Pros and Cons of Living in South Oakland at U of Pittsburgh

It’s that time of year again, the time where students are frantically touring crappy apartments and signing leases that are far too pricey for the value. As winter’s end approaches, the rush around campus to figure out your housing for next year is stressful and frightening, especially if you’re a freshman. Below is a list of some of the pros and cons of living in South Oakland so you can decide whether or not you’re ready to take this huge step.

1. Pro: No more mean security guards!

We’ve all come across them, the grumpy, “I obviously hate my job” type of guards that angrily swipe your card and grunts as you politely try to get into your dorm. They’re cold, judgmental, and rude even if you’re on your best behavior, which is always a real mood killer. Moving off campus takes you away from all those guards and ensures that you’ll never have to sign another friend, family member, or boyfriend into your dorm AND never have to sign them out (obviously the most annoying part) again!

Con: Being further away from campus.

Most apartments and houses in South Oakland are a good walk away from campus, especially if you’re all the way down by the Boulevard. In the warmer months, this is no big deal…it’s actually a pretty pleasant walk! But as winter, and the accompanying 0-20 degree winds, settle on the ‘Burgh, that walk gets a little more brutal and a little bit longer. Maybe you love exercise and the outdoors, if that’s the case then good for you! But if you don’t like walking or sweating under 3 layers of coats on your way to Chevron, then maybe you should find a place closer to campus.

2. Pro: No more nosy RAs!

You know, those RAs that stroll through the bathrooms and parole the hallways to make sure no shenanigans are taking place under their watch. The RAs that knock on your doors when your music is *barely* audible and scold you for just trying to have fun with your friends. When you move off campus there’s no more RAs, no more quiet hours, and no more awkward bathroom run-ins with male RAs. You are on your own to deal with your issues and free to play your music at whatever volume you want!

Con: Having to pay bills and manage money between friends.

This, while obvious, is a big one. Managing rent, water, heat, electricity, cable, internet, and any other bills you might have is a lot, especially when you start to add more people to the house. Money is always a tough subject amongst friends and if you and your friends aren’t mature enough to handle all of the adult responsibilities that come with leasing a property then you should consider living on campus.

3. Pro: Freedom!

The apartment is yours! The room is yours! You can decorate it however you want, with whatever kitchen appliances you want and you can have as many, or as few, people over as you want! You can come and go as you please with ease and you can really make it your own and make it a home. You can throw parties, discreetly of course….you do have neighbors, and have movie nights and play outside to your hearts’ galore! It’s a great big step into adulthood and it’s a super amazing, fun experience to have as you gain more and more freedom.

freedom in your apartment

Con: Lack of AC in the hot summer months.

Fact: Pittsburgh summers can get pretty steamy, especially during those last few weeks of August. Another fact: most, if not all, South Oakland apartments don’t have that luxury that we call air conditioning so those summer weeks that bookend the school year can be hot and sweaty. Keep in mind too, most people, once they move off-campus, tend to stay in Oakland over the summer because most leases are year-long, so you’d be dealing with that summer heat for more than a few weeks.

4. Pro: More responsibility and choice!

With this big step towards adulthood and freedom comes tons of responsibility, which can be exciting and fun! You get to choose decorations and furniture and host parties and do all sorts of fun “adult” things! All this new adulthood responsibility is thrilling, especially at the beginning, and for the first time, you really feel like a grown-up, a feeling you’ve been wishing for since you were a little kid.

Con: More responsibility and choice.

On, the flip side, that big, huge, adult step into freedom brings a lot of responsibility that you don’t get to mess up. If you make mistakes with your rent or bills, or if you destroy that leased property that you’re paying good money for, the consequences fall on you and are very very real. This isn’t a slap on the wrist, it’s money out of your pocket. With great freedom comes great responsibility, that’s the downside of wanting all that freedom at once.

