By Kevin Byrne
With my college graduation this past weekend, naturally I’m feeling reflective on the past four years on my time in Happy Valley.
I’ve thought about what I enjoyed and what I haven’t enjoyed while living in Happy Valley, but by far, the good outweighs the bad.
While I’m not the first to compile a list like this (and I won’t be the last) I’ve decided to list my top ten things a Penn State student must do before they leave Happy Valley. I definitely have seen the best that this town has to offer from a student’s perspective. There’s so much to do here in four years, but sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle of class work and other school activities.
10. Take a tour of the Old Main bell tower
I didn’t get to appreciate the history of Penn State enough when I was here and taking a tour of the bell tower would’ve been a good way to understand some of Penn State’s past. This tour is usually offered in the fall every year by the Penn State Lion Ambassadors.
9. Order Wings Over Happy Valley
Wings Over was always my favorite go-to food spot as a student. Whether it was boneless or regular wings, nothing put me in a better mood than a nice dose of buffalo or mustang ranch-flavored wings. I had my first encounter with Wings Over when an employee was handing out free samples, around Pollock Halls during my freshman summer semester. It was literally love at first bite, and I’ve ordered from them at least three to four times a year. It may seem like a regular take-out joint at first, but after you first order from Wings, you’ll constantly crave more. The last time I order Wings Over will be a sad one for me.
8. Attend a women’s volleyball match
The women’s volleyball program is one of the best programs in collegiate sports. The team is full of top-notch athletes that usually put on thrilling home matches for the crowd. While their run of four-consecutive national titles was snapped last season, they are still a great program that has a chance to win every year. Greatness is hard to come by so appreciate it by watching a women’s volleyball game at Penn State. There’s more than just football at this school and the women’s volleyball program is as good as it gets in NCAA athletics right now. Also, student admission is free with your ID so there’s really no excuse not to see at least one match.
7. Enjoy Penn State Creamery ice cream
Try as many flavors as possible, don’t simply settle for the same old Death By Chocolate or Peachy Paterno. Those flavors are classics and you can never go wrong with them, but why not try something different like Toasted Almond Fudge? There’s always new flavors coming out too which makes it even more worthwhile. Don’t worry about all the calories, as you can take advantage of all the different fitness centers on campus.
6. Campout at Paternoville
If you’re not like the diehards who camp out for every home game, you must try to camp at Paternoville at least once. I planned on doing it right from the moment I stepped on campus, but I never got around to it. Don’t be like me. Even if it’s only one night, than you can still say you were a resident of Paternoville. Residing at Paternoville will not only ensure you the best seats on game day, but it will also allow you the opportunity to participate in competitions such as Trash Can football. And in the past TV analysts and current players have tried their hand at the sport.
5. Sit outside at Café 210 West
For those of you under-21, sorry, your time will come. For those over 21, there’s no better feeling than sitting outside on a beautiful day with a group of friends out front or on the back porch, drinking a beverage of your choice. If you prefer to go out at night, Café also always features some of the best live music in town.
4. Hike Mt. Nittany
I finally accomplished this feat recently, and it was definitely worth the anticipation. The views are breathtaking and of course it’s a good challenge and accomplishment to climb the mountain. There are different routes for everyone, but the must-see route is the .6 mile journey to the Mike Lynch Overlook which faces the town and university. For the hard-core hikers, a roundtrip hike of the mountain can take about three hours. Happy Valley is one of the most scenic places in the country and the view from the top is evident of that.
3. Attend a football game at Beaver Stadium
This really needs no further explanation, but to those students out there who have never went to a football game (and yes there are some) do yourself a favor and check it out. If you don’t know anything about football, still go. That’s not what it’s really about anyway. It’s about coming together and watching the game with over 100,000 of your closest Penn State friends, an experience you can’t relish unless you’ve been to a game.
2. Spend the summer in State College
I had the good fortune of doing this twice, the first as a freshman beginning my college career in 2008. The second, was the summer of 2011 when I worked as an intern for this website. It’s a completely different town with the majority of the students away, and I always appreciated it more when I was here in the summer enjoying the relaxing summer nights. I loved going to watch Spikes games and sitting in the cool evening breeze while gazing upon Mt. Nittany. A decent amount of students remain in the area for the summer, so it’s not like you’ll be the only one. It’s a great chance to try that restaurant or bar you always wanted to visit, but were too busy to do so during the school year. Plus, if you’re up for the summer, you get to experience Arts Fest.
1. Attend THON and participate in some way
Plain and simple, THON is the best thing about Penn State. One of my biggest regrets as a student is not getting more involved with THON and joining a THON organization to help make a difference. Sure I attended THON every year to see the sights and sounds but it was only for a little bit and I don’t feel like I made an impact. THON is the best way for Penn State students to grow as individuals and is arguably the easiest way to make an impact in the lives of others. So current and future students I urge you, don’t just sit back and watch THON from afar or just go to “check it out.” Don’t wait. Get involved right away beginning next school year.
**Other key things to do: Visit Tussey Mountain for summer and winter activities. Grab breakfast at the Waffle Shop. Attend the homecoming parade. Attend a Penn State Wrestling match.