The first time I thought about spending a longer time abroad, either through work our studies, was during my high school years. I had a few friends who left for a year and came back with unforgettable memories and experiences. After a couple of years of university studies, I finally had the time to spend a semester abroad and I started looking for different options.
I quickly realized that instead of studying, I would rather get acquainted with a new work environment. That is why I applied for an internship through Liberal Praktik, an organization that offers a vast amount of different internship opportunities. The internship at the U.S. House of Representatives seemed like such a unique experience that I decided to apply, and a few weeks later the organization informed me that I had been chosen.
I felt honored representing Finland at Congressman Sean Duffy’s office. The first weeks were spent figuring out how to localize myself in the House Office Buildings and learning how to carry out my duties. My main tasks included answering constituent calls, giving tours of the Capitol, and assisting the staff with various assignments. In addition to these, I wrote a weekly newsletter for the Finnish Caucus about current affairs in Finland, and I was given the opportunity to participate in briefings and hearings of my own choosing. Naturally I found the briefings and hearings concerning foreign affairs focusing on Eastern Europe very interesting.
My favorite part of working at the Hill was the energetic environment and the feeling of seeing and hearing everything first-handed. When giving tours, I also very much enjoyed meeting all the heartfelt people from the Congressman’s district in Wisconsin.
Just living in Washington, D.C. is interesting. One is always surrounded by the political, legislative, and historical atmosphere, and I found the perfect place to live during my stay. Thompson Markward Hall is the place I called home during my months, and with a ten-minute walk to work, past the Supreme Court, Library of Congress and the Capitol, with meals included in the rent, I am sure that it was the best possible arrangement for me.
I had my own room, but during dining hours, I could socialize with the 120 girls from all over the world living under the same roof. That is probably what I will miss the most, the lifelong friends I made and the fact that I always had someone to join me for museum visits, runs and events. My favorite part of the city is probably the picturesque Georgetown, with all its shops, restaurants and cute buildings.
During my internship, I had some time off to do some traveling, and because of D.C.’s location, I could easily visit New York and Pennsylvania. I also went to an NHL playoff game and experienced two baseball games from our own suite (thanks to my favorite American friend). I went line dancing (Avicii will never sound the same again), visited the White House and went hiking in the Great Falls Park. I ate at Chick-fil-A, tried some amazing American Barbeque in Columbia Heights, and experienced a wine and beer festival.
I am thankful for all the things I experienced and learned during my stay in D.C., and I am looking forward to returning the favor by showing my American friends the best of Finland when they arrive in August.
Text: Laura Sundström