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Experiences

What I Learned About Myself in a Big, Busy, and Buzzing D.C. City

This past summer, I was fortunate enough to intern with the SBS (Social and Behavioral Sciences) in D.C. program here at UMass. After being home from finals for around three weeks, I took my many packed bags over to the hot and humid D.C. air. I entered the summer not knowing what to expect or how much I would grow as a person. I can safely say that the internal growth that happened in the span of almost 11 weeks occurred quickly. Here are the many things I learned about myself while interning in D.C.

The beauty of cooking for myself and with others 

I found cooking meals one of the most rewarding tasks I have completed this summer. Before my internship, I was heavily reliant on the meals provided by our dining halls and home-cooked meals. While it was fun, and challenging at times to come up with meals, I found the most joy in cooking with other people. Food is a way for people to showcase their culture, which was heavily present this summer. From fried plantains, vegetable fried rice, pasta, and all the way to biryani, I was brought closer together with my peers through our love for food. It was also a way for me to learn more about other people’s stories, especially with the food we were creating. 

The Nature of Civil Discourse

Each and every day I was conversing with people of different political backgrounds. For many different reasons, people shy away from interacting with those of different political ideologies. I learned the importance of listening to others, even if you do not agree. This summer, I discovered basic and essential commonalities between people who had different ideologies than mine — we all wanted to make the world a better place. While this means different things for different people, I made every effort to try to understand where other people were coming from. 

The importance of getting out of your comfort zone 

If there is one thing that I love, it is knowing what I am doing. I realize now that going to D.C. was a big step out of my comfort zone. While I have already developed my routine at home and at UMass, entering D.C. was a completely new slate. Entering the summer, I had the chance to establish my own routines and get out of my comfort zone by trying new things. For example, I figured out for myself that oat milk lattes are the best creation in the world. If I had leaned into my comfort zone throughout the summer, I would have never known that I enjoyed oat milk lattes. Every time you step into a new place, whether that be for a couple of hours or an entire summer, you are simultaneously expanding yourself. 

My experience in D.C. demonstrated the importance of emerging yourself into a new setting, whether that be college, a new job, or even hanging out with different people. Once you are able to find comfort in discomfort, your life changes. I am grateful everyday for my experience this past summer.

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Niajah Hyppolite

U Mass Amherst '23

Niajah Hyppolite is currently a senior majoring in Sociology with a minor in Political Science. During her free time she enjoys watching comedies and spending time with her loved ones. She loves reading memoirs and always has a caffeinated beverage in her hand at all times. This is her fourth semester with HerCampus and she is very excited to write!
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