What’s Campus Life Like For Students Who Stayed At Penn State?

Let’s face it. While the majority of students have been cooped up in their bedrooms for the better part of the last month, we’ve all been wondering what life is like for students who are still up at Penn State.

“How do they get their food?” you might ask. “Are students always alone? Who’s going to hang out with the Nittany Lion now? Does campus look like an apocalyptic scene from The Book of Eli?”

To ease our minds and finally answer some of our burning questions, Thitima (Jess) Kaothaisong, a freshman from Thailand, gave us a glimpse into her experience remaining on campus.

Kaothaisong’s situation is different from others’ and requires her to stay isolated in her room for nearly 24 hours per day. She’s not alone on campus — several of her friends are still in State College — but she hasn’t seen any of her pals in a long while.

She gets her food mainly from Pollock Commons, the only dining hall currently open at Penn State. There, students must take their food to go and can’t eat within the building. To accommodate Kaothaisong, a housing coordinator drops food off at her room once per day.

On an average day, she wakes up at around 10 a.m. and “attends” class (read: opens her computer) at 11 a.m. Once that’s wrapped up, she works on her homework and surfs the web just as all of us do.

Kaothaisong talks to her friends and family through video chat in her free time. When she is really bored, she’ll follow along with dance and exercise videos on YouTube to stay physically active and mildly entertained.

Life can get lonely pretty lonely when isolated on a largely empty campus, so she makes sure to contact people through social media. No matter what, Kaothaisong tries to stay positive and enjoy each day while still up at school.

“I wrote down some goals which I would like to do or the missions that I need to do each day,” Kaothaisong said. “Then I try to achieve it.”

Weekdays and weekends started to blur together. Weekends are the “same as a normal day,” Kaothaisong said. “But I spend more time entertaining myself such as watching movies and listening to music.”

Weekdays and weekends can really begin to blur together after following such a regimented routine. For Kaothaisong, weekends are just about the same as any other day — plus a whole lot more listening to music and watching Netflix.

Although she’s always looking for something to do, safety isn’t one of her concerns. Fortunately, Kaothaisong feels the safest in her room, so it works out.

“For other people who stay in the dorm normally, I believe that they have no restrictions except the social distancing for 6 feet away (which it was applied to everyone on campus),” Kaothaisong said.

According to her, the worst part about being isolated on campus is not being able to go outside — even for just a walk.

“The best thing is trying some American food that I never tried before because they brought me some food that I did not select,” Kaothaisong said. “There is some American food that I really like after I tried it.”

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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