Carnegie Mellon brings in students from all four corners of the world. Eleven percent of the student body hails from abroad, and we have representatives from all 50 states and more than 40 foreign countries; the school no doubt has its international prestige and allure. However, many new students find themselves discontented by the mundane setting. They come to Carnegie Mellon with the illusion that Pittsburgh is in a recession, an old cloudy steel city without much to offer. They spend their evenings sitting in the Underground wishing they were in New York City, and they only leave campus to go as far as Starbucks. As you traverse the campus, you might even hear an outcry, “There is nothing to do in Pittsburgh. It’s always cloudy and boring.” But this, let me assure you, is a big, fat lie.
Pittsburgh is a great place to wander, and all you need to do is get yourself on a bus and explore. Here, my Pittsburgh neophytes, is a short lexicon to the hidden cultural gems and cool places to go in your new hometown. Pittsburgh has 89 distinct neighborhoods, which are sometimes difficult to locate. There’s Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Highland Park, East Liberty, Bloomfield, Braddock, the South Side, Lawrenceville, and so many more funky niches and curious corners. Arm yourself with a trusty bus schedule from portauthority.org and get some help deciding on a destination with popcitymedia.com — a website that is a dictionary explaining all the attractions in each neighborhood — and nevertellmetheodds.org — a good Craigslist-like platform for artists groups, events, and all-around interesting gigs happening in Pittsburgh.
All things art
College of Fine Arts. You can see artwork or a performance by your fellow students nearly every day of the week. Check it out at calendar.cfa.cmu.edu.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Dinosaurs. It’s right down the street; you really have no excuse.
The Mattress Factory. Really amazing contemporary art work. Current exhibit: Gestures: An exhibition of small site-specific works. www.mattress.org.
The Andy Warhol Museum. Displays cool concerts from time to time. Current exhibit: Conrad Ventur: Fragments of Fame. www.warhol.org.
Gallery Crawls. Every few months, all of the galleries downtown have a huge open event. Hundreds of art aficionados take to the streets and see work by up and coming Pittsburgh artists. Gallery Crawl.
Digging that beat
Mr. Small’s Theatre & Funhouse. A usual venue for popular music. Snoop Dog is coming Sept. 11. www.mrsmalls.com.
Ava Lounge. See the “Best Jazz in Pittsburgh” Interval Jazz Group on Monday nights from 8 to 11 p.m. This is basically a jam session where anyone can join in during the second set.
Free Jazz Concerts. Every Sunday until the end of August from 5 to 7 p.m. at Highland Park. www.pittsburghparks.org/highland-events.
Brazilian Drumming Ensemble. It practices every Sunday around noon at Schenley Park. timbeleza.com/shows.htm.
Try something new
Belly Dancing. Take lessons at Your Inner Vagabond Café for just $5 every Wednesday at 8 p.m. www.yourinnervagabond.com.
Yoga. Breath Yoga Studio’s kundalini, chakra flow, and dance classes are great. Breath Yoga Studio.
Salsa Dancing. Catch a class every Thursday night at Bossa Nova, located downtown. Salsa Pittsburgh.
The Renaissance Fair. This runs through Sept. 4. Pittsburgh Rennaisance Fair.
Critical Mass. This is a biking group that meets the last Friday of every month outside the Carnegie Library for a friendly city bike ride.
Free Movie Night. Free movies are screened at Schenley Park on Sundays and Wednesdays starting at dusk. Movie Night.
Allegheny City Cemetery. This is actually a very famous site with beautiful monuments and landscaping. Go for a walk or a romantic first date. www.alleghenycemetery.com.
Don’t miss the drama
School of Drama. We have a world-class theater right on our own campus and students get a great bargain with subsidized tickets. www.cmu.edu/cfa/drama.
The Cultural District. Located downtown, this place has seven venues with full seasons of shows to watch. The Cultural District.
Pittsburgh Irish and Classic Theatre. This theater is located right down Forbes Avenue on Pitt’s campus. History Boys will run through Aug. 22. www.picttheatre.org/.
The City Theatre. This theater is known for its production of new works. www.citytheatrecompany.org.