Lasting lessons from D.C.

By Emily LongContributing Writer

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Sophomore Emily Long is studying at American University this spring semester

When most people think about studying abroad, they think of exotic destinations like Australia or fulfilling a childhood dream of going to London. After all, that’s the typical study abroad experience right? Well, for the past four months I haven’t been across the world, I’ve been living and studying in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

When I was a first-year taking Dr. Erin Vicente’s COM101 class, she told us about the Washington Semester Program, an experience where you live at American University for a semester while interning and taking classes. As someone pursuing political communication, this opportunity was perfect for me.

The Washington Semester Program classes are a bit different than traditional classes at Lasell. Instead of meeting twice a week, you meet once a week for field trips, discussions and speakers. This semester, I’ve taken Journalism in Washington, Political Communication and Global Communication, all fulfill my elective credits for Lasell. Our field trips have taken us everywhere in the city from the Supreme Court to NPR to Sirius XM to PEW Research Center. During these trips, we talked with people from all different levels of the company and learned about their interesting careers and how they got there.

Before I came to D.C., I wasn’t sure that political communication would be a career I wanted to pursue with everything happening in the current administration and the chaos reflected in the news. During my time here, I’ve learned a lot about how this town actually functions and believe me, it all doesn’t hinge on what the administration does. It does to an extent, but at some point, you still have to get your job done. I’ve learned that people are people- and reaching across the aisle happens all the time. For example, would you be surprised to hear that people who work for Fox News are actually friends with people who work for other news networks? When my class visited the Tucker Carlson Show, we learned this and it absolutely
blew my mind.

Aside from focusing on my career, D.C. is an active and thriving city. On weekends, there is no shortage of things to do. A majority of the museums, the Smithsonians and some others, are free to get in to. The National Zoo is largely outside, so you get a great walk in while checking out the adorable pandas. The food scene is pretty diverse, from eating matcha ice cream from a street stand, to getting steamed buns in Chinatown or Ethiopian food and ramen.

Overall, when May comes, I’ll be sad to leave D.C., but I’m excited to come back to Lasell in the fall. The Washington Semester Program has helped me define that political communication is something I want to pursue and would be happy doing. For anyone considering doing the program, you might not get to go across the world, but you get to live in our nation’s Capital for a semester and experience life in D.C. first-hand. At the end of the day, you’ll feel pretty patriotic.

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A snapshot of the nation’s Capital Building

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