Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer
After making the all-day voyage from New Jersey to Pittsburgh, I always try to pause and take in my surroundings.
The buzz of people walking down Oakland’s core arteries, Forbes and Fifth avenues? Check.
The sun-like presence of the 42-story, 2,000-plus room and nonagenarian center of our Pitt universe known as Cathy? Check.
A Port Authority bus rolling by and, as one friend likes to joke, its engine “ripping” one? Check, as I laugh quietly to myself.
These are some of the many sights and sounds that make up the urban symphony of Oakland, which you will soon join. After a strange ending to spring break 2020 — essentially putting a “Sorry, we’re closed” sign on campus — followed up by a radically different school year with mostly online classes, this fall has the potential to be the first “normal-ish” semester in some time. (All together now, knock on wood.)
Starting a personal transition at a time of massive global transition may seem overwhelming. Frankly, it’s daunting. But if I can offer you one piece of advice during this time, it is that your experience at Pitt is ultimately a grand symphony which you will weave together.
You could start adding people to your symphony by saying hi to your floormates — some may have cookies they’re giving out, as conversation starters — and grabbing a meal with one or two or 15 of them at the dining hall to get to know each other better. Boom, you’re off to a great start. You may find yourself like me, where some of my closest friends are from my first-year floor, years after moving out of Sutherland Hall.
If you don’t meet your people in your dorm, try to say hi to people in your classes — the enormous introductory lectures in Lawrence Hall that many first-years take are perfect for this. Sign up for different clubs and go to general body meetings to add more range to your symphony. You may hit a wrong note sometimes and that’s OK. The key is to keep playing and strumming.
Keep adding more range to your symphony. Eventually you will end up with a neat group of people to surround yourself with — folks with whom you can unfurl a picnic blanket on a warm night in Schenley Plaza, go on a trip to a nearby park, eat at a new restaurant on the other side of town or even go and see the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra through Pitt’s reduced price program. Save and cherish this eclectic crew, and the special music you all make together.
To help introduce you to life at Pitt and get you started on your college journey, we at The Pitt News have compiled this New Student Guide. Our amazing news writers have compiled a guide of the year’s key dates, ways to get involved on campus and more. Our wonderful columnists have written numerous advice columns, offering their hard-won wisdom about different ways to approach your time here at Pitt and resources you may find useful. The culture desk has some suggestions on escapes from the hustle and bustle of the City and some Pittsburgh pop culture history. And our sports writers have all the information you need on Pitt Athletics so you’ll be fully stocked on your Panther trivia.
Beyond this 64-page special edition, we hope you will stay tuned to TPN through the summer and this tumultuous time for the latest news about Pitt and the Oakland community. We have teams of student journalists focused on covering nearly every aspect of campus and how it is changing during the pandemic and this time of social upheaval. The best way to keep in touch is to subscribe to our email newsletter at pittnews.com/newsletter — you’ll know about the news as soon as we do, which is even sometimes how administrators hear of it. You can also follow us on Twitter or Instagram at @ThePittNews and like us on Facebook.
As readers and new members of the Pitt community, we want to hear from you, too. Feel free to reach out with story ideas, things you think we should be covering, responses to articles or any questions about our 111-year-old newspaper. Nothing is too big or too small.
If you are interested in helping to tell the story of the Pitt community, we would be honored to have you join our staff. We are always looking for our next team of editors, reporters, columnists, photographers, videographers and copy editors to work at our award-winning newspaper. No prior experience is necessary to join — I joined my first year barely knowing how to format a quote properly, and now the chancellor knows me by name. If I can do it, so can you — if you’re interested in joining our team, you can apply at pittnews.com/application.
I hope you are able to enjoy the rest of your summer as best you can, and we’ll catch you around Oakland sometime soon. Remember to keep in touch with us for updates as August gets closer.
All my best,