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It is hard to believe that I am nearly halfway through my summer here in Washington DC. For one, my work with science policy has been going quite well, and I imagine that I will be sad to leave when the summer ends. But beyond that, I have also really enjoyed adapting to the new environment. Washington DC is an extremely walkable city, filled with plenty of exciting events and historical attributes perfect for the curious newcomer.

Back at Duke, I often felt confined to the campus. Durham has its share of corners to explore, but it is not nearly like Washington DC. I acquired a bike this past year, hoping to use it to explore the areas around campus more. In this respect, biking definitely helped me get out more, but not nearly to the extent that I had hoped it would. Walking is not a great option to get everywhere in Durham. So, I assumed I would resort to biking again while in DC in order to see the city. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this is not the case!

Here, I can walk nearly anywhere I want to go. If I am traveling a more substantial distance, there is a plethora of public transportation to utilize. The expanse of the city is easily accessible, from overcrowded tourist hubs like the national mall to obsolete corners of residential areas. If I need to make a trip to the grocery store, I walk. If I want to see a museum, I walk. I no longer need to stress out over delays from traffic; I even walk to my workplace every morning.

My favorite part of DC is easily the potential to explore on foot. Walking makes distances feel more tangible, landmarks more recognizable, and the overall layout of the city more comprehensible. By walking, I have developed a good mental map of the areas around where I live. I no longer need to look up directions between locations even if I am going to a new location, because I can be confident that my internal compass will get me there (although, perhaps not on the fastest route). Plus, by walking, I have stumbled across patches of greenery hidden in the city whose existence I never would have suspected otherwise.

From where I live, it is 2.0 miles to the Capitol and 0.6 miles to the White House, two of the most key political locations in the United States today. It is 1.5 miles to my workplace—the same building that houses huge organizations like CNN. I initially struggled to grasp my proximity to these prominent places, but I have grown to treasure it. Stumbling across iconic monuments and museums no longer fazes me. On a detour home once, I discovered the beautiful gardens by the National Galleries. I returned on a later date for an evening jazz concert hosted there. The event was extremely crowded, and there were virtually no seats. I used the opportunity to explore the garden, appreciating the music and reflecting on the many unique things I have stumbled across simply because I have been able to walk everywhere. There is no other city with quite the same potential on foot.