Our cousin, Hallie, is a freshman at Penn State this year. (Well, she’s really Marc’s cousin, but I adore her so I claim her as my own!) Our fall got away from us so we didn’t make it up to Happy Valley until this weekend to visit. This was fun for us, but HUGE for Isabelle who’s been wondering about college. (READ: She’s had college on her mind ever since I made the mistake of telling her she’d go away for college when she turns 18. I said this six months ago. She was NOT happy about leaving home and brings it up often. About a month ago, Isabelle told me she’d only go on one condition. I had to go with her. Apparently, she thinks I’m going to commute to Penn State’s University Park Campus with her to get my doctorate while she gets her B.A. Somehow I think she’ll change her mind about this arrangement about ten years from now!)
It was fun to look at the college experience through Isabelle’s eyes while we were up at State College. Here are some things I observed by watching her.
1) Basketball places are fun places to dance! Isabelle embodied this quote from William W. Purkey at yesterday’s basketball game.
You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, Love like you’ll never be hurt, Sing like there’s nobody listening, And live like it’s heaven on earth.
This kid LOVED the music from the band way more than she loved the actual game. She jumped around and danced every chance she had. She danced in her seat, in front of her seat, even on the stairway (which freaked me out since I was convinced she was going to fall down the stairs).
2) You can snack any time of day when you live in a dorm. Hallie showed us her dorm room, which she shares with a roommate who happened to be home when we stopped by. Isabelle was a little confused about why they were living together, without their parents. Once she realized they were both away for school and could go home on vacations, she turned her attention to their stash of snacks. She was amazed they kept pretzels, Goldfish, applesauce, chocolate, etc. in their room. Heck, she even managed to con her way into getting some pretzels from Hallie’s roommate. There’s a part of me that wonders — after visiting the dorm — if we’re going to find snacks stashed in her bedroom sometime soon.
3) You can eat ice cream whenever you want when you’re in college. Hallie took us to the infamous Berkey Creamery for a mid-afternoon treat. The Creamery serves gigantic ice cream servings! I have a feeling Isabelle overheard Hallie tell me that the dining halls also serve ice cream because Isabelle later asked Hallie if she eats ice cream every day. Hallie, who gets kids, quickly told Isabelle her teeth would fall out if she ate ice cream daily. Whew!
4) Lecture halls have fun desks. Hallie took us into one of her lecture halls that will accommodate over 400 students. Isabelle was fascinated by all of the desks and tried a few out. I don’t think she realized you have to listen to long, sometimes boring, lectures when you’re a student. Some things are better left unsaid.
5) The Hub is a fun place to meet people! We toured the student union, which is spacious and gorgeous. Isabelle took in the first floor. By the time we arrived on the second floor, she took it upon herself to meet and greet students who were working or chatting with friends. She must’ve walked over to 40 people and said, “Hi.” All of the students — even the ones who looked like they were deep in thought — were kind to her and said hello back. (And, yes, I tried to stop her from bothering people!) Some even asked Isabelle her name and struck up a conversation with her. She left excited about all of the new people she met.
6) Libraries are quiet places. We didn’t spend as much time as I would’ve liked in the library because Isabelle was way too excited to lower her volume. We left within four minutes of arriving.
7) Campus museums are only fun if you get to go inside. There are two lion’s paws outside of the Palmer Museum of Art. Isabelle dutifully posed in front of them, but once she found out there was a museum inside of the building, she raced to the door so she could enter. Unfortunately, we arrived there five minutes before closing so my child was utterly disappointed she missed out on a museum.
8) Sometimes you have to do things other people want you to do when you’re at college. We didn’t make it to The Nittany Lion Shrine with Hallie since we wanted to check into our hotel before we took her out to dinner. We went on Sunday morning since it was located about a minute’s walk from our hotel. Isabelle didn’t want to go since it was cold. Once we got there she wasn’t keen on waiting for the other families who were before us to pose for a photo. Finally, once it was our turn, she put on a happy face for the picture.
9) You eat brunch when you’re in college. We used to be big fans of brunch before we had Isabelle. Nowadays, we eat breakfast before 9 a.m. on weekends since we’re up with Isabelle by 7 a.m. Even though she was up early on Sunday, we didn’t check out of our hotel until 10:30, which meant introduced her to the concept of brunch. Considering her brunch consisted of chocolate, I’d say she was sold on the concept.
10) College towns are fun to walk around. Isabelle loved walking around State College. She especially loved going into the gear stores to shop for something. She walked away with a 50-cent magnet, which was a great deal for us even though she has nowhere to hang it! She wanted to keep shopping because (as she declared), “I like this town!” However, it was time for us to head home.
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It’s hard to believe we were in State College for a little over 24 hours. We packed so much into our time there! We got to see our cousin AND Isabelle got her first taste of college life. While I have no idea where she will go to school, she left with a positive impression of Penn State. Perhaps one day she’ll think about going to college by herself without her old mom in town. Until then, I’ll plan on going back for my doctorate about 13 1/2 years from now.