Big city, big difference for intern

Caleb Bruynes

In early January, I was offered an internship at the U.S. Senate. I decided it would be a great opportunity to have some new experiences, so I unregistered for my classes and booked a flight to Washington, D.C. I’ve been here for almost a month now and I’d like to share a little bit about my stay so far.


The Loftstel

I was forced to find immediate, and affordable housing. The best I could come up with was “The Loftstel,” which is a house specifically for interns and international students. There are about 30 people living here and between four and eight people per room; it’s basically like the “Real World” except the house is crappy, we’re not allowed to drink alcohol, and only half of us speak English. Obviously, a bunch of broke, sober, 20-somethings struggle to find things to do; I’ve gotten pretty good at “Monopoly.”

Another issue with this living situation is showering. The water is always freezing cold and every morning I have to decide: do I care enough about my hygiene to suffer through eight minutes of agony? Sometimes, the answer is no.


Public Transit

Riding the metro would be pretty awesome if I was the only one who did it. Going to work everyday is like the running of the bulls, without the bulls. Everyone is pushing and shoving while trying to get to the same place. When, and if, I ever find a place to sit, I somehow always get stuck sitting next to someone who is blaring bad techno music on his or her iPod. What’s the point of wearing headphones if you play it loud enough for everyone to hear anyway?

Escalator Etiquette

In Brookings, escalators are not all that common. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to understand that there is a very specific way to use them. Now, call me crazy, but I always thought escalators were invented to avoid walking up the stairs. As a lazy person, I love this idea. But apparently, they were invented so we can get up the stairs FASTER. Everyone in D.C. runs up and down them. For the first couple of days I just stood there and people ran past me in disgust.


Paying to use the bathroom

In D.C., fast food restaurants think it’s OK to charge for their bathroom services. Yes, I’m serious. I never thought I would have to pay to do something like that. It feels as though I’m being encouraged to crap my pants. I went to Wendy’s the other day specifically to use the bathroom on my way to the train and I couldn’t because I didn’t have any change. Maybe If I just go on their floor a couple times they will reconsider charging me. They’re asking for it.

Everyone is better at swearing

I consider myself a swearing connoisseur, but in D.C. I’m just small fish in a big pond of swearing beluga wales. These people are geniuses at expressing themselves in an angry or negative way.  I’m truly jealous; but I’m taking every chance I get to learn their ways and take the Midwest by storm upon my return in May. Look out, Brookings.


Don’t be scared

Adapting to these changes will take time, but I’m confident that I will be able to do it and leave with a memorable experience. I think I will be very happy that I did it and I would encourage anyone from SDSU to take chances to experience something new. A different, bigger city can be intimidating, but if you take on the challenge with confidence and fortitude you will see that the big city is more afraid of us Midwest kids than we are of it.