Week 1: 4,000 Miles From Home

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Monday, July 17, 2017


Riley Troyer

Washington D.C. is certainly a long way from Fairbanks, Alaska. I discovered that after a good 12 hours of traveling and a four-hour time change. It is also significantly hotter and more humid (I got drenched in sweat just bringing my luggage to the room). This week I started my AIP Mather internship through the Society of Physics Students intern program. Throughout the summer I will be working as a science intern for the majority side of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Science policy-making is a major interest of mine, what better way to experience it than being in DC. I’m especially excited for the summer as Senator Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, chairs the Committee.

Between all the activities SPS had planned and getting settled into work, this week was a whirlwind. On Sunday morning I checked into the apartment, which all 14 of the interns are sharing. I was a little worried at first. That’s a lot of people to have in one place, but it wasn’t an issue. The place is enormous and the other interns are incredibly nice and personable.

The internship didn’t officially start until Tuesday, so I had a few days to get moved in and accustomed to city life. Riding the Metro took some getting used to. The first few rides I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing or where I was going, but I quickly caught on. Thankfully some of the other interns know their way around a city, so I’m not just stumbling my way in the dark.

I woke up early for orientation day and took the metro to the American Center for Physics. The orientation was fairly routine, but then, about halfway in, Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather showed up. My internship is funded by Dr. Mather’s Nobel award, so I was incredibly honored to meet him and have a conversation over lunch.

Wednesday was my first official day in the Committee office. I managed to find my way to the correct room and was immediately met by several very friendly staff members. I was then taken to my desk, fully equipped with a computer, phone and plenty of paperwork. Wow! I wasn’t expecting to have this much space. The rest of the week was basically a settling-in period. I met more staff members who work in the committee, including several other Alaskans. It’s weird to travel completely across the country and meet people who graduated from my high school, a small world I guess.

Overall everyone I have met so far has been incredibly smart and very helpful. I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the summer will bring.

Riley Troyer