Monday, March 26, 2018

Student Life: Housing in Washington, DC

searching for housing in Washington, DC
Trying to find housing in DC, especially if it is your first time here, could be daunting. The housing market in DC is ruthless as it is highly competitive and moves very quickly. However, that does not mean that it is impossible. 

Here are some resources and tips to help you get a head start on your house hunting in DC. 

Firstly, start looking for places around 2 to 1.5 months before when you plan to move in. Too early would mean that nothing would be available but you also want to make sure that you are not searching at the very last-minute.  

Before starting your search, there are a few questions that you have to ask yourself to help you narrow down your search: 
  1. How much are you willing to spend per month?  
  2. Would you like to have roommates or do you plan on living on your own? 
  3. How would you be planning to get to school? By foot, bike or public transportation?  
  4. What are some things that you consider essential in your place? Eg. laundry facilities, pets allowed? 
Reflecting upon these questions would allow you to determine which neighborhood you should be looking at while keeping your budget in mind. Rental prices in DC vary according to location and the condition of the house while sharing a group house with others generally would be cheaper. As SAIS is located in Dupont Circle, majority of SAIS students live in neighborhoods such as Dupont Circle, Foggy Bottom, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, and Columbia Heights. SAIS is also conveniently located by the red-line Dupont Circle Metro stop so you may want to consider other neighborhoods outside the District such as Rosslyn or Arlington, VA that are metro-accessible and possibly cheaper. 

Check out some of the neighborhood guides such as Compass and Urban Igloo so that you could have a better feel of each neighborhood. Also, check out the safety of a neighborhood by using and Crime Map 

Some housing resources to assist your search:

While these resources are helpful, remember to be cautious of fraudulent postings. Especially if it seems too good to be true, take extra steps in making sure that the agent or landlord you are communicating is genuine. Be extra cautious with places that require you to submit a security deposit before seeing the place or before the lease agreement has been signed. 

Documents you may need to apply for a lease:
  • Copy of identification eg. valid driver’s license, passport, I-20, student visa  
  • Proof of income 
    • Most recent pay statements, most recent W-2 tax statement if self-employed, financial aid/sponsorship documents 
  • Acceptance letter from SAIS 
  • Application form and fee  
When you do a viewing, it is best if you come with all the necessary materials required to apply for a leasing application. The housing market in DC moves fast, so if you see a place that you are sure about, just go for it.  

Good luck! 

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Nadia Esham (MA, South East Asia Studies)

Nadia Esham is currently a first-year MA student at SAIS concentrating in Southeast Asia Studies. Originally from Malaysia, she is currently pursuing a specialization in Quantitative Methods and Economic Theory at SAIS and is interested in socio-economic development in Southeast Asia

Monday, March 19, 2018

Student Life: Student Organizations and Clubs

Before entering SAIS, you were an undergraduate student, a working professional, or a person trying to find your place in this world. But more than that,  you were maybe also a traveler, an advocate, a runner, a football/soccer player, a writer... And really, being in graduate school doesn't change all that. It doesn't matter what your academic focus is; at SAIS there are always opportunities to indulge in something interesting outside the classroom.

Are you interested in a policy area outside of your field of study?

That is, are you a Conflict Management concentrator, but interested in learning about development? Do your classes in American Foreign Policy make you want to know more about climate change and the Paris Agreement? Or, are you simply interested in exploring the potential for a career in consulting or finance in a more comfortable setting? If so, there are several clubs on campus catered to specific fields of study that will help jump-start your career.

career clubs SAIS

Career clubs:

-Global Security and Conflict Management Club
-Consulting Club
-Defense and Intelligence Club
-SAIS Development Society
-Energy, Resources and Environment Club
-Global Women in Leadership
-SAIS Human Rights Club
-International Finance Club
-International Law Club

The different career clubs on campus give you the opportunity to develop both knowledge and skills that could jumpstart your career. These clubs host events that allow you to learn from and network with experienced professionals, as well as discuss topics that members deem relevant and interesting through coffee chats, brown bag lunches, speaker panels, or workshops.

Is there a particular area of the world you wish to explore?

