• Michelle Howell

Surviving or Thriving in the Urban Jungle?

As the nations capital, Washington DC isn't just the pinnacle of political power in the United States or a tourist destination, but a vibrant and growing cosmopolitan city.

When I first started to tell friends and family I was moving to the DC area the responses were mixed to say the least. I was told I'd love it, I'd hate, I'd never want to leave, I'd want to leave after a year. The truth is that even after three months of living in the District I'm not sure how I really feel about living here. So far I've lived out most of the cons I was warned about; the inconsistencies of the metro, the traffic that's manages to somehow be worse than the metro at times, the growing rodent problem (day 1 I witnessed two rats fighting over what appeared to be another dead rat), the ladies of the night (who tend to be making their way home at about the same time yours truly is starting the day off ), the tent cities due to the homeless problems faced by the city, and of course the constant inflow of tourists who have no idea how to use the metro properly, but continue to do so.

Needless to say it's never easy adjusting to a new city. With that being said transitioning to living in the DC has been no exception. There have been at least two occasions so far that I've had a melt down in public; one being when I discovered someone attempted to steal my bike and the other when I confronted a random person on the street near my home who decided to liter despite there being a trash can 5 feet in front of them, but everyone has those days right?

After three months of being in the District there are a few things I've learned in order to survive in the Capital City:

Asphalt over concrete, gravel when possible

I've been slowly adjusting to my new life as an "urban" runner as Maxwell would say. I've never run on more concrete in my life, something my now cranky plantar can attest to. The first couple weeks were brutal having not realized how difference there actually is between running on asphalt verses concrete. It took another couple weeks until I figured out my way around on the area's bike trails that wrap through the capital and stretch out toward Virginia, Maryland, and as far as Pennsylvania.

Nowadays you'll find me hugging the grass along sidewalks whenever possible and always making my way toward one of the trail systems.

Bring the Green inside

I grew up on a 2 acre yard and spent most of my childhood outside. In Jacksonville, my back porch looked out onto the woods and I spent most of my mornings having breakfast outside looking onto them, afternoons working out by the St. John's river and evenings taking walks into the woods. Green-space has never been something my life has lacked.

With space at a premium, green-space in the city comes far and few in-between. The parks that are near my apartment can barely be considered parks in my mind and do nothing to help you feel like your no longer in the city. With that being said I've decided to bring the green to me. Our small apartment is slowly accumulating more and more plant friends by the month.

My new favorite thing has been buying fresh eucalyptus from Trader Joe's to hand in the shower and having fresh flowers on the coffee table.

Navigating the Food Scene

The biggest perk of living in a city is without a doubt the endless food options. Finding healthy options on the go has never been easier for me despite my food allergies (thank goodness gluten free dieting became a thing). The only downside to the endless food options is the fact that the prices reflect that they are within a city. The biggest lesson I've learned is to really budget out how much I'm spending eating on the go and saving certain places for special occasions.

My current favorites within a reasonable price range thus far have been Cava, HipCityVeg, South Block , and The Little Beet for the days I don't have time to pack lunch.

South Block Açaí Bowl

HipCityVeg Peanut Butter Shake

Let Free-dom ring

In the past few months I've done more activities for free then ever before in my life. From museums to fitness classes, there is no lack of things to do on a budget within the District. The museums and exhibits aren't just for the tourists, they're a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of things and decompress. With all Smithsonian museums being free to the public they're a great way to spend my off days from training and work.

While a good majority of the classes I've attended have been coordinated through work, most studios offer complimentary classes, in some cases a weeks worth, the key is just searching for them. They've been a cool way to explore new areas and meet new people along the way.

DC may have it's flaws and I'm still not thrilled that my commute takes up more of my day then I'd like, but it's got it's perks that seem for now to outweigh (most) of the cons. I'm looking forward to exploring more of my new home in the coming months and continue to adapt to my new lifestyle.

The District might not be home yet, but it's getting closer to it everyday.

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