You graduated in May. You moved out over the summer, piece-by-piece. You cried. Now it’s time for everyone else to move back. They’ll be at “your” bars, apartments, and favorite study spots. Well, I’m here to tell you how I’m dealing with these same exact struggles in the hopes that we can all deal with the ultimate post-grad problem: not moving back to State College for the first time in four years.
1. Plan a visit.
If you haven’t scheduled at least 1 weekend to come back this fall yet, do it. Right now. Stop reading this, find a bus, buy a football ticket, and get yourself back to State College. I’ve found that having something to look forward to is the best way to cope. (Hence why I’ll be back for every home football game and basketball’s Return to Rec…for now, at least.)
–Sidenote: Don’t become a creepy or annoying alum. Coming back to football games, totally normal. Getting drunk and stumbling over to Nittanyville at 3 a.m. before gameday and waking everyone up with a cowbell? Not so normal. Keep the right distance. Don’t comment on people’s Facebook pictures as if you were there, or boast about how you were the first to do whatever it is that you’re doing. No, you didn’t invent cornhole.
2. Stay away from social media at high-traffic times. (Ex. BAPFTS, the first Mad Mex Monday, etc.)
Nothing sucks more than seeing new students, or even old friends, having ridiculous amounts of fun without you. All it does it make it all the more frustrating that you’re not there, and then you feel obligated to talk about it. Everybody’s timelines are filled with deep, fortune cookie statuses and it’s just depressing.
3. Stay in touch via Onward State.
This is no shameless plug. Whatever your Penn State news source is, read it and read it often. It allows you to stay updated on everything and gives you yet another reason to talk about PSU to your friends at home or work. You never know who might be listening — there are alumni and fans everywhere.
4. Rep Penn State whenever/wherever you can.
What’s better than wearing a Penn State t-shirt in a random place and having a stranger come up and talk to you about it? It’s just what you need on a dreary day away from “home.” If you’ve got your own desk/cubicle, spruce it up with some blue and white pom-poms and pictures from tailgates. Always get the conversation going!
5. Join your local alumni association.
They each have PLENTY of events to give you your necessary Penn State fix. You’ll have a chance to reminisce, plan future events, and just be a proud Penn Stater.
6. Go to local Penn State sporting events.
For instance, for those that don’t know, Penn State Basketball is my jam. They’re playing at the Barclays Center just after Thanksgiving, and as a Jersey girl, I will 100 percent be there since it’s just an hour away. For those living in PA, all kinds of Penn State sports play around the state — find an event and keep rooting them on.
7. Stay connected.
Whatever your group was, there are ways to stay connected and support from afar. The first, obviously, is donating to your THON or Relay organization online. Next, one of the joys of being an alum is randomly seeing canners and being able to honk and scream “We Are” while throwing your change in their can, and then everybody tweeting about how they just saw a recent alum who danced “back in the day” (or whatever your THON story may be). Finally, don’t forget about alumni interest groups.
8. Take advantage of Penn State’s awesome Youtube channels.
YouTube can be your best friend at this time. Whether you’re watching Penn State pump up videos or THON wrap-ups, some of them put you right back in the student section or right back on the dance floor.
9. Recognize that you’re part of a family that has hundreds of thousands of members.
Stay in touch with your friends. As a recent alum, you should know by now that all Penn Staters are a part of one big family. You’re always welcome back to State College, whether it’s for a football game, THON or Relay weekend, or even just a few days to detox; you’ve joined the hundreds of thousands of alumni who can attest to that.
10. Always remember that “We Are” is not just a phrase, but a way of life.
Of course you’re going to miss it (if you don’t, you did college wrong.). But, as recent alumni, we know what it’s like to go through tough times. We know what it’s like to hear the same, stupid jokes and arguments from people who wish they were Penn Staters. What I’m saying is, if we can get through and cope with that, we can get through anything, as long as we stick together.
We are the newest faces of the university taking on the rest if the world. We are the ones who had to deal with “the aftermath.” We are a bunch of fighters. So, I hope that some of these tips can help you cope because we are, and always will be, Penn State.