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How To (Safely) Make The Most Of An Unprecedented Semester At Penn State

Penn State’s fall semester has officially begun, and it’s been pretty weird, to say the least.

Trips around campus have turned into an activity to escape our rooms, Sylly Week is anything but silly, and for most of us, walks to class are merely walks from the bed to the couch, if that.

It’s safe to say every Penn State student misses what life used to be like in Happy Valley. But for now, it’s time to get creative and safely make the most of these unprecedented times.

Here are some ideas on how to responsibly ~spice up~ your socially distanced fall semester.

Daily Walks Around Campus

To escape the indoors, venture outside, with a mask on, of course, for a daily dose of vitamin D, exercise, and fresh air.

Explore different routes through campus or downtown each day to keep things interesting. For an especially relaxing, scenic route, be sure to walk past one of the many construction sites downtown! Maybe try spicing it up buy exclusively taking diagonal paths or cutting through as many buildings as possible.

Find A Great Outdoor Study Spot

One can only sit at a desk for so long. Take advantage of the perfect weather that State College has to offer during the first few months week of the fall semester and explore various isolated study spots on campus or downtown.

Set up shop on Old Main lawn, at the Duck Pond, or, if you’re up for a walk, the Arboretum. The list goes on and on!

Exercise Outside

Although the pandemic has certainly made exercising a bit more challenging with gyms being closed, Penn State’s campus offers several spots to safely work out and play sports.

Ask a couple of friends who have also been practicing social distancing to go for a walk, play football in an open field, or lay out yoga mats somewhere isolated. Maybe go sling a frisbee on the HUB Lawn or walk up Shortlidge until you get shin splints.

Have A Socially Distanced Picnic

An outdoor picnic is a perfect way to unwind and get a good meal in with some friends. What better location to do it at than Old Main Lawn, the HUB Lawn, or even the Arboretum? Bring a blanket and your favorite dinner to enjoy the last few moments of sunlight (and warmth) in Happy Valley until the spring.

Host A ~Niche Party~ With Your Roommates

When you can’t go out to parties or bars, the next best thing is to have your own party at home with your roommates. Wig-themed parties, “dress up as your favorite movie character”-themed parties, James Franklin-themed parties…the possibilities are endless. Hell, you could even throw on khakis to make up for not seeing Jim Harbaugh this fall.

Honestly, staying in and having a niche party with your roommates may be more entertaining than going out to a frat or bar, and we’re here for it.

Cook Themed Dinners

Not into themed niche apartment parties? How about dinner?

Make things interesting by cooking a themed dinner with a couple of friends or roommates. Throw some hot dogs and burgers on the grill (or stove if you’re a broke college student like me and don’t own a grill) and…boom! A tailgate themed dinner — the perfect way to grieve over our lost football season.

Other menus could include recreating an iconic dining hall breakfast buffet, making some grilled stickies, or imitating West’s chocolate chip cookies as best you can.


If you find yourself dreading the tedious Zoom University routine, give one of these ideas a shot. You might appreciate the change! And, of course, keep wearing a mask and practicing social distancing to keep our Penn State community safe.

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About the Author

Lauren Wysseier

Lauren is a junior writer majoring in advertising from Fort Myers, Florida. She is a Floridian but, at heart, a Pennsylvanian. Her go-to fun fact is that she used to live in Barcelona, Spain. She is passionate about dogs, food, the Oxford comma, and most importantly, all-things Penn State. Don't hesitate to send her your best dog videos on Twitter @laurenwysseier or email [email protected] with other inquiries.

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