Andrew Pazdon: Feast on what the D.C. area has to offer

My last season of midterms at GW brought about an unexpected joy. I started, along with the motivation and company of a few of my best friends, a fanatical quest for good, cheap ethnic food in the Washington Metropolitan area.

This quest began a decompression mechanism for midterm-related stress. But more importantly and more excitingly, it gave me a better feel for the community of the greater Washington area. And it gave me a new outlook on a city I thought I already knew pretty well.

It’s fascinating how it took a year abroad, a search for relief from studying and a love of food for me to discover what the District and its neighboring areas really have to offer.

When I returned to GW this fall after a long time away, I quickly fell into GW’s dining trifecta: Ivory Tower basement, the swanky new (and expensive) places in The Avenue and Au Bon Pain.

Sure I went out to Georgetown, Gallery Place, Dupont Circle or even Adams Morgan for meals, but such adventures usually devolved from dinner to drinking – an almost inevitable fate on students’ off-campus weekend travails.

But these close-by neighborhoods are just more of the D.C. young professional status quo, and it isn’t the whole story about where we live. Only 600,000 people live in the District of Columbia, while 5.6 million people live in the Washington Metropolitan area. Obviously there’s more to explore.

These trips in pursuit of relief from studying led us to find ourselves traipsing across Northern Virginia, planning trips to Randomville, Md. and even hunting down oft-overlooked of parts of D.C.

I honestly never had a true appreciation for Metropolitan D.C.’s strong ethnic communities until I found myself nomming on kabobs in a Northern Virginia shop that could easily have been in Karachi, Pakistan. I’ve devoured pho and ca phe sua da – Vietnamese iced coffee with milk – that reminded me of my time spent in Asia.

I felt silly for never really recognizing that the existence of such vibrant communities were only a Metro or Zipcar ride away.

I also felt silly for having never really explored where people live in Metropolitan D.C. Sure South Glebe Road may not be the sexiest address in town, but it is a lot closer to where the majority of Washingtonians live than say, I Street, NW.

I have taken a secret pleasure in casting off the woes of school, spending time with my friends, tantalizing my taste buds and trekking through new, random neighborhoods in search of cheap ethnic food.

Many of us are wrapping up midterms now. So while exploring new neighborhoods might not be a means to procrastinate from studying, it is worthwhile to go and explore new parts of the community.

Andrew Pazdon, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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