UW Global Gateway DC
As I look back on my Global Gateway DC experience, only positive thoughts come to mind. At the beginning of the trip, I was concerned about the social aspects of this experience, of not being able to connect or form friendships with the rest of the students. In hindsight, I had nothing to worry about. I was not part of the group travel arrangements, which in turn allowed me to make up this isolating narrative in my head of how the rest of the students would already have formed a bond and gotten to know each other before they even landing in Washington DC, and how I would be the odd man out. I thought that this “late start”, which is ironic because I got to DC a solid 24 hours before everyone else did, would determine whether I would spend the entirety of the twenty days we spent out there alone. Again, in retrospect this all sounds ridiculous, but as someone who does not always thrive in social situations this felt like a predetermined social death sentence.
I would say that I am a what you see is what you get type of person, and I usually do not put so much thought into whether people will like me or not. That said, something about being stuck in the microcosm that was the Global Gateway DC experience with a group of people that could possibly dislike me, really stressed me out. Multiple friends in the past have commented on how I can be perceived as being a little too forward with people right from the get-go, and how that can sometimes rub people the wrong way, and lead to a bad first impression. Given this lovely track record, I was nervous to say the least, to be potentially trapped inside of this global gateway bubble with no friends. At the end of the day, I wished that I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about all of this on the days leading up to the program. I guess that I can’t claim that I personally did anything to overcome this challenge, it was more like the people around me put me at ease. I really am so grateful for having met such a wonderful group of people who just made me feel so comfortable and like I belonged right from the start, even after having missed out on their shared delayed-flight-overnight-hotel bonding time. My nerves only truly lasted till the first day of the program, one awkward lobby introduction and multiple outlandish sidewalk conversations later, and they were completely gone. I kind of want to thank who ever selected and put us all together because they truly did all the heavy lifting in this case, just by picking such good quality human beings. Not only did I not spend all twenty days alone, as I exaggeratedly anticipated originally, but I also left the program with (hopefully long lasting) friendships with people that I probably would have never crossed paths with on campus.