I think the last thing I’ve learned at Penn State is that it’s really hard to write a senior column. I was supposed to finish this column last week, and I sat down and tried three or four times, but it just didn’t happen. I wanted it to be perfect — a reflection of what has been, by far, the best four years of my life so far.
I didn’t really know where to start, so I read the senior columns of the friends I made who had graduated for some inspiration. The general formula seemed to be talk a little about what you did, give some advice, be nostalgic for a bit and wrap it up. So, I tried to do that! I talked about some of the cool things I’ve done for this wonderful blog, and some other things I’ve been lucky enough to experience, then tried to tie it all together, and it just didn’t feel right. It felt more like some sad obituary to my college experience, which didn’t make sense to me, because, while college wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t sad — it was pretty fucking awesome.
I came to Penn State with an intense love of the school thanks to two alumni parents who had taken me to football games since I was 13. It was weird because I had the highest of expectations, and yet, being from a school that doesn’t send many kids here, I didn’t have a single friend. Luckily, about two weeks in a little blog made the mistake of letting an all-too-confident freshman put some words together for it, and suddenly I had some friends. Still, all through freshman year, finding things to do wasn’t too easy for me, which taught me the biggest and probably most formative lesson I learned in college: If people ever want to drink, study, generally hang out with you, or really do anything, and you can do it, do it. I can personally guarantee it’s going to be more fun than pretty much anything else you would be doing.
This advice, without a doubt, changed my college career for the better. Sure, I drank
a little a lot more than I probably should have and studied a little less, but the places that led me and the people it introduced me to are the reason my time here was what it was.
It led me to people who would scream-sing Kanye West, Blink-182, and Billy Joel all in the same night. It led me to people who would sit next to me in class and make fun of professors who had no idea what they were doing. It led me to people who would let me sneak in line with them for Pinstripe Bowl tickets when I overslept. It led me to roommates who would not only tolerate me, but actively enjoy living with me. It led me to people who I went to the Rose Bowl with. Quite simply, it led me to all my best friends and experiences, all of which I wouldn’t trade for anything.
Of course, there were other things I learned along the way here that I would feel remiss if I didn’t share. Like get a house. Whatever it takes, get a house. And in that house, live with as many people as you can. Trust me, you will not regret it. Also, do the Mifflin Streak. It seems weird and kind of creepy at first, but I have never felt freer in my entire life, to the point where I was slightly disappointed I waited until my senior year to do it. In the same vein, do every Penn State thing you can. Go to every home football game. Go to every bowl game you can. Climb the Old Main bell tower. Hike Mt. Nittany. There’s no shortage of Penn State-centric things to do and every single one of them is great. Have as much fun as you possibly can. You’ll never remember the nights you stayed in to study, and realistically, chances are you’re smart and you’ll do fine anyway.
I’ve met so many great people here, and every single one of them has had a real impact on my experience. Seriously, I could do an entire column just thanking people, but that would suck and nobody would want to read it. But sincerely, if you’re reading this wondering “I wonder if he’s talking about me,” yes, I absolutely am. Penn State is great as is, but it would be nothing without the people here. That said, since Onward State is the reason I’m able to put these thoughts together, I need to thank a few people specifically.
First is Bill DiFillipo. The summer before my freshman year, trying to get as much information about Penn State as possible, it seemed like every time I read something Bill’s name was in the by-line. I remember thinking whoever this Bill guy was I wanted to meet him. He’s the reason I had the confidence to tell my dad it was Onward State or nothing when he told me I should apply to the Daily Collegian. Fun fact — he’s just as great in real life as on-line. Second is Kevin Horne, who made one of Onward State’s biggest mistakes ever letting me write, third only to publishing anything I’ve ever written and killing Joe Paterno. Next are Ben Berkman and David Abruzzese, two of my first and closest friends at Penn State. They are, without a doubt, the only reason I lasted all four years at Onward State, and it seems like most of my best, most reckless and ridiculous memories are with them. Find yourself friends like them, because if you don’t have friends who you can convince to do the Mifflin Streak with you thirty minutes beforehand, you haven’t made the right friends. And finally, my parents. Without them, I would never have come to State College, and definitely wouldn’t be the rabid Penn State fan I am today. I owe every single second of my time here to them and there are no words to express how thankful I am for that.
I won’t lie — I’m pretty scared of the real world. I have a job I’m excited for in a city I love, but no matter how great it is, it won’t be this. I plan on getting season football tickets and coming back entirely too often, yet nonetheless there’s something deeply terrifying about being done with school and being forced to leave everything you’ve known to start an entire new stage of your life. But even so, I know it’s time for me to leave and move on. And I can leave knowing that I did everything I could to make this four years the best time of my life, and succeeded.
I guess this is growing up.