Sais Bologna Analytical Essay Ideas

DC has a number of easy-options that would allow you to get around the city conveniently adjusted to your own comfort and budget.

Metrorail, Metrobus, and DC Circulator

The Metrorail is a convenient, safe and easy way to get around DC and also to the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. In order to take the Metrorail, you would need to purchase a SmarTrip card which retails at $2.00. This could be done at any Metrorail stations and online. 

Metrorail fares depend on when you are traveling (peak/off-peak hours) and how many stops you are traveling. This may vary between $2.00 - $6.00 per trip. Peak fares are in effect on weekdays from 5am to 9.30am and between 3pm and 7pm. 

An alternative to the Metrorail is the Metrobus which has various stops throughout the city including Maryland and Virginia. The Metrobus fare is $2.00 for regular routes.

In addition, the DC Circulator has a number of fixed routes than run through the city approximately every 10 minutes. They are incredibly affordable, at only $1 per ride. Check out the DC Circulator site to check schedule and routes.

You can use either the SmarTrip card or cash to pay for the Metrobus and DC. If you use cash, however, make sure you have the exact amount since change will not be given.

Use the Metro Trip Planner to plan your trip on the Metrobus/Metrorail/DC Circulator and calculate your fares. 


The bicycle is a convenient, cost-efficient and eco-friendly way to get around the city. DC is relatively a bike-friendly city and there are a number of bike lanes throughout the city to increase the safety of cyclists.

You can take your bike on the Metrorail, except from 7-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays. You can also take your bike on the Metrobus given that there is space on the bike rack at the front of the bus. There are a number of bike racks available to store your bikes in front of SAIS Nitze and Rome building.

Bike-owners are encouraged to register their bike on the National Bike Registry to help with issues connected to bike-theft.

Additionally, there are a number of bike-sharing programs available in the city. Capital Bikeshare has over 440 dock stations across DC, Maryland, and Virginia, and offers a variety of membership plans - $85 for an annual membership, $8 for 24 hours.  There are also dockless bike-share programs such as Mobike and LimeBike where downloading the app would enable you to track where the bikes are. They start at about $1 for a 30-minute ride. 


There is an abundance of taxis in DC, which one could hail easily on any main streets. They all run on a metered system that starts with a base fare of $3.50. You can download the DC Taxi app estimate the cost of using the taxi service as well as order a taxi.

Alternatively, there are also mobile app-based alternatives to taxis such as Uber, Lyft, and Via.


Driving around DC is tricky as drivers in the city have quite a reputation while street/garage parking is limited and expensive. Many would usually opt for using other alternatives.

All non-US citizens should also be aware that if you have lived in DC more than 30 days and are not staying in the US on a visitor’s visa, are required to obtain a US driver’s license in order to drive in DC.  

There are a number of car-sharing services available in the cities such as car2go and Zipcar which could potentially help with those big grocery shopping days or day trips outside the city.

SAIS Shuttle

SAIS provides a shuttle service for students to nearby Metro stations (Farragut North, Farragut West, Mount Vernon Square and Columbia Heights) that leaves the SAIS Nitze Building at 7.00pm, 8.30pm, 10.00pm and 11.15pm. The shuttle operates on Sunday through Thursday while school is in session and students can sign-up to reserve a seat at the Nitze front desk. 


It is easy to get around DC on foot and generally takes about 20 minutes to get around Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom. Generally, as you go North or South from the Capitol, the lettered streets increase and as you go East or West from the Capitol, the numbered streets increase. The pretty architecture and scenic streets of DC make walking an enjoyable journey.


Tip: using apps and sites such as Google Maps and City Mapper will help you plan your trip and decide which medium of transport would be best fitting to efficiently arrive at your destination. 

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

The analytical essay: you'll want to read this

Today we publish an analytical essay by a current SAIS Bologna student that caught the eye of the Admissions Committee.

If you read the essay -- click here -- you'll understand why.

In just over 550 words, Allison Carragher managed to introduce a topic that was of interest to her and relevant to her proposed course of study at SAIS. She explained the importance of the subject and her connection to it, and examined it from several angles.

Allison Carragher
In other words, she looked at an issue of international interest through a personal lens. Not every candidate will have Ally's background -- experience at two U.S. federal agencies, on Capitol Hill, on a presidential campaign and in a law firm. We would not expect candidates to duplicate Ally's essay.

But applicants pondering what to write about in their analytical essays can draw some lessons:

  • Find a topic that interests you and is relevant to what you might like to study at SAIS.
  • Explain it simply and clearly, say why it's important and examine it critically.
  • Do it all in under 600 words.

We are often asked if it's important to stick to 600 words or less. We're not going to reject applicants who write 601 words. But as Ally notes below, it's harder to write concisely than it is to run on. As a former wire service reporter, I know.

Want to read another essay that fit the bill? Click here to read the most popular post we have ever published.

Here in her own words is Ally's explanation of how she chose her topic and went about writing her essay.

I was working (a lot!) while trying to apply to graduate schools, so I focused my analytical essay on something that I was already involved in at work.

I wanted a topic that fit within the narrative of my application and was relevant to what I hoped to do after graduating from SAIS. I chose Impact Investing because it was a subject I found interesting and knew something about, but wanted to learn more. I think it’s important to pick an issue that interests you because if you actually enjoy writing the essay, that will show.

Impact Investing, especially as a tool for international development, is a relatively recent phenomenon so there isn’t that much research out there yet. I started by reading a number of memos and papers out there to better familiarize myself with the topic.

It’s also a subject my boss, OPIC President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, was really passionate about. I talked to her about the topic and where she thought the sector was headed. Then I got lucky. She had to give a speech on business as a force for good, and I was asked to draft it. It was the perfect excuse to start writing parts of my analytical essay!

Even though I learned a lot about Impact Investing, I couldn’t fit it all into one short essay. Believe me, cutting it down to the word limit wasn’t easy! I tried to focus on the parts that mattered most: defining the topic, introducing a few of the issues currently at play in the sector, and making one or two predictions for the future.

It seemed most important to make it clear that I understood what I was writing about and was able to think about it “analytically.” I also wanted to explain how the topic was relevant to me. In the end, I was really happy with the result.

Nelson Graves


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