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From A to B in DC

By gjmacdougall

So this week has seen the start of classes and I'm already starting to feel like there aren't quite enough hours in the day. There are so many things to see and do, particularly at the beginning of the year as societies get started up again after summer, and there are also all the errands to run that come with setting up a new flat and getting settled into a new semester in a foreign country.

These errands often involve running around the city and as a result I thought I'd talk about the different methods of transport I've used to get around DC this week. However, there are many other transport options such as the bus system and GW's 4ride service (provided mainly for student safety) that I have yet to try. I'm also looking forward in the future to using the train and bus networks to get out of the city and travel up and down the east coast.

Metro Since neither Edinburgh nor Norwich have a metro system (Edinburgh has the trams, but that's a sore point) I'm enjoying living in a city that has one. Yes, on the inside it resembles the set of a 1960s dystopian movie, the trains take longer and come with much less frequency than London, and it is quite expensive, but it is simple to follow and has been very useful in getting to places - such as Columbia Heights, one of the main shopping areas in DC. I definitely feel like a local when using my SmarTrip card to swipe through the gates. Again, our orientation was great in introducing us to the metro as a way to get around.

The Vern Express This is a free shuttle bus service provided by GW to ferry its students between the two main campuses of Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon, around 10 to 15 minutes' drive apart. Although at first it seems like a hassle to use, with multiple stops and buses departing every 5 minutes during peak hours, it is a quick and easy way to attend classes and access the facilities across both areas.

Uber I had never used Uber before as it's not that popular in Edinburgh or Norwich, so I was surprised to see how much people love it over here. There are arguments on either side as to whether this popularity is a good thing, but it appears to be very convenient and also inexpensive, costing only as much as the metro if a group splits the fare.

Target Party Bus One of the more unusual modes of transport I used this week was part of the GW-organised Target Takeover - an event where GW students were allowed in the store after-hours from 10.30 to 12.30am to buy whatever they needed, with the incentives of price reductions, prize giveaways, and free samples. Intrigued and in need of a hoover, myself and my flatmate, along with a group of other exchange students, boarded one of the especially laid on buses playing dance music and headed to the store. The night was a very strange experience - like a mini black Friday, although a lot less intense - and we left slightly dazed though with quite a few shopping bags.

Walking My favourite way to navigate DC, however, is by simply walking. In Edinburgh I never really took public transport as everything I needed I could get to by foot, and it does slightly frustrate me here that not all the shops and facilities are within as easy reach. However, I like that DC is ultimately a 'walkable' city. This week I have enjoyed an evening stroll from the White House to the Capitol and taken my American poetry to study at the back of the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking the Potomac (another great tip from one of our ExO leaders). The buildings on GW's Foggy Bottom campus are all within very easy walking distance, which means it took me only 5 minutes to get to the Smith Center to see a GW win against Princeton for the women's volleyball team (with Dunkin' Donuts providing courtside refreshment).

School spirit and coffee!
School spirit...and coffee.


This coming week looks similarly busy and exciting, so I'm thankful for this long Labor Day weekend to get caught up on things and to relax with the great weather!

Till next week,


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