First Impressions of D.C. and Pittsburgh!

By Arshad Dogar

I landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., on the evening of March 19, 2014, and drove toward the hotel on Connecticut Avenue. I observed that everything, including buildings, roads and vehicles, were quite similar to that of in Pakistan, my home country.

Arshad in Washington DC during the start of spring.

I woke up the next morning and walked over to the office of the National Press Foundation. During this short walk, I examined the buildings, traffic system and people again with more curiosity. My feeling suddenly changed to excitement, with an urge to explore more about everything in the United States.

I was amazed to witness that every building and installation was so nicely designed and built that it was not only eye-catching for newcomers but also perfect to cope with any kind of emergencies, including fire.

Once I started traveling on metro trains and buses, I started seeing that most of the system was controlled mechanically and commuters were observing rules and regulations without anyone forcing them. It reminded me about the famous quote, “the traffic system depicts the discipline of any nation.” I rarely witnessed traffic-rule violations. People parked properly and obeyed traffic signals, even if only to avoid penalties.

Secondly, I found most of the citizens, without discrimination of gender, very friendly with strangers. One can stop anybody to seek guidance about a place or a route and get maximum help, both through the person’s personal knowledge or by their using cell phone technology.

However, one thing left me astonished – Washington, D.C. seems unresponsive to the large number of street beggars. But at least the beggars don’t chase or harass you to make money. I like their way of polite  begging, as one would say, “Can you please spare some bucks for me,” or “Do you have some change, please.”


When I got to Pittsburgh, where I’ll be stationed for my Fellowship, I found the situation a bit different as the number of street beggars is very small.

One more thing, not so good, to add about the cities of Pittsburgh and Washington, is that most of the roads are in dilapidated condition, resulting in damage to vehicles and to the smooth flow of traffic.

Last but not least, the journalists and professors of journalism are professionals in the truest sense. They are glad to impart training to interns and trainees. They also have been equipped with the latest technologies and their media houses help them do quality and investigative work.

These impressions have so far convinced me that during my stay in the U.S., I will be able to learn a lot in the field of journalism and about local government systems.