Have you been to India and want to talk about your experiences there? Do you want to hear more about the current situation in Iraq from someone who knows what is going on? What is life like in Bolivia? Do you know where in the world Indonesia is?

international dinner

Regional Clubs: 

-Africa Association
-China Club
-Indonesia Corner
-Israel Club
-Japan Club
-Korea Club
-LASP Club
-MENA Club
-Russia Eurasia Club
-South Asia Society
-Southeast Asia League of Students
-Thai Club

Korean club

The regional clubs on campus offer a mix of intellectual and cultural activities from each of their countries or regions of interest. These clubs use a variety of ways to share about the region through career and cultural treks, speaker series and panels, film screenings, and the crowd-favorite-FOOD! One of the biggest highlights of the year is the International Dinner, where regional clubs serve the area's best flavors for a gastronomic adventure all within the four walls of SAIS.

Do you have something you are passionate about?
Are you a soccer fan, and do you miss the rush of adrenaline that comes from kicking a ball across the field? Are you keen to enrich your faith and want to find people with similar beliefs to grow with? Do you believe in diversity and equality for all genders, races, and people? Or, do you just want to do something different with your life?
Activity clubs:
-SAIS Christian Fellowship
-SAIS Volunteer Corps
-SAIS Pride Club
-Soccer Club
-Student Diversity Coalition
-The Tribe

The different activity clubs provide a space for you to engage in interests outside of academics. You can choose to participate in soccer games and competitions with students from neighboring universities, find your center during Christian or Jewish holidays, or join the effort to support LGBTQ or ethnically-diverse students and people. 

Do none of these options appeal to you?
You're welcome to start your own club, as long as it aligns with the mission of SAIS and doesn't conflict with any existing student organization. Whatever your interest, there is more to graduate school and SAIS than what can be found inside the classroom. Have fun and explore!

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           

Dominique Dulay
(MA, Southeast Asia Studies)
Dominique Dulay is a second-year MA student concentrating in Southeast Asia Studies, with an additional specialization in the International Relations of Asia. She is also active in Student Government-during her first year at SAIS' campus in Bologna, she was the Academic Affairs Coordinator and Diversity Liaison; now in Washington, DC, she serves as the Bologna Representative.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Student Life: Places to Eat Around Campus

Whether you’re an incoming student or a seasoned SAIS veteran (aka second-year student), you will undoubtedly find yourself seeking satisfying -and hopefully cheap- meals around campus in between SAIS lectures, language classes, and plain old-fashioned library study time.
Fear not fellow SAISers. Through the experience, trial and error, and camaraderie of those that came before you, here is a list of reputable eating establishments that are sure to engage your taste buds and leave you satisfied and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Note to readers: This is by all means not an exhaustive list, and solely reflects the opinion of SAIS students and the blog-post writer.


The Well Dressed Burrito
1220 19th St NW, Washington, DC 22036
Located in an alley between M and N streets, this restaurant serves up quality burritos and standard Tex-Mex fare, keeping portions large and prices low. Be sure to take advantage of the daily specials, and if you’re particularly hungry, go for the El-Gordo. Only caveat: working hours are limited to 11:45 am to 2:15 pm, so be sure to plan ahead.

1800 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Situated on N street, at a convenient 6 minutes from the SAIS DC campus, Surfside offers a creative take on Tex-Mex staples and is open 24/7, providing an invaluable service to students attending late evening classes or exploring what the Dupont Circle nightlife has to offer. If you’re feeling for a salad that still packs a punch, go for the Baja salad.


1215 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Under 10 minutes away from School, this veritable DC pizza joint has won the hearts and minds of downtown students and professionals alike. We recommend crafting your own pizza pie and going crazy on the (unlimited!) toppings to make up for its DC price.

Dupont Pizza
2004 P St NW, Washington, DC 20036
One of DC’s many pizza-slice shops (What’s up NYC?), Dupont Pizza is perfect for students looking to satisfy their pizza cravings without faring far from school and all under 10-dollars.


The Big Hunt
1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Come for the weekly specials, stay for the beer. This student favorite offers some pretty enticing weekly specials, with burgers (veggie burger included) half-off every Wednesday between 7-10pm, and we are talking big portions here people!

Shake Shack
1216 18 St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Any east-coast burger list will inevitably include the famous NYC chain, and there is a reason for that (hint: they're good). While not necessarily on the cheap side of things, a double cheese burger from Shack Shack will make even the most difficult midterm days better. Just make sure you have no studying planned for after the meal.

