Wow, another week has come and gone just as fast as it got here! While this makes me extremely happy because it means I am just another week closer to being home, it is also a little bittersweet in the fact that I really don't have much time left here in D.C. No doubt I am ready to be back home, but thanks to this city I have grown to become the person I want to be, and I truly believe in my heart of hearts I have transformed into a better person in both a spiritual and personal sense.
This week I wanted to make a fun post for a few reasons! Number 1, I have to have something to laugh at right now because I know come Thursday I will be pretty sad that I missing my first ever Thanksgiving with my family and I hope that writing this post will help to remind me of all the wonderful things I am thankful to have learned while I have been here. Number 2, I want to write these things so that you may all get a small glimpse as to how life has been for me over the past 3 months and just maybe you might be able to learn something about D.C. that you didn't know either!
So, as I mentioned this is just a small little list of a few things that I am thankful to have learned while here in D.C. Some of them are silly and just little petty things, while some are very meaningful and great life lessons that will no doubt stick with me forever.
Here it goes:
1) ALWAYS and I do mean ALWAYS when riding on an escalator, whether it be in the Metro, a store, or work place, stand to the right. Thankfully, I learned this back in March when my mom and I came to visit here, but the story is a little different for some of my friends. They learned real fast that you WILL get run over and shoved out of the way if you try and stand on the left side of the escalator! It sounds like a hilarious thing, but once it happens to you, it is not so funny and actually rather embarrassing! So, you have officially been warned.
2) NEVER try and run onto the metro as the doors are closing! Although in almost all cases the doors open back up, everyone else on the train will be very upset with you for the delay and the train operator will most definitely yell at you to STAND CLEAR OF ALL DOORS!! Haha
3) This one is for all the women: Flats are your best friend! I made the mistake in my first few weeks thinking that I would be okay walking to work in "short heels" .. NOPE!! Still a terrible idea and you will have blisters like crazy from all of the walking. I now have permanent heal scars because of said terrible decisions!
4) Starbucks is God's gift to D.C. You are literally never more than a five to ten minute walk away from one seeing as there are over 90 total inside the district. It has no doubt been a lifesaver for me!!
5) Although I do not always advise this, in most scenarios it is okay to walk across the crosswalk even when the "Don't Walk" signal is up. While I always try and wait until the signal is green (unless there are no cars coming, then I too admit I go ahead and walk), most people just walk across without even looking and if you get in there way they will push you! (As you can tell from lesson 1, people in D.C. don't mess around when trying to get places! They mean business!)
6) If you are planning on visiting the city of D.C. in less than 3 full days, BE PREPARED!! If you are wanting to get in all of the sights and sounds in 1 or 2 days, bring your walking shoes!! I have now made the trek to all the museums, the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Jr. Memorial, the White House and the Jefferson Memorial about 5 times and let me tell you; I think I have walked more on those trips than in the past 3 years of my life!! Long story short, even though it may seem like the National Mall and all of the important things are right next to each other, they really aren't!
7) If you love food and you love being adventurous, D.C. is the place for you!! You can literally experience cuisine from all over the world (except there are hardly any Mexican food places!! It is a definite issue for me!) on any given day here. It is one of the most culturally diversified places not only with its people, but with its choices in food and entertainment as well.
8) If you are a Dr. Pepper or good ol' Sweet Tea addict like I am, prepare to be highly dissapointed! I can count on one hand the number of restaurants that I have been to that actually even have one of these options, and most of the time it is not even the real thing! It is Mr. Pibb and some kind of store bought tea. Needless to say, DP and Sweet Tea will be one of the first indulgences I partake of when I return in two weeks.
9) I don't personally have to deal with this one, but my parents certainly did when they came. If you have rental car, be sure that you know where you are parking and how many hours you are allowed to stay there! The D.C. Parking Police are not your usual "Rent-A-Cops" and they WILL give you a ticket if you even park longer than one minute past your allotted time! Trust me!!
10) There are no buildings here taller than the capital! It is a law within the district that no building may be taller than the capital and can not be any taller than the street that it sits on if you turn it on its side! Not really that interesting to me, but still a fun statistic to throw out there!
Now to a more serious lesson learned:
11) D.C. is a place to meet new people. Never in my life did I think that I would be coming to a place where you can encounter people from all walks of life just by walking around in a place like China Town. I have learned that if you are open and willing to experience everything that a culture has to offer, then you will in turn be rewarded with some great friendships and life lessons to take with you.
12) If you come during a pretty time of year (June-Mid October) the weather and views you get are astounding! Yes the views are really great all year round, but you get to truly experience all of God's wonderful creation when it is nice and warm with some beautiful clouds in the sky. Sometimes when I am missing home, I just walk to the capital or head to China Town and witness the beauty of this city and it all brings me back to the thought that I am simply blessed to be here. Not many people get the chance to experience this wonderful place like I have, and I love taking the time to remember that!
13) Although it is not necessarily something the city has taught me; this experience has taught me the importance of friendship and learning how to truly get along with others even though you may not always see eye to eye. All of you know that before coming here I was blessed to live with my parents and living with three other girls has definitely had its ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I have truly grown so much as a person both spiritually and mentally from my time here and learned so many things about patience, humility, trustworthiness, and compassion in the three short months of this journey.
14) Last but not least, this experience has taught me the importance of family! Being that Thanksgiving is just two days away, it is only fitting that I left the best lesson of all for last. I have learned that there is no way in this world that I would be where I am today in any aspect of my life without my wonderful family. Not just my immediate family (my parents and brothers), but my extended family as well (grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles). I don't think that I will ever be able to thank my family enough for what they mean to me. Coming to D.C. for me was originally based off the intent to build up my resume, but it has become so much more. However, without my family, the "more" would have never happened. You have all been there every step of the way encouraging me through letters, care packages, Facebook messages and phone calls and it has truly made this experience become what it has for me. Without you all I wouldn't have been driven to truly dig into my heart and discover the true passions that I have, and there is no doubt in my mind that my motivation lies solely with all of you. YOU make me want to be a better person and experience every possible thing that I can while I am here, and I know that words are not near enough, but THANK YOU!!
Okay, I think that 14 is enough for right now, and I am sorry if that list bored you! I just thought it would be kind of fun to show you a different sort of perspective of what my time has been like here and the things that I have learned. I sure am missing my wonderful family and friends like crazy right now and wish more than anything that I could be home Thursday to celebrate with everyone. But for now, I will continue to seek out more lessons to learn and stories to tell so that I can bring it all back to the ones who mean the most! As I said earlier, I could not have had this wonderful of an experience without you all and I am so so grateful for that! I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!! And don't forget to save some leftovers for me!!
I appreciate and love you all more than you will ever know!!
At the White House