Moving to a new city is always a bit daunting. Not only because you’re suddenly in the market for new friends and restaurants, but also because you’re suddenly a stranger to everything – even the language. I honestly didn’t expect that to be an issue when I moved to D.C. It’s our nation’s capital, after all! I thought, surely, it won’t be anything like moving to Jordan or China. But, wouldn’t you know it, I suddenly was surrounded by terms I didn’t understand and was much too embarrassed to ask.
So, for any of you that are considering a move to D.C, here’s the lingo I wish I had known:
- Metro not Subway
Every place seems to have their own term for their modes of transportation. I sincerely believe it’s so tourists look like what they are – tourists. In London it’s the Tube, in Chicago it’s the L, in NYC it’s the Subway. For those of you thinking to call it the subway while you’re in D.C., though, think again. I made that error and was mocked pretty heavily (maybe I need nicer friends?).
In D.C., it’s referred to as the Metro. And as far as metros go, it’s not too bad. It gets you from one place to another. Sometimes late, actually, sometimes very late. But it gets you there – usually. The key is to download the D.C. Metro Transit app early on, to bring a good book, and to find a secure place to store your Metro card for easy access.
Also, big tip: stand on the appropriate side of the escalator. Right side for standing, left side for walking.
- Outer Loop vs Inner Loop
Leif is just the dearest soul. Knowing that my day would be extended an extra hour if I have to metro to work, he has selflessly driven me to work every morning since we moved to D.C. This means that we experience D.C. rush hour traffic. Every. Single. Day.
For the most part, it’s been fine. We use Waze and get places when we get places. We’ve mostly been annoyed with the amount of car accidents we see throughout the drive, as it is dangerous for many, but also slows down the drive immensely. We took to listening to the radio to see if there were accidents that Waze did not have registered.
“Inner Loop near MD-295/Baltimore-Washington Pkwy, proceed with caution by accident, delay of 20 minutes.” Inner Loop? No problem! We’re outside the city, which means we must be on the outer loop!
Nope. Just, nope.
We thought having an outer loop and an inner loop of the Capital Beltway meant there were two separate highways. We were really wrong. And I leave this embarrassing piece of advice for you all here: Interstate 495, better known as the Capital Beltway, is a 64-mile highway that circles D.C. The outer loop is the Capital Beltway headed counter-clockwise around the city, and the inner loop is the Capital Beltway headed clockwise around the city.
- The DMV
Confusingly, this acronym does not stand for the dreaded hell-hole that is the department of motor vehicles, at least when referred to while residing in D.C. I first ran into it at church when the pastor kept referring to the DMV and the people who live in the DMV. I was really confused, imagining the strange government people who have to live in the DMV day in and day out. I mean I know D.C. is a city of hardworking, government officials, but that’s like a whole ‘nutha level.
Turns out it stands for District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia and generally includes whatever the metro touches. Much more pleasant than the other DMV.
- The National Mall
“Do you want to go to the National Mall?”
“Sure, what can I buy there?”
“Uhhh, I don’t know. Like, gift shop stuff?”
“Pretty crappy mall.”
In case you didn’t know, the National Mall is actually what they call the stretch of land roughly from the Lincoln Memorial up to the Capitol Building. It includes the Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument, and the White House. So, now you can be smarter than me, and avoid this awkward conversation all together.
This one is just an entirely new word to me all together. I have been told that “cise” means to be excited or stoked. As in, “Grace was so cised when she found out Leif bought her a Lunchable.” It’s pronounced like precise, if you drop the “pre”. Apparently there’s a couple words like this in D.C. slang (bama and lunchin’?), but I’ve yet to fully understand them, let alone actually incorporate them into my vocabulary.
Don’t worry, I’m working on it.