In my 21 years on the planet, this fall marks my first time living in a big city. Of course, I have visited – made day trips to Manhattan, spent weekends in Philly and been to Dade County. But this is the first time I’ve had a permanent address in a metropolis, and this is my first job in an office building.
I’m from a farming area in New Jersey and go to a college surrounded by more dirt than asphalt and more cows than people. I spent all summer working in an orchard, climbing ladders and tending to fruit trees. I essentially got paid to work out and be outdoors, not to mention the endless produce! Once it came time to go back to school and begin my internship, I began to get nervous about being indoors for long stretches of time. I’d miss the breeze and sunshine, I’d miss the flora and fresh air, and I’d miss the warblers and sparrows singing. And to be honest, I’d even miss the farm’s enormous compost heap and the way it smelled in incredible heat.
Now that I’ve been thrust into city life, it’s taken some getting used to. How does a ragamuffin from central Jersey blend in with the hip crowd of DC? My work uniform was a ratty tank top, shorts and sunglasses, none of these blazer/pencil skirt/heels ensembles. Of all the pests I used to deal with on a regular basis at the farm, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a cockroach up close. And I’ve never felt like a bigger tourist than when I had to consult my subway map four or five times to find out I was on the wrong train.
If I can’t have my fresh air, though, I’ll make the most out of this city stuff. I’ve been making a constant effort to stay connected to my new environment. I found the oasis that is Montrose Park and spent hours in its sun and shade. My roommate and I just went to a Nationals game, on one of the most pleasant Saturdays of the season. I can even bird watch from my balcony, albeit just some pigeons, but still. For someone used to being surrounded by nature, it’s a little comfort. I’m steadily moving from being overwhelmed to becoming much more comfortable here.
They might make a city mouse out of me yet.
About the author: Kelsey Sollner is a senior from Susquehanna University majoring in journalism. She works as an intern in the EPA’s Office of Web Communications.