Taking a New Route

Written by Aubrey Neal

This article is part of a semester-long series following Aubrey Neal’s experiences in the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program (WHIP). WHIP provides Hillsdale College students the opportunity to participate in semester-long internships in D.C. while taking classes at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center.

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Walking around D.C. has become my new favorite pastime, and the miles on my pedometer every night never fail to surprise me. When we first moved in and were attempting to orient ourselves, my roommate decided to shove one of her odd habits into my life—the “never go the same way twice” method. Just as it sounds, no matter if we are walking around the corner to Ebenezers coffeehouse or walking the ten-block jaunt to the Capitol, we never go the same way twice.

Originally, this was the worst thing that could happen to me in this big city. That first week, I would have sworn that all the roads led the same wrong way and all the buildings looked identical. However, by forcing me to take different routes, my roommate has broadened my horizon. I make new discoveries every day while walking to the same destination: new corner coffee joints, nook sandwich shops, and the most authentic, family owned restaurants you can think of. It has also proven to me that this big, intimidating city has a safe side.

Moving here, it is really hard to focus on the negative—how the paint is peeling off the old buildings and makes them look worn down or how the corner gas station looks like it should be avoided like the plague. The truth is, however, you start to realize that, although this place doesn’t look like home, it can feel that way. You just have to give it a chance.

Now, that gas station is a constant landmark for me on my way home—a welcomed sign that I’m almost done with my commute. And the paint peeling off the houses gives them the most amazing aspect of character; they all have seen so much and have their own unique stories. This city, no matter what road you walk down or what route you take, always has something new to show you and a new tale to tell you. All it takes is for people to look up from the ground that they are walking on with a view that it has a history and a sense of awe. The sad part is that I think the tourists are the only ones who take the time to lift their gazes. Luckily for me, I take pride in being a long-term tourist who almost purposefully looks for excuses to get lost and find new ways home.

Aubrey Neal is a junior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Political Economy. She is currently a participant in the Washington-Hillsdale Internship Program, interning in the public policy department at FreedomWorks. Originally from the mountains of Northern Idaho, Aubrey is excited to share her numerous new experiences and opportunities from the capitol with Hillsdale and its supporters.