Today at work I went on a campus tour. I met a lovely junior Penn State student, studying nutrition. She was from the area and had a passion for her school that I notice is a trend at Penn State. When I told a co-worker I had gone on a tour, they responded that they hadn't thought of doing that. They have worked at Penn State but know a lot of the same places (such as the stadium, the creamery, the HUB [Student Union], and Old Main).
This sort of stuff is why I am into community engagement. For me, I can't see myself being an effective librarian for undergrads if I don't at least try to get on their level. To see their school from their perspective. Now granted, this topic is enough for a blog post on its own...
But this idea of not exploring more than the library walls is an idea that can be applied to State College as a whole. The past several weekends, I've pushed myself outside my apartment in search of an adventure. While sometimes I would much rather stay in my apartment, I feel the same need to try to understand State College. If I can understand the energy of State College, then maybe I can be a better member of that community and in turn, a better librarian.
I find myself near or at Big Ten cities my entire life. I was 20 minutes from Madison, 30 minutes from Iowa City, and experienced the glam of Chambana before moving to State College. It's different from the other places in that State College is pretty much in the middle of nothing. The city thrives on the student life much more than Madison or Chambana do. I love the renewed sense of energy the students have brought this week (and that fall weather I felt on Monday and Tuesday). Sure the lines will be extra long in downtown State College but now I get to experience the city in a whole new way.
Now is State College similar to New York City? NO. WAY. But I think there is something special to be learned and embraced in the 16803. It's my internal optimism kicking in but no matter how long I end up here, I want to know that I've explored and adventured and learned. Here's a run down of my State College adventures thus far. I can't wait to expand the list (especially once my weekend becomes Friday and Saturday!).
- Biking in and around State College. Even went to a local bike ship for a much needed tune up.
- Palmer Art Museum, the fantastic art museum on campus
- Spike baseball game
- Hiked Mt. Nittany (three hours with one good view aka can't wait to go back in a month or so when less leaves are around)
- Visited the public library and checked out too many books!
- Experienced the ORIGINAL Waffle Shop (apparently there is lots of debate on waffles in this town)
- Got my haircut at a local place so I didn't have to give up all back to school traditions
- Tried out the local whiskey establishment with its tray of french fries (so yummy) and the local grad school bar hangout
- Went to Target the weekend before classes started (and made it out alive)
- Tried creamery ice cream (delicious but haven't tried Meyer ice cream to make an executive decision)
Now I have a question for you dear reader. How do you explore a new place? What sorts of things do you look for? What adventures do you try? I'm curious to see how other people make a space become their place.