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Washington, DC learning semester
Washington, DC Learning Semester

Living in DC

Students in DC program

Beginning in August 2016, our DC interns reside in The Congressional housing facility, run by the Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH) network. It is a newly renovated facility in the heart of Capitol Hill, including classroom facilities, common leisure spaces, free laundry, computer labs, and 24/7 security.

The housing costs for the semester-long program, which do not include any meals, are competitive with our Butler residential housing costs. The rates vary depending on double or triple occupancy. Because of the Congressional's academic amenities, security, and close proximity to the metro, it is highly recommended that students reside there. The Congressional also hosts a number of free social activities for the interns throughout the semester.

Check out recommendations below from recent Interns on what to bring and where to eat!

Planning your trip to Washington DC? Here's some information that might be helpful: 

Students in the program are discouraged from bringing cars to Washington, DC due to the extreme shortage of parking spaces, the high costs of both long- and short-term parking, and long commute times. The metro (subway system) provides convenient access to all major residential, governmental, and commercial areas in and around DC.


What are items you would recommend students bring/pack? (i.e. things you wished you would have brought initially.)

  • Comfortable shoes: both dress shoes and casual!!!—I did not realize all the time I would spend outside. At Butler, I was mainly indoors. However, in DC one has to become adept at walking to the Metro, waiting for a bus outside, walking to a restaurant, walking to work etc. Therefore, I recommend packing accordingly. As you already know, a good jacket and sweat shirt should suffice. However, a good magazine and an iPod might make waiting for the Metro more pleasant.
  • Umbrella and/or rain boots.
  • Ethernet cords for when the internet connection is particularly bad.
  • HDMI cord. The TVs don’t have DVD players.
  • Lamp for the room, the lighting is kind of harsh.
  • Remember, space is limited in the apartments, so don’t bring what you won’t use.
  • Make sure that to bring reusable grocery bags. The District has implemented a 5 cent charge on every plastic bag used at the grocery stores.
  • Bring Tupperware so you don’t have to buy a whole new set and then leave them there when you pack to leave. Also, bring a lunch bag. I never bought my lunch during my internship, and having a lunch bag and Tupperware made it easy to bring leftover dinner for lunch the next day.

On the flip side, did you bring items that you really didn’t need/use or that you could have purchased once you arrived?

  • Whatever you don’t bring you can usually buy.
  • Don’t overpack; you can survive with seven shirts instead of 17. When it comes to clothes, bring more clothes for your internship than for just hanging out. I brought a lot of extra clothes that I never wore because I was always dressed up for my internship and didn’t need as many other clothes as I thought.
  • Don't bring Swiffers, Brooms, Mops, Etc. Those are all supplied by the BUDC center. Printers aren't necessary unless students need to print more than 250 pages. There are printers available in the basement computer lab that all residents have access to.
  • If you're a pharmacy major—don't bring your big binder with all your rotation stuff. I never used it over there, most preceptors don't even know you have one of those—nor do they care to see it.
  • Don’t bring a car. Paying for a car in DC is expensive and it’s not worth it considering the public transportation available.  

Did any of you join a neighborhood fitness center/gym? If so, would you recommend it? What other workout options did you take advantage of?

  • When you get here, sign up for Groupons. It is through a website and you get great deals on restaurants and salons and shows. Usually they offer like a $25 gift card for $10. I got a one-month gym membership through that to Tenley Sport and Heath for $15 (and it is usually $150).
  • I would recommend Gold's Gym at the Van Ness/UDC stop. I received a three month membership for about $60-70 per month. They had a neat cinema room where, instead of seats, there were treadmills and ellipticals.
  • Gym memberships are expensive here in DC: most around 80 to 125 dollars a month and they wouldn’t give us a student discount because we were not permanent DC residents. Don’t start off by telling them that you are only here for a semester! So I suggest running. Everyone in DC runs all the time. Plus running is free!
  • I did not join the gym. There are plenty of paths to run (I ran the Baltimore marathon after training in DC) as well as a resistance workout park ~5 minutes from the apartments (Rock Creek Park).

Grocery Stores

There are grocery stores within a few blocks of The Congressional.

What are the best sports bars in the neighborhood? (To watch Butler basketball of course!)

  • Penn Quarter Sports Tavern (Indiana Avenue by the Navy Memorial/Gallery Place)—Butler Alumni chapter reserves tables for every Butler game.
  • Depends on the experience one wishes to have. Adams Morgan seems to have a younger, still in college/right out of college crowd. They have a cheaper menu and tend to get more wild than other bars in the area. If one is looking for a more relaxed, cleaner atmosphere where individuals converse more often, I would recommend any in Dupont.
  • Adam's Morgan and Georgetown are the “going out to dance” scenes.
  • Buffalo Billiards on Dupont Circle (South exit) is a great place, they are decently priced and have tons of screens. It's almost never a problem to get our game on TV. Other places in DC include Public Bar (also Dupont Circle), The Pour House (Capitol Hill), and a couple others but names escape me.
  • I really liked James Hobans Irish bar in Dupont circle. I'm not sure how big of Butler fans they are, but it’s a really nice place and not overpriced.  It's not technically a sports bar, but they always have sports on TV.

Recommended Restaurants/Bars

  • I am fairly sure there is no bad food in DC. We didn’t really eat out much, but when we did we rarely ate in the same place twice, which was a great idea. There are tons of great restaurants right down the street from our apartment. There are a lot of ethnic food restaurants, so try to branch out a bit and try new things. Half the fun is discovering a new and awesome place to eat!
  • When I was looking for places to eat (or really anything), I used Yelp. It allows you to search for anything you want (food, activities, etc) and even narrow it down by neighborhood or distance from where you are. It has reviews as well, so it’s just a really helpful website all around.
  • I would really sell DuPont versus Adams Morgan as "the Broad Ripple" of DC nearby. My roommates and I were not particularly fond of the Adams Morgan, we preferred DuPont because overall it just felt safer.


