How do I love thee?... Let me count the ways
Updated: Nov 13, 2018
About a month has gone by since the last instalment and much has changed in our plans.
Those of you that have been following along will know that we are in the process of applying for an Australian immigration visa - no easy task believe me. Some progress has been made. I’ve finally managed to convince the Australian Computer Society that I’m an adequately capable software guy, and we have been allowed to proceed to second base (so to speak) and actually apply to the Australian Government for a visa, now that we can demonstrate potential for contribution, rather than freeloading.
However, we’ve also leant that once the visa is issued, we are basically free to come and go for the next 5 years, as long as we show some degree of affinity to the country at the end of that time. This is a bit of a revelation to us, as we previously imagined that after the visa was issued, we’d only have a little time to use it or loose it.
To cut to the chase, we’ve decided to stay, at least for a few years. Since we’ve been here we’ve grown more and more enamored with this city it seems a shame to miss the opportunity to spend some time here. Granted, we’re only seeing the fun side until we get jobs and have to tackle a daily commute, but we’re confident that we can make a go of it.
What’s so special about this place anyway? Well, let me give you some of the highlights…
The Metro System
…is one of the coolest systems around. They only started building it in 1969 but there’s now 83 stations on the network, and with a couple of exceptions, you can get to just about anywhere you need to be in DC and northern Virginia. It’s clean, fast, safe and comprehensible and you can even take your bike on it.
I thoroughly recommend any visitor uses this system, rather than trying to drive around town, especially since the street layout here is particularly daunting for the average American driver.
Parks, Rails and Trails
If you’re an outdoors type, this is definitely the place for you. There are hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of parks, much of them in DC itself. In particular there are a number of rails to trails conversions here. I’d never heard of this before, but apparently this is a nationwide program to convert old, disused railway tracks into cycling, running and jogging trails. There are at least a 100 miles of these to be had in the immediate vicinity of DC, including the outstanding (and very popular) W&OD trail.
Right in the middle of DC is Rock Creek Park, with over 1,700 acres of woodland to be explored. This place is so accommodating to the self-propelled crowd that they even block off the major thoroughfare to traffic at weekends so that it can be exclusively enjoyed the joggers, cyclists and inline skaters.
Big attractions, little city
Compared to any of the other major US cities, DC is just tiny. It covers just 68 square miles and holds about 600,000 residents. And yet, there is just so much to see and do here that it’s almost overwhelming at times. You can’t heave a brick without hitting a museum, historical site, theatre or fun place to eat. To do justice to the tourist sights alone would take many months.
But more than that, DC boasts a broad spectrum of cultures, people and places. Your average middle class white American is definitely in the minority here, overshadowed by not only African-Americans, but representatives of just about every other race and creed on the planet. For those of you living in say New York or Miami, this couldn’t be less interesting, but for someone who spent the last few years in Oregon (the Idaho of the Pacific Northwest), it’s a refreshing change. And along with these varied peoples comes a cultural mix that makes the city so much more vibrant and interesting. The choice of restaurants is much better for it also.
Many people would say this is one of the low-lights of this part of the world, but we love it. Granted, we’ve only been here for a couple of months now, but in that time we’ve probably only had a handful of crappy-gray-rainy days. The rest have been hot humid and sunny (at least until the evening thunderstorm).
A lot of people bitch about the heat & sweat (including most of the locals), but we love it. Granted, the winters will be a little cooler than Brisbane, Australia, but on average the climate here is vastly superior to Portland.
Still, it’s not all a bed of roses. We’re both hard into the job hunting and it’s not proving to be quite the walk in the park that we’d hoped for. For me especially, my opportunities are somewhat reduced since, as a resident alien, I can’t get security clearance (eliminating perhaps 40% of the jobs) and I’ve specialised in telecommunications (those companies are firing, rather than hiring). We’ll probably find something soon, but if not, we may be moving to Australia after all!