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You Can Study Abroad Without Ever Leaving State College

By Carolyn Popescu, Mike Reisman, and Alex Calderaro (Photos: Morton Lin)

Though we can all agree State College is a quaint town and home to our amazing campus, by the time many of us become upperclassmen, we start to develop some wanderlust. That is, the desire to get out there, travel, and see the world. It’s shocking, but there’s actually human life outside of Happy Valley. After a few years enriched in the blue and white culture here, many Penn State students opt to pack their bags and books, hop on a plane, and continue their studies in an entirely new country for a semester. The cultural experience, the thought-provoking adventure: studying abroad.

Surely at least one of your friends is abroad right now. Whether it be Barcelona, Rome, Tuscany, you name it, they are probably having “the time of their lives” soaking up the genuine culture and lifestyle of their foreign surrounding. Blah, blah, blah. In fact, you’ve probably scrolled past multiple posts on social media of them highlighting their adventures and essentially rubbing it in your face daily. The point is, we’re all a little jealous. So your friend Sarah is in Australia soaking up the sun? Well, we just had a toasty 40 degree day here at State College, and it only rained ONCE yesterday. So who’s really living in paradise? We are! (Penn State pun intended.)

So, some of us from Onward State packed our bags, grabbed our cameras, and headed out to study abroad in State College. Not like you guys would understand, but it was an eye-opening experience and we learned so much. Though you could never have the same experience we had, (it was indescribable, oh my gosh!) here are our favorite photos from our study abroad adventure:

We Get By With A Little Help From Our (Foreign) Friends

State College Study Abroad_Abbey Road_Morton Lin-9413

We just happened to snap this photo while walking across the infamous College Avenue, it wasn’t even planned. We seem just like a famous rock band! It reminds me so much of an album cover, we can’t remember which one though…oh well, we’re so cute.

Fashion Week: Milan or University Park?

State College Study Abroad_Abercrombie_Morton Lin-9383

Our buddy Mike Reisman looked just like a model in one of the chic, high-fashion boutiques we stepped inside. Even the same fun-loving pose! Crazy how things like that happen.

Cultural Cover Girls

State College Study Abroad_Abercrombie_Morton Lin-9385

Alex and Carolyn, or top models?! We still don’t know! Next stop, the runway. You just can’t get denim like this at home.

Buckingham Palace or…just a fence?!

State College Study Abroad_Allen Street Gates_Morton Lin-9418

Who knows, honestly. What we do know is that the architecture in this little town is unlike any other. Everything is gorgeous and filled with history. It must be an abroad thing, you just wouldn’t get it.

Just Like The Bells of Notre Dame!

State College Study Abroad_Bell_Morton Lin-9433

Or…Bell* of Notre Dame, equally as amazing. Carolyn and Alex enjoyed the beautiful noise this magical instrument made in the warm spring breeze. Ahhh, how relaxing. We can’t even take a seat without being immersed in rich culture, chiming above our very heads.

Authentic Food Is The BEST!

State College Study Abroad_Canyon Pizza_Morton Lin-9352

I can’t believe it took us this long to start talking about the amazing cuisine here. It’s unlike anything we have ever eaten. Naturally, the presentation of the meal was so jaw-dropping we just had to Instagram its beauty. Can you say #nofilter? The contrast of the red sauce on the pizza with the white paper china? Seriously, which genius thought of that?


State College Study Abroad_Canyon Pizza_Morton Lin-9353

And then we dug in. We wish we could describe the flavors of this pizza. Look how happy we look! The crazy thing is, this pizzeria was just a hole-in-the-wall place we stumbled upon…so authentic. And, it was only a dollar when you consider the exchange rate, thank god for a strong currency! We wanted to hunt down the chef and praise him, but we had to be off on our next sight-seeing adventure.

Transportation We Actually Loved!

State College Study Abroad_CATA Bus_Morton Lin-9456

Getting around in this exquisite country was so much easier and enjoyable than at home. The ride to the next little town was a few hours, but only felt like seconds because we kept each other laughing and entertained. We were telling the best jokes about studying abroad and the foreign students we met, like this one time — well, never mind, you just had to be there.

Mouthwatering Gelato!

State College Study Abroad_Creamery_Morton Lin-9482

You’re probably thinking this ice cream looks pretty good, but it’s not ice cream. It’s gelato, which is very different, and if you’ve ever had it you would understand. Anyway, it was so cheap — just one Euro.  Not only was it cheaper than at home, the flavor was astronomically better. Hard to believe, right? Ugh, we don’t want to go home to basic Ben and Jerry’s!

