Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of journal entries written by Taryn Noll as she reflects on her undergraduate educational experiences. Part 1 was published on September 11, 2009.
So, I have survived another month of school at Penn State; a busy month at that. Toward the end of September, everything seemed to pick upmy school work, my activities, and, of course, football season. I had two really hectic weeks of meetings, interviews, and PATERNOVILLE (I will get to this later)!
If you are not a student at Penn State, I will inform you that there is one phrase, one goal, a way of life that is repeated over and over again here: get involved. I heard it about a million times my first week here, but it did not stop there. You hear it from your resident assistant, your academic adviser, your teachers, and even fellow students. Now I am sitting here preaching this same ideal. I have really gotten involved at Penn State. It is almost impossible not to get involved, as there are tons of ways to leave your mark on this school.
First, I joined the Blue & White Society. It is an alumni/student organization that has a few major events throughout the year. One event is Rally in the Valley, a huge pep rally that takes place before our two biggest football games (down with Iowa and Ohio State!). I had never attended the rally nor did I know anyone who has ever participated in it, but I took a chance and signed up for an interview. Next thing I knew, I was at a meeting for the Spirit Committee because I had landed the job! I also knew I really wanted to participate in THON. THON is the biggest student-run philanthropy project in the nation. I filled out an application, and I am currently biting my nails until I find out if I get one of the 700 spots on the Morale Committee. Morale keeps the students who dance for more than twenty-four hours going. Thousands of my peers interviewed for the spots, so I am crossing my fingers and hoping I made an impression.
The Division of Undergraduate Studies has really has taken care of undecided students like me and my fellow Discover House floor-mates so far. There are tons of meetings at the beginning of the year aimed at DUS students to help us discover all the different paths that can be taken on our Penn State journey. I tried to attend as many as possible. It was a productive way to put off some homework, of course. There was one program that really hit home with me. Late in September, I attended Business Majors Night with a few people on my floor. It was only about an hour long, and we had a chance to hear from someone from almost every college here at Penn State. It was really an eye-opener, because most students think they can only be a business major if they are accepted into the Smeal College of Business. This is not true at all. Many of the colleges here are interconnected, their majors and minors overlap. You can be an engineering business major in the College of Engineering or an advertising business major in the College of Communications. I recently moved out of DUS to the College of the Liberal Arts, but do not worry fellow DUS-ers, I am still undecided with you. My adviser just noticed that many of my interests (languages, English, writing) are located in Liberal Arts. So I made the move but was still uneasy. It was that night at the business majors meeting that it hit me square in the face. The Liberal Arts presenter was one of the last but impacted me the most. Everything she saidthe flexibility of the college, its emphasis on language, and its value in communicationsmade me finally rest easy. I knew then that I was heading in the right direction. I guess that is how it happens. You have to let things play out a little. There is no need to freak out your first semester about being unsure of your major. If you follow the golden rule about getting involved, everything will fall into place. Attend as many meetings as you can and soak up as much information as you can handle, and Penn State will be sure to show you something that sparks your interest.
Finally, let me tell you a little bit about Paternoville. Here we do not take the title of number-one student section in the football stadium lightly. Starting as early as 2:00 a.m. Monday morning, students planted themselves in chairs and on blankets outside the student entrance to Beaver Stadium. At 10:30 a.m., when I arrived to represent my group, I was in the fifty-sixth group. By midnight Monday, as the tents began to go up, 110 groups made of 934 students were camped outside the stadium to hold seats in the first rows of Beaver Stadium. It is this dedication that makes us number one. Paternoville was quite an experience; one that many say is a requirement to be a true Penn Stater. Iowa and Ohio State are the big games this year, so the tents are pitched Monday night instead of the usual Wednesday night before the game.
All week, one person must be at your tent at all times. Since I camped out for the whiteout Iowa night game, we had a few very special guests. Wednesday night, our quarterback and good ol' JoePa stopped by. Thursday night, Rob Stone of ESPN College GameDay pitched a tent and spent the night with us. It seemed that every day a local business would stop by and bring us some sort of surprisesandwiches, juice, or wings. One morning a local woman unloaded bags of chips and soda, just because. Even though we lost the game, the week was worth it. Even though I stood outside the stadium in relentless rain for five hours before the game, my third row seats were unforgettable. My friends and I are already planning out our next stay at Paternoville.