Obviously, there are lengthier lists that can be made that are specific to your needs and situation but these cover most of the basics. If you think that you and your friends are ready for the responsibility, and the fun, of leasing a house or apartment off-campus then go for it! No matter what upper-classmen tell you, there are always properties available for rent, you just have to search a little. If you’re not, that’s perfectly fine too! Pitt has an awesome, 3-year guaranteed housing program and you can take baby steps to that first apartment by living in halls like Ruskin or Panther, independent but not on your own 🙂 Whatever you choose, just make sure you have a safe, comfortable place to study and have fun with your friends!

Fun Dates You can Go on at U of Pitt

Have you been in a relationship for a while and need new ideas of things to do? Are you just starting a relationship or newly dating someone and want things that’ll sweep them off their feet? Whatever your situation is, Oakland and the surrounding areas on Pittsburgh offer countless opportunities for super fun, relatively cheap dates, perfect for college students! Below are ten of my favorites, guaranteed to bring a smile to you and your partner’s faces!

1.The Cathedral of Learning

You don’t even have to leave campus to make a great date! The Cathedral offers so many fun things to do like exploring the Nationality Rooms, discovering the differently decorated floors, and making it 42 floors up to see the sights of campus and beyond! Afterwards, you can explore Oakland for restaurants like Stacked and Piada to complete your perfect night 🙂

 

2. Petsmart in Shadyside

This one might seem weird, but trust me! Take your partner out to dinner in Shadyside, get some ice cream, and make your way into the Petsmart on Penn Ave. Wander the aisles and just admire the cute little pets, the bubbly fish, and the cool reptiles! Being in college, we don’t get to see many animals that aren’t squirrels and pigeons so this is a fun way to fill your heart with cute while spending time with your partner 🙂

 

3. The Incline on Mt. Washington

One of the most classic date ideas this city has to offer, the Inclines, either the Duquesne or the Monongahela, provide a quaint, journey up the mountain, stunning views, and a tight space to cuddle your loved one on the way down 🙂 Take in the sights of this beautiful city at the top of the Incline where you can see far and wide, including all the bridges, rivers, and iconic landmarks.

 

4. PNC Park

Located on the North Shore, PNC Park offers a super fun night watching the Pirates and eating your heart out! Even if you don’t watch baseball, the park is filled with countless, delicious food and drink options and the tickets are usually really cheap. Some nights they even have fireworks or concerts after the game!

 

5. Randyland

Randyland is amazing, especially in the spring/summer! A once empty lot, now filled with colors and paintings and random objects transports you to a world of imagination and beauty in ordinary objects. Randy himself will be there to tell you his moving story and explain the unexplainable beauty and art that he has created over the decades. This date is moving, beautiful, and provides so many opportunities for that perfect picture!

 

6. Retro Bowling

Arsenal Lanes in Lawrenceville in a super cool, untouched-retro bowling alley where the games are cheap, the music is great, and the experience is one you’ll want to repeat again and again. Test the bowling capabilities of your partner, or test their ability to win/lose gracefully while having so much fun and being transported back to the 1950/60s.

 

7. Movie Night in Lawrenceville

Row House Cinema offers a weekly theme to their movies followed up by brief discussions in the bar next door. The themes vary from Harry Potter to Hitchcock to Cowboy Classics to Disney, so there’s a place for everyone here. This is a fun way to amp up that classic movie night date and, when you’re done, there are tons of cute restaurants and shops lining the streets of Lawrenceville!

 

8. The Escape Room

This place makes for a great group date because the more people on your team, the easier it is to solve the puzzles and beat the game! Use your collective knowledge and resourcefulness to move through the riddles and puzzles and escape the room!

 

9. Phipps Conservatory

Located right past the entrance to Schenley Park, Phipps is a great date night spot and it’s free with a student ID! With seasonal changes to their exhibits, the blooming flowers and luscious foliage will stun you and create a romantic atmosphere for you and your partner to stroll through, hand-in-hand 🙂 During the winter, they have an incredible indoor-outdoor light show that provides many a beautiful backdrop for that Insta pic.

