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Honorary Townies: Summer Life in State College

As soon as classes are out for spring, the majority of the student population flees Happy Valley, only to return for drunken meddling on random weekends like Arts Fest. But there are some students who become know as the “summer stragglers,” who find semi-gainful employment at assorted downtown establishments or talk their parents into letting them take summer session classes.

It isn’t all sunshine for the students who chose to spend their summer in State College, though. Here are the pros and cons of becoming an honorary townie for three short months.


1. No lines at bars
Say goodbye to the long lines that snake down College Avenue once summer sets in. The normal crowded, stuffy bars of State College become desolate havens for the Penn State drinkers who prefer to forego frat party-like lines for over-priced beers.

2. Lots of parking
During the school year, having a car in State College is a nightmare. You may spend half of your travel time simply finding a place to park. However, during the summer, the streets are full of open spaces. Just don’t forget to feed the meter. State College parking cops are vultures — even when traffic dies down.

3. Get to know a townie
The rumor that the town folk despise the student population is pretty much true. You’d hate someone who pukes and pisses all over the place you grew up in too. But over summer, the townies tend to be in better spirits and are more receptive to bullshitting with Penn State students.

4. Amazing weather
Centre County is gorgeous all year round. But once the summer sunshine starts pouring golden goodness upon the valley, the natural beauty of Happy Valley is so tactile you can taste it — and it tastes like sun screen and Bud Light Lime most of time. If you want to find great ways to take full advantage of a State College summer, reference our student guide of things to do.

5. Having a place to crash when everyone is coming up for weekends
This is a double edged sword. It’s nice having your own apartment to host ragers in, but you slowly become every random acquaintance’s best friend. Especially for big party weekends like Arts Fest, everyone from old roommates to those kids you hung out with one time from your class need a place to sleep. Sharing is caring, but sometimes it can go too far.


1. Sub-par bar crowd
Over the summer, the nigh-life scene in State College sputters to a crowd that’s comparable to a Christmas tree three months after the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, some places still draw a crowd. Gay night just so happens to be 18+ night at Levels Nightclub — which brings out a large and interesting crowd of the most colorful in Happy Valley, as well as freshmen who haven’t stumbled into fratland yet.

The Phyrst is usually popping as well. I’m not sure if it’s just because there are a lot of summer birthdays or if cheap beer, a grungy ambiance, and cover bands are enough to throw together a party. Also, the cougars are out in full attack, as the median age for a Penn State bar-goer increases drastically over summer. You may think you’re hooking up with a young hottie at the Auto-Port, but it may turn out she’s your English professor. Be careful out there.

2. Where’s all the bud?
It’s not that you can’t find weed anywhere in State College over summer, it just becomes a whole lot harder to find. You really need to start digging into your phone book, and ponder over who may be able to hook you up. It’s not like during the academic year when it’s. probably more difficult to get liquor underage than it is to score a bag. Let’s just say. summer is more like a drought.

3. Shitty operating hours for businesses
When the shopping population drops, so do the hours of operation for downtown businesses. Everywhere from Starbucks to McLanahan’s start closing earlier during summer, and it becomes a huge inconvenience to readjust yourself to normal people’s schedules.

4. Lots of construction
The sound of jack hammers and back-up alarms become as prevalent as the chirping birds once were when school was in session. The infamous squirrel population of Penn State is replaced with workers doing petty renovations like building “rain gardens” or planting new flowers in the beds they just planted in spring. Also, there is a guy who has been cutting windows right outside of my apartment for the past two months and it’s really starting to piss me off.

5. CATA summer schedule
Over summer, many CATA services are halted. The HP, K, N, NE, NV, R, UT, V, VE, W Routes, the White Loop and the Green Link all either stop running or operate on a reduced schedule — which really sucks when the Woop was the only reason you got home some nights.

Did we miss any aspects of living in State College over the summer? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@OnwardState).

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