After landing in Washington, I went straight to my hotel using the public transportation system, which was very easy to use. The hotel was actually only two stops away from the airport! I even had my first interpreting assignment right then and there in the subway helping a few French businessmen understand the metro attendant. 🙂
The hotel I stayed in (the DoubleTree in Crystal City) was close enough to the city that I could travel to my exam location using the metro, but it was far enough away that there was a significant difference in price. What I loved about this hotel, was the view I had during dinner from their rotating restaurant: the Pentagon, the Washington monument, the Capitol and the Jefferson memorial. During dinner, I even met with a lobbyist from Michigan, who was there to speak with her Senator. It was very interesting to be able to speak with someone who was passionate about her beliefs and was actually doing something to make a difference.
There were no surprises during the exam. The consecutive portion consisted of two passages, the simultaneous exam also consisted of two passages. The “Americana” portion contained the history section (2 questions I believe), an interview section as well as an “on-the-job” question. Everyone in the Department of State offices that I interacted with, was extremely nice and they all put me right at ease.
My tips for anyone taking this exam:
-Don’t underestimate the “Americana” portion. Make sure that you study for it as you would for any other exam. Use their suggested website, take notes and know all of the highlights….and then some! Now is the time to shine. This is your chance to impress them with your knowledge.
-Practice doing consecutive and/or simultaneous at home using videos from my previous blog post.
-Relax! Enjoy the ride and the entire experience. It is only a stressful situation if you think it is.
-Bring a notepad, some water and your winning smile!
-Make sure that you go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
-The metro actually only runs every ten or so minutes (unlike in NYC where they run every 1-2mn during rush hour) so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time for your trip.
They told me that it would take up to 10 weeks to get my results, which means that I will hear back from them no later than early June. Wish me luck!
Whatever happens though, I am extremely grateful for the experience and even though I never got a glimpse of our president, I genuinely enjoyed everything about my trip to DC!