Exploring State College, PA: A Visit to Penn State

Whew, June has been a month-long sprint.  I’m looking forward to lots more home time in July. However, I do want to catch you up on some of our adventures, beginning with my visit to State College, PA.

On the last day of school for the 2013-2014 school-year I drove from my last class to the airport for an Education and Civil Rights conference at Penn State. The conference was fantastic. It was held at the Lewis Katz Law school, a relatively new building on campus. The scholars and lawyers who presented were experts in the field of civil rights and education. I was honored to be a small part of it. Another benefit of the conference was the chance to explore State College.

The first challenge to exploring State College is getting to State College. I had to take three airplanes to get there. There are no direct flights. Two of the three planes were tiny, which I had never flown on. To quell my anxiety I tried to imagine I was in the film Casablanca as I boarded the first plane. 

Instagram: Kfishman

I stayed at the Nittany Lion Inn, a grand old building on the sleepy summer campus. The inn sent a shuttle to meet at the airport, which was great. State College is a small town so I didn't rent a car. My room at the inn looked more like a B&B room than a hotel room. B&Bs are definitely more our style. The whole inn blended clean and comfortable with character. The staff was exceptionally friendly. They were happy to give directions, print my boarding pass and send me out with a fresh apple each day.

While breakfast wasn’t included, there was a restaurant on site and one day I tried their asparagus and goat cheese omelette. It was great. While talking to the server about my visit he wrote out a list of fun things to do in State College. He also sent me home with little glass jars of jelly and ketchup. I love little glass jars of condiments! I see a fancy picnic with Lilah in my future.

The inn was right on campus, so my morning jogs let me explore campus. Penn State blends East coast architecture with an agriculture small town feel. There is a booming chipmunk population. Across from the law school is a stunning arboretum and botanical gardens.  I ran through it every morning. If the conference hadn’t been so exceptional, I would have sneaked away with a book to curl up in the arboretum and read.

Going into this trip everyone told me I HAD to get an ice cream at the Creamery. The Penn State Creamery is the largest creamery in the nation. They boast delicious ice cream, sherbets and cheeses. I sampled a few flavors and chose raspberry sherbet. I love sherbet. I have never had sherbet this rich and creamy. My friend, May  and I took our ice creams outside. The evening was cool. We sat just past  the warm bustle of The Creamery and visited as we tried to finish our enormous servings of ice cream.

We wondered about State College at dusk. We stopped by a shop in the darling downtown where I brought James a sweatshirt for his university wear collection. We enjoyed the serene gardens outside the alumni center where ducks hopped around our feet hoping for bread as we crossed the lawn.

Another benefit of this trip was meeting some of the other PhD students who work for the American Journal of Education (AJE). I have been a forum contributor for a little over a year, but had never had the opportunity to meet the staff in person. Emily, the managing editor, and I enjoyed a sunny walk through campus complete with a mandatory lion picture and bagels at Irvings. I ordered a bruschetta spread on a salt bagel. It was incredible. I need to talk to our local bagel shop about bruschetta.

From the wonderful people to the darling downtown to that beautiful arboretum, I enjoyed a wonderful stay in State College. Summer is sometimes a nice time to visit a college campus; you get to see the local character during the quiet of a college town at rest. 

Thank you May and Emily for you new friendship and for showing me around your beautiful campus this summer!


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