This post is woefully late, but, as they say, better late than never!
Warning: This post is chock-full of photos, mostly so my dearest Emily can see this place that gives Andrew and me so much joy. Enjoy!
Andrew and I spent the weekend at Penn State for Columbus Day weekend. As our alma mater, Penn State has so many happy memories for us, so it’s always high on our list of places to visit. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s only four hours away and lodging is FREE with our good friend, Adam, who teaches there.)
We left that Saturday morning with plans to get breakfast at a diner about an hour into the drive. Andrew was less than thrilled we left before 9 a.m.
I was all decked out in my Penn State gear for the drive!
We stopped outside of Bradford, PA, at the Derrick City Diner:
I ordered a veggie omelet, but could hardly stomach the ‘cheese’ on it… I’m not normally that picky, but something about it just ruined it for me. ‘Processed Cheese Food’ (a.k.a. American cheese) is not cheese, people!
Note the piece of cinnamon swirl bread behind my plate…it was grilled and topped with a gooey cinnamon roll icing-like sauce. YUM. Andrew and I polished that off easily.
This was, perhaps, my favorite place to eat off-campus while we were students here. It’s a 50’s-themed diner that features all the typical greasy-spoon meals you’d expect and waitresses in saddle shoes. The chicken ‘wimpy’ basket (two slider-sized burgers) is the only thing I’ve ever ordered. And peanut butter milkshakes.
(Adam split the milkshake with me. This wouldn’t be the last item Adam and I share–we have similar taste!)
Our first stop on College Ave. is always The Family Clothesline, our favorite clothing and accessories store. We stock up on new t-shirts and sweatshirts each time we go. You’d think we’d have enough by now, but no. We can never get enough.
It’s always mobbed, and this weekend was no exception. Turns out it was Parents’ Weekend, which was both good and bad: with 3x the amount of people, everything was packed, but seeing all the parents in their PSU-gear (I’m sure a good number are alums themselves) is so heartwarming.
We walked along College Ave a bit before grabbing coffees and finding a spot to sit on campus.
View of campus from College Avenue:
View looking away from campus down Allen Street from College Ave:
View from the Patee-Paterno Library:
Inside the library:
Adam wanted to check out a classroom in which he’ll be teaching this spring, so we tagged along. It is in Thomas Building, which features the largest classroom on campus–seating for 726! I had a class here–History of Landscape Architecture–my first semester freshman year. Talk about overwhelmed! See the placard on the wall in the photo below, it’s not hard to find which room it is:
Inside 100 Thomas:
The campus certainly has changed since Andrew and I were there more than ten years ago (!!!). Below is some new materials science building or something, which used to be an open field:
Despite all the new buildings popping up all over, the campus has done a nice job preserving and enhancing ‘green spaces’ throughout. There are gardens with seating, trees for shade and places to play everywhere you look.
Where I lived sophomore year, Mifflin Hall:
Simmons Hall, below, is an honors college dorm and where Andrew lived for three years before moving off campus senior year. I moved onto a girls’ floor for my junior and senior year.
South Halls, which are currently getting a bit of a face-lift, and where I lived freshman year are pictured below. Almost all the freshman live on the other side of campus in East Halls, but I was one of the ‘lucky’ few to avoid the ghetto. I say lucky because East dorms are definitely the worst of all (no wonder–it’s where the freshman live), but it also creates a sense of community. To orient yourself a bit, South Halls (Simmons is included in that) are just off College Ave, while North and East Halls are about a 10-minute walk up campus closer to the stadium, and West Halls (nicest, by far) are near the Lion Shrine and the other end of College Ave.
We ended up getting ice cream cones from the Creamery (one of Penn State’s claims to fame is its Food Science Department and ice cream) before heading back to Adam’s place to re-group and rest before going out to watch the football game.
