It’s true that our name causes a bit of confusion, but the town of Indiana (as any resident will proudly tell you) got its name before the state of Indiana even existed.
“Indiana—‘The Christmas Tree Capital of the World’—is a quiet, quaint, country town in the heart of Pennsylvania.” (Kaplan’s The Unofficial, Unbiased Insider’s Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges)
Kaplan forgot to mention the other claim to fame: Indiana is the hometown of the famous actor your grandmother swooned over, Jimmy Stewart. There’s a Jimmy Stewart museum on the top floor of the local library.
When the university is not in session, Indiana has about 16,000 residents. There are five-six blocks of downtown close to campus which offer restaurants, delis, and college-oriented shopping, as well as the main post office and a theater that shows movies and houses community productions. In the “suburbs” are three modest shopping malls—the largest one houses a second movie theater—which can be conveniently reached by bus. The Indiana bus service is free to IUP students and stops right beside our residence hall. Indiana Regional Medical Center supplements the IUP Health Service when a student needs special care.
We’re in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, so there are wooded, rolling hills all around us. The houses and churches in the center of town near campus are older and showcase some interesting architecture. Fall is beautiful here, with glorious oranges, bright yellows, and scarlet reds from about mid-October. The first serious snow comes in January, but the winters rarely drop much below 20 degrees. The grass stays green all year. We have a real spring with gentle rains and lots of flowering trees. The town residents all seem to be gardening enthusiasts, so the place is really dazzling by mid-April.
If you’re the outdoor type, you will delight in the environment. There is great hiking in the woods. IUP owns a lodge and some acreage not far from campus with a toboggan slope, archery range, and a fitness trail. There are several nice state parks nearby, including Yellow Creek State Park, which has a public beach, sailing base, and sand volleyball courts. Hunting is important in the area; the first day of deer season is almost a local holiday. Drive a little farther and you’ll find some of Pennsylvania’s best-known ski resorts. We make an Honors ski trip every year, and there are IUP-sponsored bus trips to the slopes if you are a real enthusiast.
Sometimes you need a city fix. Washington, D.C., is about four hours away, and IUP sponsors inexpensive bus trips there several weekends each semester. Luckily, Pittsburgh is only 55 miles away, and affordable bus service can get you there in an hour. Besides the annual Honors College bus trip to the opera, there are other IUP-sponsored trips for concerts and the museums. Sometimes we get together to attend a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. The nicely navigable Pittsburgh airport serves most major cities; it’s a hub for US Airways. Amtrak also serves Pittsburgh.