Frenemies: My Best Friend Goes to Penn State

Maybe you met in high school and grew close after, or at work over the summer, or perhaps you’ve been joined at the hip since before you can remember. In one way or another, you have found yourself in the middle of a huge predicament: your best friend goes to your rival school. This is the school that you are meant to hate— to despise with every fiber of your being. You probably do loathe them: the way they think they are better than you, the very mention of their mascot or name. It brings a bad taste to your mouth when you see anyone wearing their emblem. They are the obvious punchline to any joke on your campus and their name commonly comes after a curse, especially in chant. This is the exact situation I have found myself in. What are you to do, when someone so dear betrays your alma mater?

Have Fun with the Rivalry

For my friends and I, the day isn’t complete without some sort of banter (usually over Snapchat) denouncing each other’s schools. This can manifest as a simple “Pitt stain,” or “screw PSU, 42-39” exchange or become a complex dance, contributed to by many different students. We are constantly coming up with better ways to prove that our individual school is obviously the best. When visiting friends at Penn State, I get an extra sense of pride wearing my Pitt sweatshirt. It’s like walking across the fields of Mordor toward Mount Doom openly wearing the colors of Gondor. A rivalry can add an interesting layer to an old friendship that was never there before. In high school, one of my friends, who betrayed me by going to PSU for college, was in marching band with me. We went to all the same football games and parades, cheered for the same team, joked about the rival institutions of our high school. It bonded us. Strangely enough, we grew even closer post-graduation. The competitive nature of our friendship is now something that defines it!

Expand your Horizons beyond your Home University

By visiting a friend at a rival school, you can learn so much more about both yourself and your university—and exactly why you love it so much. Going to Penn State Behrend, it was interesting to see how different the culture and people can be just two hours north of where I call home. I got to meet a lot of students, some of whom I now call my friends. This is also a way to reconnect with those you haven’t seen in ages. You can see how they grow and change, and what led them to choose to spend four years at a university so foreign to you. If you visit friends during a football game, someone will be celebrating no matter who wins. This can lift spirits even if Pitt loses (which we won’t, obvi!!). It is even more exhilarating to watch the rival manifest in the context of a sport game if you are surrounded by fans of both teams. It makes each moment of the match that much more extreme and allows you to play off one another’s energy. You can learn the traditions of your rival and gain some insight as to why they are so deplorable. For example, I learned that students at Penn State have the nerve to play Sweet Caroline and claim that it’s one of their anthems. Umm, what?!? Do you even play it every third quarter of all home football games?

Forgive Them...Eventually

At the end of the day, we are still all friends! We may hate on each other within state lines, but outside of Pennsylvania, we are from the same place. After initially finding out that someone goes to PSU and not-so-subtly judging them, it is best to move past the rivalry onto common ground. Remember that every game is just that—a game—and that a true friendship with survive the stress of a school rivalry.


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