The last three weeks have been torture for me trying to get back on my feet. I am slowly moving again and creating a structure for my life. My friends, family, school advisers and work teammates are supporting me though out this tough time. Last weekend, I made no plans nor did I want to do anything.
However, a friend encouraged me to go with him on a trip. He assured me that this trip would put things into perspective and bring me back to reality. There was nothing to lose, so I took his offer. So we started packing what appeared to be camping gear and had one more thing to obtain: dry suits.
I was not aware that the Outdoor program at PSU rented out gear. Being a student, I was able to get two dry suits for $50, a bargain when they are worth up to $300 a piece. Early the next day, we were off to Estacada in gloomy and rainy weather. We arrived to a scene of people, kayaks, rafts, dry suits, wet suits and gear along the river.
We immediately parked on the side of the road, dressed down to a T-shirt and shorts, put on our dry suits, helmet, and life vests and we were off to find his friends. Upon finding them, without hesitation we got a raft, carried down to the river, and got in to raft downstream.
My heart pumped and my senses were on full alert. All I could think of was not to fall out of the raft into the river. The water was freezing hence the dry suits we had to keep us not only warm but alive. The rapids were strong and I tried to literally bury my feet into the wedges of the raft and held on to my paddle for life.
Downstream, we hit stronger rapids, being pushed from side to side, the water pouring down on us, as we tried to maneuver through without falling out or flipping over. Everyone around me was unnerved. I was hoping I would not fall out. After what seemed an eternity of freezing water and near heart attacks, we rafted and finished in calm and safe waters. This trip was much needed for me even if it distracted me from the world of depression that I was in and still am in.
About three months ago I noticed a perpetual voice in the back in my head, always asking the same question: “What are you going to do after graduation?”
I have always considered myself an academic, and grad school seems to be the natural next step. But should I go right after completing my undergrad? That means that the next few months will be spent shopping around for schools, seeking out financial aid opportunities and scholarships, and studying for the GRE.
Or I could try my hand in the work force to get some experience. In some fields, graduate programs are seeking applicants who have firsthand experience either working or volunteering. But what if I can’t find a job?
The past few months have been the most stressful in my life, and I have a feeling it may only get worse! It’s difficult to try and follow your heart when you’re stuck in your head. How am I supposed to make what feels like one of the biggest decisions of my life?
Ironically, college gives me no time to read on my own terms.
Walking into the library for the first time, I was flabbergasted. So many books, so many authors, so little time! There seems to be literally millions of titles—and not just books, but maps and comics and mags and journals and EVERYTHING.
I started puzzling my way through the aisles, wandering through the maze in no particular order—picking a book off the shelf here, a graphic novel there. When I finally checked out, my backpack was stuffed precariously full of hardbacks, and I realized I would never be able to read them all. It was dead week, after all. Heck, with all the studying and school reading on my hands, I’d never get to any of these books!
Since then, I’ve tried saving personal reads for weekends. It never works. I always get caught up with school work, and never get a chance to read for my own pleasure.
What are your strategies for reading on your own time when you’re swamped with school stuff?
Green Bracelets. Green T-shirts. Cancer banner.
I never thought I would be coordinating a cancer walk with two of my best friends and colleagues. I truly believe it when people say college opens many doors. It all started with an email two months ago from my Student Leaders of Service advisor. I have helped many times with on-campus, volunteer events, but I knew this one was different because it was outside my comfort zone. But right then and there, I snatched the opportunity to become one of the outreach coordinators. Two months later, I am sitting at an information table for the cancer walk as I post this blog.
The CureSearch Walk for Children’s Cancer will be taking place at Sellwood Riverfront Park on August 10, 2013. Our goal is not only raise the awareness for pediatric cancer, but to raise the number in attendance. My Community development manager, Mallory Zarate, has been advising and giving us the resources needed to reach out to the target markets of PSU students and the Portland community as a whole.
I took this on because I wanted to do something risky and even uncomfortable. It is stressful, but the excitement and accomplishment is absolutely worth it. I am naturally hesitant and timid, but when I took this on, it felt exhilarating that one person can take on a large responsibility.
PSU and Portland area have endless internship and volunteer opportunities. I recommend anyone and everyone to take the initiative as a leader. Open-mindedness can go a long way to changing your perspective and doing something extraordinary.
I was just trying to get some free food, but then I accidently learned about some pressing global issues. It’s the eternal experience of leaving the house: while trying to do one thing, another thing happens instead.
