1. Seattle is gorgeous, and the rain stereotype is not true (at least in the summer). There’s an abundance of natural beauty in and around the city. Seattle is surrounded by oceans, lakes, mountains, and parks, and the weather is almost perfect – warm without being humid, and cool enough in the evenings that air conditioning isn’t necessary. It also hasn’t rained since I got here.
2. The 40-hour workweek is not easy. Granted, it’s not as stressful as the night before a final, but pretending to be an adult can get exhausting quickly. After working for eight consecutive hours, it’s awfully tempting to spend the evening eating instant ramen and watching Netflix until you fall asleep, only to wake up the next day and start the cycle again. It’s not that working full-time is boring – on the contrary, independent living can be as exciting as you want it to be. But it also requires choosing to actively avoid the path of least resistance.
3. If you want to make a visible impact on the people around you, consider working locally. Futurewise spends a significant portion of its time writing letters, campaigning, and testifying in front of city and state governments – and the amazing thing is, it actually works. There’s a reason why House of Cards, a show about the federal government, is fundamentally pessimistic about the democratic process, whereas Parks and Recreation, a show about local government, is optimistic about the power of public servants. I got to sit in on a city council meeting today, and everyday citizens were able to share their experiences with their elected representatives and influence the way they voted. It’s a shame that local government isn’t given more attention, because the legislation they vote on – bills related to zoning, local schools, taxes, and infrastructure – are far more likely to affect your daily life than anything receiving 24-hour coverage on Capitol Hill.
5. Pay attention to how your identity informs your experiences. At the most recent community night, several concerns about safety in the Seattle program were brought up that hadn’t even crossed my mind. But as I thought about it, I quickly understood how the roads that I felt comfortable walking could be intimidating and dangerous for someone who wasn’t me. Don’t get me wrong – I know that street harassment is a real problem faced by women every day, but it can be easy to forget that others may not have the same privileges as you if you don’t take the time to listen to their stories.
6. Have a positive attitude. This advice isn’t really specific to the Seattle program, and it may be naïve and cliché, but it’s also done a lot more to help me through my day than cynicism has. Throughout this week, I’ve been surprised at how much fun I’ve had at events I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to – mandatory volunteering opportunities, or awkward networking dinners, for example. Looking ahead, I’m going to do my best to keep an open mind, and make the most of my time in this incredible city.