Washington Seminar

Participant Information

Welcome to the Washington Seminar Program at American University Washington College of Law. We are pleased to welcome you to Washington, D.C.

Below you will find useful information to prepare you for your trip. If you have any questions not answered below, please contact us directly at
We look forward to meeting you all this summer.

Arrival Details

* Ritsumeikan Washington Seminar Students: Bethesda Court Hotel

* Yeditepe Washington Seminar Students: American University Summer Housing

There are several methods of getting from Dulles International Airport (IAD), Baltimore Washington International Airport, or Regan National Airport (DCA) to the city.

SuperShuttle: SuperShuttle is a door-to-door shared ride van service. This is one of the least inexpensive ways to get to downtown Washington, D.C. SuperShuttle stops are clearly identified on the Ground Transportation Level roadway outside the Main Terminal at Dulles. Shuttles operate on an on-demand basis and cost around $14 per person from DCA and $30 per person from IAD. To make a reservation, call 1-800- BLUEVAN or go to www.supershuttle.com.

Washington Flyer Taxi: Washington Flyer Taxicabs serve Dulles International Airport exclusively with 24-hour service to and from the airport. Taxicabs accept American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Discover Card, and Visa, and provide transportation at metered rates to any destination in metropolitan Washington. Approximate one way fares from Dulles to Washington, DC, range from $51 to $58 (plus tip). No reservation is required. Simply go to the "Taxi Passengers" area on the lower level of the Main Terminal, where a Taxicab Dispatcher is on duty 24 hours a day.

Metro Express Bus: From Dulles International Airport, take Bus 5A towards L’Enfant Plaza Metro ($3.00); get off at Rosslyn Metro Station. Take the Blue Line to Largo Town Center Metro Station; get off at Farragut West Metro Station. Walk 0.01 miles to 17th & I street NW Take N4 Bus towards Friendship Heights. Get off at Ward Circle and Massachusetts Ave. Nw

MARC Trains: From Baltimore/Washington International Airport - Provide service to the BWI Rail Station, where free shuttles serve the airport terminal. To contact the BWI Rail Station, please call 410-672-6169. MARC trains go to Union Station Metro Station. Metro also has an express bus with service between BWI and Greenbelt metro Station. Alternatively, take the super shuttle to Washington DC from the Airport Terminal.

Metro: The Reagan National Airport is directly connected to the metro station - In order to come to law school from the airport, take the Yellow line towards Greenbelt metro station, arrive Gallery Place Chinatown metro station. Transfer to the Red line in the direction of Shady Grove. Arrive at the Tenleytown/AU metro station. Take the AU shuttle to campus.

From the main train station, Union Station, you can either take a taxi to the address above or take the Metrorail (Washington, DC’s subway system).

From New York City: Amtrak has frequent rail service from New York Penn Station to Union Station in Washington DC. Travel time is 2-3 hours. If you’re traveling light you may consider taking a bus from NYC to Washington DC. If you choose to take the bus, be aware that you will have to transfer from the airport to the bus terminal. There are several locations for bus departure. For information, go to Washington Deluxe Bus Service ($21) or Megabus ($5~14). The trip is about 4 hours without traffic.

If you choose to use Greyhound Bus service, the terminal in DC is located directly behind Union Station. From the bus terminal, make a left out of the main doors and walk south on 1st Street NE. You will see Union Station on your left hand side. The Union Station is directly connected to the Metro.

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What to Pack

D.C. gets very hot and humid in the summer, so please bring clothes that are appropriate given the high temperature. July is the hottest month of the year with average temperature reaching into the mid 30s (Celsius) or low 90s (Fahrenheit). Since you will be doing a lot of walking and sightseeing around the city, it is recommended that you bring at least one pair of comfortable walking shoes such as tennis shoes/sneakers/trainers.

Site Visits: For site visits to courthouses and law firms, students are required to dress more formally. For women, a blouse/shirt and skirts or dress pant is acceptable. For men, a collared shirt and dress slacks are recommended. While a suit and tie is not required, you may want to bring one with you.

Classes: For classes at WCL, students can dress casually in jeans, T-shirts, khakis, shorts, sandals, sneakers, flip flops, etc. Please keep in mind that most indoor spaces will be air conditioned. It is usually a good idea to bring a sweater with you.

Travel Light: You will have to carry the luggage with you! Clothes can be washed if you are staying for an extended period of time.