The event went down during Farm Worker awareness week, a series of discussions and events centered around our region’s campesinos, or migrant farm workers. A catered meal was advertised along with a panel discussion of union leaders. A friend and I thought it would be a pretty good evening to grab a free dinner and check out the event.
It turns out that life for a campesino is really rough. Migrant farmworkers are
working all day and still far below federal poverty levels. The United States government won’t provide the same rights for agricultural workers as everyone else for a variety of reasons.
After the discussion it was time to eat, but it came with a twist: one of the union organizers joined us at our table. I think there are a lot of ugly realities under modern life, and I’m always really refreshed when I meet people like these union leaders who are working on the issues while staying positive and solutions-oriented.
And we learned while participating in one of the simplest and best community rituals of all: sharing a free meal.
1. Believe it or not, not everyone is a hipster here. Yes there’s a lot of stylish duds and mason jar usage, but there are a wide variety of cultures on campus.
2. Even if you’re having a bad day, there’s bound to be a cute puppy,dog, or see No. 5 being walked around the campus Park Blocks to cheer you up.
4. Though PSU is widely known as being a commuter school, CAMPUS LIFE IS NOT DEAD. You can make PSU into any type of experience you would like it to be. Yes, it might take a bit more effort than OSU or U of O, but there are a lot of nice people to meet and mingle with here.
5. Sometimes people walk their pet pigs around campus when it is sunny out.
6. There is a TON of opportunity at PSU. Within the first three weeks of my freshman year, I got a job as an office assistant with little to no work experience. Now that I am almost a junior, PSU has given me over four jobs in my college career to help me pay for school.
7. There are a lot of on campus groups to join. Ranging from philosophy club to board game club, there’s just about something for everyone.
8. Why do Portland State student’s enjoy the rain? Because it scares the clipboard people away.
Coffee in Portland means more than just a cup to wake you up in the morning, it’s an obsession. Campus has a few primary coffee shops frequently visited by students and faculty. From a barista’s perspective, here is where I go for what:
1.) Food – If I’m needing a little pick-me-up and something substantial to munch on, Starbucks is my first choice for variety and quantity of food. There are four kinds of bagels, two kinds of oatmeal, a bunch of sweet treats, and several types of sandwiches. Recently they’ve added even more sandwiches and salads. Starbucks can be a little spendy, but if you’re looking for lunch and coffee it’s definitely the place to go.
2.) Fancy drinks – For lattes, mochas, whipped cream and flavor, I almost always go to Seattle’s Best. Their syrups are more flavorful than sweet and I love some of the uncommon flavors. Their whipped cream is the best I’ve had, and they have coconut flavoring which I can’t find anywhere else.
3.) Brewed coffee – Looking for plain ol’ cup of joe? Definitely check-out Branford’s Bean in the library. They brew three delicious Stumptown Coffee roasts including an organic roast every day. They accept regular debit/credit, cash, and PSU Dining Dollars. My favorite is the Guatemalan Blend by far!
Where I go to jumpstart my day depends on what I’m looking for. Where is your favorite place to go on campus?
Right now, there’s about 9 guns for every 10 Americans. With the recent mass shootings across the country, the Oregon University System is moving to preemptively transform campus security officers into full-blown “sworn police”—and that means they’ll be armed with handguns.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. Having guns on a college campus doesn’t seem safe to me, no matter who has them. Last October, a kid at the University of Southern Alabama was shot dead on campus by a public safety officer. (The student was undoubtedly unarmed, considering that his crime was running completely naked around the campus police station.) When deadly weapons are involved, accidents on the part of safety officers can cost lives.
On the other hand, we need to remember that PSU is an urban campus, right in the heart of a city. 87.2% of the suspects that CPSO apprehends are prior arrestees, and 41% of those have a history of violent offending. If one of these thugs brings a gun on campus, I would want my university’s security to be equally armed and ready.
What do you think about our security officers carrying firearms?
It’s a normal day on campus. The sun is out (always a welcome thing), the birds are singing, and the normal crowd is milling around between Cramer and Smith Union. ‘All normal.
I took a seat outside Cramer Hall facing Smith. I was tired. I had just gotten out of a history class, Greek 300, and I wanted to catch some fresh air before I crammed down a sandwich in the Smith cafeteria and trudged on to my next class, French 101.
