D.C. 101: A newcomer's guide to the city
You’ve made it to the nation’s capital and you’re ready to explore, but not as a tourist, of course – you live here now. Here are 10 things you need to know before venturing out into D.C. for the first time:
1. The Metro is probably the best form of transportation for getting around the city, but it’s not always reliable. And the Red Line? It’s even less reliable. Make sure to leave plenty of buffer room for delays, especially if you need to get somewhere at an exact time (the same goes for the AU Shuttle).
2. Follow the Golden Rule: stay on the right of the escalator if you’re standing and the left if you’re walking up or down.
3. The temperature on your weather app may not be very high, but it’s almost certain the humidity will be. Always carry water, and for the sake of your hair, mousse.
4. Walking is a great way to explore the city, but remember that a block in Washington, D.C., is roughly one-tenth of a mile – about twice as long as a block in New York City. Save the chic heels for the Big Apple. You’ll find most D.C. natives wearing running shoes or sneakers and stashing a change of shoes in their bag.
5. Watch how much money you’re spending – even the most frugal people will find their wallets suddenly empty by the end of Welcome Week. You’ll have plenty of time to try out all the restaurants and hit up all the stores, but in the meanwhile, try and enjoy some of the free options in the area.
6. Freebies are the greatest gift the world has to offer college students, and D.C. is full of them. From free t-shirts to sidewalk samples to festivals and events, you’ll find them all over campus and all over the city. A simple Internet search should reveal plenty of opportunities, but keep your eyes and ears open – word of mouth is often the fastest way for news to travel (or second-fastest, after The Eagle).
7. Brunch – whether or not you believed in it before, you’ll become a fan of it soon. It’s D.C.’s favorite meal and many restaurants are known just for their brunch menus. Besides, who’s up early enough for breakfast anyway?
8. D.C. takes its cupcakes seriously, and while you’ve probably heard of Georgetown Cupcakes, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Baked & Wired in Georgetown and Red Velvet Cupcakery in Gallery Place are other local favorites, so try them all – you’ll soon find yourself in heated debates over which is better.
9. On that note, Georgetown is a really cool area – but don’t limit yourself. There are a lot of great neighborhoods in D.C. and each one of them has their own vibe. Explore them all. You never know where you’ll find a second home.
10. Download Uber (or Lyft or some other taxi service app). At some point, you will find yourself lost or extremely far from campus and you’ll need to get back quickly and safely. Of course, if you ever find yourself stranded without money, you can always call AU Public Safety (at 202-885-252) and they’ll send a taxi to bring you back to campus (the fare will be billed to your student account).