Moving to DC can be very intimidating. Depending on where you’re coming from, it may be a huge change when it comes to city size, tempo, and culture. When I moved I had a few ideas of what it would be like, but I was pretty unsure of what exactly to expect. During my semester, I learned so much about the city, myself, and everything that I had questioned when first entering. The lessons that the city taught me will be valuable in all aspects of life going forward.

Always keep an open mind. 

It is easy to make assumptions about people, jobs, and events before you give them a chance – DON’T! Some of the best people and opportunities take time to get used to, and they often have layers that you need to peel back first. Having an open mind not only makes your experience better, but it also makes you more likable as a person. Being optimistic is a good look, and it’s hard to make the best of the city if you’re closed minded about it.

Your experience is what you make of it.

Some people spend their time in the city with the same people and doing the same the thing, and some people spend their time expanding their scope of friendships and connections. Whichever works for you is fine, but know that you may be missing out on great opportunities and people if you stay inside your comfort zone. This is the perfect place to step out of it!

Take every opportunity that you can to sit down and have coffee with someone.

When I first got to DC, this was repeated by everyone around me over and over again. I thought it would be weird to reach out to people that I didn’t know to sit down and have coffee or even a simple conversation, but it is far from that. Your superiors love to help you, and they also love to see young people taking the initiative to expand their network and learn about different careers. It is definitely the norm to do this, so take the chance! The worst that could happen is that they say no.

Never sit around and wait for opportunities to come to you.

Opportunities are everywhere in this city, but they will rarely get handed to you. Reach out, apply for jobs, go to events on whim. This is how you find out about next steps. It also never hurts to ask for opportunities. Again, the worst that could happen is that you get told no.

Overall, the biggest lesson that I learned from living in DC is to step out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to stick to your routine and stay to yourself, but it benefits you so much more to do things that you normally wouldn’t do.

Karly H