 

10. Yoga + Art at Carnegie

Also free with a student ID, all of the Carnegie museums make for super fun date spots! If you and your partner want a little bit of culture, the Carnegie Art Museum is a beautiful, quiet spot to explore decades of art and learn more about your date’s interests and preferences. To make it even better, on Thursday nights the museum offers a one-hour yoga class in the exhibits! You and your partner can get grounded and find flexible peace together while surrounded by some of the most famous works of art. After you’ve worked up an appetite, swing over to one of the many restaurants right across the street like The Union Grill for a nice, not-expensive meal to complete your night!

 

All of these are just a handful of the amazing things Pittsburgh has to offer the dating world, but these ten are guaranteed to be fun, memorable, and unique! Use these to impress your girlfriend or boyfriend with your innovation and creativity, unlike that boring dinner-date you’ve done too many times before:)

5 Unusual Study Spots at U of Pitt

As the weeks continue and we get further and further into the semester, it’s hard to spend every weekend cooped up in a tiny corner of Hillman Library. It’s always crowded and never the right temperature, not to mention the long lines for coffee and bathrooms. Hillman can be great if you need a large space for that chem study group, but only if you’re prepared to get there at 4am! Below, are some other great places on/near campus to study so that you’ll just have to stress about that paper, not where you’re going to write it 🙂

CMU Starbucks

Yes, there are two Starbucks Coffee Shops on Pitt’s campus, but have you ever been in them during the day? They’re crazy busy and there’s never anywhere to stand let alone sit! The Starbucks on Carnegie Mellon’s Campus, right across the street from the Art Museum, is modern, clean, and has a ton of seating areas! It’s also usually a little less busy and the people tend to be a little nicer. It might seem like a trek but you can use the fresh air if your gonna spend the day locked away or you can take the bus for free! The coffee is a little expensive, but at least it’s good coffee, unlike the “we serve Starbucks coffee” coffee carts dispersed throughout campus.

Top 10 Floors of the Cathedral

Chances are you haven’t explored every single floor of the Cathedral of Learning unless you’re super adventurous and/or have had a lot of free time but out of the 42 floors, the top 10 have some of the best study spots on campus. With a stunning view, cozy decor, and super quiet spaces, these floors will give you the privacy and the silence you need to finish all that work and you don’t have to leave campus! With so many floors, too, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a space all to yourself!

The Beehive Coffeehouse

Located on E Carson Street in Southside, The Beehive Coffeehouse is just a short bus ride away but is totally worth it! Bright colors, fun decor, and yummy drinks and food all provide a great space to crank out that paper or cram for that exam! Sometimes you just need an escape from Oakland and Southside is a great place for that! There are countless stores and restaurants and E Carson St is perfect for walking up and down to stretch your legs but The Beehive is the best spot to set up camp and get down to work 🙂

Posvar Hall

If you don’t want to adventure off campus, but you still want a quiet, peaceful spot to study, Posvar Hall, just past Hillman, is perfect for you! With nooks and crannies filled with comfy chairs and desks, this space is rarely used as a study spot so you should definitely be able to find some quiet here! Better yet, on the second floor, there’s an Einstien’s so you can get your fill of coffee and bagels (pizza bagels!) and you can use your meal plan! It’s a win win win!

Schenley Plaza

Finally, if it’s not 10 degrees outside like it is right now, Schenley Plaza is the perfect outdoor study spot where you can soak up the sun, people watch, and crank out some homework!  Surrounded by takeout restaurants and just minutes from Forbes’s Ave., the Plaza is perfectly located to give you all the options all day long. Feeling like you need an exercise break? Take a stroll through Schenley Park, just steps away from the Plaza!

