Writing about the Undergraduate experience here at Penn State is no short order. This is a dynamic university and the Richards Civil War Center in particular offer so many opportunities that deciding how to spend my time, let alone what to write about, can be a daunting task. Accordingly, for my first blog this semester, I thought I would add a few comments on what it is like to return to this community after some time away.
I was apprehensive coming to Penn State the summer after I graduated high school. This school is so big and so in the middle of nowhere. I didn't think I would like it, and I let that attitude affect how I viewed State College. Driving back up here after every break was a mental challenge. I couldn't figure out why everyone else seemed to love this place so much and I almost dreaded it. That's why I as so excited to go abroad for a semester. I spent the Fall 2010 semester on board the MV Explorer. University of Virginia's Semester at Sea program was my choice of study abroad programs (you may have read my post about South Africa and if you want to read about another student's voyage, check this out). I never expected what happened about halfway through the trip.
I missed Penn State. I actually missed this cold, middle of nowhere, football-infatuated town. I found myself using up precious Internet minutes on the ship to look up the scores of the games. I was beyond thrilled when a man in Shanghai saw me wearing my PSU hoodie and oh so stereotypically shouted, "we are!" I began to realize how thankful I was for this semester abroad.
Of course, I was glad for the experiences, the new perspectives, and the insights into the world and how it works. But what I was really grateful for, was the realization that I loved my school. I was given the gift of perspective. I realized that I had one semester left to this amazing adventure and I became passionate about enjoying it, and, although we have all heard it a million times, making the most of it. So now, when its snowing and 2 degrees out and the ice has accumulated so high on my car that I can't open my trunk, I sit back and I remember how I felt on that ship when I realized I was almost done with this. I smile, put on my gloves and hat, and get out my car scraper. Because truly, this is Happy Valley, and I am so happy that I was finally able to appreciate that before I left.