Kelly Alley

Welcome back to yet another semester of sleepless nights, overhanging due dates and, oh yeah, traveling.

You might have noticed the “Green Acres” reference up above. There’s a specific reason for that: I kind of feel the same way character Oliver Douglas does in the show. The only difference is that I went to Washington, D.C., not New York, New York.

It’s hard to know what you’ll truly miss until it’s not around anymore, be it temporary or permanent. It’s a feeling that creeps in when you’ve been out of touch with friends for a while or after a beloved pet goes missing.

It’s that way when someone from a rural background visits into a major metropolis, too.

I’m not saying that either city or country upbringing is good or bad, or that all country folks feel a little, well, off kilter when in a bustling crowd. In fact, some actually seek places like that, yearning for a literal change of pace.

There is almost a sort of a mini culture shock when you’re used to less traffic and smaller crowds, though. Someone who’s not used to that faster tempo of big city life can get awful turned around and dizzy—and quick, too.

Mass transit systems like the Washington, D.C. Metro buses and trains can get confusing, especially in those large changing hubs. I can only imagine the chaos I’d get into trying to navigate the New York subway system.

WW: Washington D.C. (1)

Large metropolitan mass transit hubs can be confusing to navigate, however there is a certain excitement and beauty to using them.

On the subject of large populations, I’ll admit that deciding to take a trip over to one of the shopping malls in our nation’s capital the weekend before Christmas probably wasn’t the smartest idea. I’ll be darned if I was going to admit it at the time though.

Thanks to my stubbornness and timing misjudgment for visiting the area, I subjected my little party of wearied travelers to wading through a literal sea of people. All of that just to stop by an outdoor clothing and equipment store we don’t have locally.

It would have been a people watcher’s dream to be in that mall at that time. I’m still wondering how we made it out of there without bruised ankles from all of the baby strollers and large bags of clothing and knick-knacks.

There is something kind of magical about cities like D.C. if you look past all of that, however.

Holiday street fairs offer quick, tasty bites of different foods, as well as a chance to walk around and look at some stunning artworks and handmade items. Metro train stations on a Saturday evening before Christmas—especially the underground ones—can also be havens of quiet and warmth in their own way.

WW: Washington D.C. (2)

Holiday street markets, like this one in Washington, D.C., offer folks a chance to slow down and browse art and homemade items.

Then there’s all the museums and galleries that offer a chance for an appreciation of the creative spirit and inspire awe in young and old alike. The best thing – or one of the best things for travelers on a budget – is that many of these museums are either free or have low admission fees. Free, open knowledge is the most powerful kind, after all.

It’s a tough balancing act weighing the perks and drawbacks of urban and rural living, something I won’t get into here.

All I will say is that places like Washington, D.C. are nice to visit, but I sure wouldn’t want to live there. Takes away some of the charm of passing through.

Kelly Alley is a senior studying journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at kalley2@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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