Social Life in State College

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A few weeks ago, I posted a message on the Fall 2011 UOGP Orientation Facebook page and asked for suggestions for future blog topics.  Some of you were interested in knowing about fun, social things to do on the Penn State campus and in State College in general. 


Before I list some of my favorite social activities, check out this blog post from our Fall 2008 Orientation.   It includes 100 different things to do in State College.  Some of the information may be a little bit outdated now, but one of our previous bloggers put a lot of energy into creating the list so check it out!


And now, here are some of my suggestions for how to keep busy when you're not studying, studying, studying:


Fall Activities


Go to a Penn State Football Game

Football is a HUGE part of Penn State life.  Every student should go to at least one game during their time at school.  We've set aside 25 tickets for international students for the first game of the season (against Indiana State).  Go to the Social Activities Desk in Findlay Commons during Orientation to learn how to sign up for a chance to buy a ticket ($29 each).  One of our Orientation Leaders is working on a blog post that will explain how to get tickets for future game seasons. 


Check out the Homecoming Parade

Homecoming is a tradition where we welcome back Penn State alumni and celebrate with a football game, a parade through town, and other activities. Homecoming 2011 is set for October 9th through October 15th.  The International Student Council usually takes part in the Homecoming Parade announcing, "The World is Here at Penn State!"


Take part in Fall Activities at Harner Farm

Pick pumpkins for carving, go on a hayride, and get lost in a corn maze in celebration of fall and the Halloween holiday.


Hike Mount Nittany

Mount Nittany is a local landmark.  Penn State's athletic teams and the school mascot, the Nittany Lion, are named in honor of the mountain and its history.  It is a tradition that every student should try to hike Mount Nittany at some point before they graduate from Penn State.  Luckily, a hike will be offered as part of the New International Student Orientation, so you can get a head start on checking this off of your to do list!


Check out The Grange Fair

The Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair, better known as The Grange Fair, takes place this year from August 25th to September 1st.  It is traditional for campers to "move into" the Grange Park in Centre Hall, PA to live for more than a week in tents.  The fair features concerts, rides, food, games, and competitions.


Winter Activities


Go Skiing or Snow Tubing at Tussey Mountain

State College has its very own mountain for skiing (a small one, but still fun!)  Rentals and lessons are also offered.  Other nearby slopes (a couple hours away) are Blue Knob, Seven Springs, and the Pocono Mountains.


Take Part in THON

THON 2012 will take place from February 17th to 19th, in the Bryce Jordan Center.  Learn about the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon in Claire's previous blog post.


Participate in Victorian Christmas in Bellefonte, PA

Victorian Bellefonte is fun to visit at any time of year because of its historic charm, but it's particularly fun during the Christmas holiday--actors dress up in costumes from the Victorian period and visitors can take part in carriage rides, caroling, and holiday shows. 


Go Ice Skating or See a Hockey Game

Students can ice skate at the Penn State Ice Rink during any of the public sessions for the cost of $5.75 per person ($5.25 for children).   The rink is open year-round, but winter tends to be the most popular time for skating.  The same rink is also used for Penn State Icers hockey games.

Take Part in First Night

First Night is State College's New Year's Eve celebration.  Enjoy ice sculptures, musical performances, art workshops, and a 5K Resolution Run to start the year out right.

Spring Activities


Visit the Shaver's Creek Environmental Center

This nature center is maintained by Penn state and it features picnic areas, hiking trails (including a boardwalk over the wetlands), a Raptor Center with twenty birds of prey, and a Discovery Room with snakes, turtles, and displays for children.  In March, make sure to check out the Maple Harvest Festival at Shaver's Creek to learn about how maple syrup is made and to enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes and syrup.

Go to a nearby State Park

There are many parks within a short driving distance of State College where students often go to have barbecues and go hiking, fishing, and boating.   


Rock out at the Movin' On Spring Music Festival

First started in 1974, Movin' On is the largest student-run music festival in the country.  It is held on the Penn State campus and free to attend.  Check out the list of past performers on their website. 


Participate in Cultural Celebrations

Spring is traditionally the time of year when many international/multicultural student groups hold festivals and dinners to celebrate their heritage. 


Attend the International Children's Festival

If you have children, you'll definitely want to attend this annual festival hosted jointly by Global Connections and the University Office of Global Programs.  The event features crafts, food, and performances that reflect a wide range of different nationalities.  Don't have kids of your own?  Consider signing up to be a student volunteer.  


Visit Penn's Cave

Located nearby in Centre Hall, Penn's Cave is American's only all-water cavern.  It can be viewed by a one-hour-long guided boat ride.  Also check out the wildlife park which features bears, wolves, elk, deer, bobcats, bison, longhorn cattle, mustangs as well as the Penn State mascot--the mountain lion. 