  • copies of airline tickets, passport and visas
  • an identification card
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellant
  • a hat
  • umbrellas – for the occasional downpour
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • suit and dress shoes
  • medical information; copies of prescriptions, etc.
  • short sleeve shirts, tank tops, shorts - summer casual clothes
  • camera
  • cell phone/camera charger
  • exercise clothes if you plan on using the gym or playing sports
  • toiletries  
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D.C. in the summer can be very hot and humid, so be prepared and pack accordingly. See the following sites for daily weather reports:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/weather OR http://www.weather.com

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Computer Use at WCL

The Computer Lab is located on the second floor of the library straight ahead at the top of the stairs, in the open area along the back wall. The computer lab allows you to edit papers, check e-mail and do research. The library has research only stations located on the first and second floor. You may do research using Lexis, Westlaw, CALI and the internet. However, editing papers and checking email is not permitted at these stations.

WCL is a WIFI campus with wireless and network connections available in all classrooms. In order to utilize WIFI at WCL, please stop by the technology help desk on the second floor of the Library in order to receive a password and login information. Your laptop must have an ethernet card or be WIFI compatible in order to utilize these services. If you do not bring a laptop with you, the Library has a computer lab with 52 work stations and printers for your use.

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WCL Virtual Tour

WCL is located in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C. Despite our residential location, you will find shops, restaurants, parks, and a short metro ride to downtown D.C. all within a short distance of the campus. To see more of the campus, please visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/tour/.

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On Campus Shuttle Service

From the Tenleytown/AU Metro stop you can pick up the American University Shuttle directly to WCL. The Law School Shuttle (WCL Direct Shuttle) runs daily at thirty minute intervals from 7:00am to 12:00am Monday - Friday. (Every 20 minutes between 12pm to 3pm) The Shuttle comes every half hour from 8:00am to 12:00am on weekends. For more information please call (202) 885-3111.

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Public Transportation:  Washington's Metrorail opens at 5:00 a.m. weekdays and 7:00 a.m. weekends. It closes at 12:00 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday nights, it stays open until 3:00 a.m. The web site of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (METRO) is a great resource for figuring out how to get places in the DC area on public transport. Just click on "The Ride Guide" and follow the instructions. A metro rail system map is also available at http://www.wmata.com/rail/maps/map.cfm. The closest Metro stop to American University is Tenleytown/AU on the Red Line. From the metro stop, exit to the left where an American University Shuttle Bus will take you to the American University main campus or directly to the WCL campus.

For trips from Union Station to Baltimore City (and the Baltimore Inner Harbor and the Baltimore Aquarium), and BWI Airport, see the Marc train schedule information for the Penn line. Fares are roughly $7 each way.

Car Rental: A foreign national with a valid driver's license can rent a car in the U.S. Rates can vary depending on length of rental, age of driver, and distance traveled. You can find more information directly from rental car agencies. Enterprise Car Rentals, Hertz, Budget Rent-a-Car.

Taxis: D.C. taxis are required to use time and distance based meters. Fares begin at $3, plus 25 cents per each additional 1/6 mile and 25 cents per minute of wait time. Maximum fare in the DC is $19.00, and additional passenger is $1.50. For each large luggage in trunk, there is $2.00 extra charge. There is also a radio dispatch surcharge of $2.00 which applies if you call for a cab. For more information, please go to http://dctaxi.dc.gov.

A few cab phone numbers:

  • Lincoln Cab, (202) 484-2222;
  • Georgetown Cab Association Inc., (202) 529-8979;
  • Diamond Cab, (202) 387-6200;
  • Empire Cab, (202) 488-4844;
  • Checker Cab Association, (202) 398-0532.

Maps and Driving:  For driving directions and maps of the area, visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/direction/maps.cfm

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Emergency Contact Information

DC Emergency    911
Sibley  Hospital    (202) 537 - 4080
Campus Police Emergency  (202) 885 - 3636 *
Residence Hall Front Desk (202) 885 - 7700 *
Aurora Carmichael - Grants & Programs (202) 274 - 4115 *
Marcie Neil - Grants & Programs (202) 274 - 4317 *
*Dial last 4 digits from anywhere on campus  

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Things to Do in Washington, D.C.

Tourist information, maps, and calendar of events will be available in the Washington Seminar Program Office in Room 314. For general information on events, attractions, local arts and entertainment, weather, and news in the DC area:




http://www.si.edu  - The web site of the Smithsonian Institution (national museums)


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/cityguide/ - for a listing of area events, restaurants, and fun activities

Tourism Information

Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation

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Shopping, Pharmacies, etc.

