Well, it happened for the first time in Australia. Made my day. And it was a very good day already.
My sisters gave me a generous Christmas present of a gift certificate to the Sydney Opera House. As I’ve heard the operas being offered this half of the season, I checked the schedule for the Sydney Symphony. The reward was huge. Today’s program featured Berlioz’ Overture From Beatrice and Benedict, Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #5. The violin soloist Ray Chen is a young Taiwan-born Australian who studies at the Curtis in Philadelphia. (He was GREAT). I asked Michael, a Korean tertian, to go with me.
During the intermission, before hearing Tchaikovsky, Michael and I went to get some air.
It was much cooler in Sydney today with the threat of rain. I wore my water repellant Penn State jacket. It has the classic interlocking Penn State on the left breast that is large enough to be read by anyone without cataracts. As we emerged a woman walked up to me and asked, “Did you go to Penn State?” Turns out she is an American from Latrobe, PA (home of Rolling Rock Beer, about 2 hours west of the University Park campus) who has lived in Australia for 23 years. A friend visiting from the States was from Latrobe but a Pitt graduate (cue the minor friendly sparring). We chatted about Sydney until the bell to return to our seats.
Those who know me are aware of my affection for Penn State (ok, the kind of affection that would result in a spurt of blue and white were someone to slice one of my veins). Dad did his pre-med there. I entered there 41 years after he graduated. Technically I graduated in 2006 (very long story) but I generally claim 1971, the year I left to enter Temple Medical, as my year. It was the perfect place on all levels: academic, social, and existential. Friends I met during orientation week remain friends . . . with grandchildren! Ten years after I finished my niece graduated from there. (We text a lot during football games. Those texts are NEVER meant for publication.)
At Penn State I realized I had a brain and could think. I’ll never forget walking to the dorm fall term sophomore year holding a dark green-covered copy of Morrison and Boyd Organic Chemistry. THE most feared course for all pre-meds. It was rather like carrying an original Guttenberg Bible. It went well. A year and half later, at the end of junior year, I was accepted to Temple Medical without a bachelor’s degree (which came in 2006). My gratitude to PSU is undying. One of my former roommates still lives in town so I get there often, though not as often as when I lived in PA.
The guys here have noticed (big surprise) that my five t-shirts all say Penn State. As does my travel mug. My baseball cap (a necessity in this sun). And of course the jacket. They haven’t seen my blazer which is back in D.C. Yeah, Penn State lining and Nittany Lion buttons.
One of the first places I will visit upon returning home is University Park. There, as was true just before I started med school, residency, practice and so on up to the week before I was ordained, I will walk the campus for about six or so hours thinking, praying, contemplating and reveling in the atmosphere of one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth; not only because of the setting (which is spectacular) but because of what the university gave me: Confidence. Competence. And an extraordinary education.
And so: WE ARE . . . .
. . . . PENN STATE!!!
Old Main, my favorite building anywhere.
The Forum Building. Had organic chemistry in here. The room was packed.
Eisenhower Chapel. Ike's brother Milton is a former PSU president. I did not take the two below but had to include them.
The Nittany Lion Shrine and . . . . .JOEPa!