If You're Not At PPG Place's Wintergarden At Christmastime You're Missing Out

If You're Not At PPG Place's Wintergarden At Christmastime You're Missing Out

My family's holiday tradition is better than your family's, probably.

All families have amazing holiday traditions that they look back on with fondness and look forward to each year. For my family, that tradition is visiting the PPG Place Wintergarden in downtown Pittsburgh.

The PPG Place Wintergarden is a brightly lit, glass-encased large sitting area at PPG Place, which is six beautiful glass buildings in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh. Each December, this area becomes a literal Wintergarden, with the Spirit of Giving Around the World Displays, the Gingerbread House Display, musical performances, a hot chocolate cart, and an outdoor skating rink.

My personal favorite part is the Spirit of Giving Around the World Display, but my family and I just call it "the Santas." Statues of the traditional "Santa Clauses" from different countries around the world circle the sitting area, each more grand and dazzling than the next. Next to each sits the history of each one, and it makes the history nerd in me soar. Each Santa represents it's country's culture, tradition, and Christmas spirit, and it's amazing to see how Christmas is celebrated around the world. Plus, most of them have glittery, metallic paint, and I love glittery things.

In the middle, all around a tall and marvelous tree, sit the gingerbread houses made for the annual competition. These aren't just any gingerbread houses, these are EXPERT gingerbread houses. Like, Chip and Joanna couldn't even make gingerbread houses this fancy and elaborate.There are also quite a few made by local elementary schools, and though they aren't as professional, they're super adorable.

Looking at all the stuff in the Wintergarden could fill a whole day, but if my family and I have time, we love to grab hot chocolate from the Crazy Mocha (a Pittsburgh favorite) cart and watch a few of the musical numbers. Choirs, dance companies, and schools from all across Pittsburgh dance, sing, and play instruments with fun costumes and holiday sounds. Their talent plus the hot coco make my heart warm. (I am so cheesy, oh my God).

Finally, if you have time, get some skates and go outside to enjoy the annual ice skating rink and skate around the tree. It's Pittsburgh's own little Rockefeller Center. We may not have Matt Lauer, but we do have the Pirate Parrot, Ice Burgh, and whoever the Steelers mascot is. Nobody really cares as much about him.

Every family has a tradition, my family's just happens to be visiting PPG Place, but I guarantee it's more fun and festive than any of the traditions your family has. So if you live in Pittsburgh, make the trip to the Wintergarden, you won't regret it. And if you don't, I'm sorry your Christmas isn't topnotch and filled with intercultural Santas. Maybe someday you can visit.

Cover Image Credit: Wintergarden

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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The Struggle of Taking Classes During the Summer

It can put a bit of a damper on summer fun


To everyone reading: I hope you're having a nice, relaxing summer. Even if you're working I hope you can get a few days off to hang out with friends, go to the beach, and have some nice downtime. Not me. I am currently in the process of completing two four-week long summer classes. I'm taking them now to get ahead for next semester and to keep my overall schedule on track. It certainly isn't fun, but the reminder that it is only four weeks is what really keeps me going. If you are in the same boat as me, you'll relate to this list like no one else can; if you're not taking summer classes, don't let this list scare you, but use it to mentally prepare yourself for any you may have in the future.

1. Studying and homework

The homework isn't too bad with some summer classes just because you don't have time for a lot of intense projects. Still, since the class is so short you have to do some kind of homework pretty much every day. Make a schedule and spread it out so you don't get too behind.

2. Actually going to class

I am in two classes. One meets in person every day from 10 am to 11:45 am. The other is online. Let me be the first to say that getting up for class during the normal semesters is hard enough, but knowing my little brother gets to sleep in while I have to wake up early and go class is a real motivation suppressant.

I will say, though, it's kind of nice being on campus when it's basically empty.

3. No going out...

You'll probably be a little down because you might not be able to really go out at all during the time you're in class. For me, I go to lecture every morning, come home and do homework for that class, then do homework for my online class. I have some free time on the weekends, but I try to use those lecture-free days to study or work on papers.

4. But being super busy

Even though you might not be able to go out like a summer off, you'll be keeping yourself busy with all that super fun homework I mentioned.

5. Stress

Yes, summer classes can be a little stressful and it's pretty much all thanks to how fast-paced they are. Just do what I do: make a homework and project schedule as soon as you can and remind yourself how short it is.

Summer classes are not the worst thing in the world, and if you choose to take one at some point it won't be absolutely horrible. The nice thing about them is it's like ripping off a Band-Aid; it may be a little painful and annoying, but it's over so fast you don't suffer. Pick your class and professor wisely and get down to business; taking the class means you're one step closer to graduation!

So, to anyone else taking a summer class: good luck and you got this!

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