The First Week - activities, transportation & supermarket

My first week here is already over! On the first two days we had information sessions and immigration check in. During the breaks, we were taken very good care of by the International Student Union and met many other Exchange Students. We started organizing ourselves and spent most of the week together, we're a group of maybe 20 people from all over the world, it's really great!

We went to Waterfront, a huge shopping district outside the city, then to the Southside Movie Theater to see "Dinner for Schmucks", a really funny movie. The excursion with the inclines was also part of our activities, as well as two home parties, a Pirates game (Baseball, I didn't go, never been fond of watching sports) and a comedian and movie at CMU ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off", great American eighties movie).

The cars here all look strange, because they don't have a number plate in front. It makes them seem kind of naked... Once we saw a car with a plate in front, but the number didn't even match the one on the rear. But there are not that many big Range Rovers, even though you see maybe trice as much as in Switzerland. We live at one of the main roads through Shadyside, our neighborhood, but I'm on the rear of the house, I hardly hear the street. And it's not that busy, I've never seen it jammed.

It's great, with the CMU ID cards we can take all the buses for free! Although they're really confusing. It was very difficult to get a bus map and even with one it's usually quicker to just ask the driver where he's going, although you might get an answer in Pittsburghese and understand nothing, because in some neighborhoods people have a really strong accent. And there are bus schedules, but they're worthless except for estimating how long you might have to wait, the buses just come when they come. But the bus coverage is really good, like in Switzerland! And people actually use public transportation a lot.

Our appartment is maybe 15 minutes from CMU, and there are a lot of things to do in walking distance. For the moment we just have the problem that there's no supermarket close to our apartment. There is a Giant Eagle Market District in 30 minutes walking distance, but that's not so cool when you have a lot of stuff. We can get there by bus, but we have to change once and it might even take longer, because you have to wait two times and the buses make a big detour. Well, Emily has a car, so we'll just have to try and go there together.

The Giant Eagle is really a nice supermarket, especially when you come in. There's a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, and it's very nicely presented. When you go on, there's cheese and dried meat, and we actually bought some Roquefort and Kaltbach Greyerzer (half as much as you'd get in Switzerland costs 10$, really expensive for the States!). And then you go on and there's a kind of corridor opening to the real supermarket, a huge room with neon lights and a lot of shelves with big packs, and you realize that the entry was just the luxury part!

But you can find anything if you know how to describe it, there is an African American (politically correct for black) guy which is only there to help you find your stuff, and he really seems to know the entire supermarket by heart! So far we have been eating pretty good, we were cooking together with two other friends who stayed at our apartment because they couldn't move into theirs yet. That's so reassuring, to know you can cook everything you like. You can even buy Knorr Bouillon and Nesquik and Nutella and many others here! Every package we know from back home is like seeing an old friend, really nice... Viva la globalización y Nestlé!

5 responses to “The First Week - activities, transportation & supermarket”

  1. Activities, ....

    How lucky to be young, open-minded and clever - enjoy it; and as long as there is Knorr bouillon, Nesquik and Nutella, nothing bad can happen and you are safe. Elisa

    Submitted by Elisa

  2. Shadyside?!

    Yeah, those are a comfort, but living on the shady side? I just hope it won't wear of...

    Submitted by Hans

  3. shadyside

    It is really a nice neighborhood, and the trees make it very homely. The Fifth Ave has four lanes, so it isn't that shady at all anyway!

    Submitted by Vera in Pittsburgh

  4. There are more...

    ... meanings to 'shady' than just having shade...

    Submitted by Hans

  5. No, it's not...

    ...shady like disreputable. It's the nice neighborhood of Pittsburgh! And I like it :-)

    Submitted by Vera in Pittsburgh