I do not always feel like a tourist in Washington, D.C. There are way more people that exemplify “tourist” than I, including those gaggles of middle and high school students that are beginning to stride into the city on school trips, including my brother who will be here next weekend with his school. My own reaction to tourism in D.C. may be slightly different than that of a D.C.native or local, as I work and live in those places most visited by tourists and others commute into the city from its outskirts. Living in New York City also provides an added intolerance for the massive groups trailing one guide that take up entire entrance ways and sidewalks. I do not feel like a tourist when I am at work or walking through D.C. in professional attire, I blend quite well with the rest of the public servants and lobbyists that I walk alongside on my way to and from the metro each day. I continue to find it interesting that so many government agencies reside here, resulting in many of the same types of people all working in one city under the same administration. It feels like all of D.C. is in a bubble itself, as the central hub of all things politics, and tourism creates a bubble within that bubble.
I do feel like a tourist, however, when I cannot find the correct bus route or when I marvel at monuments or inside museums that would have lost their novelty to a true D.C. native. I also felt like a tourist when my friends and family visited throughout this week and we explored these sites together. I took advantage of those trips to do my own “touristing”, widening my eyes as they fix themselves on Abraham Lincoln’s likeness and finding my home state at the WWII memorial. I would not have gone to these sites on my own and welcomed the push to visit them. This weekend I also toured the Supreme Court and was inspired by a short exhibit on Sandra Day O’Connor, demonstrating that women can rise in ranks in government to affect change in a great way.
Although I have not spent as much time visiting important monuments or museums as I would like, I take advantage of every opportunity that NYUDC provides for me, which often includes tickets to museums, art collections, and culturally diverse food experiences. In this way, I would say that I am trapped within the NYUDC bubble, a small but very real sphere where we do not travel to go to class and sometimes do not leave the building if we do not have to go to work that day. My circle of friends is limited to those who are in my classes but who also live down the hall or on the next floor up. About a month into the semester, I felt myself becoming very aware of the connections that I was making but felt trapped within yet another bubble that I could not exit. I saw every one of my friends every day and we all did everything together. This was the most “small college” type experience I have had and it was so far from my experience in New York, where we do not dare interact with our neighbors, that I did not know what to make of it. After a period of time, I became accustomed to the closeness we all felt but I still long for the averted eyes of the New York campus’ students and the knowledge that nobody cares what you are up to.