Going to School Near DC

College in Washington, DC

By Patrick Tedder
03/04/2015
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By Patrick Tedder
Unigo Campus Rep at George Mason University

When it comes to college life, the surrounding cities, shops, and restaurants make all the difference. Pick the wrong college and you could be stuck on weekends with no where to go. Will you love your university when you get there only to realize it’s in the middle of nowhere?  If you go to George Mason University, odds are you won’t be racking your brain for trendy and worthwhile experiences. Whereas some colleges have cows in their campus backyards, you’ll have the nation’s capital.

“It’s great being so close to D.C. — it gives students great opportunities to take advantage of what such an amazing city has to offer,” said senior Tara Ghavam. Washington D.C. is not only a great place to have a good time, but a great place to find an internship or job when the partying wears off and you’re forced to graduate.

If you are looking to socialize and be seen, then you’ll want to go to the popular bars and clubs in Washington. “They’re all fun. If you want to have a good time and you’re in the mood to have a good time, D.C. is where you want to be,” said alumna Jen Waldrop. Right near Chinatown there’s a slue of busy bars and clubs.  \If you want an Irish Pub-like experience then you’ll like Fadó, a simple bar and restaurant that’s sure to have you’re favorite ale and soccer match. Not in an Irish mood? Try Old Ebbit’s Grill, a historic restaurant and bar that has withstood the test of time in D.C. If that sounds too bland, try your hand at Lucky Strike, a hip bowling alley with a Hollywood theme.   

If you don’t like bowling shoes and want to get up off of your stool and dance like your feet are on fire, then you’re looking for a club like Fur, Love, or LIVE. Fur has the Virginia based radio station HOT 99.5 host late night parties almost every Saturday. While there, you can call up your friends and tell them to tune into the jams you’re dancing to. Love may not have a radio DJ, but it does have plenty of room and an assortment of casual places to relax. You don’t want to spill your drink dancing, and if you’ve been dancing all night you’ll need to rest. The lower dance floor of Love is made for this as the floor has an assortment of nooks and couches, just right for enjoying company and taking in the atmosphere. Finally, LIVE may be a smaller club, but it makes up for its size with personality and high ceilings. On the top floor you can drink and gaze down at everyone dancing. It sounds simple, but makes for a lively experience that doesn’t separate anyone from the fun. Plus, best of al,l LIVE usually doesn’t have a cover charge.

George Mason students may vary in the clubs and restaurants they like, but the variety of possibilities provide for even more fun in DC. “DC’s night life is very diverse. There’s a club for whatever mood you’re in. Not every club is for dancing. Some just have live bands and a cool setting,” said senior and Mason student Whitney Sublett. Junior Carolyn Hamilton shared the same opinion: “I love going clubbing and having a good time on the weekend. D.C. has all the great bars and clubs.” GMU senior Tim Cooke likes to have a more low-key night life. “I don’t go to clubs a lot, because it can be tiring partying all the time. It is nice having the option, though. D.C. is full of great entertainment and restaurants.” Regardless of personality type, the majority of Mason students find ways to have fun at night.       

Sooner or later you’ll get tired of hangovers and smelling like smoke. Instead of dancing beneath strobe lights, walk outdoors to one of the hundreds of D.C. monuments. Tour the capital building, take your picture with a giant stone version of Lincoln, or climb the Washington monument (the one that looks like a big pencil) and stretch your vision over the entire city. There is so much astounding old and modern architecture in every monument, so much so that Washington feels like a metropolis littered with art rather than buildings. Whether it’s Greco Roman, or neo-Neapolitan, buildings and monuments hold a story in the way they’ve been built. For art, try the Smithsonian buildings and Asian Art Museums; for history, there’s the National Museum of the American Indian, Air and Space Museum, and the International Spy Museum, to name a few.

 “I love seeing all of the museums,” said senior Steve Dephabaugh. “The Air and Space Museum, in particular, fascinates me.” These museums not only provide for great entertainment, but also for an intellectually enriching experience. It’s also important to remember that most museums are free because tax payers contribute to their upkeep. “Americans pay a lot in taxes for the amazing museums in D.C. Most of them are completely free for admittance, so I figure I should try and use them as much as possible,” said Mason senior Chris Piotrowski.   

With all the fun, however, must come some work. And, when you need work, you’ll be glad you’re near one of the most prosperous cities in America. There is an internship or job for just about anyone. The opportunities range from political to commercial to activist. Lobbying is quickly becoming the PR/Marketing job of our generation. It’s where business is done and money is made. What better place to start than Capitol Hill?  For such practice, there would be few résumé builders more impressive than knowing a high-powered congressman. Along the same line of recognized credibility, National Geographic, the famous wildlife and Earth issues magazine, offers both fall and spring internships. Sonia Harmon, currently a senior at GMU, interned with National Geographic for a semester her junior year. Her internship taught her important editing, organizational and filing skills. “There are plenty of great internship opportunities in the D.C. area. National Geographic was a great company to work for and my internship allowed me to work closely with the editors. It was a great experience." Students looking to study media other than print can participate in internships with companies like D.C. 101, the radio station that helped launch Howard Stern’s career. Or, if you’re interested in the environment, you might consider interning at the grassroots organization Greenpeace. 

Now that you have a brief guide to Washington, D.C., get out and go visit the nation’s capital. Hop on any one of the numerous metro stations at an affordable price and spare yourself the headache of trying to drive into D.C. In fact, you are taking your life into your hands when you attempt to drive into D.C. Stick to public transportation or let a friend drive, because traffic in Washington is infamously frustrating and illogical. It’s a beautiful, brimming city, with far too few places to park. Lastly, being a city, even for Virginia natives, it is quite easy to get lost amidst the urban jungle. However, now that you are in the know, you can take advantage of Virginia’s efficient communal transportation. The metro or CUE bus is rather economical to boot. The metro will cost only five dollars round trip on average. The CUE bus is free with a Mason ID. So, no GMU student can use the excuse that the big city is too far from them. George Mason’s campus isn’t confined to corn fields. It stretches down the beltway and into one of the most culturally rich cities in America. Not that there’s anything wrong with cornfields, but when you consider the options and opportunities, it can make all the difference between a good college experience and a great one.

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