Evie in DC

16 November 2023

Evie is spending the year studying in Washington DC. In her first blog, she shares her tips for how to keep your head during the first few weeks of your placement.

The first days at your placement are filled with excitement and new opportunities. It’s a bit like going on holiday and going to the supermarket for the first time: everything is different and fascinating. Being in the US from the UK feels like going to a film set and recognising things you’ve only ever seen on screen before.


But, over time, the newness of it all starts to wear off, and this is where long-term wellbeing practises need to come in to play. Over my first two months at the George Washington University, I’ve learned to rely on two key strategies: make sure to always be finding new things to try and to explore, and know when to ground yourself.

Although the rose-coloured glasses can come off quickly, there’s no reason to stop trying new things and exploring new areas. Push yourself out of your comfort zone (and avoid holing yourself away in your bedroom all day) – say yes to things you usually wouldn’t.

One easy way to do this is to immerse yourself in school culture. I didn’t discover this until I arrived, but GW has a thriving acapella scene. While I don’t quite think I have the singing chops to sign up for any of these groups, going to see live student performances has been a fun and lively activity which has brought me and my (fellow exchange student) roommates together. We’re also getting really into watching the university sports teams – we saw an ice hockey game last month, and hopefully we’ll be heading to the school’s arena more as basketball season kicks off.


Another important part of putting yourself out there is making connections anywhere you can and tagging along to their excursions and activities. DC and the surrounding states have a plethora of activities going on year round, and it can be hard to figure out what’s worth going to. But having a good mix of friends who are local students and exchange students really helps here – you’re able to fully integrate into student life, while also taking more touristy explorations with others who are new to the area.

Constantly putting yourself out there can become completely overwhelming, however, if you don’t take the time to ground yourself and find some home comforts. Creating a routine is incredibly important in setting yourself up for long term success – see what of your home routine can be carried over (running every morning or, in my case, drinking a lot of tea), then have a look for different weekly events or clubs you can incorporate into your schedule. I’ve really enjoyed taking a yoga class at the university gym every week, as well as a contributing to weekly writers’ meetings for the school’s Her Campus chapter.


Setting boundaries for when you want to go out of your comfort zone and when you want to find familiarity is good and healthy, but it’s crucial to remember that giving yourself rest doesn’t mean holing yourself away and not making use of the time you’ve got. For example, I’m on a personal mission this semester to find the best Sunday roast in DC to bring myself a little slice of home on the other side of the world.

Take care of yourself while abroad, and make sure to take as many opportunities as you can while you’re there. Have fun!