  • Medaterra (great happy hour food specials, right off the Woodley Park metro)
  • Good Stuff
  • District Taco (a must-visit)
  • Hot N Juicy (in Woodley Park, it’s fun to do once)
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar
  • Front Page (for brunch)
  • Zen FroYo (right up the street from the apartment)
  • Roti (the literal best…like a Mediterranean Chipotle)
  • Amsterdam Falafel (in Adams Morgan)


  • Front Page (big, nice clean bar area and dance floor)
  • McFadden’s (a lot of GW kids go there, loud and rowdy)
  • Board Room (you can play board games!)
  • Reef (rooftop bar, a must!)

Did you use a local public or university library for homework or thesis research? If so, which ones?

  • The public library is only a few blocks away in Cleveland Park. It is small but good for renting DVDs and books to read on the metro.
  • I usually went down to the computer room in the building. There are about 20 computers there and many times there were not many students using them.
  • I had access through my internship in the US Senate so I would inquire within your individual internship to decide that.

What other schools have interns living in the building?

  • Miami of Ohio
  • University of North Carolina
  • Duke
  • DePauw
  • Ithaca
  • Grinnell
  • Boston University
  • James Madison
  • American University
  • Indiana University
  • George Mason
  • Purdue
  • International Students
  • …And more!

What advice would you like to pass along to future participants?

  • Good luck and have fun. Do as much sight-seeing as possible. Go to the American Indian museum and take a tour of the white house. Have dinner at Good Stuff Eatery (make sure you get a milkshake) and DEFINETLY visit Eastern Market at least once on a Sunday. Go out in Adams Morgan and the Dupont/Farragut North Area. Grand Central and Lucky Bar are two of my favorites.  Budget a ton of money because even though lots of things are free, metro fares and eating/drinking out add up fast. Oh, and buy a SmarTrip at CVS. It costs $5.00 but you can load it up with as much money as you want and it scans fast saving lots of time. Plus if you lose it, they reimburse you. You will have a blast.
  • I challenge one to take full advantage of the DC experience. That being said, going to museums and being inspired by the history is a good way to get into the mix in DC. As one becomes more accustomed to living in DC, I would encourage one to go to the various neighborhoods in the District. This will help DC shrink and will orientate one better the city. Finally, I would strongly recommend to meet other people living in DC. While interacting with fellow college students is beneficial, interacting with people who do fascinating work in DC made the experience most memorable. One can truly be inspired and meet outstanding individuals who do amazing work—property lawyers, telecommunication specialists at the White House, FBI members, staffers on the Hill, military personnel, medical volunteers, visiting authors etc.
  • Sign up to be on an intermural sports team like Kickball or Ultimate Frisbee. A lot of people are on intermural teams even if they aren’t athletic, and it’s a really great way to meet people and network outside of your Butler Group.
  • The State Department does these really great sessions called the Foreign Policy Classroom. There are sessions on tons of topics and it’s only for an hour. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the week during lunch, but if you ask your supervisor, they might let you go, especially if the topic pertains to the work you’re doing. You’ll get to hear a lot of cool people talk and get more chances to go into the Department of State building! 
  • Bike to work!
  • Take advantage of free things: The Washington Post Going Out guide is beneficial to subscribe to. It lets you know all of the weekend events and a majority of them are FREE!!
  • Make a list of the things you want to see and do and make a point to explore to new areas that are for "locals" and not so much "touristy"
  • If you are into this kind of thing: Be aware of when the President is doing public events. I got to see his speech really close up at the Veteran's Day Service at Arlington National Cemetery :)
  • Research Senate and House hearings on topics that interest you. When you find one, ask your supervisor if you can attend one. You learn a LOT and it's cool to get to see our government in action. It only takes about 1.5-2hours of your day and it’s well worth it.
  • There are also plenty of FREE public seminars on various topics. United States Institute of Peace has them weekly and the speakers are from all over the world and very intriguing!
  • I felt extremely safe in D.C. and some of my best tourist experiences were when I went alone. The museums are wonderful and the monuments and memorials are a MUST! Especially at night!
  • Enjoy every single minute you have in the District. The semester goes by so quickly and there is so much to do and see here. Don't be afraid to explore your surroundings and meet new people. Ask questions at your internships, get to know your colleagues and let the rest take care of itself. Most importantly—HAVE FUN!
  • For packing: if you haven't worn it in a while, don't bring it (save the space).
  • If you're flying, go with Southwest (which means flying through BWI which is also less expensive that Reagan, but you can check more than one bag for free).
  • Take the bus sometimes instead of the metro (DC is a beautiful city and always travelling underground will make you miss out!).
  • Go to a happy hour! Great way to meet other interns and "locals" or just bond with your roommates!
  • Great poetry place in U Street / Shaw neighborhood (has other locations as well)—Busboys and Poets, it's a restaurant and bookstore combined with a poetry reading room.
  • Go to New York City!! Great way to spend time with roomies (or go alone). Bus tickets are REALLY cheap. The megabus in Chinatown is a bit sketchy, one of my roommates HIGHLY recommended the Bolt Bus (has free wi-fi and more leg room!) Also, Priceline Negotiator is a MUST for getting a hotel—we paid $90 a night for a NICE room in Midtown (right by So-Ho and Times Square)
  • Subscribe to - get all the low down on events in the city.
  • Sign up for weather updates through yahoo weather (Very helpful since you may have to walk a lot and take public transportation )
  • If you are even considering doing to program JUST DO IT!—when you do and start feeling homesick know that it is only temporary, you will miss DC!