May 6th- May 11th
It seems so odd that this will be my last DC blog. I have really enjoyed writing these! It has been a great way for me to debrief and catalog my trip. I know not many people have followed this blog, but I hope you all have enjoyed my rants and writings. As per usual, I will go through my week day by day. The last part of the blog will be my thoughts on the whole experience! I am writing this a week late, so some of the days won’t have too much.
Monday was The Washington Center’s commencement ceremony! Like all commencements, it was boring. I sat at the back and played on my phone the whole time, as did my roommate, Nasir. That afternoon I ate for the last time at my favorite Greek place across the street. If you are ever in DC, be sure to go up to Silver Spring, MD, to eat at the Big Greek Café! It is on Georgia Ave and Wayne St., or right around there. Tuesday was like any other Tuesday. It was slow, so we didn’t really have much to do. I whipped up my last round of PCMH score slides for Wednesday’s morning report and that was about it! That evening was pretty dull; I was trying to save money so I would have a nice cushion in case something happened whilst traveling home.
Wednesday was my last day at the VA Medical Center. Obviously we didn’t do too much. We skipped out early to go eat at Taylor’s Gourmet Hoagies; my gosh, it was amazing! I had an Italian Sausage foot long with grilled peppers and onions and provolone cheese on a fresh loaf of bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! On the way there, we passed the post office where Anthrax was first introduced to America! haha After we ate, Lauryn and I said our final goodbye to Diane, our boss and rode with Jonathan, one of our awesome coworkers who came with us, to the metro stop to be dropped off. At the metro stop, Lauryn, Jonathan, and I all said our final goodbyes. When I was headed back to Silver Spring, I realized I left my bag in Diane’s car! We met up and I got it within 20 minutes, so it was no big deal.
Thursday was my last class in DC and in my junior year of college! I just had to take a test, which wasn’t too bad. I know I made an A in the class! I decided that before class, I would walk around the National Mall one last time! I started at Union Station, walked up to the Capitol Building, walked west towards the Lincoln Memorial, went south to the Jefferson Memorial, and then walked back to Union Station. I know that sounds easy on paper, but that was a ton of walking. To add to it, I got poured on by a microburst. I had to spend the next three hours in wet socks and shoes! It sucked. But once I got back to Union Station, I decided that it was just time for me to walk to class, so I did! I took the test, said bye to Dr. Dieguez, and then ate at Five Guys burgers to celebrate. Unfortunately, they jacked up my order, but it was still super good! Honestly, I really enjoyed forensic psych! Dr. Dieguez was a great professor. I wish he taught at RSU! Haha
Friday was my last day in DC. I slept til around 9:30, got up, and then had an informational interview with an IO psychologist who worked in the VA! That was a good experience. After that, I cleaned the apartment really well, did my laundry, packed, had my RA check out, and then went to Bossa one last time. I went by myself and had a good ol time! I also ate at the Jumbo Slice pizza place one last time! It was good and greasy, as per usual. The music started a bit late, but it was worth the wait! I got rained on heading home too; I think DC was crying because I was leaving. :/
Saturday was my trip back home! The beginning of the trip was a prime example of Murphy’s Law; everything that can go wrong did in fact go wrong. Luckily, I gave myself enough time to take that into account! Haha For starters, one of the wheels on my huge bag broke right as I was leaving the apartment. Then, the Yellow Line did not come, so I had to hop on the Blue Line, which takes a huge detour. After that, the train stopped for around five minutes right outside the airport station. Next, I got my luggage checked, which was no problem, but the security line was huge! By then, Murphy decided to give me a break, and I got to jump near the start of a new security line. I even had time to grab some Panda Express for breakfast around 9:30 even though it does not open until 10. Murphy decided to jab a me one last time, and I had to check my carry-on bag because the gatekeeper said it wouldn’t fit in the over head compartment, which was total BS. Haha Once I got in the air, it was smooth sailing. I arrived in Dallas, grabbed some McDons, and then hopped on my next flight right away! The gates were really close, so it was nice. Once I got to Tulsa, I met up with my mom and sister, grabbed my luggage, and then got a huge greeting from the dogs at home! I had finally made it home!
I will more than likely start to miss DC in a few days. That’s usually how it goes with long trips to cool places it seems! All in all, it was an experience of a lifetime. I learned professional and office etiquette, met great people, learned some of my strengths and weaknesses that I had not really noticed before, and realized what I want to do for a career. Going into the trip, I really wanted to go into Industrial Organizational psychology. After shadowing a neuropsychologist and sitting in on different neuropsych things, I realized that I really want to be a neuropsychologist! I was practically giddy when I did some of the neuropsych things. I will like it a lot more than IO psych I am sure.
It was great getting to hang out with my friend Brandon. We hadn’t really talked much since he graduated, but it was great to rekindle that friendship. We had a ton of fun together! We explored DC, camped in the hills of Maryland, rushed around NYC, and went to great museums together as well as just staying in, eating pizza, playing video games, and watching Modern Family. Without him, I don’t think I would have had nearly as much fun!
My experience at the VA was great and will look amazing on my resume! Haha I learned a lot there about the healthcare system, office etiquette, and navigating office politics. Haha Diane was a fantastic boss and great mentor! I will miss her. After working at the VA for 3 months, I do not think I want to have a career in the government. Haha It was sad to see our tax dollars being used inefficiently. That is no diss to Diane and those I were surrounded by, but I heard a ton of stories and saw many things that speak to bureaucratic inefficiency. I think the Veterans Health Administration is trying to do right and take care of the veterans, but honestly, I am not sure if it is as good of a system as it could be. There is so much yellow tape and hoops that needed to be jumped through it seemed. Sometimes I wonder if it would work better just to fee base out the care for veterans to the private sector and do away with the VA medical centers. Medical centers and hospitals are complex by nature, and the bureaucratic layer just seems to add to it. But then again, I was only there for 3 months. I am sure I am not nearly as informed about the inner workings of the VA. These are just some thoughts and observations!
I should probably talk about the good things I saw at the VA too! Haha as the saying goes “It is the squeaky wheel that gets the oil,” so the bad cases would naturally get more attention than the good ones. I saw a lot of good things at the VA! One was the 105-year-old WWII African-American female veteran I got to meet. She will be in my thoughts the rest of my life. She was so spunky and full of life despite being old and only having one leg. It always brought a smile to my face when I would see her zip around the facility on her power chair. Haha It was also humbling to see veterans who have lost both of their legs walk around and state of the art prosthetic legs. There were so many good cases I heard while being there; it is important to not let the negative things overshadow the good. I heard a lot of bad stories simply because I worked in the office that they came through. All in all, I know the VA is working hard to take care of our heroes, and I am so proud to have been a part of that team. I think I will try to hook up with the VA in Muskogee and volunteer there.
Going to DC was one of the best decisions I made. I am excited for the big new adventure that is approaching in the future. I am not entirely sure what it is, but I am looking forward to it.