Traveling is one of my major hobbies, but the reality is that I live and work full-time in the United States. Americans generally have less vacation days than people in other industrialized countries and therefore, the amount of time I have to explore other places is quite limited. It is also sometimes more expensive to travel both inside and outside of North America than other regions.
I do not let these limitations stop me from staying globally engaged, however. I moved to Washington, D.C. two years ago and discovered that this city has endless opportunities to connect with the world.
In this post, I've shared some of the ways I've found to stay globally engaged in my home city:
Of course, it's easier to seek out some of the opportunities I've shared in a major city, so while my advice is most relevant to readers in or near other metro areas, I hope some of it is "food for thought" for readers anywhere. Also, for further advice on digging into global connections in smaller towns and regions, be sure to check out this post by fellow ESG blogger Sara.
Staying Globally Connected from D.C. (and your city, too!):
Embassies: As the capital city of the United States, D.C. is home to many foreign embassies. They are usually closed to the public, but visiting an embassy is a very fun and educational experience whenever they host events. I attended the annual Embassy Days for both EU and non-EU countries last year, and felt as if I were a globetrotter directly from my backyard! All the embassies were so different and gave us visitors a snapshot of what life is like in respective country. I was in Mexico this year and missed both Embassy Days, but plan to go back next year.
I have been also attended the following embassy-run events: a food night at the Embassy of Spain, trivia night at the Haitian Embassy, a panel discussion on refugees at the French Embassy, a climate change talk at the German Embassy, and even a Christmas Market hosted by the Embassy of the Czech Republic. I hope to visit more embassies since many of them host events for free and draw big crowds!
Meetup Groups: Meetup is a mobile and desktop app where people can find groups to socialize with for just about any interest. One of the first groups I joined in D.C. was the Forum on International Affairs. They host monthly happy hours and discussions focused on global issues, and it draws a sizable crowd. FIA has also helped me find and meet other people who have become great friends.
Many of us have direct ties to foreign countries or work in international relations. I personally found this group to be one of the most open to everyone, regardless of background and level of knowledge on global issues. Some other great groups in the area include the Washington European Society, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, and even a bi-monthly international development brunch group for African-American women.
The Royal Pop-Up Bar: Right before Meghan Markle and Prince Harry tied the knot, a group called Drink Company hosted a pop-up bar to commemorate the Royal Wedding. The theme excited me as a lifelong Anglophile. More importantly, they had a lot of drinks from Britain not available in the United States that I enjoyed while living in London.
One part of the pop-up bar was designed to look like the inside of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The hosts played music from UK groups like the Spice Girls, which took me back to my childhood. Another section of the pop-up bar had cutouts of the Royal Family to take selfies with, and even a throne with robes, crowns, and dogs so we all could be royals. At one point I felt a bit nostalgic about all the good times I left behind while in the UK, but it was nice to pretend I was there for an evening!
LSE Alumni Events: When I decided to attend the London School of Economics, I knew this institution would be a great place for me to learn more about my academic fields of interest while surrounded by other ambitious and passionate students. What I did not fully appreciate at the time was how active the LSE alumni community was in the U.S. I attended a send-off party in Philadelphia before my program started. This celebration was hosted by LSE’s Philadelphia alumni for incoming students. Many of those new students happened to be on my flight to London when the fall semester started!
When I returned to the States and moved to D.C., I attended evening happy hours, Destination LSE parties for future students, and even a career event recently hosted in the area. I talked with other alumni who also felt appreciative of the ongoing support we received from both the school and each other although our alma mater is across the ocean. We are no longer students, but the connections we’ve made both in and out of LSE will last a lifetime.
Last but not least...my calendar! While I may not be able to sporadically pick a place to visit and leave at the drop of a hat, I have made it a personal goal of mine to visit another country at least once per year -- when possible. I have an idea of where I want to travel next year, and it helps to get flight alerts so I can keep my goal to constantly travel alive.
Read my recent posts on moving back to the US and my solo travels in Mexico and more on my ESG page!