A man yelled at me on the train this morning.
We’d arrived at Farragut North, one stop before mine. I didn’t realize I was blocking the doors for people to get off and on. Rookie mistake.
“You know, you could try getting off and getting back on again,” he barked from across the car. Some people around him nodded. I bit my cheek and put in my headphones, but I could already feel my eyes watering.
When I was 5 years old, my family moved to Wesley Chapel, Fla., a small suburb adjacent to Tampa. Many of the students in my high-school graduating class were people I met in elementary school. My fiancé jokes that it’s impossible to go anywhere in the area without me running into at least one person I know.
I wave at neighbors as I drive through my family’s subdivision. The only hangout spots that stay open late are Applebee’s and Starbucks, so that’s where my friends and I spend most of our time.
When I got my acceptance note about the Scripps Howard Foundation internship, I was jumping up and down. This was going to be my chance to get out of Florida and make a name for myself. I’d had internships around my state – Gainesville, Tampa, Naples, Miami – but nothing would compare to the nation’s capital.
This is my eighth week in Washington, and it’s been exhilarating and overwhelming all at the same time. I’ve taken pictures of Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, created a video piece for our wire website and conquered my first data project.
In the midst of all the excitement, I’ve had waves of fierce homesickness. It’s embarrassing to admit – how can I be living in one of the greatest cities in the country, reporting from one of the most media-rich places in the world, and miss my boring hometown that I couldn’t wait to escape? How ungrateful is that?
One of my favorite quotes is this from musician Steffany Gretzinger: “Success doesn’t have anything to do with the outcome. It’s all in the process.”
Sometimes, the process is reporting from glamorous places and taking Instagram selfies at the White House. Other days, the process involves getting yelled at by a stranger for breaking an unspoken rule of public transportation.
If you spend your semester in Washington, you’ll likely experience the same tensions – elation at new opportunities and places, but a longing for familiarity. The important thing is finding a balance and learning to love your new home while gaining new appreciation for your roots.