Call me creepy, but people watching is fun. Some call it creeping, but people watching is much less judgmental, and not nearly as, well, creepy as “creeping” may be. Not that I spend my scarce free time leisurely staring at passersby, but I don’t mind a casual, but observant glance at my surroundings. Admit it, you can’t help but look around for a few friendly faces in a crowd.
People watching has brought enjoyment to the Penn State community, and rightfully so. Heavy foot traffic, abundance in open seating areas, and a massive student population make Penn State the perfect environment for people watching. Here are some of the best locations throughout campus and downtown State College to observe fellow classmates, professors, and strangers.
The locations listed were judged based on the following three criteria, each worth 10 points, which gives each spot a score out of a possible 30 points:
- Comfort: Do the seats provide excellent cushioning for your bottom? Is it too hot? Is is too cold? Or is it juuuust right?
- Privacy: This category ranks how obvious it is to others that you’re observing them from afar. Rule #1: never let those you’re watching know you’re watching them. People watching is an art. It’s not amateur hour here.
- Traffic Circulation: People watching is also about variety. The more people coming and going through an area, the better.
Kunkle Lounge: For those of you who have people-watched in Kunkle Lounge before, the whole room shakes as if a subway was passing through. A steady draft hits your legs, and considerate folks who open the door for others unintentionally let the freezing air fly into the lounge. However, the three-story area between Sackett and Hammond Building allows people sitting in upper levels to observe those below. The large glass walls provide an optimum view of College Avenue, while the shading on the glass prevents those outside from looking in. Thanks to its convenient location between two engineering buildings, a good amount of students pass through the lounge. During my brief people-watching break amidst a highly intensive study session, I observed a student slam down his textbook in angst and storm out of the lounge. Yikes.
- Comfort: 4/10
- Privacy: 10/1o
- Traffic: 7/10
Irving’s: It’s a win/win situation here. You can either sit on the booth end of the table and look directly out at the customers of this local establishment, or sit on the chair side and utilize the mirror along the wall to view what’s going on behind you. Good food is only a few steps away, and people are always coming into Irving’s to study and dine. However, the seats do lack cushioning (for ease of cleaning I assume), and some customers spend HOURS here working on homework or writing up another Onward State post.
- Comfort: 6/10
- Privacy: 8/10
- Traffic : 7/10
Redifer: You can’t think about people watching without thinking of Redifer. Those who walk down the grandiose staircase are practically put on display. It’s very Cinderella-enters-the-ball-esque, minus the glass shoes and pumpkin-turned-carriage. Either way, almost everyone glances up to see who is walking up or down the stairs. There are so many people that privacy isn’t too big of a factor. In fact, at Redifer, strength in numbers shines due to the fact that EVERYBODY is watching. Don’t believe me? Walk down those steps around lunchtime and count how many people you make eye contact with. I counted three. Caught looking. On another note, even though the chairs offer slight padding preferable over the cruel plastic chairs found elsewhere, I’ve never been in my thermal comfort zone while at Redifer, and I do believe many can nod their heads in agreement when I say it’s TOO DAMN COLD in there!
- Comfort: 6/10
- Privacy: 8/10
- Traffic: 10/10
And now for the spot that takes the crown…
HUB, 2nd Floor: I had no idea this place existed, but with the help of a friend with a keen eye (who also wished to remain anonymous), I found the jackpot of all people watching venues. Anywhere in the HUB is excellent to observe people, but this particular spot near the THON office overlooks the main walkway. The location is especially ideal during 15-minute breaks between classes, and during lunchtime when the walkway on the ground level is particularly crowded. The closed in area is quiet, compared to the chaos down below, and the chair, depicted in the photo, is extraordinarily comfortable. There are desks nearby against some walls, but this comfortable seating above the most congested hallway on Penn State’s campus SCREAMS “people watching hotspot.” Though the large windows are not shaded, the potted plant offers plenty of camouflage.
- Comfort: 10/10
- Privacy: 9/10
- Traffic: 10/10
So, there you have it. Four locations where people could be watching you and YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT. Someone may be looking at you right now, as you read this article, sort of like this fictitious “people” watcher. Stay alert, Penn State. And to the people watchers of Penn State, stay observant.
A person can only people watch in so many places. What are your favorite people watching locations on campus? Let us know in the comments.