Medical school is unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of. It is like college, except that your class is tiny (124 students in our year), your classmates are mature (mostly) and everything that you do, you do with those same people (almost literally). I describe it to my non-med school friends as “academic summer camp, except that it is year-round.” During the day, you attend class together; in the evenings, you study together; on the weekends, you socialize together. Social life here ebbs and flows. On quieter weeks, we go out a bit; before exam weeks, we hardly go out at all; and after exam weeks, we party quite a lot. Classmates organize unofficial class-wide events at least a couple times a month (potlucks, apple picking, wine tasting, house parties) and the Social Chairs organize official class-wide events about twice per block. Depending on your interests, you will also have opportunities to hang out with smaller groups of people and get to know them on a more personal level. About once a week, many of us gather for board games night. Facebook announcements about your favorite team’s upcoming game often will lead to small weekend afternoon viewing parties. Whatever pastimes you are interested in, you will find classmates who enjoy doing the same things you do, and you can, in the process, build lifelong friendships.
— Stephanie T. & Zelun W., M1s
Social Chair Events
Do you like fun? Do you like your friends? Do you like fun with your friends? If you said yes to any of those three questions, the social chairs have got you covered. Outside of our flagship Shell Cafe parties, we organize a variety of class social events throughout the school year. From pumpkin carving to Secret Snowflake to Super Bowl watch parties, whatever your interests are, we have got you covered. These events are the perfect time to bond with classmates and de-stress after exams.
— Will T., M1
Do you love board games? Great, because half of your class will, too! Whenever you want to wind down from a busy week of class, see your friends’ competitive sides, or just scratch your itch to conquer all of Europe, then hit up your friends and get a board game night going. From casual games of Cards Against Humanity to classics like Settlers of Catan, or even intense games of Diplomacy, you will always find a ready and willing group of board game enthusiasts. Our class has smaller game nights every week and big extravaganzas sporadically. So grab a drink, put on a charming smile, and get your most devious strategy ready, because Europe isn’t gonna conquer itself.
P.S. Anyone have sheep? Will trade for wood.
— Brian B., M1
In undergrad I was on four dance teams so, needless to say, I was looking for opportunities at medical school, too. I used to do ballet when I was younger, but in college it was mostly hip hop and contemporary with a side of K-pop, so that was what I was going for. (Though I’m sure a quick Google search is all you need to find ballet open classes.) For contemporary, I go to Ashleyliane and take the open advanced class. It is about a 10-minute walk from campus; classes are one hour and $10 or $8 with a class card. I like it! The style and combos are generally fun and good. The space is nice, and not too many people go, so you have a lot of room to really move. I hear Wash U Danforth Campus has a modern company but I’m still trying to find out more about that. For hip hop, you also can take classes at Ashleyliane or Consuming Kinetics Dance Company (a bit farther away and more expensive). But I’m cheap and don’t like paying for class, so I joined the Saint Louis University (SLU) undergrad team, Xquizit, and the Wash U undergrad team, Wash U Hip Hop Union (WUHHU). You have to audition since they are competitive teams, but dancing is free (minus competition fees and stuff)! I don’t have a car, so I take the MetroLink to the Danforth Campus (just two stops), and I carpool to get to SLU. It’s fun because on a team you can have performance and competition opportunities (instead of just learning combos), and it’s just nice to get out of the med school bubble. If you want to know more details about the two teams, just ask me. Basically, if you want to dance there are plenty of opportunities in a non-driving distance, and, at least as a first year, plenty of time too!
— Minerva Z., M1
The float trip was definitely one of the highlights from before class started. Nothing helps your class bond more than floating lazily down a river for a couple hours in an elaborate raft city held together by nylon cord and hope. Just remember to pack more sunscreen and bug spray than you think you need. No matter how many layers of plastic bags you wrap your belongings in, everything you bring on the raft will get wet. I’d also recommend making sure that any portable speakers brought on the trip are water-PROOF as opposed to merely water-RESISTANT. That distinction is all kinds of important. And finally, should you choose to drink alcoholic beverages while aboard the raft, make sure that you pace yourself and drink plenty of water. Otherwise those hours spent on the river are going to seem like an eternity as you rely on the kindness of your classmates to help you survive the horrible, horrible decisions you made. Regardless, the float trip is definitely a grand ol’ time, and the memories you make (or that are told to you at a later date) are ones that will help keep your spirits up throughout the school year.
