A Love Letter to the Place that Built Me

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Dear Penn State,

Four years ago, as a senior in high school, I fell in love. No, not with a boy. I fell in love with something much better. I fell in love with a place. Specifically, a few square miles of campus in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I accepted my offer of admission to Penn State, and I never looked back.

Over the next four years, I fell even harder. I fell in love with blue and white and Success with Honor and football Saturdays and wrapping my arms around my best friends as 108,000 people sang the words to the Alma Mater as we played and cheered for those who came before us and those who will come after us.

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I fell in love with the Nittany Lion and the Blue Band and drum major flips over the 50-yard-line and 99-yard interceptions and quadruple overtime games and being recklessly thrown into the air by strangers and rallies in Beaver Canyon when we were given back what was rightfully ours.

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I fell in love with terrible $1-a-slice pizza and Wings over and Death by Chocolate milkshakes from the Creamery and grilled stickies and West cookies.

I fell in love with a college newsroom and trips to Marg’s for ravs and inside jokes and R-Kelly marathons and random quotes. I fell in love with a new type of journalism and spending too many nights out at Innovation Park.

I fell in love with FTK and Springfield and raising my diamonds and crying alongside 15,000 other students and water gun fights and bubbles and the joy of a child.

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I fell in love with gorgeous fall days on  HUB Lawn and spring at the Arboretum and snowball fights on Old Main.

I fell in love with $4 Cafe pitchers and Monkey Boy Thursdays and Twenty-Phyrsts and closing down the bar shouting the lyrics along with  My Hero Zero and Phyrst fries and late night trips to Jimmy John’s.

 

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I fell in love with all the late nights spent with friends as we laughed while doing mountains of homework because we weren’t sure if we should laugh or cry and laughing seemed easier. I fell in love with Bachelor Wednesdays and Friday night movie nights and heart-to-hearts and movie nights in Borland and taking naps on the conference room floor because we were too tired or too busy to actually make it to bed.

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I fell in love with academics and classes and the hearing the stories of the most interesting professors I’ve ever met and trips abroad and getting lost in Prague and exploring London and learning from my peers and maybe teaching them something too.

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I fell in love with all the good times for the memories they have given me. I fell in love with the wonderful friends who will have my back long after I leave this place. I fell in love with the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve had. And I fell in love with the bad times too for the lessons they’ve taught me and the ways in which they made me stronger.

I fell in love with all the big things and a million little things at Penn State. I fell in love with this place, this school, this family, this feeling. I threw myself into Penn State completely, unreservedly and wholeheartedly. I have loved Penn State with everything in me, and somehow, Penn State found a way to love me back.

I’m a different person now from the person I was four years ago when I first moved in. I’ve grown and changed and learned and loved and laughed and lost and hurt and cried and thought and moved and danced and lived. Penn State is the place where I truly, completely felt 100% comfortable being me. Penn State accepted me for who I was and made me into the best version of myself. Penn State is the place where I learned to love who I am and feel confident and wear black leather jackets and red lipstick just because I can.

Penn State took me in as a wide-eyed freshman still trying to figure out life and turned me into the best version of myself. At Penn State, I am my favorite version of me. These few square miles of campus have been my home for the past four years, and I can’t imagine a better place to spend them. I don’t know a lot in this world, but I know more than when I came in. I don’t want to leave, but I can do so knowing that I have zero regrets. If I could do it all over again, I would. And I wouldn’t change a thing. So thank you Penn State. Thank you for loving me and building me and letting me live life to the fullest. Thank you for being more than a school. Thank you for giving me a second family and the knowledge that no matter where I am, I’ll carry you in my heart. Thank you for making this place feel like home and then making sure that I’ll feel at home anywhere I find another Penn Stater.

I love you Penn State. I loved you four years ago, and I’ll keep loving you long after I leave. I’ll be seeing you again.

Love,
Mary

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