Cuddles with cute animals are crucial to your personal happiness.
Cuddles with cute animals are crucial to your personal happiness.

What could be better than coming home to a happy, purring ball of fur after a long day in the clinic? Nothing, of course! While a pet can be a lot of work during the hectic days and sometimes long into the evenings of medical school, in the end they are worth the extra time and energy. They are the best companions when you are studying for those anatomy tests (they can even show you how to plantar flex to help with the limb portion of anatomy). And when tests are done, they remind you that there is no better way to relax than to play with them. A couple months into school, I got a kitten, and it was a great decision. While I wouldn’t recommend going out and buying a pet during the first couple weeks (settle in, get through your first exams, get to know everyone before taking on the extra responsibility), they are a great investment in your first or second year. I mean, how else could you make it through the winter and second block without a furry little friend to warm your lap and heart? Also, many of the apartments in Central West End are pet-friendly. Mine even posts a Pet of the Month in the lobby. Forest Park is also a great place to walk a dog. So reward yourself with a little friend who will love you no matter whether you can say if that cell in histology is basophilic or acidophilic. The happy distraction of your pet can add years to your life!
– Natalie G., M1


There are a lot of great options for banking in St. Louis, but if your primary concern is convenience, you may want to consider Bank of America. Bank of America ATMs are conveniently located on the medical school campus (one is right at the entrance to the library), as well as in multiple locations through out Barnes-Jewish, and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. Moreover, there is a Bank of America branch in the Central West End neighborhood, where most students live. U.S. Bank is another convenient option, as it has ATMs at Children’s Hospital and South Campus, as well as a branch that is a 20-minute walk from campus. Alternatively, Fifth Third Bank is the closest physical bank to the medical school and has locations and ATMs throughout St. Louis.
– Christine H., M1


You will not be lacking in the library department at WUSM or in St. Louis. In addition to Becker Library on the medical school campus, which offers a peaceful ambience of greenery and natural light, Olin Library on the Danforth Campus also has a wide selection of books (both school-related and fun) and study spaces. The Danforth Campus also boasts many off-the-beaten-path libraries with unique and quiet study spaces to switch things up when the monotony of the carrels becomes tedious. If you’re wanting dead silence, check out the Harry Potter-esque Law library where even walking with flip-flops will solicit bothered looks. Not feeling that quiet? Check out the Music library, which plays a closing song every evening. Or try the East Asian library for some Zen studying or the physics library for some serious focus. Finally, the St. Louis Public Library system is well stocked with any book or movie you could want, with one branch just a few blocks from the medical school campus. All you need is proof of your St. Louis address, and you can get your very own library card for free!
– Jackie K., M1

Student Health Services

Studying pathophysiology when you’ve got some kind of (hopefully lesser) pathophysiology yourself is not fun. Luckily, one perk of attending a top medical school is how much the school prioritizes your health. Student Health Services (SHS) makes it very easy to access the care you need quickly. SHS is located on the medical school campus and will coordinate your care. Just set up an appointment, which will usually be on the same day or next day, walk over, and you shouldn’t have to wait more than five minutes to see some very cool nurses and physicians. They might even teach you something in the process! Also, the WUSM student insurance plan is incredible. Expect to pay a $20 copay for visits to dermatology, ophthalmology and some other specialty clinics, and a copay for some medications. Other appointments and medications are free, or free with a voucher that SHS gives you when they refer you.
– Helena H., M1

Dry Cleaning

If you’re looking for the most fascinating segment in the Dis-O Guide, then … too bad, cause you’re looking in the wrong place! But if you are actually wondering about dry cleaning, which is quite an important part of life, then you are in the right place! The place I frequent is Parkside Cleaners (at Forest Park and Taylor). Mrs. O, Eric and the other folks who work there are very kind and friendly, their prices are reasonable, and they consistently do good work! In addition to Parkside Cleaners, there is Central West End Cleaners (at Euclid and Laclede), which is more convenient for WUSM first-years living in the Central West End without wheels. The wonderful Bing Maps also reveals a Cashmere Cleaners at West Pine and Newstead, but I didn’t even know that one existed until today. And “Cashmere” makes it sound really fancy and/or extremely specific in terms of what it dry cleans. That’s all I’ve got on them. Good luck!
– Reece C., M1

