As a Midwesterner, I was in for some culture shock moving to D.C. However, I quickly learned there is something for everyone in D.C., even for a small-town girl like me.
Here are some of the biggest differences between rural and city life.
Weather is a big deal here
On the day I left for D.C., it rained and snowed all the way to the airport, but the weather was nothing we weren’t used to driving in.
Fast-forward six hours when I finally land in D.C. My cousin, who was picking me up from the airport, thought my flight wouldn’t make it in. She explained that if the weather was like that in D.C., the whole city would be shut down.
I thought she was joking.
Turns out, as soon as a snowflake falls from the sky, the whole city shuts down for the day. My mind was blown – I come from a small midwest community where school stays open even in negative 40-degree windchill.
Security taken to a new level
After I got settled in my apartment, my cousin took me grocery shopping to start stocking up on food—cooking at home is the way to go in this expensive town. That’s where my next surprise popped up. After taking the elevator up to the Walmart store (which was weird in-and-of-itself), I went to purchase some shampoo and conditioner, but it was locked behind a glass door as if it was a piece of expensive jewelry. Apparently, toiletries are often stolen to be resold on the streets.
I later learned that security is pretty big everywhere in D.C. I have to show my badge to the front desk every time I come back to my apartment. At my internship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, I go through a security screening similar to an airport’s every morning. This was a big leap from leaving car doors unlocked back home. One woman even told me that D.C. is under the most surveillance of any other city in the world with over 25 different law enforcement agencies in the city.
No wonder everything is so expensive around here. Speaking of that…
While I still am constantly learning new things the longer I’m here . . . I’d like to think that I’m getting the hang of this whole “city life” thing.Olivia Wieseler
Living is expensive, but low-prices exist
I recently learned that a two-story apartment in my neighborhood (NoMa) costs about as much as a comfortable two- to three-bedroom house in Nebraska.
To make up for it, a lot of attractions in D.C. don’t cost a dime. I’ve already been to two museums and a bunch of monuments, and I only took my wallet out for transportation. There are also a lot of free and cheap events if you just keep your eyes open. Seriously. They are actually not that hard to find.
A lot happens in D.C.
Events are happening all over this town. There is always something going on every night in every part of the city. It’s nice because there is always something to do, but for a girl from a town where you went at your own pace and was forced to be creative with how you spend your time, it can be overwhelming at times.
In a city like this though, it’s pretty hard to miss anything big. The entire country, and oftentimes the world, have their eyes focused on the nation’s capital. With protestors lining the streets daily and news reporters constantly swarming the National Mall, it’s hard to forget that big events like impeachment and the State of the Union address have been happening just a few blocks from where I live. I must admit, it felt weird to read a headline about the president and realize he’s only a few blocks away from my workplace.
I’m still learning, but that’s okay
While I still am constantly learning new things the longer I’m here—ranch is not served at every meal, and it’s illegal to leave your dog’s business in the grass—I’d like to think that I’m getting the hang of this whole “city life” thing. Nevertheless, I will remain a Midwesterner at heart, and I think this city could benefit from a little small-town flavor.
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