No amount of preparation could have protected me from my current state of misery.
Throughout my 18 years of life, the summer months have always signaled long days filled with adventure, spontaneity and lack of responsibility. Unfortunately, the extended hours of sunlight now feel like some kind of cruel joke.
Maybe I'm being melodramatic, but I was well informed about the transition into college: good friends are hard to find, academics are challenging, sheets don't wash themselves and so on.
Yet no one warned me about the transition home following freshman year — the one during which you are willing to crawl your way back to Happy Valley. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to enjoy about home-cooked meals and clean laundry magically appearing in your bedroom.
But nothing feels right anymore.
Suddenly, all of my college friends are at least a car ride away. All of my high school friends are working 9-to-5 jobs. And I'm stuck in the suburbs remembering how great things were two short months ago.
I recognize that I deserve no sympathy. My parents are easy-going. My summer job in Philadelphia just began, and my friends have arranged a few reunions. But I can't help feeling like someone should have warned the freshmen of the impending doom that is to be found in summer break.
For those of you in a similar predicament, without glamorous jobs in New York City or plans to study abroad, I have developed several ideas to help us get through what is bound to be a painful summer ahead. Use one or use them all to quickly reawaken your inner Nittany Lion:
Idea No. 1: Shout, "We Are!" out of your home or office window several times a day. No response? Pause briefly, then shout "Penn State" in a lower voice. Guaranteed to make you feel more at ease. Added bonus: This action, repeated hourly, will most definitely terrify your family and/or coworkers. They'll want to drive you back to school.
Idea No. 2: Train the squirrels in your community to act like the ones on campus. Never travel without trail mix, and use it to lure them closer to you. It could take all summer, but eventually you'll be petting your new furry friends. And you'll always have a snack handy.
Idea No. 3: Bring a little Happy Valley into your workspace. Since intern-sized cubicles can be even smaller than dorm rooms, you should have no trouble redecorating. Tack up football tickets from past seasons or a collage of pictures. The best part? There is no Resident Assistant to tell you what you can and can't do! Just leave the cases of Natural Light at home.
Idea No. 4: Make the pilgrimage to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts — affectionately known as “Arts Fest” — in mid-July. Can't afford a Megabus ticket? Create your own Arts Fest! Block off the nearest suburban street through any means possible and set up shop with some of your preschool macaroni art. Invite local students to do the same. In the evening, throw a rave in your basement, high school style. Just don't be surprised when the cops show up and bust you.
Idea No. 5: Hitchhike and/or crawl back to Penn State. Tip some cows en route, play "I Spy" by yourself and see how many times you can sing "Call Me, Maybe" to complete strangers. Besides, what's a few hundred miles when it comes to your happiness? I'll see you on the turnpike.
Liz Bravacos is a sophomore majoring in marketing and psychology and she is the Collegian's Friday columnist. Email her at email@example.com.