Stepping into the city

A fire truck roaring down G Street, the Metro rumbling underneath the sidewalk and the occasional presidential motorcade are all common sights and sounds to GW’s urban campus setting. But despite their current residence, not all GW students came to college as city sophisticates.

While some students flew over oceans, escaped the suburbs or simply transferred from other big cities, there are those who had to make the transition from small-town America to big-city D.C.

Even though it may seem like everyone in a comparative politics class is from New York or New Jersey, there is likely to be a student from coastal Maine or rural Wisconsin, too.

From the rural Midwest, sophomore Lindsay Hamilton said she decided to make the move from Nebraska because of her studies.
“I am studying international affairs, and I wanted to go somewhere more international,” she said.

Hamilton said she also serves as the Nebraska state leader for the GW Ambassador program. The GW Ambassador program consists of current GW students from states outside the D.C. area who help incoming freshmen from their home state ease into city life.

The duties of state leaders included organizing various social events and keeping in touch with fellow students from their home state, Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she had no regrets about moving to a big city.
“I thought if I wanted to get away sometime in my life it might as well be college because I might never have the chance later,” she said.

Growing up in a small South Carolina town, sophomore Ellen Warner said she was tired of the nosy nature of her hometown. Moving to D.C. last year was a welcome change for her, she said.

Warner said she did encounter one stumbling block – learning how to navigate the Metro.

“I learned through trial and error,” she said. “Once I got used to it, I appreciated the Metro more.”

D.C. may have the National Mall, Rock Creek Park and Roosevelt Island as options for outdoor activities, but they are nothing compared to the national parks of the American West.

Sophomore Chelsea Knight was raised in Whitefish, Mont., near the majestic Glacier National Park. She said she loves the outdoors and really enjoyed living in Montana, but chose to attend school in D.C. because she received a scholarship.

Knight lived at the Mount Vernon Campus during her freshman year and was able to see more of the trees and grass she was used to seeing in Montana, she said.

“It was an immense amount of culture shock,” Knight said. “There were always people around and lots of loud noise.”

Even though she still misses home, Knight said she enjoys city life.
The eastern states have their own share of rural towns and farming communities.

Junior Beth Alexander called the woods and farmland of Camden, Del., her home before she arrived at GW. Having lived in D.C. for the past two years, Alexander plans to attend graduate school at another urban school.

“It is hard to leave the city once you arrive,” she said.

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