It was then I noticed him. At first glance all seemed normal. A 20 -something male student, jeans, old Chuck Taylor All Stars, black-grey hoodie…but with the hood up. He had a cardboard box with him. He looked kind of pensive. Maybe he was waiting for someone? He was across the way from me right up against Smith Union, next to the door that led to the stairs, but he never entered. He just kept looking around. The wrap around black sunglasses kept me from noticing much about him. But the more I looked the more I became intrigued. I mean, why does someone just stand there, looking around, but never really paying attention to anyone who approaches him? What was he doing? And then he did something even more odd. He took that box, reached inside, and then just set it behind himself against the wall. That’s weird…why did he take so long to do just that? And with that he suddenly walked away fast, toward the street. And then it hit me…
Holy crap! That could be a bomb…
No, this did not really happen. It is a story I made up, fiction. But we hear many times, “We live in a free country”. Yes we do. But freedom does not come without a price. And that price sometimes may be your safety. Do not walk around afraid but do keep your eyes open and your brain in gear.
Did you know that international students from Portland State are sharing their cultures with inquisitive audiences throughout Oregon?
I went to a care home for the elderly and talked to them about Japanese culture. I also spoke about my life in Japan with 500 middle- and high school-age students, and I went to a summer camp to provide a workshop on origami and papermaking.
I did this as a member of the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) at PSU. The ICSP is a scholarship program for international students dedicated to promoting the recognition of commonalities and appreciation of differences through firsthand knowledge and experience.
ICSP participants take great pride in representing their countries and cultures. You can invite an ICSP member as a speakers/presenters for your organization. (http://www.icsp.pdx.edu/icsp/home)
My experiences as an ICSP speaker were remarkable and will be one of the most wonderful memories that I take back with me to Japan.
Storytelling is an art that has been around for thousands of years. Cultures around the world have used storytelling as a means of entertainment, preservation and transmission of knowledge from one generation to the other. However today, in most Western cultures, this beautiful form of art has almost been lost. With the exception of many of the Native American tribes, the only stories that are now shared unfortunately are those that are read to children. Even then, not many remember those stories anymore, because we “have them” in our books that most often never leave our bookshelves after they are read once or twice.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to take a class in Portland State’s Conflict Resolution program called Storytelling for Social Change. In the class, we explored the role this art plays in fostering social change. We further looked into our own experiences and tried to use our stories in order to better understand ourselves and our place in the world. Every one of us has a story, the question is, what can you do with it, and how do we use it as a means of personal transformation or even to positively influence other people.
I absolutely loved the class, and the professor was very passionate about what she taught; that was definitely a plus for me. I learned a great deal from the materials we used in class, but most importantly I learn how to appreciate a good story.
They say, Portland is one of the best metropolitan cities to live with one of the highest happiness index. What is better than living in a happy, sustainable city while obtaining your education? I can honestly say I love PSU, from the authentic culture, to the community development program, to the great people I have met.
I know I’m not the only one with Viking pride, so I decided to ask some of my peers what they thought about PSU!
“I love that PSU is so diverse. It gave me the opportunity to learn and grow through various individuals and their different cultural beliefs as well as share my own cultural knowledge of being Hawaiian.”
- Ka’ila See, Health Studies/Health Science Major
“I love that PSU offers small class sizes and excellent professors in the School of Business Administration. They make you feel like a family and not just another number.”
- Cole Sturm, Business Marketing Major
“I was very nervous when I first joined the PSU tennis club, primarily because I am a freshman and have a hard time making friends. When I went to the first tennis practice everyone was so kind and welcomed me with open arms. Our diversed tennis club is great because we go on fun trips and tournaments!”
- Lauren Ogard, Graph Design Major
“There are many reasons why I love PSU but the main reason is because it provides its students with cultural centers such as La Casa Latina and the Multicultural Center, and first generation student resources such as the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services and Trio.”
- Francisco Ibarra, Community Development Major
“PSU has an amazing art program, the instructors are fun and supportive. Also, I love the urban planning department, especially in a sustainable city like Portland – it is the perfect environment to get connections to both local and international non-profits projects.”
- Mashael Alshammary, Architecture Major
Chiron Studies is pretty great. It took me till my last year at Portland State to take a course, but in “Active Anthropology” we’re volunteering and gardening through local nonprofit Wisdom of the Elders. The gardening in particular has been great—there is something so satisfying about the peaceful property near Powell Butte
Chiron Studies appears under “independent studies” in the course catalog. It doesn’t count toward any degree, but the credits count as electives. Chiron lets anyone teach their own college class, providing they have a faculty sponsor and can pass other miscellaneous rigamarole.
