Four Things to Know about D.C.

Posted on Sunday, May 06, 2018

When I applied to PPIP last fall, I applied on a whim, not knowing a ton about the program, not knowing a ton about D.C., and not knowing what the next four months would hold for me. While I would say that my experience in D.C. has been good overall, I think it could have been better had I been more mentally prepared for what was to come.

            I hope that by the end of this, you will have a few things to take away with you to consider as you consider applying to PPIP or ANRP. Whether you are a faculty member reading this to read about a student’s experience, an undergraduate student considering applying yourself, or just learning more about the programs that A&M has to offer its students, I hope you will have a little bit of insight as to what living in D.C. is like for an Aggie.
  1. The weather in the spring is absolutely horrible. Starting in January, the lows reach about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and the highs might hit 30 on a good day. Then, moving into February, the weather increases slightly, but not by much. It’s consistently 20-35 during the heat of the day, and the wind chill is so bad, you may end up crying on your way to work. Then, throughout March, people tell you to “keep your chin up” because the sunny, warm spring days are coming… But they are so wrong. The weather in March teases you for the spring, but random snow days may occur. Being a Texan, though, the snow days are fun, because it’s a stark contrast from our usual Texas spring days. All in all, the weather was the number one thing that I did not enjoy about living in D.C.
  2. Southern hospitality is not a thing, even in Northern Virginia. People who were born and raised in Virginia, who you may meet in random encounters walking to the metro, going out to eat, finding a nice open mic night in the area, etc., will often tell you that Virginia is the south. However, I need to tell you that these people are wrong. I don’t care what side of the war they were on and I don’t care what anybody says. They don’t have sweet tea at half of the restaurants in the area, Shiner doesn’t exist in D.C. outside of Hard Times CafĂ© (the BEST restaurant in the whole area, definitely go on Tuesdays from 9-11 pm), and people will death glare you at any corner you turn. Virginia is not the south, end of story.
  3. The cherry blossoms are actually the prettiest flowers you will ever see. The cherry blossoms will start blooming around mid-March to April, and they are pink little blossoms of sunshine and happiness that bloom in D.C. for just the spring season. They are what you will look forward to during the coldest days, during the darkest days, during the windiest days, and during all of the snow days. Take advantage of those flowers and go take as many photos as you can. Even if the weather app says that it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is shining: Get outside and go see these beauties while you can, because they don’t last long.
  4. It’s OK to be broke in D.C.! There are so many free things to do here! Some days, you will check your bank account and see a balance of $7.43 and not know what to do, because paying for things in D.C., you can’t afford even a cheap lunch. BUT: D.C. has a plethora of free things that you can do, any day of the week! The Smithsonian Museums are free and open until 5:30 pm most days of the week. The Air and Space Museum was my personal favorite. The Bible Museum is also a must-see. As a historical museum, it remains unbiased and serves as a historical museum for the Christian faith. The monuments never get old either, so if you ever have a free Saturday and want to go walking with your friends or roommates, the National Mall is always a nice go-to. Apart from D.C., there are a few towns that you should explore. Alexandria, Virginia is home to the prettiest section of the Waterfront, and on a day in the spring or the summer, when the weather is above 60 degrees and sunny, you need to go spend an afternoon there.
These are the four points I will leave you with about your time in D.C. Like I said, I have had an overall, pleasant experience in D.C.., however, I had a rough time when I first got here. I didn’t feel connected, I felt like I was forcing myself in hard situations. I really wanted nothing more than to get on a plane and go back to Texas. But, as a musician, when I found a few open mic nights in Alexandria, my entire experience started to change. I made a few great friends through these open mic nights, and now that I’m 19 (AY AY AY WHOOP) days from leaving, I am sad to be so close to saying goodbye to some of the greatest friends I’ve met here. I have really enjoyed my time in Alexandria, at the open mic nights, at the restaurants, at the Waterfront, and just with my new friends.

      I hope this gives you some insight as to what it is like for an Aggie living in D.C. I strongly encourage all of you who are considering applying to go ahead and do it. You could be like me, and apply on a whim, and then find yourself living in D.C. for four months, making friends and making memories that will last you a lifetime.

Kayla French
Mexican Embassy
Washington, D.C. | spring 2018