— Carl S., M1
WUSM is extremely collaborative and supportive. However, this supportive atmosphere ends each weekend as students watch their alma maters slug it out on national television. Students come from dozens of colleges across the country, so each game causes some classmates to celebrate as their former university rises to the top and other classmates to despair as their hopes of greatness come crashing down. Some of the favorite places to take study breaks and watch games with classmates are the Del Coronado lounge and the bars on Euclid Ave. Aside from college sports, there is also a big following for professional sports including football, basketball, baseball and hockey. As is the case in most high-pressure work places, fantasy sports are a popular and much needed distraction. Don’t be afraid to put off studying for anatomy and watch sports with your friends instead.
— Casey D., M1
Of the many banking options in St. Louis, the most convenient for WUSM students is Bank of America. There are many Bank of America ATMs located across campus, and in both Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In addition, there is a Bank of America branch on Lindell Blvd. in the Central West End. U.S. Bank is another great option that also has ATMs on campus as well as a branch on Lindell. Both of these banks have the added benefit of having locations in the rest of St. Louis and in many other states.
— Danny W., M1
If you live in the Central West End like a lot of us do, Whole Foods will be a tempting grocery store to frequent. It definitely has some perks, like high quality meat and vegetables as well as the best happy hour special on draught beers ($2 per!), but, if you don’t want to have to take out another loan, I recommend shopping at Schnucks on Lindell. Find a friend with a car or take the bus (or walk if you haven’t left the carrels in five days). There also are two grocery stores in University City called Seafood City and Olive Supermarket. The former is Filipino and has a huge selection of pan-Asian and Central American ingredients for a really good price that you definitely cannot get at either Whole Foods or Schnucks. Olive Supermarket is more Chinese in selection, but again the produce offered is really cheap and fresh.
— Noah W., M1
As a female, I am always aware of personal safety, and I think safety is something that should definitely be taken seriously by everyone. St. Louis, like any major city, will have its fair share of crime. Places medical students tend to go, such as shopping, movies, restaurants, etc., are typically fairly safe. The area around campus, where the majority of medical students live, is very safe. I have never felt unsafe walking to and from school, and have walked home alone after dark before. That being said, you can avoid walking home alone in many ways. Many of my classmates will go back home and bring their car in the afternoon if they know they will be on campus until late. (Garage parking is free between 2 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on the weekends; street parking is free after 7 p.m. and on Sundays.) Many people will also walk home together, which is super easy because we all live fairly close to each other. If you were alone in the middle of the night or are just too tired (read: lazy) to walk home you can actually call campus security to drive you home! I understand that everyone’s feeling of safety will vary and it depends on what they are used to, but I believe that if you are smart about it and have a decent awareness of your surroundings, it will be okay!
— Catherine X., M1
Student Health Services
One of the perks of going to a top medical school like Washington University is that it prioritizes the health care of its students. Student Health Services (SHS) makes accessing the care you need easy and convenient, as it is located right on campus and is only a minute away from the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center. Setting up an appointment is easy, and you can usually schedule a same-day appointment or one for the following day. The nurses and physicians are fantastic, and since they serve exclusively future health professionals, they go above and beyond to help you understand the health care that you are receiving. The WUSM Student Health Benefit Plan is fantastic. Expect a $20 co-pay for visits to dermatology, ophthalmology, allergy services or other specialty clinics, and a copay for some medications. Other appointments and medications are free when received from SHS. Dental coverage is also provided to WUSM students. There is a prepaid plan, which allows students access to dentists in the network without a referral and at no cost, with no deductible and no maximum cap on services, and a Freedom PPO plan, which comes with an additional monthly cost and gives students the freedom to choose any dentist, including dental specialists.
— Emma B., M1
St. Louis Weather
The most important advice I can give for St. Louis’s weather is to check it before you leave for the day. Even though it may have been 80 degrees and sunny yesterday, it might be 50 degrees and windy the next. You will experience all four seasons here, sometimes two in one day. It can be humid at times and will rain on occasion, so make sure you have an umbrella. In St. Louis, you can get the best (or worst) of both worlds. Summers can be warm (sometimes approaching 100 degrees), and winters can be rather chilly, especially with wind. All in all, it is nice to experience the seasons, and there are some truly beautiful days for you to enjoy what St. Louis has to offer.
— Josh M., M1