Taking the Plunge: Diving Head-First into My Summer in Washington DC

By Emily McDonough — I am standing on the edge of an airplane.  My toes curve over the doorframe, and I stare down at the fourteen thousand feet below me.  A man that I met about fifteen minutes earlier is strapped to my back and has the charge of saving my life.

Well, I guess I’m really doing this.

Ironically enough, this was not just the final thought that crossed my mind before I went skydiving for the first time just a few weeks ago; it was also my thought process as I began my eight week summer journey inWashingtonDC.  For two months this summer I will be enrolled in The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) program throughGeorgetownUniversity.  Sorry, Marquette — but don’t worry, I’ll always be a Golden Eagle.  What’s a Hoya anyway?

The Fund is made up of various smaller institutes which have differing focuses including political journalism, economics, business, and the like.  I was accepted into the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service (commonly referred to as IPVS) which focuses on nonprofit work and causes.  TFAS sets each of its students up with an internship within the realm of their specific institute’s focus, and offers them rigorous classes which apply to their specific field as well.  For all intensive purposes, this broad description was the extent of my knowledge of what I was going to be doing with my summer.  Needless to say, as the detail-oriented person that I am, I was nervous.

Just as I anxiously boarded the tiny two-engine plane before skydiving, I boarded a much larger jet at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport not knowing what to expect.  Sure, I was not quite as concerned about plummeting to the earth en route to DC, but I did have several other concerning thoughts crossing my mind throughout my flight.

How do I find my way around the city?  Will I like my roommates?  What exactly will I be doing in my internship?  What if the next eight weeks are a complete disaster?

As a future-educator I am, by nature, a planner, and I felt extremely uncomfortable about all the variables which were still unclear about my summer plans.  My plane skidded to a stop at Reagan National Airport and again the thought crossed my mind: Well, I guess I’m really doing this.

Fast forward to today: I have been in DC, living the life of a true Washingtonian, for about two weeks now and I can honestly say that this has already been one of the most fun and rewarding time periods of my life.  Although it was quite overwhelming at first, required a lot of learning, and took a lot of adjustment overall, I feel like a genuine DC resident already.

Whether it be learning the basics of the Metro (walk on the left, stand on the right!), figuring out a new college campus, or finding my role within my nonprofit internship (trust me, it’s very different in comparison to a classroom setting), accepting these challenges has only made my experience thus far in DC all the more rewarding.  Everyday I am grateful for the amazing people who I get to surround myself with, the outstanding opportunities that I am being offered, and the amount of both skills and life experiences which I am gaining on a daily basis.

My advice to anyone who is looking for something new to broaden their minds or themselves as a person is to take a chance on an opportunity and make the most of it.  My summer in DC was something that I decided to apply for fairly spontaneously and I cannot believe all that I have gained and the lessons I have already learned from it.

Dive head first into whatever opportunities arise for you, be them something absolutely crazy such as jumping out of a plane, pursuing a life in a new city, or even just pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit.  Take the plunge; it is often that the most trying situations have the potential to make the most impact on both yourself and those around you.

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