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about 3 months ago

“Homie this sh*t is basic, welcome to graduation”: Julia Kern’s Senior Column

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I’ve always been a planner. Every year in November, I’d type up a Christmas list like this one and distribute a copy to each member of my family.

Ironically, the best things that have happened in the past four years haven’t been planned — or rather, I haven’t planned them. (Tl;dr — I didn’t have a kid.)

For one, I never planned to come to Penn State. I played lacrosse in high school and always figured I’d play in college at one of those schools where all 400 people in your grade wear Patagonia and Croakies. When my dad came across the Schreyer Honors College application a few days before the submission deadline, I remember calling my mom and saying, “Welp, that’s too bad, that could have been cool.” Dad, thanks for giving me the “dot dot dot” face and getting me to fill it out. That 48-hour period will go down as the most painful and most worthwhile time I’ve ever spent at the breakfast room table.

I also never planned to be here, writing a senior column for Onward State. I worked for the Collegian for my first three years at Penn State, where I learned what an inverted pyramid is and how to tweet to 30,000+ people without making errors, or at least too many. (Apologies, again, to anyone who saw the tweet I sent in the fall of my sophomore year where I spelled Pittsburgh with no ‘h.’) I met a handful of truly wonderful people at 123 S. Burrowes, who — though now graduated — continue to give me invaluable life advice, like when and where Hudson jeans are on sale. Still, I couldn’t be happier that, after getting fed up with Kevin’s badgering making a series of decisions, I ended up where I am. Onward State is a really special group that has a knack for knowing what students want to read and how they want to read it. I am so lucky to have been a part of Penn State’s weird and endearing student media group. Please never stop your infighting about whether Onward State actually does journalism or if anyone actually picks up the Collegian.

I never planned to fall in love with Penn State, but incrementally — through the eyes of each person I’ve met here and through every small moment that I never took the time to appreciate — I have. Though I initially (and arrogantly) thought I was better than all of those people (*side-eye*) who were obsessed with Penn State, this town, this school, my street (s/o Barnard), and my room have come to feel more like home to me than any place ever will.

So, like every senior who has written a senior column before me, I will scream at you through the Internet to APPRECIATE IT. You will think that you have SOOO much time left. You will think it’ll never end.

But it will. So do EVERYTHING.

Skip two classes and wait outside B94.5 for two hours so you can get a picture with Aaron Carter.

Drive to Harrisburg on a Tuesday night with your best friend to pick up your other best friend, even if you know your windshield wipers are broken and it’s going to rain later. (If you have time, which you do, stop in to a Sheetz and take a selfie in the soda cave.)

Go to a State College Spikes game with your roommate and, even if you don’t give one of the players your number, encourage her to.

If and when there’s a hurricane, spend the day drinking Hurricanes. You will never get over the irony and it will be your Party Story for years to come.

Find a friend who is approximately 30 percent crazier than you. When a BJC usher tells you that you’re getting onto the floor of a concert you bought nosebleed tickets for, there will be no one you’d rather sprint down to the floor with than her.

Call your parents. This is a helpful flow chart that indicates how frequently to do so that I wish I had referred to more often.

Make friends with quality adults who aren’t your parents. Two or three will be sufficient. Options include your thesis advisor, your internship editor, or the person who, for some reason, makes time to read your shitty cover letters even when he holds a big-time, real-person job at a fancy newspaper.

Make friends with quality underclassmen. One will be sufficient. He doesn’t have to work at Pickle’s, but preferably he will so that when you forget to close out your tab, you can skip the line to get back in.

Recognize when someone stays for an hour after your party to help clean up. It’s probably not because he’s into sorting red cups (“Trash!”) versus beer bottles (“Recycling!”). A year later, when you run into him at the Phyrst a few months shy of graduation, you might realize that he has a thing for you. And you might realize that you have a thing for him, too.

More than anything, don’t over-plan your four years. Plan some things, like when you’re going to finish your thesis, or how you’re going to catch the Blue Loop so you don’t have to walk all the way to the stadium on gameday. But for the most part, ride the blue and white chill waves and you’ll be just fine.

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