworked. Now that I am back to more relaxing I realized I could have suffered a few more hours and not missed as many chances at new and surprising things. Secondly, be safe. Too many people got mugged or got themselves into dangerous situations in DC simply because they were not thinking beforehand. Finally, fight for exactly what you want. If you go to DC with an assertive attitude in the first place, getting exactly the internship placement and program placement you wanted all along, that attitude will carry over and help you throughout the semester. I unfortunately didn’t pick up that attitude until a few weeks in, therefore missing out on some great opportunities.
My other piece of advice is for anyone our age. Get out there and take hold of the opportunities you have with your time at the UofA. There is no reason why you can’t travel abroad or intern in another city for a semester. The Honors College along with other groups and committees within the UofA will be more than glad to support you monetarily and credit-wise for your endeavors. Do it now, because once you have kids or a full time job you wont have the opportunity anymore. Life only gets busier from here on out, that is definitely something I saw in any professional I met in DC.