On Surviving St. Louis Weather

St. Louis is one of my favorite places when it comes to weather. You will truly experience all seasons here, and I think that can be quite refreshing. Summers can be pretty scorching with the hottest I remember being 100 or so degrees Fahrenheit. Winters can also get pretty chilly on the opposite side of the spectrum. Be prepared for rain! Seriously. Carry an umbrella, or poncho, or just accept the fact that the heavens can and will descend upon you at the least convenient time, regardless of what the weatherman said. You will definitely experience all four seasons while you are here, but be prepared to experience a couple in a single day as well. All in all, weather in the Lou is the best and consistently inconsistent.
– Owen H., M1


Security monitors campus and surrounding areas at all hours, and the area is generally safe. If you ever feel worried, there is a 24-hour safe ride program.
Security monitors campus and
surrounding areas at all hours,
and the area is generally safe. If
you ever feel worried, there is a 24-hour safe ride program.

It’s true that St. Louis has a bad reputation around the country as being one of the more dangerous cities. When moving here, I was a little concerned about what it would be like and if I would feel safe. I know that people come to WUSM from all over the world and that this issue isn’t as concerning for some people as it is for others, but as a young woman from a small town in Tennessee, it is something that I’ve paid particular attention to during my transition to living in St. Louis. The Central West End, the area occupied by WUSM and Barnes-Jewish, is a very nice neighborhood filled withrestaurants, bars, shops and apartment buildings (mostly occupied by students and doctors at Washington University). I feel perfectly safe walking around the Central West End during the day and for most of the early evening. Personally, I avoid walking by myself later at night, but it’s not because I’ve ever experienced a situation where I felt particularly unsafe. I just lean pretty heavily towards caution. WUSM has a great security service called 2-HELP that will pick you up at school (or anywhere on the medical campus) and drop you off right at your door if you ever don’t want to walk home at night. In general, I’d say that you just need to be aware. I definitely take more precautions here than I would in my hometown, but overall I feel very safe.
– Mary M. S., M1


If you are living in the Central West End or any of the surrounding neighborhoods, there are plenty of grocery options. Schnucks is a local grocery store chain that isn’t too far from the school. There is also a nearby ALDI (discount), Straub’s (gourmet) and Golden Grocer Natural Foods. WalMart, Target and Trader Joe’s are all off the Hanley Road exit on I-64, which is about a 15-minute drive away. There is also a new Whole Foods opening soon just a few blocks from school to add another option to the mix.
– Michael M., M1

Ethnic Groceries

St. Louis doesn’t really have much of a Chinatown, but there is a Chinese/Asian street of sorts on Olive Blvd. with a good number of Asian restaurants and stores. It’s about a 20-minute drive from the medical school campus, and I haven’t been there enough to be an expert by any means, but I found the selection at Seafood City and Olive to be pretty nice. There isn’t the huge variety of Asian vegetables and fruits that one might get in some other cities, but there’s enough for me to have the basic necessities that one can’t find at Schnucks or Dierberg’s. As far as packaged snacks, sauces, frozen foods, etc. go, you’re pretty much set. I hear there are other international markets around town, too, so there’s most likely more out there that I haven’t found yet!
– Kat Z., M1

