An important aspect of studying away is the opportunity for you to learn more about your chosen host country and how identities may be understood and perceived within this new context. We encouraged you to begin researching some of the challenges and opportunities you may encounter, and plan ahead by identifying people and resources that can help you make the most of your experience away. The information below offers brief descriptions of identity-based topics in Washington, DC, and the United States more broadly, as well as access to people, resources, and programs you can connect with before and after you get there.
DC can be an expensive city, however, it is less costly than NYC. Because most of the museums are free, and the city has a large budget for free cultural events like shows at the Kennedy and yoga, it is easy to find activities that fit a tight budget. Because the metro is different than in NY– they charge by distance – it can get costly for commuters who live outside the city, but WMATA offers unlimited passes that can help you save a lot of money. There is also Circulator Buses that are free of charge. Groceries are 17 percent cheaper than in NY, and since there is no meal plan, this will be a big part of your budget. In general, expect to pay $280-$400 on airfare depending on where you are coming from.
US federal laws surrounding disability access are strict when it comes to federal buildings, and because DC consists of mostly federal land, it is an excellent site for people with physical disabilities to study abroad. It is one of the world’s most wheelchair accessible cities. Most metro and bus stops have aids for people with hearing and seeing disabilities, as well as elevators and escalators. In the event an elevator is out of service, there is an app with live notifications, and a shuttle which can get you from the nearest station with a working elevator to your original destination.
While DC is considered to be a safe city, there are still areas that can be considered dangerous at night, so students should exercise good judgment and common sense. Overall, DC is 13th on the Gender Equality Index Rank, but cases of income inequality and violence against women are still prevalent. Furthermore, while the #MeToo movement has empowered women speak out against sexual harassment, drastic power dynamics in DC tend to enable workplace harassment. Even so, female representation and women in positions of power have dramatically increased since they were given the right to vote in 1920.
In 2013, the NYT called DC the “gayest place in America.” When compared with the 50 states, it has the highest percentage of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on 2015, and while a number of states have been trying to reverse the decision, DC is a welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community. There are multiple neighborhoods with a host of gay-centered businesses and bars, and two gay newspapers.
The Best LGBTQ-Friendly Events, Things To Do & More
The Equality Act
Race & Ethnicity
Despite a large majority of working professionals in the city being white, the city is largely black (47 percent). The city is also host to a large community of Latinx people (10 percent). While across the country sentiments against immigrant communities have grown, DC remains isolated in its pro immigrant attitude. Of course, the rhetoric from the White House and constant news cycles can be exhausting for students of color, but there is a comfort in knowing that the great majority of people who live there and exist outside the White House greatly oppose the prevalence of exclusionary rhetoric. The great multiculturalism of the city has created great hubs for communities of color.
Religion & Spirituality
DC is predominantly Christian/Catholic but Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Buddhist, Adventist, Lutheran, Muslim, Buddhist, Mormon and Hindu communities are also well represented. Here, many times religion is greatly tied with party association; however, the amount of people with no religious affiliation has been increasing for the past few years. Recently, the Trump administration implemented a “Muslim Ban” and created an atmosphere of hostility towards the Muslim community. Prominent figures like Ilhan Ohmar and Rashida Tlaib face a lot abuse, which can bleed out to the local community.