I. Housing and Living in DC
Some students live on or near campus, whereas others live across the bridge in Virginia (Rosslyn or Crystal City) and come by Metro.
1. On campus
Female students can 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.
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:
DC has many amenities: aside from museums, zoo, movie theaters, theaters, monuments and parks in the area, DC is also a place where top musicians (pop, rock or classical) come through. Cirque du Soleil comes every year. For sports there are many local teams (in ice hockey, basketball, American football, soccer, baseball) so the top teams are coming through DC always too (GW has quite a lot of teams too). For soccer every Summer big international teams like Manchester United or Bayern Munich come through for exhibition matches. Near campus is the National Mall where people often play soccer or volleyball. There are 2 skating rinks not too far away in winter. GW has a fully equipped gym with a pool. There are 3 major airports in the area so getting in and out is cheap and easy.
a. Some resources for living 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:
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
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.
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.
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:
2. This is written by a Computer Science student but most of it applies to Econ students; some is relevant for first-year students
III. Lecture notes online
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/