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Experiencing Good with Bad as a Freshman

Freshman year is almost over, and man, am I going to miss this place. What is there to say? I loved the novelty of college, the new found freedom, and having the opportunity to make a few pretty awesome friends. Oh, and for going to class and learning; that one’s important, too.

I could talk forever about my own stories here at Penn State: the good classes and the bad, the student organizations that I loved and those that I… didn’t, and a few memorable nights along with a few I… don’t entirely recall. But every college freshman has these stories, and this post is not the place to share mine.

But a typical freshman year? Not so much. Penn State was supposed to be that idyllic little town where the “real world” didn’t exist, but the “real world” paid us a visit in November and shattered our utopian existence. So yeah, we aren’t quite uptight adults yet, but I think we matured quite a bit given the extreme circumstances of our first year.

Besides, going to college isn’t necessary about going to a few classes and getting a degree, and it’s definitely not just about getting blackout drunk every weekend. It’s about learning how to think. It’s about learning how to better appreciate the world around us. It’s about leaving childhood’s gate and growing up.

During our freshmen year, we learned more than just how to Bernie and the entire Greek alphabet. For that matter, we learned more than just Bio 110 and AP style, statistics and ballroom dance, or American politics and, um, “public speaking”. We learned the consequences of a collapse in communication, of becoming complacent, of straying from our values. We learned about how much damage one person can do, but, more importantly, we learned how much good one person can do for a community.

I would have never expected to be part of the last generation of Penn Staters to live alongside Joe Paterno. But we’ll be the first class to support a new era of Penn State football with Bill O’Brien, and we’re the first class that will carry the legacy of Coach Paterno. There’s much to be proud of, from the $10.5 million we raised For The Kids to the breakthrough research that takes place here, to yet another generation of Penn Staters that will graduate in just about a week. And though November might have tarnished our little paradise in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, we have the opportunity to start anew, to recognize that we have some shortcomings as a university but that we’ll always be part of the Penn State family that we all fell in love with.

So look out your window. It’s beautiful outside. Appreciate that Mother Nature has been kind to us this year. Appreciate the great times we had but also the bad. November and January may have brought a dark cloud over Penn State, but appreciate what we have gone through as a community because we have so much to learn through our struggles.

It’s been a good year, Penn State. Can’t wait to be back in August.

About the Author

Bobby Chen

Writer and photographer, helping tell the many stories of the Penn State community.

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