State College, PA (Penn State Uni)
On our trip around the US visiting different universities, we finally reached the first one on our list: Penn State University. After departing the Greyhound bus, we called for an uber to the Country Inn & Suites for $11.11. We arrived in the late evening and had already eaten on the Greyhound, so we took this time to catch up on some much-needed sleep before our long day ahead.
The Country Inn & Suites hotel provided us with free breakfast and free transport to and from the university campus. We found this really beneficial as it helped us keep costs down as much as possible. The location was ideal as it wasn't far from the campus, and we also found a gas station across the road with a shop where we picked up some snacks for the road the next day. The hotel staff were lovely and supplied me with an endless number of cookies at the front desk.
In the morning, they drove us to State College for our campus tour, which we booked directly through the university. We got there a bit before we were supposed to so that we could have a look around before the tour started, except we found that the campus was so big that we didn't know where to start. Eventually, we just sat in the Penn State Berkey Creamery to eat some ice cream.
Once the tour started, we realised that our initial impression of it being huge was an understatement. The day at the campus had us walking over 21,000 steps. This was quite daunting for me, especially as my current university only has a population of 17,319. In contrast, Penn State has a population of 98,783.
Although the campus was lovely, I think seeing this American university first made it overwhelming. Their selling point to me was the ice cream sold at Penn State Berkey Creamery. With around 70 flavours, low prices, and BIG portions, we had to go back again before we left the campus!
As we only stayed the one night, we headed back to the hotel to pick up our cases, stocked up on snacks and got an uber for $10.75 back to the Greyhound station to head to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, PA (University of Pittsburgh)
The University of Pittsburgh was one that I wasn't sure on when I was looking online as it was a city-based university. So, as it worked into our itinerary, we decided to make Pittsburgh the next stop.
We arrived after midnight and had to walk to a nearby car park so that the uber could pick us up because the driver couldn't pull in at the Greyhound terminal. I had previously seen pictures of the Cathedral of Learning lit up at night, and I really wanted to see this for myself. I asked the uber drive to make a small detour past it. Unfortunately, he informed us that they had recently made the decision to turn the lights off at night because it was causing a bird problem. Although this was disappointing, we were still able to see it during the day.
The Cathedral of Learning is one of the main buildings of the University of Pittsburgh, and we were able to go inside as part of our self-guided tour of the University of Pittsburgh. The Cathedral uses its different rooms to represent a variety of cultures. A different country was represented by the design of the room. Although this was clearly very beautiful, it became apparent to me that I was not a fan of city-based universities.
For the second half of the day, we decided to go up the Duquesne Incline. We were pleasantly surprised that the cable cart only costs $2.50 each way. Upon reaching the top, we had some of the best views of the city, definitely something I would recommend doing.