“To have an experience” Versus “Experiencing”

A bit of time has passed since a post has been made about traveling. Hey, my turn!

I’ll freely admit that I haven’t done very much of it—I’ve been to Europe twice. Both times, it was beautiful, stunning, even. A few of my friends have recently returned from their study abroad trips, and so (of course) we strayed to the subject of our favorite cities.

Paris from a window in the Musee D’Orsay

“Paris,” I stated when asked the question. “There’s just a certain feel to it that’s infectious, indescribable.” It’s not just the city of lights or a the most romantic city in the world. There’s so much more to it than the tourist-stuffed spots like Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. There are more museums than the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Those places are beautiful, yes, but they aren’t all that Paris has to offer. Going up to Montmartre showed me how many local artists reside in Paris, as well as an incomparable view of the city.

Sometimes I think that, when we visit other places, we get into a tourist-type mindset. We go to a new city and proclaim that we are going to see the highlights, and then we’ll be able to say that we’ve “experienced” the city. And in a way, we have. But this isn’t enough for me. What about the local places, like London’s local “chippies”—the best places to get the most authentic fish and chips? This is what I regret most about my trip to Paris. I went to all the tourist locations, but I hardly saw the rest of the city. We didn’t have enough time (or, on my part, the language skills) to be able to really absorb Paris… if that’s even possible.

And this applies to everywhere we go, but especially where we live. How many of us have taken more than a few trips to the Strip District on a Saturday morning? The best lattes in Pittsburgh (in my humble opinion) are at Presto George, but I’ve only been there a handful of times. What else are we missing about Pittsburgh? I’ve lived in the area my entire life, but have never been to a Pens or Steelers game. Previously, the tickets were just too expensive, but now that I’m at Duquesne, student discounts apply. How many local concerts have I missed at Mr. Small’s or the Rex down in Southside? How many times have I gone to the Cheesecake Factory, a chain restaurant, instead of going to the Double Wide Grill, a delicious eatery a few blocks down from Cheesecake? How many times have I settled for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from POD instead of taking a trip to Dream Cream on Liberty Avenue? Especially now that I’m considered a “local” of Pittsburgh, I feel as if I should know more about the city. I’m part of the Pittsburgh community, shouldn’t I have done all of this? I want to experience Pittsburgh, not just live here. And it’s not just Pittsburgh. Maybe one day I’ll get my chance to return to Paris and experience that city, too.

So my challenge to you is to think about your Pittsburgh experiences. How much Pittsburgh-ese can you translate into proper English? Have you explored every corner this city’s maze of streets has to offer? How many of the people you know don’t attend Duquesne?

Do you feel satisfied?

Love always,

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