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Insiders: New Arrivals Learn Their Way Around Arlington

In the First Person

“Is it 1203 or 1023?” Valera asked.

“It’s 1023 …” I replied.

“OK, we’re here.” she said.

Ten minutes later my new roommate Valeria finally rolled into the lot, completely exasperated.

“We were on 7th Street,” she said.

“Oh yeah” I replied. “We live on 7th Road.”

“This is so confusing, did you know that 8th Road, 8th Street and 8th Place are all a block or so apart right over there?”

That’s one feature of Arlington Valeria Villarroel, a recent transplant from Boston has had trouble overcoming. “There are so many roads that just stop in one place, and pick up in another part of town. How’s anyone supposed to learn their way around? And I still don’t understand the North and South streets, I think I’m almost to a place, and then realize I’m not on the right street. Traffic can be bad in Boston, but at least I can follow the roads.” Fortunately, this first impression hasn’t ruined Arlington for Valeria, or my other roommate Katie Harding. She recently joined us from a small, rural town in New Hampshire. Between the three of us and our GPS phones, we do all right. Although, if I hear the mechanical word “recalculating” one more time, my phone may end up out a window.

TRAFFIC AND CONFUSING streets aren’t all Arlington has had to offer us of course. As we learn more about each neighborhood, we’ve started finding some locals spots to enjoy such as Bob and Edith’s Diner, and Lost Dog on Columbia Pike. The neighbors have also been very welcoming. “I love the sense of community here. In the first week we were personally welcomed by several of our neighbors and I get the feeling that people here are generally friendly. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting that right outside of D.C.” Valeria said. “Even when we went to the Planetarium, they held the show a few minutes when they knew we were coming and had gotten incredibly lost on the way.”

“I LOVE HOW CLOSE everything is.” Katie said. “The town I came from in New Hampshire had one little strip where everything was (and it wasn’t much). Here, it’s a larger area, but not so much that I feel like I live in a city. I love that D.C. is so close, I can even see some of the monuments if I drive down the street a bit, but Arlington has everything at my fingertips and I don’t feel like it’s cramped. Even though a lot of people live here, there is still a lot of greenery. Glen Carlyn Park is practically our backyard. And there’s always so much fun (and free) stuff to do! We’ve really been enjoying the ‘90’s movies in Rosslyn this summer and the diversity of restaurants alone is enough to get me out and about, exploring more and more. Of course, the more I explore, the more I learn my way around. It seems like there’s always several different ways to get to the same place.”

We three have only been here a few months, but on the whole we’re really enjoying it. Arlington really is a splendid place to live. It’s not what I expected either and with each pleasant surprise, I feel more and more at home.