I'm Lisa Kirk, a wife, mama, writer, and founder. Since 2010, Something Pretty has been home to my favorite memories, reflections, and inspirations. Thanks so much for reading!

My 10 Favorite Things about the University of Pittsburgh


After two years at Franciscan, as much as I loved it, I decided to transfer. There were lots of reasons, but a few of the main ones were to study magazine journalism, to live in a place where I could find internship opportunities, and to experience a big school (I went to a small private high school, and craved the “real” college experience a little bit). I went through the transfer application process while I was studying abroad and my family was waiting to hear if they’d be moving back to America from Qatar, where we’d been for seven years by that time. Needless to say, it was a bit of a crazy time to add one more major life decision into the mix, and after being accepted to my dream school, the University of Texas, as well my back-up, the University of Pittsburgh, I decided to go to Pitt because I couldn’t figure out how I would get all my stuff from Ohio to Texas. My sister was about to start there as a freshman, so of course, that was a big bonus as well! Honestly, my year at Pitt was one of the most challenging of my life–it wasn’t a great fit for me, I had the hardest time finding community, I lived in a horrible apartment, and I was terribly homesick. I knew I made the right decision transferring again after a year, but I’m thankful that over time, the hard parts of my year in Pittsburgh have faded away, while the good memories have stayed clearer. Here are 10 of my favorites!

1. Living and going to class in such a busy, bustling place. I loved that you couldn’t even distinguish Pitt buildings from regular city buildings–it really was in the middle of everything!
2. The Cathedral of Learning, the most iconic landmark at Pitt. Going to class there felt like going into Hogwarts, and the Christmas decorations were magical.
pitt13. Being able to see the river and the skyline from football games at Heinz Field.
4. Singing “Sweet Caroline” after the third quarter of football games. The song will never be the same!
pitt35. Getting into all of the amazing museums in Pittsburgh for free as a student–the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Andy Warhol Museum, The Mattress Factory…the list goes on!
6. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was, hands down, my favorite place in Pittsburgh. I loved wandering through the aisles of books between classes or sitting outside on the benches when it was nice out.
pitt27. Exploring all the different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. I credit my Pittsburgh Magazine internship to helping me learn about all of them quickly so that I could then take advantage of everything they had to offer. They’re all so unique! My favorites were Shadyside and Bloomfield.
8. Walnut Street in Shadyside. I lived just a few blocks away from this well-known shopping street, and stopped by almost once a week, just to wander around.
pitt49. Pitt Ballet Club. It seems like any time in my life when I’ve felt out of place, I’ve ended up back in a ballet studio, and my year at Pitt was no exception. I loved getting to dance again for the first time since high school and the girls I met through ballet were the sweetest!
10. The view of the Pittsburgh skyline after going through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. It’s amazing. Anyone who has lived in Pittsburgh can probably relate to telling out-of-town visitors, “Wait for it….wait for it…” going through the tunnel in anticipation of the sudden view of the city all lit up!

I LOVED reading about what y’all loved about college in my last post, and I’d be so interested to know, did anything about your college experience not go as originally planned? That was definitely Pitt for me, but rather than a year “wasted,” I think it’s one of the times in my life that helped teach me to trust in God’s plan. Also, it’s where I started Something Pretty! :)






  1. Kristina says:

    I love that you are sharing your college experience with us! My college years (so far) haven’t gone as planned either but I’m glad to be in the place that I am right now. I started out in the fall of 2011 at a big University close to home. The college town was small but pretty, located close to the Alps and at a lake. The best of both worlds I thought. However, deep down I was craving big city life and I also didn’t love the program I was in. So after the first year I decided to transfer to a small college in a big city and love it. Getting adjusted to big city life was very hard in the beginning but I’m so glad I stuck with it. In hindsight, I can tell how God used the transition and the adjustment period to teach me a lot about my faith and how important church community is. Just this lesson made it worth it in the end. Right now I’m studying abroad in England for two semesters and couldn’t be happier about this opportunity which I would have never had if I had stayed at the first university.

    • Lisa says:

      Your first school sounds beautiful, but I’m so happy for you that you’re at a place that’s a better fit now…especially since you have the awesome opportunity to be in England for two semesters! How are you liking it so far?

      • Kristina says:

        Oh thanks for asking! So far everything is just new and exciting and maybe a bit overwhelming. But all my adventurous abroad started out this way and then turned into beautiful memories ;-) this week I still get to do some fun stuff before classes start next Monday. I’m just trying to soak it all in!

      • Lisa says:

        I’m so glad it’s going well!! I’m sure it’s only the beginning of an amazing year! :)

  2. Dana says:

    Dear old Pittsburgh, Alma Mater, God preserve thee evermore!!!! I’m glad the good times have started standing out more against the bad. I miss it everyday!

  3. Kate says:

    I had planned to run cross country and track in college, but had the first of what would end up being three foot surgeries a week before I started my freshman year, and never got to compete. So college involved a lot more crutches and physical therapy than I was expecting! I’m so glad I was able to make my college decision based on more than just athletics, because the school was still the right fit for me even without that!

    I’m glad to hear that your Pitt memories are fading into good ones! I had a similar experience in grad school – I was far from family, friends, and fiancé, and was totally lonely and miserable. Hoping someday I’ll be able to forget the pain and just remember the good parts of those two years!

    • Lisa says:

      Oh wow! That’s so awesome that you loved the school even without being part of cross country and track. Just goes to show how wisely you made the decision to go there! It definitely took me awhile to think of the good before the bad about my year at Pitt–I’d say at least a few years. I can’t believe it’s already been five years since I was there!

  4. Katie says:

    OMG number 10 is always my favorite part about the drive to visit my moms family. When we go into the tunnel, we always make sure that everyone is watching for the city. <3

  5. Victoria says:

    During my one semester at Baylor, I got to spend time really building a relationship with a friend who was in a time period of major transition. He was a friend from high school who was easy and natural to hang out with, but he was in a toxic relationship and spending a lot of time indulging in drugs and alcohol. I’ll never forget driving to Chick fil A with him and him pointing to my bible and him asking “you really believe all that?”… After months of hard questions and honest conversations, I got to be with this friend (and another Godly guy that we both new from high school) when he made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. It instantly gave my “meh” semester eternal significance and I still constantly refer to this time in my life just to remember the faithfulness of God!

    • Lisa says:

      Wow–that’s incredible!! How amazing that the Lord had you exactly where He needed you in order to be a friend and a witness to Him. He is good!


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