Instead of walking up the hill to Hollenbeck Hall everyday for class, I am making my way up a slightly different Hill. This Hill is a little less steep, but a lot more exciting than the one that lies at the heart of Wittenberg’s campus. This Hill lies at the very center of our nation’s capital.
My name is Lauren Smigelski and I am junior political science major at Wittenberg and currently interning on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C in the office of the Speaker of the House John Boehner. I am participating in the Lutheran College Washington Semester (LCWS), a program that Wittenberg offers to all students. LCWS is located in Rosslyn, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia and serves about 40 students every semester from 13 different Lutheran colleges, including Witt. This semester, juniors Andrew Dolvin, Caitlan Ruff, Amanda Shipley, and myself are representing Wittenberg in D.C.
Dr. Edward Hasecke, a political science professor at Witt and the advisor for the program on campus, describes LCWS as “a real gem because we don’t hand you over to another university. The Washington Semester program is Wittenberg in DC.”, and I couldn’t agree more. He says, “It has the feel of a small school with the personal touches and close interaction with the staff,” just like Wittenberg.
All students in the program obtain a full-time internship and take two classes while participating in the program. Wittenberg offers eight credit hours for the internship and another eight credits for your classes, so currently I am earning a full semester’s worth of credit. As a political science major, my internship credits are directly fulfilling many of my departmental requirements. “We can help get great internships that are geared towards the needs of our liberal arts students”, says Dr. Hasecke of the internships opportunities in D.C. But, do not be fooled that you have to be a political science major to participate in this program. Biology majors to communications majors are pursuing internships pertinent to their field of study.
I have been in the greater D.C. area now for about a month and I have to say that it is extremely different from what I expected and extremely different from the ‘bubble’ of Wittenberg. For one thing, D.C. is a booming metropolis and on any given work day there are about 2 million people in the District, a little different than Springfield’s population of 60,000. I have a car at Wittenberg, so getting around is really simple. Here in D.C., my main mode of transportation is the Metro rail system and getting places takes a little more planning. I am also living in an apartment for the semester, so coming from the cushy lifestyle of prepared meals; I have had to learn to cook for myself. Aside from all the practical aspects, there is a lot more to do in D.C.
There are so many things to see in the D.C. area and, for the most part, they are free. The city has countless monuments and memorials; amazing museums that are part of the Smithsonian; musical and theatrical performances; all that you could possibly want to know about American politics, and much, much more.
If you are not sure if you want to study away from Witt in a foreign country, but you still want to do something different for a semester, I definitely recommend the Washington Semester. I am having experiences I never dreamed of and gaining knowledge firsthand about what I might want to do someday.
For more information about how to participate in the Lutheran College Washington Semester contact Dr. Hasecke in the Political Science Department. Applications for Fall 2011/Spring 2012 are due MARCH 1st (email@example.com).
(Lauren Smigelski / firstname.lastname@example.org)