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Six Ways to Experience DC this Weekend

September 20, 2017
Andrew J Quillen

Northern Virginians and Washingtonians love nothing more than their proximity to Washington, DC. It’s a source of pride, news, and, most importantly, activity. While choice is abundant in DC, it can sometimes be difficult to sift through it all when planning an exciting weekend adventure – that’s where I can help. If you’re looking to get off the couch, take a study break, and make some memorable moments this weekend, look no further. This brief piece will highlight a few activities for locals and visitors to enjoy.

1 – Brunch: A District Tradition

If you’re not familiar with DC’s brunch culture, then you’ve a new world to explore. DC is famous for its delectable brunch options (especially in the bottomless beverage arena). Here are three recommendations to get you started, but be sure to branch out and find your own favorites:

A – Belga Cafe – A cozy, scrumptious brunch spot serving incredible Euro-Belgian treats.

B – Birch & Barley – A delicious mix for any palate; the “Boozy Brunch” is a perfect combo.

C – District Commons – A fantastic menu of traditional brunch items with unique twists… and bottomless mimosas.

If you’d like more brunch blessings, check out Austin’s Grad Insider post.

2 – The Monuments at Night

If you’ve lived in the area for more than a week, you’ve likely participated in a night-escapade through DC’s monuments – if you haven’t, now’s your chance. You’ve no doubt been inspired by DC’s impressive monuments and vistas – seeing them at night is a whole new story. Plan to arrive on the National Mall around 10:00pm to begin your exploration. Take a few moments at the World War II Memorial to reflect, admire the striking beauty of the Capitol at night, and enjoy the long walk (or bike ride) to Lincoln’s seat. This adventure will undoubtedly become one of your fondest memories in the District. A helpful piece of advice is this: take your time and truly appreciate the views, company, and solitude of the Mall at night.

3 – Enjoy the Nightlife

You’ve probably heard of (or participated in) DC’s night culture. Three hotspots are Adams Morgan, Georgetown, and U-Street; they each have their quirks. U-Street is popular, vibrant, and home to the famous Howard Theater and 9:30 Club. Georgetown hosts a mix of students, professionals, tourists, and locals. Although bustling at night, Georgetown is a sure shot for a fun night. Adams Morgan is a fantastic fit for those with some energy to burn. It hosts a variety of late-night bars and clubs, as well as a number of all-night restaurants; Roofers Union is a great place to get started. As always, branch out and discover your favorite spots.

4 – The Kennedy Center

Whether you’re a local or new to town, you’re definitely familiar with the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center is a hub of entertainment, art, and culture. It hosts performances from orchestras, to Broadway shows, to eclectic cultural performances– whatever your interest, you can find something there to see. Plus, students can get 50% off! If you’ve been before, go again soon; if not, what are you waiting for?

5 – Teddy Roosevelt Island

Teddy Roosevelt Island is a must-visit for everybody. Situated in the Potomac River between Georgetown and Arlington, it is an easily accessed national park for all. Although relatively small, the island has a lot to offer: walk the loop around the park, sit on the rocks jutting into the Potomac to watch the sunset, or visit the oddly Sovietesque monument of Teddy himself. While there, notice that although you’re in the city, it’s absurdly quiet on the island – minus the occasional airplane.

6 – Experience the National Cathedral and the Best View of DC

The National Cathedral is a gorgeous destination. The impressive design and gardens lend you to feel you stepped into a European town. While gorgeous on the outside, the high ceiling, stained glass, and impressive qualities make it stunning inside as well. The cherry on the cake is the tower. Hop to the top and enjoy one of the best views of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Plus, there’re some impeccable restaurants nearby to try.

Whether you’re new to these escapades or have done them before, you should get out there and have a blast. While only a snapshot of DC’s offerings, this brief list will get you out of the house and into the city to make some unforgettable memories this weekend. With so much to offer nearby, DC is an unfailing font of fun for Northern Virginians and Washingtonians.

Looking for more? Check out some of Mason’s events in the area!


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Welcome To Mason Grad Insider!

September 6, 2017

By Austin A. Deray and Andrew J Quillen

Greetings, Mason graduate and professional students, and welcome to the Mason Grad Insider blog! The purpose of this blog, sponsored by Graduate Student Life and University Life Arlington, is to connect with graduate students across the Mason campuses to communicate useful information and resources that will support your success and well-being.

