Living in Towers: The optimal freshman experience

They are relatively old. They have pie-shaped rooms that are small in comparison to Nordenberg, Forbes and Sutherland Halls. They house roughly 1,868 students in tight quarters. But as a freshman, you shouldn’t want it any other way.

Since their inception in 1963, the Towers — officially renamed the Litchfield Towers in 1971 to honor Chancellor Edward Litchfield — have housed thousands of students just arriving to their new city, school and residence. This history alone has already connected you to a rich Pitt first-year tradition.

As an incoming freshman, you have more available to you than perhaps any students inhabiting other residence halls. As the saying goes — location, location, location. As a freshman resident of Tower B last year, I quickly appreciated my new home’s central location on campus.

First things first — take a look around you. See the sunbathers in Schenley Plaza and enjoy the sun while it lasts. Most of your first year at Pitt will revolve around the cold and unpredictable western Pennsylvania winter. The last thing you will want to do during a day with a wind-chill of -30 degrees Fahrenheit is walk a long distance or stand and wait for a shuttle. 

But, lucky for you, in Towers, practically everything you could need is downstairs from your room   — it’s like being home on a snow day and waking up to stack of pancakes cooked by your parent. 

Speaking of which, if you’re hungry in Towers, you can walk downstairs to your own personal order-up kitchen, if you will. Market is unlike any school eating center in which you may have enjoyed a meal. It’s always there to serve you a hot meal during a cold winter day and to make you feel at home.

It also has a super cheesy sense of humor, another quality it shares with your parent — for instance, the sandwich station is titled Basic Kneads — very punny. 

Also, Market is not afraid to try new recipes. Cuisine ranges from a bit of culture from the international-cuisine-based Magellan’s, a burger from the Flying Star diner, stir-fry from 360 Degrees, pizza or pasta from Bella Trattoria to vegetarian and gluten-free choices from Tutto Fresco. 

Further adding to the homey appeal of Towers, across the ground floor from Market is the convenience store Quick Zone, which provides the snacks and dorm materials you might need, as well as a hot food station called Market To-Go. So, if you lose a toothbrush, or if you need Band-Aids, there will be no cavities or infections for you — Towers takes care of its own. 

Then, perhaps while you grab a bite to eat, you decide to multitask and toss in some laundry. It’s rare to find a moment when machine availability is not an option in Towers. If your laundry has not finished by the time your meal has, you can easily sit in the open lobby and get some homework done.

If your studying requires a setting with plenty of room and not much noise, take advantage of the lounge in the back of the lobby. I didn’t discover that hidden gem until it was almost April. 

No matter where you study, you’ll eventually want a break. An excellent way to relax your mind while staying productive is to exercise. As a Towers resident, you have access to the gym located at the bottom of Tower A. While it’s relatively small, it provides plenty of aerobic and weight lifting machines that will get your heart rate going and your muscles growing. 

When to go? From my experience, between 8 and 10 a.m. is the best time. So give it a try. Time spent at the gym will keep you in shape not only physically, but also mentally. I regularly took advantage of this amenity, and I can attest that it makes walking the hills of Pittsburgh that much easier.

Finally, when the weather clears up and you can’t wait to get outside, you’re situated right in the heart of Pitt’s campus. You’re surrounded by prime campus spots and Oakland thoroughfares: David Lawrence and Posvar Halls, the Quad, the Cathedral of Learning, Hillman Library, Schenley Plaza, the University Book Store, Forbes Avenue and Fifth Avenue. 

As a freshman, being surrounded by this action is essential. As aesthetically pleasing as it is atop the hill in Sutherland Hall, you will not want to continually walk long distances just to attend class, study or eat on Forbes, especially when adjusting to your new city and school. Getting food from a local restaurant on Forbes isn’t so local when you have to walk over 20 minutes to do so, especially during the winter. Trust me, most of your first year experience will be winter.

Even though Nordenberg Hall is new and beautiful with spacious rooms boasting flat-screen TVs, it lacks the nostalgic appeal of Towers, where thousands of students have created memories. Are you coming to college to sit around a flat-screen TV? I hope not, and I would adamantly suggest that you shouldn’t be. 

College is about having opportunities and pursuing them. Living atop the freshman marketplace that is Towers will foster social and intellectual growth far better than any other freshman dorm experience will.

So just remember: Mere room size, built-in accessories, the building’s age and population density aren’t nearly as important as the memories you’ll make from all that is available to you by living in the Litchfield Towers.

Now, inevitably, by year’s end, most students — including myself — are ready for a change of scenery and larger living space. Nonetheless, I couldn’t have had a better place to spend my first year of college than the Litchfield Towers. 

So think of living in Litchfield Towers as the best experience you’ll never want to have again. But remember to have it, and if you do, you won’t be disappointed. Good luck!

Write to Matt at [email protected]