Opinion | A final semester bucket list before you graduate with regrets


TPN file photo

The MassMutual ice rink is constructed at PPG Palace every year to last until March. .

By Grace McGinness, Staff Columnist

For those graduating this spring, the countdown has started and the fight against time has begun. All of the experiences and benefits that students enjoy now have a very tangible and fast-approaching expiration date that can be a bit intimidating. Soon-to-be graduates would be best advised to make the most of what they can and enjoy the last leg of their undergraduate journey.

Pittsburgh is a big city, and the University has dozens of programs designed to help students engage with every part of it at some level. Here is a list of some of the most essential opportunities graduating students must check off of their bucket list before they toss their caps into the air.

1) Phipps Winter Light Show

Catching the special winter light show at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is the most time-sensitive activity on this list, but it is also a must. Lights for the winter show will only be around for one more week until Jan. 12, so students better scurry to the conservatory as soon as they can to catch these beautiful holiday themed light decorations. The entire conservatory is transformed for this event so it should still hold some wondrous surprises for those who have already toured Phipps.

Make sure to dress warmly and bring a pair of gloves, because the display extends into Phipps’ outdoor gardens where Pittsburgh’s icy winds might give you a chill. The show this year is called The Festival of Trees, so prepare to see a spectacle of gargantuan trees intricately detailed with lights and ornaments. In partnership with the University, Phipps offers free admission to students, which is an absolute steal and must be taken advantage of before it is too late. In just four months, that same ticket is going to jump to almost $20 for you!

2) Ice skating at the PPG rink

While ice skating is typically another wintertime activity, ice skating downtown at the MassMutual rink at PPG Place is not as time sensitive as Phipps’ winter show. The rink is constructed every year to last until March 1 and is 67% larger than the Rockefeller Center ice rink in New York City.

There may not be any student discount for admission, but if you bring your own skates, you can keep the cost down to about $10. The chance to skate in the open-air rink right in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh amongst all the glowing skyscrapers is well worth the price. The rink even has a few special events scheduled, including a Valentine’s day skate that would make for a fun and romantic night out.

3) Travel for spring break

This spring break may be your last, depending on whether or not you decide to go to graduate school. If you are planning to work after graduation, it may be several years before you can build up enough vacation time to go out and travel for a whole week, so it becomes important to consider how you are going to spend it. Going home is never a bad choice, but taking the time to go somewhere you’ve never been before is a mature, exciting experience for a student to have before they graduate.

You don’t have to join the mass congregation to Miami beach — unless that is what you want to do to — and the trip doesn’t have to be a huge, expensive transatlantic journey to another continent. You don’t even have to bring friends if none of them want to go where you do. But if you have a place that you want to see and experience for yourself, then this semester is the time to do it.

4) Night out on South Side

Time for drunk table top singalongs at Hofbräuhaus! While the restaurant/bar might be a little removed from the rest of the clubs along East Carson Street, its taproom is typically packed to the brim for its Thursday College Nights. The DJs mostly play old ’80s hits that everyone can sing along to with a large mug of the tap beer in hand. Sometimes a live band dressed in German lederhosen will play covers instead, and the whole place is a great riot to kick off a night hitting the bars.

Finding the bar that’s popping for the night is a bit of a guessing game, but that’s part of the fun. The Urban Tap, Mario’s, Jimmy D’s, Bar 11, Jack’s Bar — it doesn’t really matter which one you land at because they’re all along the same few blocks and have some variation of the same happy hour deals. The floor may shake and bounce concerningly under the weight of over a hundred drunk patrons jumping and dancing, but that’s just another sign of a wild good time you won’t forget the next morning. Bring all your friends, because the more the merrier, plus you can split the bill for the Uber home.

5) Trivia Night at the Yard

Trivia nights may not be something unique to college, but there is an exciting additional competition inherent to a trivia night hosted by a bar in a city with so many different universities. The Yard bar is located in the neutral neighborhood of Shadyside, and every Wednesday student teams from Carnegie Mellon, Pitt and Duquesne turn the dining area into a battleground of useless factoids and reflexes. It may be petty to stake school pride and bragging rights on such a small and harmless pastime, but nonetheless the players must play and the fight must be won.

However, players be warned — everyone in your party has to have bought $5 of food or drink from the establishment to be able to claim the cash prize of $50 at the end of the night if you should happen to win. Reaching that minimum is not such a burden to bear since the $4 whiskey sour happy hour lines up perfectly with trivia night. The game is still a blast even if you aren’t competitive, because at the very least the team names people come up with are hilarious. #Answer? Ihardlyknowher for the win.

Grace focuses on food and existential crises in her writing for the Pitt News. Contact her at [email protected].