Resources for Incoming Students

I. Housing and Living in DC

1. On campus

On campus housing options for graduate students at GW are limited. The only University housing available to graduate students is Aston
Follow the links below to check for details:
https://living.gwu.edu/graduate-students

 

2. Off campus
Most of our graduate students live off-campus. GW provides an off-campus housing search engine that can be very useful: https://www.gwoffcampus.com/ On the same page, you can also sign up in the “Roommates” section to search for potential roommates.
In the Foggy Bottom area, Columbia Plaza is one of the most popular housing options among GW graduate students, including those from Economics Department: http://www.columbiaplaza.net/
Female students should consider living on the Capital Hill in the Thompson-Markward Hall. No deposit, short and flexible stay (2 weeks to 2 years), room service and meals included in rent, and strict silent hours are all to the advantage to graduate students.
https://www.tmhdc.org/
The following forum about living in DC can also be helpful for housing search: http://www.city-data.com/forum/washington-dc/

It can be a smart idea to share a living situation with other incoming PhD students in our Department, since you will have the same schedule and similar priorities. Living with young professionals can be more difficult due to the difference in lifestyle (partying vs. studying). We recommend you to start a post on the Facebook group if you are looking for a roommate.

Some students choose to stay in a hotel or hostel upon arrival for 3-7 days while searching for housing. For example, HI hostel is located very close to downtown:

Some students also use https://www.airbnb.com/ for their first stay upon arrival.
Be aware of scammers who usually offer unusually low prices, say that they are currently in diplomatic service abroad, and ask potential tenants to mail a check with deposit before actually showing a place. Scammers usually act on the www.craigslist.org. Although craigslist is still an option to find housing and roommates, you should be very careful when you provide personal information and making financial decisions. If you decide to use craigslist, I recommend you to use it to make an initial contact and  exchange e-mails, then make an appointment to meet an owner / roommates and to actually visit a place before signing a lease. Do not make any payments without signing a lease, and always ask for your copy of the contract.
3. Living in DC

a. Some resources for living in DC

https://graduate.admissions.gwu.edu/the-source

b. Public transportation in DC

DC operates a system of metro trains and public buses.
While choosing your new address, you can use the “trip planner” option on the website to estimate travel time and costs:
http://www.wmata.com/

On your smart phone, you can also download the WMATA Metro application to check the metro schedule for relevant lines and stations of your choice.
Metro is going through general repairs now in their Safe Track plan:

Metro’s SafeTrack project began in June 2016 and is expected to continue through March 2017. During this project, major service disruptions—including station closures and single tracking—are anticipated, resulting in extended commuting times. Beginning June 3, Metrorail will close at midnight seven days a week.Be familiar with the SafeTrack schedule and know the dates, lines and stations being worked on so you can adequately plan your commute. Visit Safe Track schedule for more information

DC circulator is another public transport option
http://www.dccirculator.com/

c. Driving in DC

If you have a driver’s license issued by another state or country, you can exchange it for a driver’s license of a state where you will be residing (Virginia, Maryland or District of Columbia), but usually there is a limited time period when you can do it (3-6 months since you arrived, check with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of your state).

If you have not had a driver’s license, you need to take the learner permit test first. Once you pass the theoretical test, you are issued a learner’s permit, which gives you a right to practice driving a car while accompanied by a licensed driver in the passenger’s front seat.

You can obtain information based on the state of your residency here:
District of Columbia: http://dmv.dc.gov/
Virginia: http://www.dmv.org/va-virginia/
Maryland: http://www.dmv.org/md-maryland/

If you live in Virginia, the DMV in Alexandria is a convenient location to take your knowledge test only 10 minutes walk away from the Eisenhower Avenue metro station on the Yellow line.

Parking in DC is expensive so public transportation would be a more sustainable option. However, if you have a driver’s license, zipcar and car2go are two popular car sharing options that now have different parking stops for flexible use.

d. Health Insurance
Most students purchase insurance from Aetna, which is the designated health insurance provider for the GW community. It satisfies all minimum requirements and is the most economical.
https://www.aetnastudenthealth.com/students/student-connection.aspx?GroupID=474952

e. Cell phone plans

For guidance on selecting your cell phone plan here, please refer to #6 of the next page on “Resources for International Students”

II. How to Survive Your First Year

There are a number of good resources offering advice targeted at first year Ph.D students in how to manage their first year as follows:

1. https://law.vanderbilt.edu/phd/How_to_Survive_1st_Year.pdf

2. This is written by a Computer Science student but most of it applies to Econ students; some is relevant for first-year students
http://www.cs.unc.edu/~azuma/hitch4.html

III. Lecture notes online

http://econphd.econwiki.com/notes.htm

http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/subjects/

IV. Textbooks

You can save money on textbooks by first looking for free pdf versions online. Otherwise, getting renewable book loans from GW library is a great option that many people overlook.

GW is part of a library consortium that provides us with access to a great collection of textbooks in every subject. As soon as your GW student account is active, you can go to this page http://library.gwu.edu/ to first search for the book you need, then click on “Request” to log in your account and make a request for it online. You will receive email confirmations and should get the book within one to a few days. Usually, most loans are renewable up to three times so one time loan can be good for almost one semester!

V. Other useful resources

GW’s new student resources by the ISO: https://internationalservices.gwu.edu/new-student-resources

Guide for new graduate students by the Graduate Admissions Office: https://graduate.admissions.gwu.edu/the-source

GW academic calendar: https://www.gwu.edu/academic-calendar

GW Schedule of classes (by term, campus and subject – very useful for schedule building): http://my.gwu.edu/mod/pws/

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