It's not that I didn't think the city of Pittsburgh had a lot of foreigners, I had just never really given it any thought.
I was hoping to write a piece on how Pittsburgh citizens of different nationalities were watching the World Cup, and my editor spoke of Carnegie Mellon University's high international student population.
I didn't think CMU was in the pantheon of schools foreigners usually look to apply to. I was skeptical.
Two things made me reconsider.
1) While researching a story on CMU's robot soccer team, I remembered that its one of the world leaders in robotics. Which means it's probably also really good in a lot of other science-y/technology things too, so it's understandable that foreign students would come here to study.
2) I witnessed first-hand CMU's international presence yesterday while looking for a pickup soccer game on campus. I thought I saw fans watching the game - which could have only been international students - but that was just part of a CMU statue (Notice the fake people near the bottom right).
The real clincher, though, was that there was a pickup game of cricket going on next door. It was the first time I had ever seen someone play the game - let alone on a college campus courtyard. I was onto something.
But the real proof came during the game of soccer I played. Trying my best to get to know the other players better, I tried to crack a joke. "Doesn't the crosswalk sound like the theme song from Austin Powers?" I asked to no one in particular. Silence.
"You know, that movie Austin Powers?" Silence. Awkard. An inaudible mutter from one guy was all I got in return.
THERE WERE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN PITTSBURGH.
Armed with the knowlege, I made my way later on that night to Schenley Oval Sportsplex. As I walked over to the field, the Caribbean guys that accounted for most of the players were speaking a language I didn't understand. I saw two guys sitting on the side and thought I'd ask them to help introduce me. I got nearer, and they were speaking fluent Spanish to each other. I braced myself.
"Se...se va a...van a jugar... futbol...?" I asked hesitantly with my broken Spanish.
"Oh, you can just ask them and jump right in," one of the two answered back in perfect English. I felt like an idiot. It turns out the Caribbean guys were Jamaicans with really heavy accents (It ended up being the most I had ever laughed out on the soccer field - the Jamaicain guys were characters - while still being a competitive game)
Moral of the story: There are lots of foreigners here in the city, just don't forget that they're also from Pittsburgh.