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16 Things Every Penn Stater Needs To Pack For Fall Semester

As you sit slumped in your comfy couch in your pajamas reading this, you’ve probably gotten pretty comfortable staying at home over the summer. After all, summer is long and relaxing. As August approached you started to get more and more antsy for the start of fall semester. Finally, there’s just one more week until the first day of classes!

But no matter how ready you are to move in and get this semester started, there’s the inevitable part of moving-in: packing. Your clothes are probably scattered everywhere, your furniture and other household items are stowed away in your basement, and God only knows where your backpack is.

Whether you’re already packed and organized or still pushing it off for the night before (pro tip: don’t do that), you’ve probably made a mental note of all the essential things you’ll need for State College life. But even with your mental checklist, you’re bound to forget a few things that are unique to State College. Let’s face it: Penn State is an amazing, but weird, place. Some generic “College Packing Checklist” isn’t going to cut it. So here’s what you should absolutely pack before heading up to Dear Old State for fall semester:

1. Summer Clothing

Believe it or not, even in State College, it gets hot in August. For about the first month of classes, hustling around campus is going to be a sweaty struggle. You’ll still want shorts and breezy outfits to remain comfortable. That way, you enjoy the final weeks of summer. Be sure to pack a sufficient amount of summer clothes for yourself before breaking out the jeans. Whatever you can envision yourself wearing while sunbathing on Old Main’s lawn (or the HUB’s!) should be adequate.

2. Warm Clothes and Jackets

State College has this remarkable ability of achieving both scorching inferno and ultimate tundra. Listen up freshmen: Do NOT underestimate State College’s ability to get insanely cold and uncomfortable. Even though it feels early to even think about cold weather, make sure to pack coats and jackets. Sweaters and other layering clothing articles like mittens, hats, and scarves are essential too. This stuff may seem trivial, but a simple hat can be the difference between being warm and being the kid who shows up to class too frostbitten to take an exam.

3. Rain Boots

You know what’s fun and picturesque about rainy State College? Nothing! Rain can be lovely and relaxing, but once you have to walk 20 minutes through puddles of filth and slush, it stops being cute. Pack all the shoes you will want, but definitely pack a pair of rain boots. It will rain and you will need them. There are better experiences than sitting in a lecture with soggy socks.

4. An Umbrella

We’ve all been there. It’s raining on your way to class, and you think to yourself, “I’ll just wear my hoodie on my way to class.” No, don’t do it! What’s the point in wearing rain boots if you don’t have your umbrella, too? Would you go into war with a shield and leave your sword at home? Nope. When it rains in State College it pours. Do yourself a favor and always have an umbrella tucked away in your backpack. Who knows when you’ll be on the complete opposite side of campus from where you live when you get caught in a torrential downpour!

5. Comfortable Shoes

If you didn’t already know, our campus is pretty massive. Even if you prefer taking the bus or have a bike, you need to pack comfortable shoes. Make sure they are good quality and will last.

6. Your Student ID

This is your passport into the country of Happy Valley. You use this for everything: food, buying tickets, swiping into your dorm, exams, proving you’re actually a Penn State student, etc. You should always have it on you. Also, don’t be the kid who loses it every time they go out.

7. Cash

I’m not saying pack your wallet full of Benjamins- but always have some cash on you. For example: you never know when you’ll have a night out and need $1 for Canyon Pizza. Also, you don’t want to be the guy who can’t pay for his nachos because he forgot to ask for separate checks.

8. Quarters

This is more relevant for anyone living in an apartment or a facility where laundry machines don’t accept Lion Cash. Start off the semester with a hefty supply of quarters if you plan on actually washing your clothing (which you should).

9. Earphones

As I mentioned before, we have a big campus. Walking is inevitable. There will be classes farther than 15 minutes away (forget what your campus tour guides told you). Unless you enjoy the noises of State College, pack earphones to listen to music on your way to class. Don’t, however, blast your tunes on the white loop at 8 a.m.

10. A Keurig

For any caffeine fiend, a plain coffee maker will do just fine. However, the convenience and ease of a Keurig cannot be beat. For dorm living where you can’t easily wash dishes or a coffee pot, this is a must. If you plan on drinking coffee frequently, these are essential and thrify. Don’t blow meal points every morning at the HUB’s Starbucks. But if you are going to waste money buying fancy lattes, know your options on campus. Another tip? Invest in a small, reusable coffee ground container to use with your Keurig to avoid the heinous prices of K-Cups.

11. Snacks and Food

Always have substantial snacks in your room. Wasting two bucks on a granola bar in the commons every day will add up, so keep your place stocked with basic goods like cereal, fruit, milk, granola bars, and ramen. If you have access to a kitchen, consider buying pasta, frozen vegetables, and other easy and affordable grocery staples. Eating at Subway every night will get old quick.

12. Decorations

Though this isn’t a staple, it’s important nonetheless. What does a plain, blank dorm or apartment say about you? Not much. Though there are plenty of opportunities to snag cool swag for your place once you get to school, keep an eye out for interesting décor. A simple tapestry or array of interesting posters can go a long way.Though your living quarters may be tight, there are plenty of ways to spruce it up.

13. Binders and Folders

Though you could procrastinate on this one for awhile, you shouldn’t. The Walmart and Target in State College during move-in weekend is absolutely insane. Though you can surely wait until you’re at school to pick up these essentials, certainly consider packing enough to get you started.

14. An Agenda Book

Though many students are fine simply remembering their assignments or checking online, nothing beats an agenda book. In college, there is more to remember than your high school algebra homework and chemistry project. A small agenda book serves perfectly for keeping your day, academics, and activities in check.

15. “Going Out” Clothes

Penn State is pretty reputable for dressing casual and comfy to class. However, once the weekend rolls around the student body loves to get dressed up and go out. Pack nice, fashionable outfits you would enjoy going out in. However, don’t bring anything too expensive. You never know what could happen to it (or what could be spilled on it). Consider bringing a few “frackets” as well.

16. Penn State Gear

If you’re coming back to Happy Valley, I’m assuming you’re proud to be a Penn State student. Though you don’t have to wear head-to-toe PSU every day to class, you should own at least some Penn State merchandise. If you’re a freshman, start off with some basic t-shirts and a sweatshirt. You’re collection will only grow exponentially from there, until your wardrobe is bombarded by blue and white.

So there you have it: just some of the necessities it takes to be a happy PSU student!

Good luck packing and we’ll see you back in Happy Valley. Share this list with your friends, or else they may be caught in the rain unprepared or caught in the wrong outfit. Or worse…facing the Canyon Pizza cashier without a single dollar bill.

About the Author

Carolyn Popescu

Current senior studying Advertising and Visual Arts, Carolyn has a passion for entertainment and music. She also loves photography, film, graphic design, social media, and all things in between. She's the current Sony Music Marketing Representative for State College, so be sure to reach out to her with any local music scene questions, ideas, proposals, or if you just need someone to geek out about music with.

(Contact her through [email protected] or [email protected])

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