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3D Pittsburgh

Yesterday I’d agreed to meet somebody on the CMU campus at noon—so I decided that I would walk to campus, explore it, and then find his office.

I had a handy map from my hotel and I followed the streets thinking that I would end up on campus by walking down a street named Boundary, hanging a right on Schenely Park, then bending left onto Frew Avenue and end up on the campus.

Naturally the hotel supplied map omitted some rather important information (although it was hinted at): There is a deep valley between me and campus and Boundary Street runs through the valley whilst Schenely Park is on a bridge above the valley. Yeah, they cross, just separated by about 50 vertical feet—I should have looked at the area on Google Maps before wandering off. I ended up walking under both Schenely Park and under Forbes Avenue, before walking into a parking garage and taking an elevator up to campus and promptly getting lost.

The CMU campus gives the impression that it’s big and filled with students, but it actually has about 10,000 students, making it the size of, roughly speaking, the University of Wyoming, when I attended. There is one big different: just under half of the students are graduate students. I was about knocked over with a feather when I found this out considering that it is an incredibly densely packed campus with lots of buildings, hallways, and construction.

I have to confess that after the University of Wyoming and Indiana University, I had assumed that all college campuses were beautiful places with incredible architecture and pretty open spaces. I guess I knew there were exceptions (Colorado State University), and some less nice campuses, but these were general truths. The wheels started coming off of that stereotype after visiting Purdue (seriously, not physically attractive), and it has completely vanished in light of walking through the University of Pittsburgh (basically an urban-dense campus) and across CMU. It turns out that not all college campuses are physically attractive.

CMU is built over a valley and up the side of a steep hill, resulting buildings with multiple ground floors (Germans would go bonkers trying to label the levels). I walked into one building on the fourth floor and because I didn’t know where to go or what to do, I left through the door I entered. Later I realized that had I gone up to the fifth floor, I could have gone out the other side of the building. Had I taken the elevator to the first floor I would have been at the ground level for a third side of the building.

I spent 30 minutes trying to find the office, and I am now convinced that in order to earn a CMU Bachelor’s degree one must show campus knowledge—the ability to navigate through 5 buildings without getting lost and without ever going outside (I hear its possible), while for an MA, one must master 10 buildings and for PhDs, the entire campus must be at your finger tips, including not just the buildings still under construction, but also the buildings where fundraising is just starting.

We met, had lunch, and I had an incredibly enjoyable afternoon at the Carnegie Museum of Art, which had only three distinct levels and one ground floor.

More on that later.

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