#3 – The first couple of days
September 13, 2014
It has almost been a week since I started to live in DC. It’s time for a new blog now. I must say that it feels like I’ve been here for months. Isn’t that crazy? Also I feel like I felt very much at home really fast. My housemates at the International Student House are all very social. Meeting each other for every meal in the dining room has become a tradition of ours where we get to know people from all over the world. Everybody shares both funny and interesting conversations.
My first day at my internship was hilarious. When I had free time the day before, I went to investigate the location of the Dutch embassy, so that I would not be late the next day. Once I saw the building with the Dutch flag, I felt relieved knowing that I found the embassy … Well guess what. The next day I came to that exact spot cheerfully ringing the doorbell, only to be greeted by an employee of the building opening the door and saying “this is the residence of the ambassador and NOT the embassy.” Nice. Good way to start the internship I told myself. Eventually I called a taxi and I arrived half an hour late, but I did not panic, because interns at their first days at the embassy were characterized as being late or getting lost since it was in the middle of nowhere.
The first day was quite interesting. A year ago, a Dutch man drove under the influence and killed someone. The American judge sentenced the man to 25 years without bail. However, according to Dutch Standards, the sentence was too grave, so the embassy tried to mediate the decision of the court. Since I am analyzing the logistic process of visas and passports, it is funny to see the other side of the Immigration office where I used to work for two years.
Meanwhile, I have met about 10 to 12 other trainees following the internship at the Dutch embassy. We went to the Capitol and the Library of Congress yesterday. It’s normal in DC to see squirrels and deer, like in India where you see monkeys running around. There’s plenty to do with free museums, swimming pools, and a zoo nearby. The buildings are beautiful, and I will be sure to post some pictures!
I feel very comfortable at the International Student House, where I sit for a cozy chat or make plans for the weekend after dinner with all the housemates. I have listened to my heart and have taken this step, because this is an experience I will never forget.
#4 – Feeling like home
September 16, 2014
The first week is over, but it already feels like I’ve lived here for four months or longer. The roads to work and the surrounding environment are now well-known. The new family created at home with my friends from the International Student House, and my friendly work colleagues, have made my experience truly fulfilling in Washington D.C. I am so luckily that everything is going well so far.
Last Saturday I went to the Newseum with a few friends. I definitely recommend the Newseum for those who want to come to Washington DC. This is one of the few museums where you have to pay. The museum has all the important news reports that have been printed from 1800 that are exhibited to the public including old newspapers to 9/11.
On Sunday, we went to a town near Washington DC – Annapolis – also known for its NAVY academy, which is almost comparable to the army in the Netherlands. Before I participated in the tour, we watched a short introduction movie for 15 minutes. For me, it was actually more of a commercial for the NAVY than an introduction. I think it’s something special to see how proud Americans are, but also something else entirely. Before I left the Netherlands, I was complaining about the media and the fact that some of these communities have been brought in a bad light because of the media. While I was complaining, I realized how I was doing exactly the same. Because I had preconceptions about Americans before I came here, and because of the media in which they often emerge as soldiers in war came across as fake for the public, especially on shows like Oprah or Ellen Degeneres. But there was one thing I forgot. You have media, and you have reality. Americans in my experience have been very helpful, friendly and easy going. Obviously I cannot group all of them into that box, but I think the contrary has been proven, and I’m really surprised. The tour at the NAVY was very nice. They have a great location in the academy with several rooms including a pool, sports court, a boxing hall, a ballroom, etc. The pictures I have posted really can’t say enough.
The town itself reminded me of Scheveningen (in Holland) with its sea and small boats on the port. I hope next time will feel like now!
I have entered a stage that I do not rely on using Dutch as I translate English. Sometimes, this makes me come up with very strange sentences. Besides English, I am also improving my German language skills by speaking German with Carla, who wants to learn Dutch. We talk in Dutch together!. I also would like to learn French as I follow with the housemates from France or knowing French.
From Washington DC, I want to thank everyone for all your good wishes, for indeed, today is my birthday. September, 17 2014 – A day I will never forget. Becoming 24 abroad, away from home, but everyone in my heart.