Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Nanjing to DC: Maintaining the HNC Community in DC

Cady Deck, HNC Certificate '19 + SAIS MA '20, talks about her Fall 2019 transition to life in Washington, DC.

Transitioning to DC was probably easier for me than most because I went to college a few blocks away, but the adjustment from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center back to DC was still significant. 

The most immediate challenge was finding housing. At the HNC, we had dorm-style living, but in DC all students live off campus. My friends and I really liked the community aspect at the HNC and wanted to maintain that in DC. We decided we should look for a house together in DC close to campus. Originally there were only three of us, but the number slowly expanded to seven. Looking for a house that can accommodate seven people is, unsurprisingly, a bit difficult. We found a nice house one metro stop away and spent the first month or so searching for and collecting secondhand furniture and appliances. We are now fully stocked!

The transition to DC life and classes at SAIS was a lot easier because of the mini community we built at our house and the frequent activities we host with the wider HNC community. After settling in, we had a couple of dumpling parties and an HNC get together with current and former HNC students. As a house, we visited the National Arboretum and went to dinner on the way back. A few of us also went to a Washington Nationals game right before playoffs began! 

Making dumplings from scratch!
Visiting the National Arboretum with my housemates
Sampling the local Chinese cuisine after walking around
the Arboretum
Go Nats!

More frequent are our game and movie nights, which remind me a lot of nights spent in the HNC lounge watching movies and playing games. We don’t have the same variety of games at the house, but we’re working on our collection. While the reading load is fairly heavy at SAIS and many of us have campus jobs or internships, we still find time to relax and have fun. Most recently we made hotpot together and watched several horror movies. 

Prepping for hotpot

At the HNC I played basketball almost every day and played soccer on the weekends. SAIS doesn’t have a basketball court or soccer field on campus, so I joined the SAIS soccer team. We play every weekend in a local league and play pickup games on bye weeks. Playing sports is a great way to get to know more people at SAIS who may not be in the same concentration or have the same career interests. There are a couple of HNC alumni on the team in addition to current SAIS students and a lot of people who studied in Bologna. 

(Left) SAIS Soccer team DC + Nanjing; (Right) Fans and players at DC + Nanjing v. Bologna match

Though the transition can be tough and the reading load much larger, I encourage students to find a routine and try to maintain a sense of community, both with HNC students and other SAIS students. Part of my routine involves going to talks around DC and finding events on the weekends (in addition to sports). Students should definitely take advantage of all of the unique opportunities DC has to offer!

Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking at a CSIS event

Written by Cady Deck, Certificate '19 + Johns Hopkins SAIS MA '20