By Nathan Erickson
Have you ever spent time in a new place and had more memories or emotions running through your mind than you knew what to do with? Maybe a keen observation that you are just sure no one else has ever noticed (Okay, everyone probably has, but it’s fun to share anyway) and transformed from thought to speech? Or maybe even a moment so insignificant to all the rest, yet you just can’t seem to get it out of your head?
Well all of us here with Drake in D.C. have been doing just that, and I’ve made a list of some musings, moments, and memories made by this happy, cohesive group in our 11 day January term adventure.
1. Never leave the house without a good umbrella. In a place with fickle weather, it will save you from chancing your local drug store special, as these 3 found out.
2. D.C. is never short of people, and in the same sense is full of infamous (and sometimes famous) individuals. From economist turned actor Ben Stein to political reformist Grover Norquist, you never know who may walk out of that next Starbucks.
3. Speaking of Starbucks, it is the quickest way to tell that this city runs on caffeine and sugar. If you love Starbucks, cupcake stores, or frozen yogurt; then this, my friend, is your paradise.
4. The opportunity to learn surrounds you constantly. Granted, this was the premise of our stay, but so much of what I learned came from outside our academic sessions. The people who call this city home (and even those who just call it work), as well as all of the museums and education centers in the metro area alone can be endless sources of knowledge. However, it is up to you to seek it out. Others can help, but you must want it first.
5. Networking is the key in Washington. Credentials and impressive resumes are great, but relationships are the foundations on which all things are accomplished in D.C. Given the nature of this city’s main employment sector, government, that probably isn’t the greatest surprise.
6. Find a way to serve. Not only are you helping those around you, but you are also improving yourself as a person. It feels great to give back! Our group had an opportunity to volunteer during the National Day of Service, and we have pledged to continue that into this semester.
7. Okay Drake University, here is my plug to you. Thank you for not only giving us a fantastic January term so that all 27 of us could participate in this wonderful experience, but also for the fantastic alumni that you have helped turn out! We met some fantastic alumni in many fields while in D.C. The Drake alumni network is truly excellent, and every student should seek it out no matter where you are landing post graduation.
8. When you find yourself in a new place, be open to anything! Make that first move to talk to a random stranger, attend meetings you would normally turn down, go to a cupcake shop way too many times (just because you can), and if someone comes up with a crazy adventure to explore an essentially deserted city to see monuments on a 25 degree night: DO IT! These are all events that will help define not only your view of the world and this particular experience, but also impact who you are as a person.
9. Finally, attend a monumentally important event for whatever you are passionate about in life. We spent ten days exploring Washington, D.C. and learning more about the politics of our nation. It all built toward our greatest moment in D.C., being a part of an inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America. It is an experience that I’m sure none of us will forget.