Welcome Back: Make time to enjoy Pittsburgh before it’s buried in snow

By Danielle Dyal / For The Pitt News

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Arriving on campus for the fall semester officially signifies the end of summer vacation, but it doesn’t mark a conclusion to the sunny weather of the summer. Unfortunately, sunshine at Pitt is a lot like our excitement for the new semester: fleeting.

Similar to the manner in which lectures, tests and essays zap up whatever enthusiasm we might have for another year of scholarly pursuit, Pittsburgh winters crack down on enjoyment of sunny weather.

Pittsburgh winters aren’t known for being merciful — last winter, in particular, left half the campus contemplating a transfer nowhere north of Florida. But, upon returning to campus after the summer, there are a few months of pleasant weather to salvage before resigning to another Pittsburgh winter. These months are especially useful in reviving that snuffed excitement at being back at Pitt.

College is not all about work, after all. And though I worship Netflix as much as the next student, there is plenty of time for movie-marathoning during the extended period of the year when “stepping outside” and “risking hypothermia” are interchangeable terms.

Of course, winter does not last forever, but good spring weather is a bit more difficult to enjoy with worries of finals intruding on every attempt at a picnic or game of Ultimate Frisbee. There’s nothing like a curriculum comprehensive exam and 10-to-12-page final paper to ruin a sunny day.

Thus, the first few weeks back at Pitt are the best times to take advantage of all the activities on and around campus that become unappealing around late October or early November.

The easiest thing to do to make the most out of the warm weather and Pitt’s campus is to first listen to your RAs. They are responsible for creating programs designed to increase student involvement at Pitt and these programs will often get you out of your dorm room and around campus where warm weather beckons.

Instead of ignoring those “Floor Bonding at Chipotle Before a Walk in Schenley Park!” posters or “Floor Frisbee with Free Food!” flyers, give an RA-designed program a try. At the very least, a good meal is usually salvageable in most floor-wide organized social activities.

But for those who are wary of organized social activities, there are other options. Making the best of a college experience involves, believe it or not, actually stepping outside every once in a while.

The Duquesne Incline is a big tourist attraction and offers cable cars that take passengers up to Mount Washington, from which the view of Pittsburgh is one of the best in the city. Beautiful views are not hard to access for anyone able to type “Google images” into their search bar, but having such a noteworthy view in such close range shouldn’t be wasted. 

Another option is a visit to Schenley Park, located a walkable distance from campus. It is picturesque with forest paths, and lounging on the lawn with a book provides a nice break from the city. Schenley also features Phipps Conservatory — a Victorian greenhouse with plants from around the world — as well as a golf course and swimming pool. The park fills weekends with perfect opportunities to procrastinate from actual work and to do what college should arguably really be about — making memories about which we will daydream nostalgically once we’re stuck with office jobs.

Good for shopping — and definitely eating — is the Strip District, simply known as “The Strip.” It features outdoor vendors and sidewalk shops along with ethnic grocers and produce stands. Best of all, it can actually give you something interesting to talk about when parents make those weekly calls to ask what you’ve been up to.

Shadyside and South Side are two neighborhoods Pittsburgh that feature several restaurants, boutiques and shops worth exploring on sunny days whenever escaping the lecture halls is possible.

And if you, unlike me, enjoy the sweaty perks of being athletic, joining particular club sports teams can get you outside as well.

As a general rule, keep an eye out for flyers circulating campus — many announce events such as concerts and movie showings that, in the weeks of our return to campus, take place outdoors as a last chance for students to enjoy Pitt’s campus in the good weather.

Of course, Pitt is a great campus year-round — it’s just a little more special during the few months introducing fall semester when we’re not knee-deep in grimy slush, exams, papers and impending threats of frostbite on any exposed body part.

Write to Danielle at dnd20@pitt.edu

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