Washington is a weird town.
It has the power to change your thinking, challenge your sympathies and alter your interests––and that’s if you approach it correctly. It’s composed of much more than the silver-tongued senators portrayed in movies, and likewise there’s a lot more to see than the token shot of the national mall (although it is impressive). If there are two things you’ll get in spades upon arriving in D.C., they are new experiences and tips on handling new experiences.
Many of those tips contain piercing insight and are endlessly useful, but don’t become so concerned with following the tips that you miss what’s going on around you. Following a cheat sheet that reminds you what to say, wear, think or do in a given set of circumstances will encumber more than if you had dived in with a little pluck and no plan. I won’t trouble you with the quotidian how-to list: you’ll learn by experience which side of the escalator to stand on, how to sneak onto the Metro without paying (this is not WJC endorsed) and what to order at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
My advice is simple, and it’s more about you than D.C. Heaven knows what you will see and do in the next four months, but I can promise you how much you gain from your time will a direct return on how much of yourself you invest. What you get out of this semester depends on you.