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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Urban dreaming: A semester abroad in Washington, D.C.

Carleigh Beck
Staff writer Carleigh Beck visits the U.S. Capitol during her semester in Washington D.C.

Reality struck me when I turned my head to see the U.S. Capitol just a few blocks down the road.

This is it. This is what I waited for, what I worked toward. I was finally in the QU in D.C. internship program that I had been eyeing since admitted students day, more than two years ago.

I gripped the hands of strangers, who would later become my roommates, as we took in the view of one of the most iconic buildings in Washington, D.C. Not because we were awe-struck, but rather we were sliding on the ice-ridden sidewalks on our way to find Walmart.

The mid-January cold wind nipped at my face, a familiar feeling that reminded me of Quinnipiac University. However, that’s where the similarities ended between Washington and my mid-sized New England school. I was not at Quinnipiac anymore. I would start to miss aspects of the suburbs that the city didn’t offer as I continued with my time here.

I’ll give credit where credit is due: Sleeping Giant State Park is a pretty impressive view to see when walking from class to class. But now that I’ve lived more than two months in this city, I still keep an eye out to catch a glimpse of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial on my commute to and from work.

I was here to, of course, explore the city. But the heart of QU in D.C. is to get hands-on internship experience. I work in health communications as a social media intern. These were opportunities that I never had before.

Having grown up in the white-picket fence neighborhoods of my Pennsylvania town, I am used to my quiet walks around my neighborhood and 15-minute drives to grocery stores. Even at Quinnipiac, I’m used to hearing the quiet murmuring of students and the shuffling of shoes to Café Q. I wanted a change from these mundane routines.

Nowadays, I find convenience in walking five minutes to the nearest Giant supermarket, a familiar chain from home. But I’ll admit, I’ve become a victim of the Trader Joe’s bandwagon, a chain not close to my hometown or Quinnipiac. And let me just say, the tomato burrata ravioli is life-changing.

The quiet walks around my neighborhood and campus have been replaced with the angry honks of drivers and the deafening sound of sirens. Though I’ve tuned out most of these noises after being here for two months, it’s safe to say I will not miss that when I leave in two weeks. I’ve come to appreciate quietness because of my time here.

One aspect of Washington I will miss is all of the activities and places the city has to offer. A complaint that many Quinnipiac students, including myself, bring up is the fact that there is nothing to do off campus — a pretty common complaint in my hometown too.

In Washington, I can walk or take the Metro to dozens of monuments, restaurants or any of the museums (most of which are free) with ease. Not only that, but I got to go to an MLB game and my first NBA game. When I’m at home or on campus, I have to drive at least an hour to see major league sports games. But in Washington, I can walk to them if I want to.

Beck steps by the Washington Monument when she’s not working at her internship. (Carleigh Beck)

Though yes, I’m not thousands of miles away like most “study abroad” students are, adjusting to a city as someone who has never lived in a city was difficult. I still had to get acclimated to a new lifestyle, new people and a new routine.

It felt like I was starting college again. That out-of-body experience when my parents left washed over me when we parted ways.

Though the city is great and I’m thankful for the experience I’ve had here, Washington has made me learn to appreciate some of the aspects of suburban life that myself and many others would look down on.

Sure, this city has many Michelin-star restaurants, but Funcle’s Cafe and Fresh Greens and Proteins will always have a place in my heart.

During my time in D.C., I’ve gained a sense of independence and self-fulfillment. With no meal plan and no dining hall, I’ve had to learn how to cook while making sure I’m not spending an astronomical amount of money. I figured out the Metro system and how to navigate the city with only the help of my iPhone and occasionally my roommates.

These all might seem like such simple tasks, but they’re a big deal to figure out for the first time.

So as I sit here, looking out at my apartment window into the glittering Washington skyline, I can’t help but think of how I was truly able to get the best of both worlds during my college years: a bustling city and a quaint suburban college town. 

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Carleigh Beck
Carleigh Beck, Associate News Editor

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