21 Things You'll Only Understand If You're From D.C.

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People from all over the world gather in Washington D.C. to work, live and play, everyday. A melting pot of people from all different backgrounds, D.C. is a fast-paced city unlike any other—and it takes some getting used to. Whether you're a tourist or a fresh D.C transplant, there may be a bit of a culture shock adjusting to the city, but locals will tell you these 21 things you'll eventually learn before you can call yourself a D.C. native. 

1. Asking people where they’re from based on their metro line

Instead of saying the actual name of the town you’re from, you say “I’m third stop on the orange line.”

2. Referring to the collective area as the “DMV”

No, not the Department of Motor Vehicles.

3. What real traffic is

Los Angeles and New York have nothing on us during rush hour on I-495.

4. The beauty of CAVA

CAVA > Chipotle, and we’re not sorry.

5. The beauty of Shake Shack

You can keep In N' Out and Five Guys if we can keep Shake Shack.

6. The importance of walk left, stand right

It’s a D.C. commandment

7. The importance of owning a SmartTrip Card

Because paper Metro passes are for tourists who have ample time and money, unlike locals who are always in a rush and looking to go as far as possible for as little metro fare.

8. The beauty of a rent-controlled apartment near a metro line

A reasonably priced apartment in Northwest on the red line is a DC native’s idea of real estate porn.

9. Georgetown Cupcake is overrated

Baked and Wired for life.

10. How Scandal is not an accurate representation of Washington.

Someone tell me why Olivia Pope and Associates don’t have a SmartTrip.

11. Laughing at tourists who lay on the ground to get a National Monument picture.

You do realize how dumb you all look, right?

12. DC “slang” like “blown” or “faking”

Out-of-towners wonder if we’re actually speaking the same English.

13. Not truly believing someone’s occupation

Oh, you’re a real estate agent in DuPont? Are you sure you don’t work for the CIA?

14. Protesters. So. Many. Protesters.

Another day, another thousand people screaming outside of the White House.

15. All four seasons…in one day

Sweaters, rainboots, shorts, and a parka all in one day is the norm... it doesn't even phase us anymore.

16. Avoiding South-East DC

Don’t go to Anacostia. Don’t. Do. it.

17. People blaming DC natives for the actions of Congress

Not everyone within a spitting distance of DC can control the actions of Congress... we're just as confused and angry as you are. 

18. How “what do you do” is asked right after “what’s your name?”

Because networking is always the underlying motive to make friends in this city.

19. Going to the monuments at night

Because when the sun sets is when all of the tourists leave the city and the locals come out to play and enjoy the beauty of Washington at night.

20. The ups and downs of gentrification

The revitalization of neighborhoods like Chinatown and Shaw seem like a great idea, but when the rent prices are astronomical and local shops get turned into Starbucks…

21. Knowing DC is the best East Coast city

Sorry New York and Boston, but living in the most powerful city in the free world is pretty great.

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About The Author

Hannah is a Public Relations graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with an affinity for blogging, food, culture and learning about the world. She has a serious case of wanderlust and hopes to one day work for a lifestyle and PR firm, as well as publish books and documentaries focusing on leisure and travel. To read more of her work, check out her own personal blog at www.thinkingbrave.com or her personal portfolio at clippings.me/hannahkhan