DC compared to the southern living I have become accustomed to is as different as day and night. We finally arrived in the “Big City” last Saturday and transitioning has been nothing short of a personal challenge. Since we arrived here extremely late, the other interns and I got up Sunday morning, did some very needed household shopping, and some (very little) exploration of the city. Oh, did I mention we stay in three doublewide trailers? Get into that!
The first day of work was a complete culture shock for me. It seemed as though I was on TV or in a movie, because riding the metro was bananas. People were appearing from everywhere running to train to train, and here I am a country boy from Alabama reading signs to tell me to take to the red line to Shady Grove to get off at Metro Center and then find the Orange Line to New Carrollton and get off at Minnesota Ave. I was already somewhat upset because out of all the interns here I have the longest commute to work, which is about 45 minutes to an hour one way. Thanks to a fellow intern, Summer, I was able to map everything out precisely and know which trains I have to take and where to get on and off. I have two trains I get on and ride and then a bus ride that stops four blocks from my service site. Being that the Apprentices (the name given to students in the program) are still in school till Friday, most of the day is spent prepping for after school activities. They do arts and crafts, homework assignments, story time, team building games, etc. I work with the 3-5 year olds so the energy level is at an all time height when they arrive.
Once the Apprentices arrived on Monday, Mrs. Theresa introduced me to everyone and then each of them individually walked up shook my hand and introduced themselves to me. I was quite impressed! From there it was as though they already knew me because we instantly began playing a game known as Memory where you have to find matching pictures to get a pair. Time flew by quickly and it was time to go. I managed to make it home without getting lost but the next couple of days not so much.
Tuesday and Wednesday both began with the sky falling in and storms rapidly coming. Both days by the time I got to work I was drenched in rain and I got lost on Wednesday coming to work. Oh, and I somehow lost my Metro card too! Orientation meetings also marked the beginning of each workday as well. But I will say having the Apprentices come in and greet me with warm smiles and stories helped make things ten times better. Leaving work I met the same obstacles of fighting the rain as I did traveling to work. I managed Tuesday to take the wrong train home and I left DC to find myself almost in Baltimore. Not a good look!
All in all my week thus far has had a share of ups and downs, but I have learned a lot in a few days. I’ve learned I want function well in a “Big City” and living down south is more for me. I also have great trailer mates who I am surrounded about. They are constantly texting positive things to me and checking to making sure I have a good day. Yes, I’m a southerner in a big city, but each day is a new and exciting learning experience that I welcome with open arms.