Check back each week for blogs that will cover various topics ranging from academic and professional tips and strategies to resources on well-being. This year, we will also be introducing a new series of blogs on Fun and Leisure. We encourage new ideas! If you have any topic suggestions you’d like to submit, please send them our way to gradlife@gmu.edu. Occasionally, Mason Grad Insider will feature posts by guest bloggers from around the Mason community. If you are interested in this unique opportunity, let us know!

Who We Are

Austin Deray is the Graduate Professional Assistant for Graduate Student Life and is beginning his second year in this role at Mason. Austin promotes a strong graduate student community through planning programs planning, managing  communications (including web, social media, and other outlets), and works closely with Julie Choe Kim, the Director of Graduate Student Life. Last year, Austin piloted Grad Night In and Graduate Outdoor Adventures and is excited to see them continue this academic year.

Austin is a second–year doctoral student in Cultural Studies at George Mason University. His research interests include the historical construct of gender and heteronormative masculinity, all-male institutions and how they fit into larger social institutions, and the roles privilege and regionalism play in gendered social institutions. Austin has a B.A. in European History, minoring in Religious Studies and Medieval Literature, a M.A. in Medieval History, concentration in Norman and Plantagenet England and Capetian France, and a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies, concentration in heteronormative masculinity in collegiate males and women in medieval French and English literature.  He currently serves as the co-chair for the George Mason University Cultural Studies’ Student Organizing Committee and is the Chapter Advisory Board (CAB) Chairman to DC Alpha Colony, George Washington University, of Phi Delta Theta.

Prior to coming to Mason, Austin was a Lecturer of Gender Studies at Armstrong State University (where he is still an adjunct professor) and faculty adviser to Armstrong’s Feminist United undergraduate club and The Graduate Coordinating Student Council. He also served as the CAB Chairman to the Georgia Epsilon Chapter of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and currently serves as their Scholarship Adviser. Austin also spent two years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate with Savannah/Chatham County Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Andrew J. Quillen is the Graduate Professional Assistant for University Life, in UL: Arlington, and President of the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA). In his work with University Life, Andrew supports program planning and coordination on Mason’s Arlington campus, including trademark events Pizza & Perspectives and Coffee & ConversationHe also serves as the liaison to Arlington Campus student leaders and supports University Life’s ongoing division-wide projects and strategic initiatives. As President of GAPSA, Andrew represents the graduate and professional student body through communicating their needs and concerns with university administration. GAPSA aims to create community through representation; Andrew and the GAPSA Executive Board achieve this through engagement, community events and forums, and advocacy.

Andrew is a Master’s student in Public Administration, concentrating in State and Local Governance; additionally, he is pursuing a graduate certificate in National Security and Public Policy. Andrew was born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville, Virginia. He graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Global Affairs, concentrating in International Development. While completing his Bachelor’s, he studied for a year in France and Spain at Sciences Po Paris, Carlos III de Madrid, and Universidad de Granada respectively. Andrew has a passion for political and community engagement and has worked for both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He is a proud Eagle Scout and member of Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

Grad Student Welcome Days

As the year kicks into full swing, several Mason offices and departments have come together to provide resources to help graduate students get acclimated. During the first six weeks of the semester, as part of a series called Grad Student Welcome Days, several events will be held across the Mason campuses, ranging from educational and career workshops to networking events for graduate students of diverse identities. Check out the line-up for Grad Student Welcome Days here.

We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight one of the major fall events for Graduate Student Life: Gradstravaganza, on September 8, 3:30-7:30pm. All new and continuing Mason graduate students are invited to the 5th annual Gradstravaganza, Mason’s graduate student welcome event! Mini-workshops for Graduate Student Success will be held 3:30-5:00pm in the Johnson Center on the 3rd Floor. The Picnic will be held 5:30-7:30pm at The Hub, including the Lawn, Patio and indoor spaces.  Join fellow Mason grad students for FREE Halal/Kosher food with vegetarian options, mini-workshops highlighting strategies for success in graduate school, connections with campus resources, and giveaways, including t-shirts! Families are welcome to the picnic! Remember to bring your Mason student ID with you. For full details, visit the Gradstravaganza page.


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