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Penn State’s East Halls: The Freshman Dorm Experience

Penn State Dorms

by Samantha Pearson

Perfectly tucked away in the upper right corner of University Park is East Halls, commonly referred to as freshmen housing. With a breathless view of Beaver Stadium and a short walk to the Bryce Jordan Center, some freshman forget about the half hour walk it takes most students to get to their classes from these residence halls.  Though a little cramped for space and only a single bathroom on each floor, East Halls is where the majority of Penn State freshmen make their first college memories and learn to live with strangers.
 
East Halls

“It’s a rite of passage,” says Tim Rohrbach, a junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. “Snyder Hall (one of the halls in East) is where I first learned to love Penn State.”
All buildings have an elevator to get to the various floors, ranging from four to seven. On the ground floor, students can hang out in the TV room, play ping-pong, or help themselves to the vending machines. A housing staff is always on call for students.
A typical room at East Halls is split into two sides, with a shared microwave and refrigerator in the middle. Each resident has a desk complete with shelving and a connected bed. A built in closet sits behind the desk area with wooden drawers and a shoe rack. Students are encouraged to decorate their walls and corkboard with whatever Seinfeld poster or photo collage from home they feel like bringing. Halls normally host “community builders” in order for roommates and other residents to get to know one another and become comfortable with who they are living with.
 
A View of the East Dormitories

“Living with my roommate Tim has been a good experience,” said Matthew Campbell, a freshman in health and human development.  “I did not know him coming into Penn State and got lucky to be paired with someone like him.  We do our own thing, stay out of each other's way, but have no trouble agreeing what to watch on T.V. and things such as that.”
Melissa Kehs, a freshman majoring in education, agrees. “This year I roomed with a randomly assigned roommate, Kirsten.  It was fun getting to know her and decorating our room together and such.  We enjoy watching movies together and hanging out.”
A downside to living in East Halls is the fact that an entire floor of freshman, normally 40 to 44 people, shares a bathroom. A common bathroom at East has six bathroom stalls, eight sinks, and four showers. All bathrooms are cleaned once a day, and unfortunately, are in great need of it the next. A lot of freshmen just laugh about it though, knowing that all colleges have the same issues.“There’s nothing better than sharing bacteria with people you barely know,” said Lauren Reiter, a chemical engineering freshman. “It speeds up the awkward meeting process!” Every set of residence halls has their own dining areas and East is no exception. East Halls is home to the normal commons, The Big Onion, Roxy’s, Good 2 Go, and Fresh Express.
 
The Big Onion

The commons is a buffet style, all you can eat area where pasta, the main entrée, a salad bar, soup, and desserts are all available. The Big Onion and Roxy’s are two restaurants where you can eat a variety of items such as paninis, salads, cheese steaks, pizza, and any other specials (Roxy’s has amazing macaroni and cheese!).  Fresh Express has a deli that is reminiscent of Subway and an Asian grill with various items. Good 2 Go is a convenience shop that students can pick up pre-made dinners and other goods for light grocery shopping. Overall, despite mixed feelings about eating away from home, freshmen at Penn State don’t go hungry.
 
Good 2 Go

“While the first couple of weeks of not having to cook your food and having all you can eat seemed great, the fact that you get the same meal pretty much every other day ruined that immediately,” said Annie McAndrew, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering.
With a year of classes and living much different from high school, East Halls allows for freshmen to ease in to the Penn State experience. While some freshmen complain about their experience in freshman housing, seniors assure us that we will look back fondly at our times at East.


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