Today was my last day of work at the EPA here in Washington DC. I will soon be leaving to visit family in Virgina and back in St. Louis before I head out permantely with the Peace Corps. So I thought I'd offer some reflections regarding my one year public health fellowship.
I enjoy this area immensely. The people, the location, the culture is awesome and perfect for me. It provides me with easy access to other major cities: New York, Philadelphia, Boston for example. Yet, I'm also close to the beauty of the south: North Carolina, Raliegh/Durham, West Virginia, and am even close to beaches: Ocean City. DC is a place thriving with various cultures and people from all over the world. I've seen thousands of tourists during all kinds of weather viewing the great sites within this city. I've been able to experience the world class museums that are part of the amazing Smithsonian Institutue and have seen almost every kind of exhibit imaginable. I've hiked throughout this city, explored various aspects and neighborhoods and yet have still missed so much. I've learned a subway system so completely I don't even have to look at a map to tell you the line it's on or which direction to go. My work area is known to me like the back of my hand and walk along the streets automatically. The architecture, sites, sounds are all awesome and will be thoroughly missed.
My apartment itself was great, although a little further out then orignially planned, especially from the metro station. It was a studio, although technically considered an extended studio. It was amazingly lit with a balcony window and even had a small bedroom alcove so that the bed area was not immediately noticed when entering the apartment. It had a full kitchen and bath, complete with a dishwasher- which I've never had before. Central air and heat, pool and fitness room access, security guards, front and back key entry and floor to ceiling closets. It was a truly an amazing place. I really liked it, and it was right next door to a park and so I'd often hike through the trails. The deer, foxes, squirrels, and other neighborhood park animals will be missed. Speaking of animals I saw the world famous panda bears at the National Zoo- very cute and sweet.
My job, though, will not be missed, nor the endless amounts of bureracracy that is rampant in Washington. My job definitely did not turn out as expected and did not need someone with a Master's in Environmental Public Health. It had frustrations, times of enjoyment and lots of reading... but overall not anything that I want to do forever. It gave me a chance to see federal work and how committees, reports, and guidelines are formed. I have come to realize why it does actually take so long for change to occur and how tedious it can all be. My mentor was great and he taught me alot and allowed me to see certain sides of government. I learned more about ethics, and especially about human research ethics and know that this will be important in the future. I've expanded my knowledge regarding environmental awareness and project reviews, but althogether know it's not my future.
All in all, the place has been great for me, the job, not so much. Now it's time to visit family and friends before beginning the next stage of my life.