A Friday afternoon filled with free food truck fare, endless Philly Pretzels, s’mores, door mat painting, outdoor games, music, and photobooth snapshots with friends, Upperclassmen Palooza easily tops my favorite Arcadia traditions list.
This annual September event first started when I was a sophomore living at Oak Summit, the University-owned apartment complex where the majority of on-campus upperclassman live. I remembered the excitement of starting my first year of college amid all the cool events I attended for orientation. As an upperclassman, I felt like I was missing out on all the fun.
Upperclassmen Palooza was the answer to my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) anxiety. This event is just for upperclassman—sorry, no first-years allowed. It’s the only formal Arcadia celebration that takes place at Oak Summit, so upperclassmen living there can just walk outside their doors and into the courtyard for free food, games, activities, and chilling out with friends.
After waiting on a long line that snaked across the parking lot, my friend Kara and I managed to snag a food truck ticket for The Tot Cart. I nabbed the tater tots topped with “drunk cheese,” a cheese sauce recipe made with beer. Crunching through the golden crust into the warm insides made me flashback to my elementary school lunch time days. When they opened the line for seconds, I managed to get another serving.
For dessert, I headed over to Humpty’s Dumplings stand where they were giving away hot dumplings in either apple pie, cheese cake, dark chocolate raspberry, or chocolate peanut butter flavor, with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream. I felt a rush of endorphins when I took a bite of warm cheesecake dumpling dough as the ice cream melted on my tongue. I foresaw a food coma within the next hour.
The autumn wind picked up as I met up with some old friends huddled by the fire pits. While some of us embraced ourselves for warmth, others grabbed long wooden sticks and marshmallows to make s’mores. I hadn’t seen many of them since leaving to study abroad in London. As we toasted (and burnt) our marshmallows, we exchanged stories of our cultural feats and failures while abroad. A group of us squeezed into one of the photo booths to pose for some memorable snapshots. I knew that these photos would become a cherished keepsake of my senior year of college.
Many of my friends in the photo I met in London during my time in the FYSAE (First-year Study Abroad Experience) program. Has it really been almost four years since entering my first year of college? Conversations about graduating and entering the “real world” would always come to a quick halt. None of us wanted to think about it yet. For the moment we just wanted to relax, savoring college life, and free food.