I spent the month of January in Washington, D.C. Not Spain or Chile or Tanzania. Washington D.C.
On paper, my winter session trip selection seems rather lame. I didn’t perfect a foreign language or add any new vaccines to my medical record. I didn’t visit sacred tribal lands or ancient temples. I was literally 90 minutes from campus.
In reality however, D.C. was awesome. Just. Awesome. After spending nearly a month in such a metropolis, I have come to the conclusion that our nation’s capital is entirely underrated and to remedy this situation, I have composed a list.
- Free stuff. All of the Smithsonian museums (the Air and Space Museum, the American History Museum, the Portrait Gallery, the ever-exciting Postal Museum) are free. So is the National Zoo. So are all of the monuments. Essentially, it’s a poor college student’s paradise. You can spend all day at a mall without ever extracting your wallet.
- Senate and House hearings. If you are willing to have your bag scanned and enter through a metal detector, you can go to any open hearing in the Senate or the House. I know- it’s nerdy, but if you like politics or want to be able to say something like “Yes, John McCain looks quite old in real life,” then you really should attend. Hearing schedules are available online and based on my personal experience, anything that involves global warming is sure to be highly entertaining.
- Food. My time in D.C. was characterized by a great deal of food-oriented gluttony. I regret nothing. In Georgetown, the desserts are on point. We hit Baked and Wired for punny and mouthwatering brownies and cupcakes; Pie Sisters for pie (obviously); and Olivia Macaroon for you guessed it, macaroons. 8th Street, near the Eastern Market metro stop, is a haven for new-American cuisine, bakeries, and international delights like Thai and Cuban food. And anyone who knows anything eats at Good Stuff Eatery, home of the greatest cholesterol-raising gourmet burgers, milkshakes, and French fries. My one universal piece of advice for eating is to do it with friends. That way, you can share (take food off their plates) in order to sample everything a certain restaurant is known for.
- Bag taxes. When I realized that this was a thing in the District of Columbia, my hippie heart rejoiced. D.C. charges you $0.05 for every plastic bag you use when you buy groceries, nail polish remover, clothing, anything with a price tag, encouraging citizens to utilize reusable bags for all of their shopping excursions. In my personal opinion, it’s a brilliant source of revenue.
- Young people. Not to dismiss my elders, but D.C. is home to a plethora of young folks from every area of the country. Jobs on “The Hill” are high stress and high energy, meaning that if you aren’t an actual Senator or Representative, you are likely to be under the age of 35. If you can hide any socially awkward tendencies for at least the first two hours after an introduction, you might make a friend.