13 January 2015

Pre-Departure Musings, Domestic Struggles & Exciting Times Ahead

Jenny Chen is an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney Business School. She is currently in the United States as part of the Washington DC Placement Program, offered by the Business School in partnership with the United States Studies Centre.

I'm the type of person who likes being prepared and planning ahead. I constantly make lists and jot down reminders for myself. A few of us going on the Washington D.C. Program have already gotten together and planned out where we want to travel on our weekends. I've even packed my suitcases in my mind.

(Note to self – make sure to pack my passport and I-20 forms in my carry on baggage and leave plenty of room in my suitcase for the ridiculous amount of shopping that I will inevitably indulge in.)

However, no amount of reminders, lists or mental planning can prepare us for the excitement that is bound to ensue within the next few months.

While in DC, I'll be interning for Congressman Roskam. I am extremely excited to work in a proper, professional environment and get a taste of what can be expected in the future. Wow. Capitol Hill, the political powerhouse of the USA, and arguably the world. Just being at the frontline, seeing where law is being made and how it impacts society will be an unparalleled and eye-opening experience.

Despite all the glitz and the glamour, I'm not going to lie, the thought of interning for a Congressman is quite intimidating. However, I am going to harness these nerves and use them to motivate me to achieve my greatest potential. I will no doubt acquire plenty of knowledge during the 9 weeks of studies and internship. This is going to be an extraordinary learning experience that will allow me to develop my understanding of American politics and hone my skills in working in a professional environment.

Issues arise when you're in a foreign country, especially if you're geographically challenged like myself. Usually, I would either follow my friends to our destination or spend a solid hour on Google Maps planning out and memorising my journey. Something tells me the GPS on my phone will soon become my best friend. Issues also arise when you're no longer living in the oblivious comfort of your family home. I will not even try to pretend to be a culinary expert. I can probably count the number of dishes in my cooking repertoire on one hand. Also, my roommate, despite living in college, has never done her own laundry (her dad takes her laundry back home every weekend). Together, we make quite the dismal pair. How we are to survive 9 weeks, even I'm not too sure.

However, this aspect of the program is one of the many reasons why I find it so exciting. We're left to fend for ourselves and despite the several mishaps that are bound to happen, I know that this shared experience of suffering will only bring us closer. We shall brave the laundromats together. We shall scrape burnt food off pots and pans together. Or if that doesn't work out, we shall cut our losses, go to the nearest restaurant and eat together.

With just a few weeks until the program starts, I can't contain my excitement. I have never been to America before and, despite sounding incredibly cliché, it's honestly a dream come true. I will be spending 2 weeks before the program commences in New York with three good friends who are fellow DCers. We will also be traveling to Boston, Chicago and Orlando on the weekends.

I'm ready. Ready for my small bubble to be burst by the glitz and glamour of Christmas and New Years in New York and the political prowess of Capitol Hill. Ready for the internship and exchange experience of a lifetime.

Watch out Washington D.C. We're coming.

This blog was originally published on the United States Studies Centre blog

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