Well, two full days in the city and now I see why people like it!
I must admit, I feel pretty swell having a downtown DC zipcode. I'm living on the 2nd floor of a 10 story apartment building in what is pretty much the center of Washington. 13th and M is about 6 blocks from the White House and Capitol Mall and 7 blocks from DuPont circle. My main commute to school, 13th street, is complete with all the trappings of city life. Newspaper vendors, hotdog vendors (a Hebrew National trolley with a Vietnamese proprietress selling Polish sausages...) business men and women, and of course, homeless people wedged into out of the way cracks of buildings.
The neighborhood is neither great nor terrible, falling into that relatively sweet spot that allows for concievable affordability on a student budget but isn't palpably unsafe. I certainly don't feel unsafe, despite the litany of "Thou should nots" that I hear from well meaning friends and superior sounding longtimers alike. I don't want to have my optimish disproven by a knife to the ribs, but thus far I'm quite pleased and not the least bit intimidated.