Meet NYUDC Global Peer Mentor, Olivia!

Throughout the semester, you will have the opportunity to hear from NYU Washington, DC, alumni to gain their firsthand insight and tips.

Today, meet Olivia, who studied there in Spring 2016.


Major: Public Policy

What is your favorite memory about your time in Washington? One of my favorite memories from studying away happened in the first two weeks I arrived. A big snow storm hit Washington, DC (“Snowzilla”) and we got around three feet. The morning after the storm, me and a few other people in the building decided to take a walk over to the national mall to sled. None of us had sleds so we used baking sheets covered in garbage bags! The walk over took a while with all of the snow and it was a great time to talk and learn more about each other. We arrived at the Lincoln Memorial and went sledding down the steps. It was a lot of fun! Something that made it really special was the fact that for some people in the group, this was their first time seeing snow in real life. This day really kickstarted a lot of friendships for me that semester.

What was the most interesting course you took and why? I took a course called Expressive Cultures: Film and it was the most interesting for me by far because it was unlike anything I had ever taken. Each week we watched a new show or movie and analyzed the production of it. We watched things like House of Cards, The Wire, and even the Exorcist. I was exposed to shows and movies I would not have watched otherwise and learned a lot about the work that goes on behind the scenes of a movie. I also learned about the history of Washington, DC through the lens of the big screen.

What two things do you wish you had packed? I wish I had packed more sweaters and thick pants/leggings. I arrived in January and it was FREEZING. I did not expect it to be that cold and wound up having to go out and buy sweaters and other types of warm clothing.

Name two things you should not have packed.  I brought shorts, short sleeved shirts and sandals that I really didn’t wear until the end of the semester. I underestimated how long the cold would last and wound up with clothes in my closet I just was not wearing. I would recommend taking a few summer items with you when you move in and seeing how the temperature changes. I was lucky enough that I could call home and ask my parents to ship items I needed.

What do you miss most? I miss the small community of the Washington, DC site. It was definitely a big difference from the huge student body in NYC, but I found that I liked it. I knew pretty much everyone in the building (if not by name, then by face). I felt that we were connected enough that I could easily knock on a random person’s door and ask them for help with something. It was a really good feeling.

One good way to get to know locals is: To get the locals, I would look into locations that aren’t large tourist attractions. I would venture into areas like Columbia Heights or Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and check out shops or cafes that I had not heard of before and that didn’t seem too crowded. This was a good way to get a more authentic feel for the area and to experience new things.

If there’s one thing students should know about DC, it is: Washington, DC is a hub of networks. I learned so much about networking in the semester I spent there. People develop relationships with each other and from there are able to move ahead in whatever career path they choose. It is good to make connections with people who are in fields that interest you because it will definitely be useful in the future as you are deciding what you would like you do.

What advice would you give about housing? The Washington, D.C. kitchens are limited in space so being only what you need. We were provided with pots and pans which was great because we didn’t need to being our own. There aren’t drawers in the kitchen so it would be a good idea to get some kind of container for utensils. I got a cheap vase from TJ Maxx that my roommates and I filled with our utensils and put on the counter.

If you could go back in time and do one thing differently, what would it be? The NYU DC site had a free gym membership for students and I wish I had taken full advantage of it! We had access to the gym facilities and a number of classes for absolutely no cost. They offered yoga, spin class, Zumba, even pole dancing! The best part was, the gym was literally a one minute walk from the building so you didn’t have to go out of your way to get there.