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From Portland to Huntingdon: Why our small town beats the hustle and bustle

Olivia Cooley
Olivia Cooley ’23, Social Studies Secondary Education and French POE, That tall one from Portland

2,684 miles away from here, tucked deep into the heart of the Pacific Northwest lies the incredible city of Portland, Oregon. Home to delicious food, incredible opportunity, and breathtaking views, it can be hard to think a city girl like me ended up finding her home in a small town like Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. But I did, and I could not be happier.

While most of my friends ventured just hours to find Juniata, discovering Juniata from the west coast was certainly a different experience. Some folks thought I was headed to Mexico to attend “Juanita” College, my high school teachers consistently asked to be reminded of where I was headed, and my friends certainly wondered why I was interested at all. So, for those of you considering making the jaunt to Juniata, whether that be six miles or a six-hour flight, here’s some insight into how anyone can make their home here in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

For starters, I love hiking. I mean, I was born in the Pacific Northwest and a love for the outdoors is all but imbued in my DNA. Surrounded by swaths of forest, the gorgeous Rocky Mountains, and quaint Oregon beaches, any college I chose was going to have to wow me with its natural presence. While the Juniata campus is gorgeous, the valley around the college is absolutely breathtaking. I have spent days up at the Peace Chapel hiking the immense trail, complex and admiring the views, never missing my favorite hikes back in Oregon for a second.

Beyond that, there are endless opportunities for fun in Huntingdon. Although I typically spent my weekends back in Portland at the movies, playing laser tag, visiting new restaurants, and strolling around downtown, I am able to do the same things here with a few minor changes. I love going to movies at Clifton 5 downtown, where JC students get a discount. I can be seen at the lake laughing with my friends, dining at Standing Stone, and discovering the incredible history of Huntingdon’s buildings.

No matter what your interests are, there is something here for you in Huntingdon to make you forget about the glamor of a city life and dive feet first into the countless opportunities in the surrounding community. If I could describe Huntingdon in three words, I would choose ‘small, but mighty’ because when I’m surrounded by my friends here at Juniata, it’s like I never left the city I used to call home.