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Harry Potter and the Cathedral of Learning

Today’s post is by Juliana Zipay, a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. In honor of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One” being released this week, we asked Juliana to write about how much her campus resembles Hogwarts.

Inside view of the Catherdral of Learning building

Image by Chloe Fan from Wellesley, USA

As a current senior at the University of Pittsburgh, walking into any building on campus is no big deal. But let’s rewind three years, to that first day of freshman year, when I walked into the largest building located in the center of main campus: the Cathedral of Learning. Not only is it an incredibly intimidating building as it is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere, but I would be spending the majority of my undergrad career there, too.

But the greatest part of all? The Cathedral of Learning looks exactly like Hogwarts on the inside — especially the Commons Room on the first floor, which has been touted as one of the “great architectural fantasies of the twentieth century” due to its incredible use of the Gothic style. The Commons Room in the Cathedral is a breeding ground for students to escape real life and go into a fantasy world … simply to do their homework.

The Atmosphere

The lighting is slightly dimmed due to carefully placed lighting fixtures strewn about the room and the surrounding stone architecture. Add in the low-lit hallways bordering the Commons with their Gothic arches that are simply breathtaking, the crisp weather that Pittsburgh feels for five months of the nine-month school year, and the fires crackling in the huge fireplaces and you’ve got it: Hogwarts.

The Quidditch Matches

I mean, you practically expect to see an owl or two flying through the Commons Room to drop the day’s mail or different House members walking around discussing their next Quidditch match … and, actually, sometimes you do since there are a group of Pitt students who play Quidditch matches out on the Cathedral lawn throughout the year.

After four years, nothing comforts me more than the Cathedral, mostly because I am always here. The departments for my major and two minors are here. My work-study job is located here. And about 85 percent of my classes per semester are located in one of many classrooms here. In fact, as I write this, I am in the Cathedral. Why? Because, more than the apartment I have off-campus, the Cathedral is home.

The Feeling of Home

Tall building at University of PittsburgAnd, as the Cathedral is home to me, Hogwarts is home to the many magical students who find their way there. They grow and learn there. They make friends there. They deal with some crazy stuff there. And I’ve done the same things at the Cathedral. So, really, how cool is it to come to class here every single day? Really, really cool. Like, so cool that it’s not even funny. Because while other schools have new-age buildings that are state-of-the-art …  I have Hogwarts, err, I mean, the Cathedral. And that’s better than anything I could ever ask for as a college student.

Its magic and mystique never fail to rattle my bones a bit every morning when I walk through the doors; it’s like my acceptance letter to Pitt was ACTUALLY the letter I would have received had I been nine-years-old with a bit of a magic in me.

Juliana Zipay is a current senior at the University of Pittsburgh who will be graduating in May 2011 with a BA in Communication and minors in Theatre Arts and Film Studies as well as a certificate in Children’s Literature. She plans to attend graduate school to work toward a Master of Library and Information Sciences degree. She once traveled the world by ship, visiting 10 countries in a four-month span as a study abroad adventure, and it changed her life. Her interests include, but are definitely not limited to, social networking, coffee, traveling, learning, and sleeping (whenever she can).

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