By Nikita (Mykyta) Drakokhrust, Undergraduate student in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Faculty of Arts
Note from the Editor: Nikita Drakokhrust was 1 of 13 Politics and Governance students who traveled to Washington DC from March 4 – March 12, 2017. The trip is a major component of the course CPOG490: Politics and Government in Washington DC.
Whether you have traveled before or not, your expectations are usually very different from what your experiences turn out to be. Having traveled to several countries before, I figured Washington DC would be another trip with tourism and of course school work. But it wasn’t.
Photo with Steve Scully
Senior Executive Producer and Political Editor at C-SPAN,
who has been nicknamed “the most patient man on television” by John Oliver
Washington DC is of course the capital of the most influential country and currently one of the most controversial. But when you ask an average person, especially outside of America, what they know about the history of Washington and the answer will probably be ‘not much’.
For me politics was always a passion, and understanding the various governmental systems across the world and the organizations that aid each government has always fascinated me. Visiting Washington was probably one of the most breathtaking experiences. But not breathtaking like the view from the top of a mountain, or a sunrise in the Arctic, but rather the amazement of the grand-scale of the American government.
The group with Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania (front center) at the U.S Capitol
The moment you step foot outside of the Ronald Reagan airport you begin to get a sense that there really are no limits as to how far mankind can go. This feeling begins with the architecture of Washington DC. The grand marble figures of past presidents and important historical figures, 20 foot ceilings, and the overall neoclassical architectural style of buildings reminding you of the great Roman and Greek empires.
Everywhere you go in Washington DC there is an immense presence of power and importance. Having spent quite some time in Ottawa, and inside of our government buildings, I was able to draw a comparison between the two countries and their scale of government operations.
The Ryerson students had the pleasure of being in Washington with students from Penn State University. Throughout our trip we got to discuss the difference between our governments, and also learn a lot about the functions of the U.S government. Many of us had different experiences and understandings that we took away from trip.
My personal lesson from this trip and from my past few travels, was perspective. Once you witness how diverse and complex the world is, you begin to realize what is really important in your life, and the lives of everyday people. Those small things we used to worry about all the time no longer seem stress-worthy, and I was able to understand how privileged and lucky I am to have had such an amazing opportunity to travel and learn about the world outside of my classroom.
Now, when I go about my everyday business, I look at things a little different, and often if I find myself stressed about something I always reference it to how my actions and worries compare to the grand scale of things in life.
As cliché as it sounds, traveling really changes your life and gives you a new perspective on things. I would encourage every person take the opportunity to travel and experience new things without hesitation.
Visiting the Pentagon
Click here for more information on CPOG490: Politics and Government in Washington DC.