That night ended up being a bit of a debacle. Remember how I said it was Parents’ Weekend? Yeah. Well. Penn State has just shy of 9,000 first-year freshman at the University Park campus. Let’s be conservative and say only 10% of those students have 1 or 2 parents visiting (perhaps not even that many students have parents coming, but the extra will just account for the families who DID come, and who also brought along grandma, grandpa and younger siblings.) So, all of a sudden, you have an extra 1 or 2 THOUSAND or more people roaming around campus, all wanting to go somewhere fun to watch the game. So yeah. The restaurants were packed. After failing to find seating at three different places and driving back and forth from one end of State College to another, it was half-time in the game and Andrew was NOT HAPPY. (To his credit–he told me the ONE THING he wanted to do this weekend was go somewhere fun to watch the game. I felt terrible.) Our last-ditch effort was at Hi-Way Pizza, a State College stand-by, and the waitress took pity on us and seated us in just a few minutes. I find telling people in positions of power your sob story can only help your situation.
I’d wanted nachos since I started thinking about the game, and Adam said he’d help me eat them. I don’t think I’d had nachos in 10 YEARS! Adam is such a good sport. We’re always sharing hawaiian pizzas and things since Andrew doesn’t like anything that I do.
The next morning, we were up bright and early to get into the Waffle Shop before the line formed. I snapped this photo at about 8:15 Sunday morning:
The Waffle Shop is THE place to go for breakfast at Penn State. There are three locations, one on College Ave., and the other two are just a couple minutes from campus. They’re all a madhouse with lines out the door from about 9 to 11 (or later) each Saturday and Sunday morning. We knew if we didn’t get there early, Andrew would throw a fit about having to wait in line. We were seated immediately, and within 15 minutes the line began inside.
I’ve always ordered the chocolate chip pancakes:
Adam discovered the grilled blueberry muffin on a previous trip and I had to try it. OMG. It’s heavenly.
And here’s the line when we left, which is NOTHING compared to how long it WILL get:
I even brought my own apron–the Andrew apron–that Adam gave me a while ago. He tends to do funny things with photos of Andrew…there are two blankets and mug as well!
Adam helped a bit, too!
Our first stop was the HUB, which is the student union building. Many fond memories here–meeting up with friends, grabbing lunch at Panda Express or a wheat bagel with peanut butter and honey for breakfast.
The giant aquarium downstairs is a well known meeting place for many students, and Andrew and I were no different. We met up there many times a week on our way to or from classes. We always take a picture there.
Rec Hall is next to the Lion Shrine, where countless students, friends and family gather to take photos. One day we may have a family photo there.
Here’s looking from the Lion Shrine inward toward campus. At the end of this long road is the stadium.
More views, this one just outside the Forum Building:
The Forum is a round building of classrooms, all set up with theater-style seats. Andrew took chemistry there. He tells a story about how he won $5 sophomore year from a friend who bet him he’d end up going out with some other girl in their class. Just a few months into OUR relationship at that point, this friend gave him the money and said the writing was on the wall: Andrew was going to marry that girl, Holly. And he did :)
This is the Palmer Art Museum. I’ve never been in it. Not once. But I’ve always loved it.
View from East Halls down toward the South end of campus and College Ave:
East Halls has 14 dorms and houses about 5,000 freshman. It’s the largest block of dorms on campus:
View from East Halls over the tennis courts with Mount Nittany in the background:
Wagner Building, which is next to the tennis courts and across from East Halls, houses the ROTC programs on campus. It has an armory around the back. I spent A LOT of time in that building.
Just beyond Wagner building is the intersection that separates the campus from Beaver Stadium (capacity: 106,572) and the Bryce Jordan Center (basketball, concerts, commencement, etc…):
Apparently brand-new Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula is a Penn Stater, too! Note the also brand-new Pegula Ice Area, below. Makes him feel like family. (For those who don’t know, the Buffalo Bills, our home team, was up for sale recently and the collective *sigh* heard when Pegula announced that the team would be staying here was almost audible. Let’s just say he’s a hero around these parts.)
Our last stop was Cafe Lemont, which is just a few minutes from campus. Some friends of ours used to live near it and told us to stop by when we were next in town. It’s definitely for the hippie-crunchy-I-know-good-coffee-types, but quaint all the same.
We grabbed a couple mugs and sat outside in the sun before heading back home to New York.
I’ve always said I wanted to live in State College. Always. I absolutely love East Aurora and have ZERO intentions of moving, ever. BUT. If one of us ever wanted to teach at the collegiate level… I’m just saying, it’s possible.