Household Supplies:

Linens n' Things: Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-244-9025 (Directions: Take the red metro line to the Friendship Heights station)

TJ Maxx: 5252 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-237-7616 (Directions: Take the red metro line to the Friendship Heights station)


Rite Aid: Foxhall Square on New Mexico Ave., NW, 202-966-5665 (Near AU Main campus, about two blocks after the Nebraska parking lot)

CVS: 4851 Massachusetts Ave., NW, 202-244-2001 (Next to WCL); Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-537-1587 (Tentleytwon Metro, Open 24 hours)

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General Information

Electricity: The United States uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe. If your small appliances use 220 to 240 volts, you'll need a 110-volt transformer and a plug adapter with two flat parallel pins to operate them here. Downward converters that change 220 to 240 volts to 110 to 120 volts are difficult to find in the United States, so bring one with you.

Business Hours: Offices are usually open weekdays from 9am to 5pm. Banks are open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 5pm, 9am to 6pm on Friday, and Saturday mornings. Stores typically open between 9 and 10am and close between 5 and 6pm. Stores in shopping complexes or malls tend to stay open later: until about 9pm on weekdays and weekends, and many malls and larger department stores are open on Sundays.

Alcohol: The legal age for purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 21; proof of age is required and always requested at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so you must bring an ID (passport is best) when you go out. Liquor stores are usually closed on Sunday. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in any public area. The police can fine you. Also, please remember that regardless of age, American University does not allow alcohol on its premises - this includes in the residence halls.

Mail: Generally found at intersections, mailboxes are blue with a red-and-white stripe and carry the inscription U.S. MAIL. If your mail is addressed to a U.S. destination, don't forget to add the five-digit postal code (or zip code), after the two-letter abbreviation of the state to which the mail is addressed. This is essential for prompt delivery. Before you mail a package, you can calculate the postage online at www.usps.com

Taxes: The United States has no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city has the right to levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks, airline tickets, and so on. The sales tax on merchandise is 6% in the District, 6% in Maryland, and 5% in Virginia. The tax on restaurant meals is 10% in the District. Usually, tax is not included in the listed price but is added with the final total.

Tipping: It is appropriate to tip your waiter/waitress in a hotel or bar, a taxi cab driver, and other service attendants. General rules of thumb for tipping: In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff 15% to 20% of the check, tip bartenders 10% to 15%, and tip checkroom attendants $1 per garment. Tipping is not expected in cafeterias and fast-food restaurants. You can also tip cab drivers 15% of the fare.

Telephone: You'll find pay phones clearly marked in most public buildings and private establishments. Many convenience groceries and packaging services sell prepaid calling cards; these can be the least expensive way to call home. Most of public phones at airports now accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards. Local calls made from public pay phones in most locales cost 50¢. Pay phones do not accept pennies, and few will take anything larger than a quarter. Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code, and the telephone number of the person you are calling.

Calls to area codes 800, 888, 877, and 866 are toll-free. You must first dial 1, before dialing area codes 800, 888, 877, 866, 700, and 900.

For local directory assistance (information), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.

The area code for Washington, DC is 202; Northern Virginia is 703; Maryland is 301. Calls between these three exchanges are considered local calls, though you must always dial the area code before the number.

Time: The continental United States is divided into four time zones: Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, noon in Washington, D.C. (EST), is 11am in Chicago (CST), 10am in Denver (MST), 9am in Los Angeles (PST), 8am in Anchorage (AST), and 7am in Honolulu (HST).

Medicine: Bring what you need. Make a little "first aid kit" (e.g. aspirin or Tylenol, Alka-Seltzer, antacids, Band-Aids, medication for colds or congestion, intestinal disorders, etc.). If you have a large supply of medicines, bring copies of the doctor's prescriptions with you in case you need to refill and/or to explain to customs why you have drugs with you and what they are.

Copies: Make copies of the front pages of your passport, of the airline tickets, of any important documents; leave one copy at home and tell people where it is; bring one copy with you but carry it in a different area than the originals. This will make replacement easier if your passport or airline ticket is lost or stolen. Treat airline tickets like cash! Another idea is to scan and email this important info to your own e-mail account.

Safety Precautions: Petty crime has fallen in the last several years and overall Washington, D.C. is a safe city, but you should always mind your belongings when touring any strange city. Most tourist attractions are in the Northwest quadrant, where crime is relatively lower. Still, you should use your best instincts when walking down empty streets or while going out at night, especially in the Metro Center/Gallery Place area and parts of Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan. You should also proceed at your own risk if you choose to visit the National Mall at night. Stay in well-lit areas near the memorials and monuments, or where police or park rangers are stationed.

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Map of Washington, D.C.

Metrorail System (Subway) Map

AU Main Campus Map

WCL Neighborhood Map

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