New beginnings in D.C. Reply

Lasell junior Casey O’Brien at the World War II Monument in Washington D.C. O’Brien is spending the fall semester at American University for the Washington Semester Program.Photo courtesy of Casey O’Brien

By Casey O’BrienWashington Correspondent

There I was, standing alone in my new dorm room, fighting back tears as my mother got in her car and left. We had done this two years in a row already, I was used to it now- why was I crying? Because this was new, I was alone in my room, I didn’t know anyone, and I really didn’t want to have lunch by myself.

Fast forward two weeks later, it’s like that episode never happened, and I’m exploring Washington D.C. with my new friends.

New beginnings are always hard. There wasn’t the comfort of knowing who I was rooming with, or knowing who I would be eating dinner with in Valentine. I didn’t have an internship, I didn’t know the area I would be living in, and all my friends are either at Lasell or on another continent.

Most students go abroad their junior year, to England, Italy, or France. I chose to stay in the country and study in D.C. for the fall semester. American University offers a Washington Semester Program, where students from all over the world come to study in the program of their choice.

I originally wanted to go to abroad to London for what I thought would be an ex­cellent experience. But when my mother con­vinced me to look at the American University program (I suspect she didn’t want me going to London), I immediately fell in love. I’m studying journalism in Washington D.C. dur­ing an election year. For an aspiring journal­ist, it doesn’t get much better than this.

In the beginning, I was worried about making friends, as international students moved in several days before I did. I met my two roommates, Cassy, from China, and Songyi, from South Korea, who like to teach me their native words, and in re­turn, I help them with their English. I’ve also made one American friend, and we’ve been museum hopping as often as we can.

When you’re in a new place, why not try new things? In this spirit, I have made friends with people from different coun­tries, and come out of my small shell. I’ve learned how to write my name in Chinese and Korean, witnessed the South Korean Internet sensation “Gangnam Style,” and my biggest achievement, how to properly hold chopsticks. Songyi and Cassy taught me patiently with their real chopsticks and after 15 minutes, I could pick up a small cup of creamer off the desk.

When thrown in to a new situation, especially at college, it’s best to remem­ber everyone is in the same boat as you. Most people don’t know each other, and are just as nervous as you are. On the first day, I put myself out there, and ended up eating lunch with a group of girls from Germany. I didn’t have to worry about having lunch by myself.

I can tell already this semester will be a great learning experience, being in this fast-paced environment. And I can’t deny, I’m hop­ing to catch a glimpse of President Obama.

To read more about Casey’s experience in D.C check out her blog here:

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