5 Facts About Living In Washington, DC

I was born and bred in the capital of the United States of America, Washington, DC. My hometown is an amazing city. Every branch of government, the press, the president, and all the inbetween is somehow contained in 68.34 square miles. Downtown is filled with world renowned monuments and covered in cherry blossoms that symbolize the friendship between Japan and the US. When you turn on your TV to watch the nightly news, without fail there is a report from the lawn of the White House or a discussion over the president's latest decision. Because of all this and more, to many, DC is seen as a hub of power and symbolism. But to me, it’s just home. When I came to college, in the small town of Winston-Salem, I knew there was going to be some culture shock. But something I was not expecting was for me to realize just how peculiar my life in DC was. Here are five facts about living in DC.

Monuments? 

I have lived in DC my entire life and have been downtown at least 100 times. Yet, I have never been to the top of the Washington Monument and never set foot in the Jefferson memorial. I didn’t walk up the Lincoln Memorial steps until the spring of my senior year in highschool and I have probably visited only 20% of the hundreds of museums DC has to offer. No, this is not just me. Most DC residents are in the same boat. You see, for tourists the monuments are a must see attraction but for us they are a daily occurrence. We have no urgency to see the monuments because we will have the chance everytime we visit home.

5 star restaurants

I lived in one of the many DC neighborhoods. We have a Walgreens, a quaint organic market, a one-movie cinema, and all the other things you would expect in a trendy city community. We also have restaurants. Really good restaurants. In walking distance of my house I have at least two 5 star dinner places. In driving distance, I have tens of places to choose from, including our 18 Michelin starred venues.  Additionally, the variety is astonishing. Italian, israeli, chinese, japanese, mexican, belgian, and the list goes on and on. Everytime that my family went out to eat, we had the world’s cuisine at our fingertips. 

Don’t know our neighbors

You may be surprised to find out that Washington, DC is not a neighborly place. I lived in my house for 18 years and I still don’t know the names of every person on my street. Don’t get me wrong, I know some people and I run into them in the grocery store. But, In a city of 633,427 we are definitely not a one horse town where everyone knows everyone. On top of this, DC people are not known for bringing cookies to their new neighbors or having large block parties. We are all independent people in a independent city.

Everybody is famous

In a city home to all members of Congress, the Senate, House of Representatives, the President, and the Supreme court, you are bound to know or have seen a famous politician. It is not uncommon to run into a supreme court justice every once and a while or see the president zoom down the street in his parade of black SUVs. Additionally, some of these politicians have children and they must go to school somewhere. That’s right, my highschool experience was filled with the sons and daughters of the government. At first it’s a shock, but within a few weeks you find that children, even with the most powerful of parents, are just children. They like instagram, snapchat, candy, shopping at the mall, and getting occasionally rebellious like the rest of us.

Politics

Here we are. The topic some of you may have been waiting for. In a city that is the center of US politics there are obviously going to be some tension. In my opinion, DC is one of the most polarized cities in the United States. Let’s start with the general population. 76% of all DC residents are registered as Democrats and 36.5% of the population would say they are Liberal. These facts combined with the conservative Republic president that lives within 10 miles of everyone's house has created a war like atmosphere. There are constant protests covering everything from abortion, womens rights, the enviroment, gay rights, and the list goes on and on. Finding out who you support, what your views are, and then tearing them down if you don’t agree is a social norm. In school, if you are a Trump supporter you are ostracized and called a “jerk” or “stupid” behind your back. Wearing a “Let’s Make America Great Again” hat is a reason for a stranger to hate you. I remember the morning after President Trump was elected, I walked into school and the halls were dead silent with not a single student in sight. As I walked through the school I noticed classrooms filled with clusters of girls. They were all crying. That day, multiple teachers cried in front of their classes and even apologized for  “what they have done to [our] generation”. My entire school, filled with adults and peers, was overwhelmed with emotion. A place that should have stayed neutral instead showed its opinions because that is the political climate of DC. Either conform or get kicked out. I personally do not agree with this cut throat mentality. I believe that your beliefs don't make you a bad or a good person. Along with all this, DC has a unique outlook on the news. For people in other states and around the world politics seems distant. Although you may feel passionate about it, this drama is happening on a TV screen. For us, it is happening in our backyard. When your friends parents are the news anchors and people making the decisions, it all seems more personal.

 

Overall, my life in DC was no where close to normal. The traffic is bad, the people can be rude, and the constant political tension that is rooted in DC can be overwhelming. But, I would never change my childhood or my hometown for the world.