Elizabeth Lee, Managing Editor

Northern Virginia residents discuss the various daily struggles of living in one of the most affluent areas of the country.

Northern Virginia is a fast-paced metropolitan hub for diversity and excitement. Located next to the nation’s capital, individuals living here often take for granted the convenience and unique characteristics of being so close to Washington, D.C. As one of the most prosperous parts of the state, Northern Virginia has a low unemployment rate and some of the best public schools. Here are some truths about our beloved “NoVA” that most people tend to accept and embrace.


Location, Location, Location

While locals often consider Northern Virginia as the mecca of suburbia, people from other parts of the country often do not realize the differences between NoVA and the rest of Virginia. In order to prevent this confusion, freshman Samantha Marstall, among many others, tell people they are from D.C. when traveling.

“I tell people [I’m] from the D.C. metro area when I travel out of the state,” Marstall said. “You can’t really explain Northern Virginia to people not from here.”

Although Virginia is considered to be part of the southern section of the United States, many students living in the area do not identify with the South.

“I don’t consider Northern Virginia as part of the South,” senior Harshitha Ravichandran said. “For example, during the election, our entire state was red until Fairfax County’s votes were in.”

Although others might not understand the significance of being from Northern Virginia, locals hold at heart the characteristics that make the area so remarkable, such as diversity, tolerance and access to various cuisines.


Traffic is terrible

Unfortunately, being next-door neighbors to the nation’s capital can have its downsides. The morning and evening rush on I-66 and I-95 to get to work can take hours, and bumper-to-bumper traffic can be found on all other major roads as well.

According to USA Today, Washington, D.C. and its metropolitan area have some of the worst traffic in America. D.C. has consistently been part of the top 10 list, thanks to the high employment rate and tourist attractions.

“The traffic in Northern Virginia is horrible, especially 66,” sophomore Kenneth Catubig said. “Going to D.C. without traffic takes about 15 minutes, but it takes over an hour with traffic.”

Although the traffic can cause frustration at times, the convenience of being centrally located is worth it to many individuals.


Three main malls: Fair Oaks, Dulles, Tysons (eenie, meenie, miney, mo)

Another perk of being located in a highly populated region is the benefit of having multiple malls to explore. Fair Oaks, Dulles Town Center and Tysons Corner are some of the many major shopping centers containing a wide range of options, from department stores to small boutiques.

“I usually go to Fair Oaks Mall because it is very conveniently located,” Catubig said. “But I also think that Tysons is the best mall in the region.”

Due to the proximity of Fair Oaks, most people go there to shop. However, Tysons Corner and Dulles Town Center offer a wider range of shops such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. Natives suggest not going the the malls during the holiday season, as the rush can be overwhelming at times.

“During the holidays, I don’t suggest going to the mall,” Catubig said. “It is just too much to deal with.”


At least one person you know has a “government job”

Due to NoVA’s close proximity to D.C, many individuals know someone who works for the government. Sometimes, this person may not be able to tell others what they actually do for a living.

“My dad has a job where he can’t tell us anything,” Marstall said. “When people ask, I just tell them that my dad works for the government and I can’t really tell them anything.”

Despite this fact, most people who have grown up around the area are used to hearing from friends who are unsure of what their parent does.

“[My dad] told us that he is a computer engineer,” Marstall said. “So that is what I usually go with.”


Quality in-state colleges

Throughout Virginia, there are many quality educational institutions. To name a few, the University of Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Tech and James Madison University are some staple schools that many seniors apply to attend.

“I think we have pretty good colleges in Virginia,” Ravichandran said. “Even Northern Virginia Community College is a really good community college.”

In addition, compared to more rural areas in the nation, the amount of students graduating in a single senior class can be quite astonishing.

“I like that our [graduating] class is big because it is an opportunity to meet more people,” Ravichandran said.

A large class can show the diversity within Northern Virginia, with people migrating here from across the world. This allows those living here to be exposed to different cultures, religions and political beliefs.

“It is good that we are so diverse here,” Ravichandran said. “I like that we get to express different ideas and opinions.”