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State College is a small "safe" town, you will always see friends, coworkers, physicians, mechanics, supervisors...at the doctor's office, in the store, near your home, at the park, wherever you go. You decide if that is comforting or suffocating. The town is friendly (HAPPY VALLEY), but it is not necessarily nice, at a certain level it is highly political place-wherever you go (prepare to be asked by sales people, "do you work at the university full time?" And then be treated accordingly), a side bar if you are a person of color, you are assumed to be foreign, less aware, needing "help" (you will be like Man Friday in Robinson Caruso)(the local news supports this stereotype). Ask a simple question anyplace and be prepared to hear the history of it and how and why it works (boring as hell, DON'T GET UPSET, everyone wants to prove mental superiority is all...just be prepared). If you're not from State College, or PA, or from the Midwest, this environment may hit you hard. You will need to transition your family into living in the town of Stepford. Watch the movie a few times (old version). If you are in the IN crowd, great place. Don't cross the invisible landmines. If you are in the OUT, you will keep company with the other disenfranchised, silenced, powerless, rumored about, underemployed diverse groups (you can imagine who this group consists largely of...nonconformists based on attitude, age, appearance, and activities). Most (not all) people on the out desperately want to get (back) IN, (think crabs in a bucket); some people in the IN crowd may defiantly befriend/not advocate for you. This is a corporate college town, not a liberal hippy town. Demonstrators tend to be older retired folk. The hot, edgy diversity issues that are acceptable to discuss are gender and uncomfortably it seems orientation issues.
I've lived here (watched people come and some people run) for 7 years. People born and bred in SC (average, mediocre or bright)and have family histories of attendance to the University seem to run this small town..., there is an extraordinary tight network, with a definite hierarchy, people know and accept their place. Fighters do not belong. If things don't go well for you in one arena, like wild fire, they won't got well for you in others...Beware, smile, don't be different, don't complain or expect change, take trips outside the state for diversity-breaths of fresh air, if you’re a woman BOB your hair-things will go better if you dye your hair blonde, shop at TJ Max; if you are a man, be affable, highly intelligent, education-focused, if you are diverse don't EVER expect to be promoted outside the diversity arena-but do not ever express disappointment (think showing emotion in terms of Body Snatchers). LOVE THE UNIVERSITY and of course LOVE FOOTBALL (be very verbal about this love). Past successes in other organizations and states don't matter. If you are a worker, what matters is how you can be consumed in the university environment, your fate in the town will be determined for you as you are watched and as you live. If you thrive in this kind of environment...you will love this beautiful town. SC has wonderful shows that come into town, and relatively short work commutes; also, if you do not have to work, in this town, and have financial means...it is isolated, nice and quiet, lots of outdoor activities.
The public schools in SC prepare students to be serious scholars, many wonderful school choices, (average, diverse or challenged learners May get left out in the cold); ...educational and sports superstars are adored in this town (children); quality wrap-around services if you need assistance with educational needs of autistic spectrum children.
Great structured activities for all children in town. In fact, great place to focus on the children's education and development. There is not much to do if you like the nightlife (beyond college age), so forget about it. Take your child to the bug fair, and help him/her on a school project. This is your new life now :)!
AB | State College, PA