Life in the Fast Lane
To be honest, when I first landed at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, I really did not have a clear idea of or much expectation about how my semester in D.C. would unfold--after all, I have never been to America's national capital or seen much of the East Coast at all. But fast forward a month, I think my life in D.C. has unraveled in the luckiest way possible so far--I am absolutely loving my internship at the Wilson Center and got the chance to explore many facets of D.C. through going on food adventures, attending incredible seminars and talks, and exploring museums/being an overzealous tourist in general.
As someone who is thinking about going to graduate school, I wanted to learn more about scholarly research by interning at an academic think tank. And my internship at the Wilson Center is really facilitating my interest so far. I spend my internship days reading cool primary sources such as Chinese newspaper clippings from the 1970s, discussing and exchanging ideas with scholars, and summarizing reading materials. It also feels great to be surrounded by other friendly interns at the Center who have similar interests. Being in a think tank, I've had the chance to attend many seminars and talks on topics ranging from law reform to the Iran Deal to U.S.-Spanish counterteorrism cooperation (featuring the King of Spain!).
Aside from being such a nerd, I have also tried a lot of cool food in D.C., ranging from curry ramen to Georgetown cupcakes to must-eat D.C. burgers to $5 Happy Hour fried calamari.
D.C. also has events for people of different interests, so I never feel bored in this new city. Rather, I feel that there is never enough time for everything. It took my roommate and me an entire day to walk through the American History Museum. Slam poetry and open-mic nights have been great ways to unwind after a busy week.
Looking back, I cannot believe that I've been here for a month. Between explorations, fun, internships, classes and research, time sure passes by quickly around here. But here are some lessons I have learned in D.C. so far:
1) Keep yourself up to date with current affairs and news; even if you do not work directly in politics, it is still good to keep yourself informed for many reasons. After all, many conversations will revolve around politics here, and you don't want to feel out of the loop.
2) Try not to spend your free time lounging around and watching Netflix but instead be active and look for events, festivals, and performances to attend. Sure, it is great to unwind and relax once in a while, but make sure you get a good glimpse of D.C. and all it has to offer before you leave. Also, many of these events will have free food, which is an extra incentive.
3) Be open to meeting new people. It doesn't hurt to make friends in a new city. And if you are into networking, be sure to bring business cards with you. You will never know who you might meet! So don't be shy to introduce yourself and make small talk with the people you meet.
Anyway, that is all from me for now. The Pope and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in town next week. New adventures await!
Til next time,
Lucy Song is a junior at UC Berkeley, studying history and public policy. She is currently interning at the Wilson Center as a Matsui Washington Fellow.