I was prepared for the overwhelming happiness that I felt upon touching down in Washington, D.C. at 4:30 in the afternoon after six long hours of travel.
I was prepared for the confusion in finding the right Metro path to take in order to get to our dorm rooms and for the gratitude I felt upon realizing that at least two of the six other people in my group that had been on my flight knew where they were going.
I was prepared for the long walk from the Metro stop to our dorm and the fact that I would be sharing said dorm with several (but, luckily, awesome and kind) girls.
I was not prepared for the immense, overwhelming feeling of homesickness I felt upon sitting down on my bed.
It was weird. Here I was, in D.C. after five long years of anticipation, and I felt overcome by the vastness of the city, the way people walked up and down the sidewalks as though they belonged, which they did. I felt so small. I felt so insignificant and lost.
I’m absolutely exhausted but have to at least scribble down some notes as to what all happened today.
It was a six hour flight, and I was so happy I was with some of my fellow group members. After a brief stop in Houston, we went on our merry way to our nation’s capitol, and the second we were below the clouds, I scanned the ground below with as much anticipation as a young child seeing Disneyland for the first time. I was ridiculous in my excitement, but I didn’t care.
We got off the plane, got on the Metro, got off, and walked what felt like a mile and a half to the bar where our faculty director was. I was so thankful it wasn’t hot – it was maybe 85 degrees with a nice, cool breeze. I didn’t get any glimpse of the Washington Monument from the flight or during our walk. We are currently on the George Washington University campus, so there are lots of tall, brick buildings.
After getting our itinerary, keys, and a mellow welcome from our faculty director, we checked in at the dorms and went to dinner. I was feeling really dizzy and sick, which wasn’t helping the fact that I was nearly tearful with unexpected homesickness. Thank God for one of the girls in the group that was my age (most of these students are grad students) whom I talked to as we walked. Her name is Gina. I sat next to her on the plane, and she is so sweet.
Gina, another undergrad Sean, and I broke off to go to an Italian restaurant where I force fed myself a chicken Ceaser salad as we talked about our itinerary for the week. After we were done, I was full of energy and I set out with them, headed back to our dorms, wanting desperately to walk around and explore. Luckily, Sean knew the area well, and said that the White House happened to be two blocks away from where we happened to be standing at the moment. So we went for it.
There were lots of people around the White House, and it was surreal to see it at nighttime. There were lots of fireflies lighting up the grass that grew darker as the sun went down.
And then – as we finished taking pictures and marveling at the White House, the glorious words came out of Sean’s mouth.
“Well, we’re only a little bit away from the National Mall. Why don’t we just go?”
Gina seconded this. I kept perfectly silent. If I opened my mouth, I would have started shrieking with excitement.
The sun was down and the moon was just starting to come out as the last bits of light left the sky when I saw the Washington Monument again. There were construction rings all around it, but happy tears came to my eyes upon seeing it.
We went to the World War II Memorial, too, and by then it was completely nightfall. That was really something else. The monument was so beautiful lit up.
We walked back after glimpsing the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial from our pathway. When we got back, I moved my stuff over to the next room, where there were several empty beds. There was a smaller room in the big room with two beds, so Gina and I are camped in here together.
I’m so, so tired, but so happy to be back!