Long gone are the early days of freshman year, plagued by feelings of homesickness and a longing to be reunited with family and high school friends. Now, with a few semesters of college under my belt, I’ve grown to appreciate my new surroundings, and come to see campus as a surrogate home (one which is just as difficult to leave). The friendships I’ve forged and roots I’ve established in the town of Pittsburgh make my sojourn home for the summer that much more bittersweet. Below are the top 20 reasons why I find it so difficult to leave this unique city, and why I can’t wait to return!
1. My Friends
Sure, most of us are returning to our respective hometowns for the summer months, but I also know quite a few students remaining on campus this summer. They will be working, interning, and/or taking classes. From their Snapchat stories alone, I can tell they’re loving every minute of their time at Pitt right now, and I can’t help but feel a bit jealous. It’s odd, when you’re young you spend all year counting down until summer vacation and dread having to return to school in the fall, but I’ve found the opposite to be true of college!
2. The Friendly Citizens Of Pittsburgh
It feels like you’re in the South, partly because there’s a strong country atmosphere in Western Pennsylvania, but mostly because of how polite and outgoing everyone is. It’s refreshing and unexpected for a large urban area not to have a majority of its residents be jerks.
3. The Pirates
One of my favorite things to do in Pittsburgh is go to Pirates baseball games. I’ve been to a few with some friends during the school year, but it’s not the same as spending the whole afternoon at the ballpark during the summer! PNC Park, where they play, is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the US, with breathtaking views of downtown and the river. The Pirates offer discount tickets for students and the bus/metro ride to the stadium is free with a student ID, so it’s a pretty sweet deal. After the game I like to walk back to downtown via the Roberto Clemente bridge and watch the fireworks display that the team puts on. Plus, who doesn’t want to witness a Pierogi race?
Pittsburgh has a huge music scene, and they offer a little bit of everything, from huge country festivals to indie rock shows. That’s one of the best things about going to school in such a diverse city. There is no end to all the fun events going on, which means there’s plenty of things for young people to enjoy.
5. Yoga In The Square
This event is amazing! It’s a free outdoor yoga class put on by Fittsburgh every Sunday in Market Square during the summer months. I’ve been a couple of times, but because it’s only available during the warmer weather, there are usually only a handful of classes left when I return in the fall for school. It’s such a treat to have an outdoor (and free!) yoga class in a busy city like Pittsburgh, that I would love to take more advantage of it by staying in the city all summer.
The Mattress Factory and the Heinz History Center have fun exhibits that explore topics unique to Pittsburgh, such as Andy Warhol or Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. I like to check out these cultural experiences whenever I can, but it’s difficult when you’ve got a full schedule. I would really appreciate being able to enrich myself further during the summer when I have more free time.
7. Schenley Park
A stone’s throw from Pitt’s campus lies this beautiful green space in the city, with running trails and grassy plazas perfect for laying out. Need I say more?
8. Special Events
Things like The Color Run or kayaking on the Monongahela River are really only possible when the weather is nice, which means that for me to experience these fun activities, I have to cram them into the first few weeks of fall semester. If I were to stay on campus I could enjoy them all summer long.
9. The Weather
Pittsburgh is known for it’s icy winter conditions, but what you may not know is that the city boasts a nice summer climate as well. With mild days of 70 to 80 degrees, low humidity, and lots of sun, it’s definitely the best season to spend in the city, which is why I hate having to leave this time of year.
10. The City Atmosphere
I love the hustle and bustle, the loud noises, and even the smells. The fast-paced lifestyle of city living is why I chose to go to an urban school to begin with, and now I’m hooked. I cannot go back to suburban tranquility; whenever I am home on breaks I cannot fall asleep because it’s too quiet without the sirens wailing and drunkards screaming at 2 a.m.
11. The Food
Pittsburgh has amazing food. From perogies and giros to Primanti’s and The O, there’s something for every appetite. Not going to lie, the food was part of the reason I decided to go to Pitt, and I do not regret that choice. There’s a ton of restaurants around town that serve every cuisine you could imagine. If I want pizza, I stick to Sorrento’s or Antoon’s (both are on campus and super cheap). For Thai, I go to Nicky’s in downtown, and for good ol’ pub grub, I head to Fuel & Fuddle in Oakland. There are also a bunch of BYOB places which are great, because I can save some money by not buying their overpriced alcohol.
12. The Nightlife
I’m not a huge partier, but I like to go out and let loose every now and then, and for me that means checking out the local bars/clubs which are really only available in more urban areas or on college campuses. I will miss being able to meet up with my girls on a random Thursday for drinks and dancing!
13. The Parties
Again, I’m not so into the whole frat scene, but it’s nice to have the option. Also, just being able to walk to your friend’s house for a casual get together is so rare. At home I have to drive everywhere, which requires more planning, whereas at school I can just go. This freedom is something I’ll miss.
14. My Independence
It’s not that my parents are super strict or uptight, but when I’m home I feel like a guest almost, whereas at school I am the host who makes decisions and takes responsibility. I’m not quite ready yet for full-fledged adult living, but I’ve had a little taste and I’m addicted now.
15. The Challenges
Living away brings with it a certain amount of stressful situations. While these may not always be fun experiences, they’re important ones to have, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Yes, I like having a break from the stress of the semester, but I’ll be eager to return to the grind in the fall and continue to progress as a young adult.
16. The Opportunities
I like taking classes and trying new things. That’s not to say there aren’t times where I feel overwhelmed by my work load, but at home I feel an urge to be back in the library reading up on random topics, like media conglomeration and the feminist movement of the 60s.
17. The Convenience
I think on most campuses, everything is pretty convenient. If it’s not walkable, then there’s usually transportation to get you where you need to go. It’s not always that easy in the real world. Pitt is especially convenient, because even though it has 18,000 undergraduates, the campus itself is pretty small, and we have free access to all city buses.
18. The Possibility To Meet New People
This is pretty self explanatory, but when you’re at school you meet new people every day on campus, in class, in line at the cafeteria, etc. I really enjoy not knowing who I’m going to run into each day, and that I am always making new friends.
19. How Cheap Everything Is
I know this is a cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I’m a broke college student who enjoys nice things, like not eating ramen every night and going to the movies once in a blue moon. Pittsburgh is one of the most livable cities because of its affordability.
20. The Pete
This Petersen Events Center houses Pitt’s largest gym. Yeah, for some of you this may seem like a lame reason, but not to me. I spend a lot of my time in this place – so much, in fact, that the security guard knows me by name! It’s a really nice gym with great big windows that look out onto upper campus, and it’s a treat to be able to work out there everyday, so I’m going to miss it (but I won’t miss having to climb “Cardiac Hill” to get there).
Who knows? Maybe one day the Burgh will become my permanent home when I’m grown and graduated, but for now I’m going to enjoy my summer away, and look forward to returning to campus in a few months. I hope this post inspires you to remember some of the reasons you love your college town, and to appreciate all that it has to offer.