Rosalie Toupin ’20 | Features Staff Writer
I have lived in Washington, D.C. for seven months now. During that time, I marched with current and soon-to-be feminist icons, explored the city with new friends, said good morning to my role model each day and witnessed history being made right outside my door. It’s been both a dream come true and a reality I always knew was waiting for me. I can say, with no hesitation, that I’m going to deeply miss learning, working and living in D.C.
While my overall experience in D.C. was everything I’d hoped it would be — and more — I’d be lying if I said I loved every minute of it. Moving to a new city and “playing adult” is weird and oftentimes lonely. You don’t have the comfort of seeing your friends at the dining hall or the fun of late-night rehearsals. You also spend a lot of time doing annoying things, like grocery shopping and cooking and waiting for the metro (sometimes because you got on the wrong train… again).
I faced a steep learning curve when I moved to D.C., both with everyday “adulting” activities and in my internships. Working at the Feminist Majority Foundation felt familiar. I was surrounded by strong, passionate women who deeply cared for the wellbeing of others. But while I was used to the atmosphere, I quickly realized how little I knew about the logistics of the feminist movement and our nation’s government. I was clueless about what the Rules Committee did, what a Political Action Committee was or who half of the people casually mentioned in conversation were. I learned the essentials within the first few weeks, but what became the most clear to me is how big and complex the world of public service really is.
Transitioning to the Senator’s office in the fall posed different challenges. I was familiar with some of the constituent work from previous internships, but I had never worked so closely with the inner workings of government. I’m not talking about drafting legislation or anything of that significance — I mean finding the cloak room, learning how to write a briefing memo or being careful not to mindlessly walk into the “Senators Only” elevator. I made a lot of little mistakes along the way, and I got lost one too many times. But I learned so much about policy, bureaucracy and the tiny but essential details about how our government is run. After spending four months in the Senator’s office, even as an intern, I now know exactly where I want my career to take me, and I have to admit, that’s a pretty amazing feeling.
But like all good things (and semester-long collegiate programs), my time in D.C. must come to an end. I’ll be taking off for Boston in a few days, saying goodbye to my first apartment, my beloved metro and my sneak peak into a life in politics. I’m not as sad as I thought I’d be because I know I’ll be back here soon. I’ve found what career fits my passion and the perfect city to go along with it, and I’ve made invaluable connections that I can use later on down the line.
Plus, I have a lot to look forward to in the next six months. After a few weeks at home, I’ll be jumping on a plane headed to Madrid before I make my way over to the other side of the world in Auckland, New Zealand. If I thought moving a few states south was challenging… well, let’s just say that I’m in for quite the adventure.
So it’s a goodbye for now to Washington, D.C., and to you as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my time studying off-campus, and I look forward to writing about my upcoming adventures. If any of you are new Picker students, or just someone interested in coming to D.C., please reach out so I can give you the tips and tricks of living in the swamp. I love this city and all it has to offer. It’s become another home for me, and I’m eager to share it with anyone who wants come — especially my fellow Smith students.
Here’s to you, D.C. Thank you for an inspiring summer and an unforgettable semester. I have no doubt that I will be seeing you really soon.