Summer Activities


Go to a Spikes Baseball Game

State College is home to a minor league baseball team called the Spikes.  On Sunday nights, stay after the game for fireworks!


Take Part in Tussey Mountain's Summer Activities

Tussey Mountain is best known as a ski lodge, but the facility has a lot to offer in the hot months as well: go-kart racing, golf, batting cages, fishing, hiking, picnic pavilions, paddle boats, and even a skateboard park.  In addition, special events are scheduled for many evenings over the summer such as musical performances, movies, and the annual WingFest.


Buy Fresh, Local Food at the Farmer's Market

Every Friday from May to November, State College residents can buy locally-produced food at this street market.  It is located in downtown State College on Locust Lane (between College and Beaver Avenues).


Attend 4thFest to Celebrate the U.S.'s Independence Day

Independence Day (or the "Fourth of July") has been celebrated in State College with community-wide festivities since 1927.  The day is filled with performances, food, activities, and one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the whole country!


Check out the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

Occurring every July, Arts Fest attracts over 125,000 people to downtown State College and the University Park campus every year.  Hundreds of artists come each year to display their artwork in a nationally-recognized Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition.  Arts Fest also features food vendors, sand sculptures, chalk art on the sidewalks, and music, dance and theatrical performances.  Every student should experience Arts Fest at least once!


Year-Round Activities


Take part in HUB LateNight Activities

The Student Programming Association (SPA) plans free events every weekend in the HUB-Robeson Center, including movies, arts and crafts, games, comedians, and musical performances.


Join one of Penn State's Student Organizations

Penn State's University Park campus features over 700 student organizations (including many international/multicultural groups), so you're bound to find something that suits your interests.


Attend a Center for the Performing Arts Show

Penn State's Center for the Performing Arts always has a rich line-up featuring premier dance companies, performing artists, and musical theater productions.  This year's events include the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the National Acrobats of China, the Broadway show CATS, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, and the musical AMERICAN IDIOT based on Green Day's multiplatinum album (among many other performances).


See a No Refund Theatre Play

No Refund Theatre shows are produced, directed, and performed entirely by students. They're performed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in 111 Forum Building and are completely free, hence the name.


Go to The State Theatre

Located on College Avenue, The State Theatre features community productions, children's theatre, local and national concerts, film festivals, and "art house" and second-run films.

Join an Intramural (IM) Sports Team

Soccer, basketball, tennis, softball, volleyball, you name it.  There are lots of IM sports that you can take part in for the love of the game. 

Take part in State College's Night Life

State College has a variety of clubs and bars for students who are over 21 years of age.


See a Movie

State College has several movie theaters that are a quick bus ride away.  In particular, check out the Discount Theater which features second-run films for only $1!  The HUB-Robeson Center also shows free movies each week as part of their LateNight activities and the Graduate Student Association features free foreign films as part of their GSA CAFÉ series. 


Go Out to Eat

Downtown State College (and the wider State College area) features many tasty restaurants, including Austrian, Italian, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Malaysian food.  The town also has many international markets (which will be listed in the New International Student Handbook that each of you receive during Orientation). 


Go Roller Skating

State College has a roller skate rink called Penn Skates that features public skate times.  We also have our own all-woman Roller Derby team, the State College Area Rollers.


Enjoy Ice Cream

Penn State's Berkey Creamery is the largest university creamery in the nation.  It's famous for many flavors of delicious and unique ice cream such as Peachy Paterno and WPSU Coffee Break.  However, make sure to also check out another local favorite--Meyer Dairy.  Locals often debate which ice cream is the best and it's a very close call!

Go on an Explorers Day Trip

The University Office of Global Programs offers one-day-long bus trips to locations such as New York City, Washington DC, Niagara Falls, and the Hershey Park amusement park.  We usually offer a couple trips per semester.  They are do-as-you-please trips (no guided tour) and students only have to pay the fee for the bus.  A local bus company, Fullington, also offers tours and travel packages.


Take part in International Coffee Hour

Every Thursday from 3:30 to 5:00 pm, the University Office of Global Programs hosts the International Coffee Hour which features free coffee, tea, and snacks.  Often, the Coffee Hour is hosted by different student groups and on-campus resources so that students can learn about different cultures and on-campus opportunities.  It's a great way for students of different cultures (including domestic students) to mix and mingle. 


To learn about activities happening year-round, make sure to read The Global Lion e-newsletter on a weekly basis.  You will automatically begin receiving this newsletter when classes start.  It's a good resource to learn about on-campus happenings that appeal to globally-minded students. 


Keep this blog post bookmarked on your computer!  It's sure to be something that you return to often when you're looking for a fun, new activity to enjoy with your friends.   


P.S. The photo accompanying this post was taken during the the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in 2007. 

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I wish I have done all of these things but my list is much shorter :)

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