Image result for Schenley Plaza

So, when Hillman Library is too crowded, too loud, or too hot/cold on a Saturday morning, use one of these alternative study spots to ensure you get your work done quickly and effectively! Obviously, there are plenty of other study spots on/around campus but these are some favorites. Combinations of good views, good food, better coffee, and a quiet study place make for a perfect spot for most students at the University of Pittsburgh!

Syllabus Week at U of Pittsburgh: The 5 Types of Majors You’ll Experience

There are hundreds of majors at Pitt but not all majors are created equal, especially during the infamous Syllabus Week. This week, while designed for professors to cover important course information and get to know their students, has become one of the biggest party weeks of the year for students on campus. South Oakland is alive and loud every night of the week, with no one seeming to care about that 10am lecture they have the next day. While most kids are out having fun, every major reacts differently to the freedom, or lack thereof, that their classes give them during this first week. 

Science

The classic “I can’t go out…I need to study” starts early with these kids. In fact, Syllabus week doesn’t really exist for them with professors lecturing two minutes after presenting the syllabus and the first quiz in bio happening the next Monday. These kids, regardless of their ever increasing work-load, usually rally during Syllabus Week cause they definitely need to let off some steam. Just don’t be surprised when they’re up bright and early Sunday morning to hit Hillman. 

English

Pretty much any major within Arts and Sciences is in the same boat as the English students, so apply this to as many of your friends as you want. These kids are usually the least stressed of the bunch…until that final 12-page paper hits at the end of the semester and they become complete disasters. Until then, however, they are almost always down for a good time, especially at the beginning of the semester and they haven’t shared their political/literary/linguistic opinions with their friends in a while. 

Business

So there’s the stigma: business majors don’t have any work which is wildly untrue! Many of my friends are business majors with varying specializations and they are some of the hardest working students I know! That being said… business friends are known to have a little too much fun on Syllabus Week and reap the consequences the next Monday morning. These kids are usually less stressed in the beginning of the semester so they’re down to have a lot of fun that first weekend back 🙂 

Engineering

We get it…you’re smart, super smart, scary smart. These students are pros at being completely overwhelmed with work and expertly hiding it so that they can party alongside their much less stressed friends. That being said, they can be known to go a little overboard because they need a break from the school world so watch them carefully if they seem to be having a particularly stressful Syllabus Week. 

Undecided

Gen Eds on Gen Eds on Gen Eds…that’s the life of an undecided student at Pitt. All those diverse courses allow these students to explore various paths and really find their academic passion but they also tend to be a little easier than the major-specific, upper-level classes so these students are more available to go out early on in the semester. They also will ask you countless questions about your major until they decide whether or not they might join you on your way to your career. There are obviously so many more majors and reactions to Syllabus Week than what’s here but these are some classic, for-sure kids you’re gonna meet during any Pitt Syllabus Week 🙂

Surviving Chem 110 at the University of Pittsburgh

Chem 110, the first in a long chain of chemistry classes that any science student will have to take early on in their collegiate career.  Chem 110, also known as General Chemistry 1, can be ominous for most students at Pitt but with these tips and tricks, it’ll be a breeze! All of these tips come from a TA (and not to mention, a past student) so they are guaranteed to help you out!

1. Rewrite your notes…

It’s hard, trust me I know, to keep up with what your professor is saying while simultaneously taking notes, understanding examples, and comprehending the material. No one can do it all in that 50 or 75 minute period but it’s important to rewrite all your notes so that when the exam comes around, you’re not trying to decode your messy handwriting or incomplete sentences. If you’re like me, you might even color code your notes… not everyone’s like that though.

2. Go see your TAs

This is a huge one guys… your TAs work hard to prepare your worksheets and help sessions so that they can answer all of your questions about thermodynamics and quantum numbers. Go see them!! Ask them things… chem related or not! They are students just like you, who have taken the same class and done well! They want to help you succeed, so take advantage of that.