2157 P St NW, Washington, DC 20037
This DC landmark burger chain is known for their honest burgers, high degree of customizability when it comes to toppings, and they make a pretty mean shake. While their Columbia Heights location can be a long walk, its located inside the old Tivoli theater, and is worth the visit.


Da Hong Pao
1409 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005
While a bit over the 10-minutes-away-from-campus threshold, Da Hong Pao is still your best bet when it comes to tasty Cantonese food close to school. Be sure to try their Dim Sum during lunch, available daily from 10am to 3pm.

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Nikolaos Melachroinoudis
(MA, Middle East Studies)
Nikolas Melachroinoudis is a second-year MA student at SAIS concentrating in Middle East studies and Emerging Markets. Originally from Greece, he is currently focusing on the nexus of macroeconomics and politics, and how economic policy and governance can foster the function of markets.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Johns Hopkins SAIS Event: The Ties that Bind

On February 22, 2018, in honor of Black History Month, Johns Hopkins SAIS and Gallery O on H hosted an exhibit of art and photography exhibiting the African American experience in the United States through a collection of artwork that addresses issues of identity and belonging. Take a look at some of the photos from the event below.

For more information on events at Johns Hopkins SAIS DC campus, click here.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Student Life: My Winter Break

Now that school is back in session, we asked one of our student bloggers to share about their winter break experience. Read about Konstantinos' winter break as an international student who decided to spend his break in the US.

If you ask SAIS students what is the best time of the year, probably all 600 of them would give you the same answer: winter break! And there are multiple reasons for this! SAIS Winter break lasts usually six weeks, starting from mid-December until the end of January, when classes resume. Besides the fact that the winter break lasts for so long, it is also important to remember that it comes right after the Fall Semester finals, which means students do not have to worry about upcoming exams or deadlines. Of course, it's a great opportunity to improve your network, look out for employment opportunities, or draft your resumes and cover letters. Nevertheless, most of SAIS students see the winter break as a good chance to travel around the world or to go back home to spend Christmas and New Year's Eve with their friends and relatives.

As an international student and a newcomer to the US, I decided to take advantage of the winter break and explore more places around the country. Instead of traveling six thousand miles back to Europe, I spent Christmas and New Year's Eve with my cousin and her family in Boston. It was a trip I will never forget, as it turned out that I picked the coldest days of the last two decades to visit New England. Coming from Southern Europe, the coldest I had ever experienced was slightly below 0 temperatures (at the Celsius climax). During my stay at Boston, the "cyclone bomb" was in "full fury," bringing the temperature down to -15 degrees Celsius. The level of snow was way above 2 feet and made every attempt to walk or drive extremely difficult. However, for me, it was a great experience since I had never seen anything similar before.

Having spent a week in Boston, I came back to DC for a couple of days before heading to New York City. A very close friend of mine, with whom I spent four years together as undergraduate students would come to visit me in the US. We decided to meet in New York as it would be his first time in the US. Five days were enough for us to see almost every significant landmark of the city, and much more. Although the weather was still pretty cold, it was nothing compared to Boston.

After one well-spent week in NY, it was time to return to DC. There were two weeks left before classes resume and I believe I haven't walked more in my life than I did during those two weeks. DC might be smaller than New York, but there is still a lot to do. I had to show my friend not just the famous Washington Monument and the Capitol, but also less touristic neighborhoods such as Georgetown and Columbia Heights. It is safe to say that you can see pretty much everything DC has to offer (and more than once) in fifteen days. I can definitely say that being a tourist in DC is much more fun than being a student and part-time employee at the same time! There are so many hidden spots to eat, drink, or visit that your daily routine prevents you from discovering during the semester. Moreover, catching up with friends from home is always good when you are from it. It felt like I had gone back home for three weeks!

About the Student Blogger:                                                                                           
Konstantinos Koutsantonis 
(MA, Euopean and Eurasian Studies)
Konstantinos Koutsantonis is currently a second-year MA student at SAIS concentrating in European and Eurasian Studies. Originally from Greece, he is currently focusing on national security issues and more specifically on cyber-security and illegal migration.