Penn State is a huge campus with so many activities that you'll definitely want to check off of your bucket list before you graduate. Your freshman year will be a year of firsts, so here's a list of various activities that you can, and should, try to do your freshman year at Penn State. Yes, there are plenty more things that you can do, but these are some of the most popular.
1. Attend NSO.
The first thing you can check off your bucket list is attending new student orientation, or NSO for short. While this may be one of the last things that you want to do, it is imperative that you have attended it in order to be able to get your first Penn State experience, learn about safety and getting involved at Penn State and schedule your classes. Once you attend NSO, you are an official Penn Stater.
2. Go to your first football game in the student section.
As freshmen, I’m sure a lot of you are excited to attend your first football game as a student in the world’s best student section. Being among a large group of other students who are all Penn Staters is one of the best feelings in the world and rooting for the same team is a way that we can all know that deep down, we have love and pride for Penn State. Also, the football players are pretty good if I do say so myself.
3. Take a picture with the Lion Shrine.
Something you definitely have to check off of your bucket list as a freshman is taking an obligatory picture at the Lion Shrine. Most students will take a photo at the shrine their freshman year during move-in weekend and then a picture each subsequent year until they graduate. It is really cool to see a transformation from when you were just a freshman arriving on campus until you get to have the honor of wearing your cap and gown for graduation.
4. Eat a lot of ice cream at the Berkey Creamery.
If you have ever been on a tour of Penn State, I’m sure you have heard the tour guides go on and on about how Penn State students make the ice cream. It goes from, as the saying goes, “moo to you,” in just three days. The ice cream is delicious and hands down cannot compare to any other ice cream. In fact, Penn State does teach and offer workshops to some large name brand ice cream companies.
5. Get a tour of campus with the Vamos! Lion Chariot.
When you hear obnoxious yelling and loud music coming from a pedicab, then you immediately know that it is the Vamos! guy. Various pedicab drivers offer tours of campus and downtown for a small fee. Up to three people can get in the pedicab at once, so grab two of your friends and go for a tour to learn more about Penn State and all it has to offer!
6. Riot after an event.
Penn State is definitely known as a university that likes to riot. I mean, what can the university expect when their student body is over 47,000 students? Whether it's because of a clown or a big win after a football game, students decide to notoriously sprint downtown and go crowd surfing on air mattresses, climb up lampposts and even streak. It is quite the experience, and it's hard to envision how cool it is until you are actually in the midst of it.
7. Eat at as many places as you can downtown.
The dining hall food can get real old real fast. Yes, while you will have a meal plan as a freshman, it is OK to treat yourself every once in a while. If I could change something about my freshman year, it would be to go try more food places downtown because there are a lot of hidden gems downtown pertaining to food. I’m not saying to go eat out for every meal, but I’d say once a week is a good limit. Some food joints also double as a great study spot, as well.
8. Go to LateNight in the HUB.
A few times a semester, LateNight goes on in the HUB. It is funded by Student Programming Association, also known as SPA. SPA puts on some great free events such as performers like Jon Bellion, free movies such as Beauty and the Beast and free food. It's a nice way to de-stress during the weekend if you’re not necessarily looking to go out to a party.
9. Go to a Retreat party.
The Retreat is resort style housing for upperclassmen, located a little over a mile off-campus. I lived there this past summer and it was a great experience. There are tons of amenities, including a clubhouse with computer labs, a sauna, gym, golf simulator, basketball courts and beauty salon. It is even pet-friendly. But there are often pool parties in the beginning of the fall semester, end of the spring semester or summer. It's cool to go to these since there's a hot tub, pool, corn hole, volleyball and fire pit all right there, in addition to a lot of the football players living there and going to those parties.
10. Use OrderUp State College at least once.
OrderUp is a beautiful creation. It's where you can order food from various places downtown and in the State College area right to your residence hall. How convenient is that? For me, I would always order myself a pizza during finals week to keep me motivated to keep studying.
11. Hike Mount Nittany.
Mount Nittany is a short drive from campus. It's a lot of fun to do with either a group of friends or one of your organizations to bond. The mountain goes up to 600 feet in elevation and the average hike can be between two and eight miles. The views are breathtaking, especially during sunrise and sunset, so hiking Mount Nittany is a must-do during your freshman year!
12. Go check out the inside of Old Main.
Old Main is an iconic landmark that Penn State students love. It was the original college at Penn State, but now it is passed by thousands of people each day on their transit through campus. What many people don’t know is that they can get a tour of the Old Main bell tower or walk into Old Main at any time they would like to check it out. The inside is loaded with beautiful murals and offices, so it is definitely a place that is worth checking out during your freshman year at Penn State.
13. Study at the Arboretum.
The Arboretum is another place that a lot of freshman don’t know about. It is located north of campus right next to the law building. There is plenty of green space surrounded by beautiful trees, plants and flowers so it is a relaxing place to get your work done, when the weather is cooperating, of course.
14. Be involved with THON in some capacity.
THON is Penn State's 46-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon to raise money in pursuit of a cure for pediatric cancer. Millions of dollars are raised each year and the money goes to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children's Hospital, so families of children with cancer do not have to see any medical bills. The remaining money goes towards cancer research. Whether you become involved through an organization or committee, just attend THON in February or donate money, it's great to become part of something larger than yourself.
There are so many things to do here at Penn State and I can guarantee that you will regret not doing them by the time you graduate. So start checking off these 14 essential things to complete freshman year!
Lead Image Credit: Kush Kumar