3. Email the professor

If you’ve spent hours on a concept or a problem, have exhausted all of your resources, and driven your friends insane… it’s time. Email your professor, they’re not gonna bite you or be annoyed by your questions, they want you to succeed and, more importantly, understand the material. So talk to them, set up an appointment to meet with them if possible, and get their expertise so that you can get the most out of their class.

4. Problems, problems, and more problems

Chem isn’t about memorization or regurgitation. Chem 110 in particular, is about application, and being able to prove that you understand the concepts and theories and that you can apply that understanding to diverse and numerous problems. That’s what your exams are going to be like so why waste time trying to memorize names and dates and formulas when the most important, most heavily graded, sections on the exams and final are the problems? Use the textbook, your class notes, old exams, study guides, recitation worksheets, and any other resources given to you but also remember the internet! There are endless problems and examples online that are helpful and good practice, use them!

5. Use your lab period

Lab may seem like an easy way to gain points in the course or a waste of 4 hours on a Monday morning, but in actuality, lab will help you gain a lot of understanding of the information talked about in class. Chemistry isn’t some far-fetched subject… it’s relevant and can be found in all parts of everyday life so take advantage of that! You’re learning cool information and getting interested in the application of that information can help you apply it on exams and homework!

These tips may seem like a lot, but if you start early in the semester, the last few weeks will go so much smoother! With these tried and proven tips, you should have no problem excelling in Chem 110!  Good luck and happy studying 🙂

7 Ways to Start a Great Spring Semester at University of Pittsburgh

Whether you’re a fresh-faced freshman or a weathered, wise senior, the start spring semester can seem daunting and tiresome. Below, are 7 sure-fire ways to kick some serious booty at Pitt during the spring semester even when all you wanna do is curl up with your dog somewhere away from the snow!

1. Make A List

Whether you admit it or not, a list makes everyone feel more productive and directed especially when it comes to school. The list could be your goals for the semester, your materials and resources needed, or even as specific as a study plan for every class. Whatever the list is for, making it, and checking off all those boxes, will surely give you some confidence to start your semester off right!

2. Plan Ahead

Maybe you’re a science major taking Organic Chem and Calculus… maybe you’re an English major taking Shakespeare and Public Writing… either way, the Spring semester is filled with exams and papers for all students at Pitt. What’s the best way to ace all of those? Plan ahead! If you know when your tests are and when your papers are due then you can  (and should) map out your semester and carve out the time you will need to properly study for them in advance! This way, when the test comes around, you don’t have to waste time trying to find the hours to study in your busy schedule, they’re already there!

3. Meet Your Professors

I know that everyone tells underclassmen to do this but seriously… it’s one of the best things you can do as a student! Huge class or tiny seminar, meeting your professors personally forms a connection between the two of you and can really help you learn better and your professors judge your performance better too. Also, you may be meeting a professor who could write you the recommendation letter that gets you into grad school or lands you that dream job…why wouldn’t you take advantage early??

4. Research Other Study Methods

Not everyone can learn from a textbook or off of shaky lecture notes that are barely legible. If you can, great! If you can’t… no worries! There are thousands of resources online that can provide second lessons, examples, and study sets to ensure that you ace your classes this semester! Take advantage of them!!

5. Make Friends

In any class, you should try and make friends with at least a few people because when that exam week rolls around those people will be there to answer questions and bounce ideas off of which is an invaluable resource to you! And who knows?? Those study buddies could become so much more to you as your college career continues!

6. Make Flashcards

In advance. That’s the key! Whether you’re a Quizlet advocate (like myself) or stick to the old-fashioned notecards, waiting until the night before the test to make 4 chapters worth of flashcards is never a good call. It’s stressful, rushed, and just poor study technique. Instead, as your chapters continue, make the time to review your notes or readings and make those flashcards early so that you can review them as the unit goes on and so that they’re already made and ready to go when the exam time comes!

7. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

School is stressful and there’s a lot of pressure from a lot of different places to excel and to make it look easy. That’s just impractical if you want to balance your life with friends and parties and fun, which you should! Spending time with your friends is a great stress-relief and going out or even just staying in with your pals is where the memories you leave college with will come from. Yes, it is important to do well in school, but it is also important to be social, have fun, and make long-lasting memories with the people you love!

Hopefully, these 7 tips on success in your spring semester at Pitt will shake those inhibitions and dreads and will encourage you to kick butt during the rest of this school year!

10 Types of People You Meet On a Weekend Night at U of Pittsburg

On any given Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night at Pitt you are guaranteed to meet a whole slew of young, fun, and only sometimes reckless, students who are all looking to unwind after yet another stressful week. Below are the top 10 types of people you’re gonna meet if you stroll through South Oakland during any weekend!

 

1. The Yeller

You can hear them coming from three blocks away, talking about normal, meaningless topics as if they were direly important. Maybe they’re trying to be heard by the pack leader all the way up at the front or maybe they think they see their Bio 0150 study buddy across the street…either way, anyone from Meyran to S. Bouquet can hear them.

 

2. The Eager, Party-Seeking Freshman

Any upper-classman can spot this one from a mile away. Usually traveling in a massive group, these people are bold and never ashamed to ask strangers if they know any parties or if they can join their quaint, porch party. Relentless, they don’t tend to go away until you give them a fake address somewhere across the Boulevard.

 

3. The Wanderer

The lonely guy who couldn’t convince any of his friends to rally but decides to go out anyways. He wanders from street to street searching for a house that’ll let him in or a group that resembles his own friend group to adopt him for the night.

 

4. The “I Just Need…” Girl Gang

Whether it’s McDonald’s, Sorento’s, Frenchie’s, or water these girls are very clear, to the whole block, about what they need in that exact moment in order to make it through the night. Can you blame them? Burgers, fries, pizza…what college kid wouldn’t need these essential vitamins and nutrients.

 

5. The Jersey-Wearing, Frat Boy Wannabes

You know the type…basketball jerseys, pastel-patterned shorts, Sperry’s, and white, Nike socks pulled halfway up their calves. They travel in a group, indistinguishable from one another, and hop from one club-sport party to the next. Usually, on a good night, they’ll stumble back to Towers with three Sorento’s Pizzas and a phone full of videos documenting their friends’ rap abilities.

 

6. The Cryer

It’s probably nothing. Ok, it might be something. There’s no way to really know whether her “best friend” made out with her #1 crush or she just really misses her dog but either way she’s publically upset outside of Rite Aid while her friends try and calm her down. You walk past wondering if she’s ok but also relating to her, on a deep, emotional level because…it’s college.

 

7. The Mom Friend

Every group of friends needs one of these if they intend on making it back to their respective dorms in one piece. The friend that yells stop when someone tries to run into traffic, the friend that shushes the group when walking past random adults, and, most importantly, the friend that ensures everyone is swiped in, tucked in, and fast asleep before she calls it a night.

 

8. The Forever Girlfriend

She was in front of you in the line for the bathroom at a house party and you bonded over the lack of “good” guys and the abundance of bad music you’ve endured over the last three hours. Before you know it, you’re exchanging Snapchats and making plans to go to Market in the morning together. You don’t know it now but she’ll be your go-to for many weekends to come.

 

9. The Disappointed Crowd

With bored, sad faces they meander back through Tower’s Lobby to end their already uneventful night in their Twin XL beds with Netflix and a bag of chips.

 

10. The Tireless Party Animals

Three straight nights of partying till 4am have nothing on these folks and they are waiting impatiently to go out the next Thursday night on Sunday morning. Always down for a good time, they’re happily singing and taking selfies while they stroll down the streets of South O.

Regardless of who you meet, there’s bound to be an endless abundance of fun times and great memories to be made in South O 🙂