DC is truly a cosmopolitan city. There are people of all kinds here and one can see that everywhere we go, whether it’s riding the metro, going to a public event or going to work. There is just so much to do in this city!
When I first decided on doing GIW, I was a bit disappointed at staying within the US and not getting the experience of going to another country. But being in Washington is unique, even for those of us who have travelled considerably within America. This truly is a political city, and is unlike any other city in America … For a lot of American students, Washington's lure is in it being the center of American politics and domestic policy. But Washington also has a lot to offer international students in terms of international relations, international trade relations, American foreign policy, lobbying by governments of other countries, and the manner in which American foreign affairs affects other countries.
My Global Development Studies classes and all three courses offered during the Grinnell-in-Washington semester helped me learn both from and about my internship. My major and concentration provided the theoretical framework on which I built this internship, and the experience supplemented my Grinnell education better than any class could.
DC is a completely different city in the summer and the rest of the year, and the GIW program is one of the few opportunities you will ever have to live in the Real DC-- not the DC of summer interns. I'm an Econ and Global Development Studies major, and I interned at the World Bank headquarters. Since this wasn't a summer internship, I had the added advantage of not competing with hundreds of interns for the time and attention of full-time staff, allowing me to learn more, quicker, better. The internship gave me a unique opportunity to get a birds-eye view of development and relate it to my classes, while also learning about realistic, everyday challenges in development to which no class could have exposed me… I gained solid, valuable work experience, met interesting people whom I still look to as mentors and friends, and learned more about what I want to-- and don't want to-- do after Grinnell.
In short, Grinnell-in-Washington DC was the best semester in my college career. I learned more about what's in store after I complete my bachelor’s degree than I ever expected to, and the best part is that I got to see what life in a large city is like. Being an international student I think that this program was the best choice for me because the experience I gained was why I came to the States in the first place; to see what life and work are like here.
DC holds charms that other cities don't. To start with, there's the encyclopedic-exhibit-of-everything Smithsonian, and the high-profile clubs, or, for those who prefer it, hipster liberal nightlife (cheap covers, ethnic food, disco, trance, whatever you want to dance), street vegetable and antique markets, every kind of cuisine imaginable. There's vistas, statues, memorials to things you hadn't recalled since American history classes in high school, the spectacular Mall, the Capitol, of course, and architecture that rivals the Old World stuff in Europe. There's the feeling of reading a top national newspaper (the Washington Post) and feeling the immediacy of the news - being at the heart of where it's churned out.
The Grinnell in Washington program is a great opportunity to travel to a completely different part of the country and work in the nation’s capital. The internship experience is invaluable and the friends and contacts you make there will last you a while. DC is a young city and there is always something to do. The GIW experience has helped me figure out what I want to do after college as it has for many GIWers. If it doesn’t help confirm that you’re on the right path, it helps to understand that you’re on the wrong one. Either way, this experience is amazing! An excellent way to get a taste of life after college!