First week in Washington DC
After a holiday hiatus, we are back for the second semester of year 2 of University!
For those of you that don’t know, I’m studying abroad this semester in Washington DC. Yes, that is my own country. One of my friends called it “studying domestically”. You can read all about my decision to study there and leave London for a few months here!
I’ve now been here a week and though there have been a few moments where I have desperately missed London, I have really been loving DC.
Last Monday, on my 19th birthday, my Dad drove me from Philadelphia to Washington DC. It was really exciting and cute because in going to school in London, so far from home, I never got to do the cliche “college drop off” where we bring all my stuff in the car and one of my parents helps me set everything up. It was really nice that I got to do that now.
Even though I’ve been at Uni for a year and a half now, there were several jokes about how it felt to be going off to college and it did feel a little bit like leaving home again.
My Dad stayed for a night and then I was off on my own. It felt a bit weird to be back in a dorm rather than living in my own apartment or flat, but the room is very open and I was able to put up pictures and postcards to quickly make it my own.
The classes here at GW are so interesting. Because it’s a liberal arts college, which King’s is not, there are so many more classes and more specific classes. I’m getting to take classes on religion, conflict resolution, and specific issues in International Affairs. And I’m taking a fiction writing class for fun, too.
Oh, and it’s called International Affairs here. Not International Relations. I have to catch myself from saying IR and switch it to IA for everyone to know what I mean.
Living in DC has been lots of fun. I’ve already visited the National Botanic Gardens, the Mall, and the Lincoln memorial and I’m excited to see what the rest of the city has to offer. I'm just a ten minute walk from the White House. I’ve done all the touristy things before, but haven’t done them for years.
And I’m excited to do non-touristy things, too. I am living here after all.
The weather has been up and down. My first few days here seemed like spring but yesterday it was freezing rain for half of the Women’s March (I’ll write about that soon, so keep an eye out!). It was terrible and cold and death, but of course worth it.
I have had to get used to seeing blue skies again after London’s charming gray for so long.
Being back in America has also been just a little weird. It feels like I’m in some strange dream. Just hearing American accents around me all the time and the little ways that America is different from Britain makes everything seem strangely off. But it’s a welcome change for a little bit.
The structure here at University is different, too. Not only are the classes topics different, but the aims and assignments are all just a bit unalike to the UK. So far it seems that King’s has a very academic, analytical focus where here is focused a bit more on applying skills and modern affairs.
Both are important, I’m just glad to have both.
I’m already getting the feeling that King’s is a harder school to be at academically but that I’m going to have to do more work at GW. I’m used to having just one or two big (and challenging) essays per semester, but here I already have journal responses and short essays due. It’ll be a bit of a shift.
And being on a campus is crazy!
This is less a UK-US shift and more of a city Uni thing, but I’ve never really lived on campus. Even when I was in King’s accommodation, it was nearly a half an hour walk to class every day.
Here, I can leave ten minutes before my class and get there on time. I can go back to my dorm to make lunch or grab something I forgot in between classes. I’ll see people I know walking across the quad. There’s a quad!
I still prefer Sommerset House, but this is cool, too.
Finding friends has proven surprisingly easy so far. I’ve met a few other British exchange students and we’ve already had a viewing party for the premiere of this season of Love Island, a British reality tv show.
And I went to a basketball game! Now, that was super American. From chants to cheerleaders to a mascot, it had it all and I kind of felt like I was in a movie. It was super indulgent in “American culture” but super cool.
The sad thing is, I’ve mostly made friends with international students. I know I have time, but it will be very ironic if in London, I’m best friends with the American students, and here I’m friends mainly with British students. Fingers crossed some American students start to like me.
I’m still looking for an internship and I’ve started looking for a job because I’d really like to save money while I’m here in DC and my days are kind of empty after the hectic and filled schedule I had last semester.
I’m also looking forward to getting involved with different organizations here on campus. In high school they were called clubs, in Britain they’re called societies, and here, they’re called “orgs”. We’ll see which ones I end up doing stuff with, I always end up falling into the activities I do wherever I go.
And I’m excited to come and visit home a few times while I’m here, which is something that I’ve never gotten to do because I’ve always been an expensive flight away. Now it’s only a short train ride.
I’m glad I’m not here forever because my heart is still with my friends in London. But I am enjoying my time here and I’m looking forward to making the most of it.
Here’s to a great semester here in DC!