I realize I haven’t posted anything in a while. My first week in DC was one of the most hectic weeks I have had in a long time.
I had to overcome culture shock, attend classes, start work as an ITS Intern at the Brookings Institution and worst of all: miss my girlfriend and family. Being apart from them is tough, but luckily they’ve been mentally supporting me throughout every step.
Yes, there have been some downs, but I also managed to do some cool stuff in DC!
To get us more familiar with the neighborhood, The Washington Center organized a fully guided tour of the US Capitol. I am not going to lie, a building with that much history and decision-making dropped my jaw throughout the whole visit. Since it was Saturday, we were unfortunately not able to see the US Congress in session.
We did get to see Frank Underwood’s old office!
Food and drinks in the US
The food here is way different. And by that, I mean EVERYTHING is bigger. My biggest mistake was ordering a chicken burrito for lunch. It was delicious, but it could feed three people for lunch AND dinner! Shortly after I went our for a slice of pizza with my roommate Maurice, and the slice was bigger than a single slice of pizza in Belgium. I can’t complain about the taste, though. The food here is pretty amazing, but I can see myself taking a lot of left-overs to work for lunch.
That aside, the ‘imported’ foods we know at home aren’t the same here. Nutella here is one of the biggest lies here. It looks the same, comes in the same packaging, but tastes far from what we know in Belgium. I think I might like the US version better.
Being an intern at The Brookings Institution is awesome. I am currently working in their IT Services department, analyzing metrics using powerful business intelligence tools. It’s very unfortunate that I am not primarily working with their networking or security implementations, but this is also cool. It’s only been a week, so who knows what the not too distant future might hold.
Another thing that’s interesting is the gap that exists between classroom ideals and real world deployments. If something goes wrong, it goes wrong badly. On my first day, we experienced outages with the badge system and some of the servers – around a thousand people directly depend on those systems, so that did cause some problems.
Apart from a small IT outage, my first day was pretty cool. I was immediately thrown into three different meetings, directly partaking and helping to shape the Institution’s IT infrastructure.
Not everything can be cool, though. Brookings is a large organization, so I don’t have any fancy administrator powers or permission to modify any internals. I don’t usually mind, as long as I can do my work. But today disaster struck for me. I came into work and was greeted by an amazing “No bootable devices, strike F1 to retry boot”-message. After some troubleshooting with the friendly service desk guys, I received a new computer – which had the same problems. I hope I get a new workstation on Monday so I can continue working :-). But hey, not a bad word (ever) about my colleagues at ITS – they’re all awesome!
All my colleagues are fantastic. Everyone is friendly and open to questions and some conversation. I feel welcome when coming into work.
That’s probably enough rambling for now. I’ll posting more regularly in the future!