One of the challenges the program has faced lately, according to Rozell Medina, Chiron Studies coordinator, is that PSU pulled all its funding last year. Even though Chiron courses generate tuition money, all of the instructors have been working this academic year pro bono.
Scott Gallagher, a PSU spokesman, explained the university’s position on the issue. While he’s not an expert on Chiron studies, he said, the program is still worthwhile for those students because they have the chance to teach their own course. And the university is still paying a cost for it, since the faculty advisers are giving their time, he added.
Medina wasn’t sure if the instructors were going to be paid again, since there are issues still being resolved in the faculty senate.
“While it’s been difficult, we are optimistic and hoping to keep things civil,” Medina said.
Personally, I hope we can get the instructors paid again. I’ve found it worthwhile.
I am a proud graduate of Columbine High School. I grew-up in Littleton, Colorado and remember the day of the shooting perfectly. I remember the way my parents held me after that day, and the grief that spread across the county, and country.
This week has turned into a time of grief in the United States. There have been numerous tragedies during this week in April: the Oklahoma City bombing, the shooting at Virginia Tech, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the shooting at Columbine High School, and now the Boston Marathon bombing.
Hours after the bombing in Boston, hundreds of organizations across the country united to figure out what they could do to help. The Portland Marathon Club ran in Portland, and here at PSU there is already a used shoe drive at the REC center.
Something I will never forget is the community that was built in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting. Even though I was only in first grade when it happened, I share a bond with every student that has attended my high school.
Now that I’m in college, I still think back to my high school community. Moving away to attend school out-of-state was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Today I appreciate my hometown more than ever, and it will always be a part of who I am.
I presently speak no French. Or I should say, the French I did attempt to use with on a recent trip to France had the natives there staring at me and then turning to my wife, who does speak French asking her (translated here), “Madam, is this man your husband? What is he trying to say?”
When my wife, Janet, and I were discussing marriage six years ago, there was one caveat she placed before me that I had to agree to if we were going to marry. (At this point all kinds of things were racing through my mind–prenuptial agreements, mother-in-laws wanting to live with us, religious rites involving hoods, pet snakes, etc…) And then she said in all seriousness, “It has been my life long dream to move to France when I retire. If we marry you have to agree to move there with me. Do you?” Instantly a wave of relief washed over me. I put a big grin on and said, “Yes, but I don’t speak French.” She replied, “Yes. I’ve heard you try.”
So years later now and our France move is getting closer. I am busy working to finish my BA degree in Liberal Arts here at PSU. I know I need six terms of a foreign language to complete for this degree. I start French 101 next fall term.
Bon chance moi.
Au Revoir ~
We’ve all been there before. You’re up hours past your bed time, studying for that midterm in the morning, and suddenly your stomach starts grumbling. You need to take a break and put some food in your belly, but there aren’t many late-night choices on campus. Here’s a list of the my picks:
1.) Pita Pit. Some say it’s a bit pricy, but Pita Pit is your best bet if you’re in the mood for a healthy gyro after midnight. It’s also one of the only true “restaurants” open late on campus.
2.) Subway. Might not be as healthy as Pita Pit, but this baby’s cheaper and open 24/7.
3.) Plaid Pantry/Seven-Eleven. If you only need some trail mix or a Snickers, these stores are convenient and open late.
4.) Safeway. A step up from Plaid Pantry, Safeway is open until the wee hours of the morning… but be warned: there’s usually only one cashier. Expect a long line.
5.) The Cheerful Tortoise. Always a good fallback if you need a drink to settle your nerves before that midterm. But be careful: waking up woozy for a test is never fun.
What’s your favorite when late-night munchies attack?
Often students wonder, “Am I ever going to use all this knowledge when I am done with school, and if so, how?!” Well sometimes the doors of opportunity open only because you have specific knowledge, and it becomes your education that gets you the job you never thought you would get. I simply speak from experience.
After finishing my master’s courses at PSU, I went on a search for jobs. I really did not know what I was looking for. Portland, I thought, would be a good place for new opportunities, but five months later, nothing came up. I finally realized I had to look beyond my comfort zone and be open to other possibilities.
One place I had overlooked was teaching. Although I had been a University Studies mentor for over a year at PSU, I did not think I was going to get into teaching with a degree in Conflict Resolution. Well, I threw out this thought, and weeks later I got called to teach in Southern Oregon. The best thing, however, is that I got to use both knowledge and skills I had gained at PSU in my graduate program and as a mentor, so I began teaching in my own field of studies. One piece of advice to everyone: never overlook any of your experiences because everything counts.