Campus Farmer’s Market

I require a lot of variety, flavor and (sometimes) healthfulness in my diet. I prefer food that is local, because I think it’s nice to limit consumption of fossil fuels whenever possible. I like fresh eggs sourced from farms that treat their hens ethically. Also, I am very lazy. You might think that my combination of interests is too high-maintenance to be satisfied (especially when you factor in my laziness). Fortunately, however, the WUSM farmer’s market and its weekly crop boxes fulfill all my needs at a low price. Each week, I get a refreshing spread of seasonal vegetables. Most boxes feature at least one goody that I never would have thought to choose, which challenges me to cook fun, new recipes. The crop boxes also enable me to be lazy in food shopping. All I need to do is pick up my box from the farmer’s market (which happens on the medical school campus) and grab just a few items like milk or flour from the grocery store. Another lazy pro tip: Immediately washing, chopping and storing veggies in mason jars in the fridge is an excellent way to have materials on hand for a quick salad, sauté, omelet, pasta topping, etc. And the tight seals of the mason jars keep stuff fresh for up to two weeks! There is no limit to the winnings of these crop boxes. Enjoy!
– Christine A., M1

Soulard Farmer’s Market

Somewhere between Busch Stadium and Anheuser Busch Brewery lies a historic St. Louis neighborhood, Soulard, which offers both great nightlife and fun day outings. The best in the latter category (in my humble opinion) is the farmer’s market! As a St. Louis native, I grew up going to Soulard every spring, summer and fall Saturday with my family. My parents would buy my sister and me a delicious fresh-baked pastry and a little basket of berries to munch on while we walked up and down the aisles of amazingly colorful fresh produce. Their selections are amazing, and we would always stop to chat with some of the farmers, who were always so thrilled to talk about their offerings. It’s super cheap, and the quality of the produce is phenomenal! Definitely a must-do activity.
– Tanvi S., M1


You may be surprised by the diversity of devices and platforms used by medical students. The most important thing, regardless of what hardware or software you choose, is finding a system that works. A good system is organized, does not require much overhead to maintain, works with the files you will be given (.ppt, .doc, .pdf, .mp3, .mp4 and Google Drive items), and is conducive to your styles of note-taking and studying. It is possible to get by with just an iOS or Android tablet, but the majority of students elect to use a full Windows or OS X device, either exclusively or in conjunction with a tablet. Many students use Microsoft OneNote to collect and annotate class slides. On the Windows side, plenty of devices, such as the Surface Pro and Surface Book, allow touch and stylus input for note-taking. On the Apple side, people either make do with just typing or use an iPad for marking up slides (helpful in histology). A smaller number of students eschew computers altogether in favor of old fashioned pen and paper. Ultimately, you should opt for whatever is simplest and most manageable for you. The best system is the one you use.
– Toby M., M1


Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet, the need for old-fashioned snail mail has been on the decline, but if you feel the need to send a loving handwritten letter to a friend or family member, the post office is just a mile away from school. There are also mailboxes on practically on every other street corner, including one on Olin Circle just in front of the school.
– Michael M., M1

Barnes & Noble College Bookstore

Barnes & Noble College Bookstore at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis Campus is the official bookstore for the WUSM campus. You will find textbooks (used, new and rental), tradebooks, school spirit clothing and giftware, school supplies, snacks and convenience items. You may also relax in the Café, which serves a large selection of Starbucks products as well as pastries, breakfast and lunch items. They are located at 4905 Children’s Place, (314) 362-3240.


While online shopping may be a nice distraction for those times you’re stuck at the library all day, we all know it’s not as fun as the real thing. Fortunately, St. Louis is filled with an abundance of places to get some classic, in person shopping accomplished. For starters, Saint Louis Galleria, the place most locals would likely assume you were heading if you said you were going shopping, is the most accessible as the MetroLink will take you straight there (12 minutes via train and a six-minute walk from the station according to Google Maps) or you can drive there in about 15 minutes. If you want to venture a little further (about 25 minutes driving), Chesterfield Mall or West County Center are two other large-scale shopping centers, with the latter boasting over 270 stores and eateries. If you’re looking for luxury, Plaza Frontenac is a high-end shopping (or window shopping) center just 15 minutes away by car. If you’re on a budget, there are two outlet centers, St. Louis Premium Outlets and Taubman Prestige Outlets Chesterfield, that are great ways to bargain shop (both 25 minutes driving). Hope you shop till you drop!
– Hayley M., M1