Throw Your Diamonds Up EVERYWHERE

State College Study Abroad_Diamonds_Morton Lin-9451

If we went abroad and didn’t take a diamonds picture, are we even Penn State? Although we’re really sad that we missed THON while galavanting across Europe, we’re happy that our FTK pictures have a scenic backdrop to remind our followers back at home that our fun is still going on for the rest of the semester.

The Architecture! The History!

State College Study Abroad_Fraternity_Morton Lin-9360

In everything we see, with every corner we turn, we find something else that takes our breath away. Today, we stumbled upon this beautiful building on the corner of our street. We can only imagine the stories held in this historic home. We’re betting our dollars Euros that inside this majestic castle, endless balls filled with dancers dressed in nothing but their finest attire were hosted. Dames and suitors galloping across the oak floors, pirouetting gracefully together. Plus, the strange writing on the front probably tells a great story of ancient times (or of last Friday night).

The Must-Have Picture

State College Study Abroad_Old Main_Morton Lin-9427

The Colosseum, il Duomo and…Old Main? Every place in the world has a landmark, the picture that looks good with any Instagram filter, the location where we could take a million and one pictures and still wouldn’t have enough…and this one is ours.

Immersing Ourselves in Culture

State College Study Abroad_Webster's_Morton Lin-9363

It was so nice to get away from all the boring Top 40 pop in the U.S., we found so many great foreign artists we never would have thought of listening to. We didn’t understand it all, but it really just makes you realize how beautiful the music really is, you know?

Studying is just better here.

State College Study Abroad_Webster's_Morton Lin-9365

With all of the sightseeing, partying, and traveling, it’s pretty easy to forget that we actually still go to school. Even so, it’s much better studying in quaint European coffee shops than in a library. Cappuccino break? Don’t mind if I do! The exquisite espresso here really puts Starbucks to shame. What can we say, we put the “study” in “study abroad”

Football or Futbol?

State College Study Abroad_Beaver Stadium_Morton Lin-9466

What do you mean you’ve never heard us talk about soccer before? I’ve always loved it! Even before we studied abroad here, we were huge fans of the team. We knew all of the players and watched all of the games and even owned a jersey. It’s a dream come true watching them play live. You’ve never seen a true fans until you’ve seen us during a game!

Finding our way

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Even though we had a pretty good grasp of the city — locals even said we didn’t even seem like tourists sometimes — we couldn’t help but get lost a little bit. We must have stuck out so much, but hey, that’s just life adjusting to a brand new place, who could blame you? Spontaneous adventures are what we LIVE for. Ugh, we hated waking up knowing we don’t have a schedule planned out. We love seeing where the roads take us.

Leaning Tower of Penn State?

State College Study Abroad_Obelisk Bus_Morton Lin-9436

We took ourselves seriously and made sure we saw each and every notable piece of architecture. Sometimes we just had to sneak a silly, stereotypical photo for kicks, though. But hey, when in Rome! Or…wherever!

Authentic Street Vendors

State College Study Abroad_Street Vendor_Morton Lin-9388

Can’t get these fashion trends at home! Genuine fabrics from the finest silk, wool to die for, and cotton that is softer than you can imagine. Naturally, all three of us picked out a handful of items. We have so many souvenirs already that we have no idea how we’ll ever fit it into our luggage for when we return home. Perhaps we’ll just have to stay here forever.

Imagine All The People….

State College Study Abroad_Pilato Mural_Morton Lin-9332

Our local State College mural bears a striking resemblance to another mural we saw. The colors, the artwork, the memories. To think about the commemoration that went into this one piece of art…how could we not snap a pic? Look at us, cracking each other up.. AGAIN. You know us.

We Love Our Hostel!

State College Study Abroad_Dorm_Morton Lin-9472
Our amazing little room is our home-away-from-home. So what if it’s like living in supplemental as a junior? Our abroad mom truly makes us feel welcome when she can. She does our laundry, cooks us meals, and we can almost always understand what she’s trying to tell us.


So that’s our study abroad adventure in the foreign and oh-so culturally rich State College. Maybe if you’re lucky enough, you’ll have the opportunity to dive into an entirely new and marvelous location like we did. As you can guess though, we are simply SO exhausted from our jet-lag, considering we’ve been country hopping and exploring like crazy. So bye for now, see ya later, catch ya on the flip side! (By the way, that’s how you say “goodbye” in State College dialect, you’re welcome.)

xoxoxo, wish us safe travels home! Miss you guys, wish you were here.


Carolyn, Alex, Mike, and Morton

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