Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Greensburg - More Than a College Town

Let me begin by saying I’m not the typical college student. I just haven’t had the average college experience. For one, I’m a transfer student. After graduating high school in 2006, I spent my first year of college at another institution, before transferring to Greensburg’s Seton Hill University in 2007. Once enrolled at SHU, I spent my first year commuting 35 minutes from Blairsville and then moved into an off-campus apartment in Greensburg.

Potentially, my less-than-average college experience could be something to lament over. Transferring, commuting and living off-campus have definitely posed barriers to the campus assimilation and friend-making processes. Slowly but surely, though, I overcame these barriers and carved my own college niche. In whatever euphemism you want to use, I’ve enjoyed dancing to my own tune, traveling my own path, building my own bridge – whatever – throughout my college years. And I think Greensburg played a large part in that experience.

Greensburg is a college town without being a “college town.” It is home to not only SHU, but to PITT at Greensburg and Triangle Tech, and Westmoreland County Community College is in nearby Youngwood. Given its proximity to so many schools, Greensburg has its fair share of college-friendly bars, restaurants, coffee shops, tanning salons and tattoo shops. These businesses certainly affirm Greensburg’s college identity, and moreover, they establish that identity an important, vital aspect of the City. But what I found refreshing as an nontraditional student is that Greensburg isn’t completely defined by these elements. The true heart and soul of the City, I think, extends beyond the college scene and incorporates the interests of several ages, backgrounds and walks-of-life.

In retrospect, I guess I’ve just been an nontraditional college kid living in an nontraditional college town – and it’s been a perfect match for me. But don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the typical, average or traditional. In my college experience, though, things just haven’t gone that way.

Then again, what or who is really traditional or average? We’re all just people, all different, unique and definitely un-average in our own way. My time in Greensburg, at Seton Hill, has solidified that perspective in me. And ultimately, Greensburg’s inclusive, eclectic nature has not only helped me make the most of the past three years, it has given me a place to call home as a young adult.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother-Daughter Day in Greensburg

At 22, I find myself at a transitional stage with my mom. We’re almost to that point where I’m old enough for us to be friends, but I’m not quite old enough to have outgrown her authoritative, parental dynamic. Luckily, as a resident of Greensburg, I’m living in a city that’s diverse enough to bring us together for a night.

Recently, my mom and I got together for dinner and a show at the Palace Theatre. We caught the April 17th performance of Close Enough for Jazz, by the River City Brass Band. Jazz isn’t always my genre of choice, but I have been known to find WDUQ Jazz on my car radio from time to time (okay, actually it’s a programmed favorite). As for mom, she loves jazz. And although I may not be as devoted a fan as she, we both loved the show – it was phenomenal. The guest conductor – Steve Hawk, from Slippery Rock University – was amazing, a truly talented musician. He performed as well as conducted, and his line-up of tunes kept the pace of the show up-beat and entertaining, even participatory at points. The songs they played mixed traditional jazz with WWII era swing and big-band.

Before the show, we had dinner at one of Greensburg’s newest restaurants, One Eleven. Neither of us had been there before, but I had heard that reservations were a must. And now, after having dined there, I can see why. Both our meals were delicious. We each ordered fish specials, a grilled marlin for me and Sicilian tuna with pasta for mom. And we splurged a little too, each ordering the crab bisque, a glass of wine and a post-meal cup of coffee. Portions were more than generous, so if you try out One Eleven, be sure to come with an appetite and don’t forget your doggy bag!

After our meal, we enjoyed the short walk from the restaurant to the theatre. It was a little chilly, but a well-lit and pleasant walk, none-the-less. It had been only my second time to the Palace, and the quality of the show exceeded my expectations. Like my mom kept saying, it was a show worthy of Heinz Hall, for half the price!

So with Mother’s Day approaching this weekend, I hope everyone will consider treating mom to a day or night out in Greensburg!

P.S. – If you're in need of a gift, River City Brass is back at the Palace on Saturday, May 8 for Cirque du Brass Band!