Monday was the first official day of the institute. This began with a very large cup of coffee. I have a lot of respect for people who are naturally morning people, but for me, it’s a bit of a battle to get up at 7 am. Slowly we got ready and started the trek towards the DC office. Tips we learned on the first day of commuting:
- Single Day passes are not valid until 9:30 am—meaning you can’t use them for your 8 am commute
- No food or drink is allowed on the metro. Translation to those who clutch their coffee mug to be able to cope with the morning, the coffee is going to have to wait until the office.
The morning was filled with introductions and an overview of the schedule for the summer. Just a quick plug for the DC office, they can be immensely helpful, you just need to reach out to them. Do it! They’re incredibly nice and have connections throughout DC.
Onto the class. My first impression—WOW! Professor Arsenault’s passion for teaching is incredible. Her reputation precedes her as an incredibly challenging professor who is not afraid to call students out for anything. Going into the class I was quite intimidated. In addition, she has more experience working in different institutions in DC than many people three times her age. She is not only engaged in the policy community, but also in helping to teach the next generations, and she does that by pushing students harder than they thought possible. Her class is not for bystanders. Everyone is drawn into the discussion either willingly or forcefully. That might sound terrible, but it is done in the most easy-going way possible. Yeah students may be put on the spot, but it’s about getting them talking and sharing what they think. Everyone has an opinion, they might just need a little encouragement to share it.
The day flew by like a blur. At the beginning, I was intimidated by not only Arsenault, but also the fellow students. Seeing the list of where some students were going to be interning was incredible and reason to be intimidated. I left the class however, still slightly intimidated by my classmates, but mostly inspired by the discussion we had. Everyone was willing to listen and add onto others points, and disagreement was completely acceptable. It seems rare that debates surrounding political decisions are able to stay so calm.
Day 1 Lesson – Don’t be afraid to jump off the edge and into the debate. What you get out of it will be much more rewarding then the fear going into it.