An Insider Look into our Nation’s Capital

Katie Moore is a Junior at Taylor University currently participating in a study/internship experience in Washington DC for the semester.  Here are some of her thoughts:

This semester has been nothing like I expected; well, I guess thats not really true. I wasn’t sure what to expect when coming out here, I just figured I would figure it all out when I got here. I live with four other girls in a two-bedroom, fourth floor walk up apartment about 8 blocks from the Capitol. Three of them are in the Washington Journalism Center program, the other BestSemester program housed in DC which, like the name implies, focuses on journalism. My actual roommate and I are in the American Studies Program. I was a little worried coming to DC about my roommates; the program didn’t send us any information about who we would be living with until the night before we moved in, so I had no idea if we would get along, if I was going to be living with crazies, or really what to expect. I couldn’t have asked for better roommates. They’re all wonderful girls and we get along really well, and when I look at the other two girl apartments I definitely think that I have the best apartment (they’re all great though, don’t get me wrong…I just really love my roomies!)

The majority of the semester we spent studying energy policy, something that I’m really not that interested in, but is increadibly relevant to today. We had to pick a topic within energy policy to write our semester paper on; mine was looking at whether domestic drilling or alternative energies are a better response to our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. A majority of our class sessions were spent meeting with people all over the city from many different organizations, from the Heritage Foundation to the Center for American Progress to the Department of Energy to staffers on the Hill, discussing their views on different energy policies and relating those back to our individual paper topics. I now know more about energy policy than I ever need to or want to.

In addition to these briefings and classes, we did part time internships. The students in ASP have internships all over the District with a wide range of organizations; some work on the Hill in Representative’s offices, some work for ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), one girl has an internship with a PR firm. Mine was spent working for the US Department of State, Foreign Service Institute (FSI). I worked in the Orientation Division at FSI (the State Department loves acronyms, and many times they have one acronym that means different things depending on the context), assisting with incoming Foreign Service Generalist, Foreign Service Specialist, and Civil Service Officer orientation classes. My office was amazing; everyone was really friendly and fun, and I learned so much while working there. I had the opportunity to sit in on the class sessions, so I was able to learn a lot more about what it means to be a Foreign Service Officer (FSO) and what that job looks like, as well as some of the problems or just other things one might encounter while working as an FSO. Its been so great working here; I have learned a ton and am very sad to see my internship come to an end.

It’s hard to put into words the change that has occured in me over this semester. Having this internship has definitely made me grow up a lot – I’ve gotten a taste of what life could be like after graduation, and to be honest it scares me a little. I’m not ready to grow up and have all of this responsibility….but don’t get me wrong, its been great and I’ve loved every minute of it. Living in this city has had its share of surprises as well. To some extent its the Washington you see in the movies, the seat of the Federal Government, one of the most influential cities in the world, dominated by power and politics. But there’s so much more to it than just power and networking, there are so many different subcultures that color the many different neighborhoods and areas of the city. It has its own unique set of unspoken rules and standards, something that you don’t realize until you leave your tourist shoes at home.