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PSU Chronicles

The inside story of life at Portland State University from student bloggers
Updated: 29 min 25 sec ago

Work to Know the Value of Education

September 22, 2017 - 7:30am

 By: Anna Sobczyk

I live among the rolling hills of the Palouse in northern Idaho. Come August, those hills look like golden seas filled with wheat, barley, and legumes. The past four years, I’ve worked at a scale house during harvest. My experience there has been one of the most impactful on my life and character.

Once harvest begins, I’m in the scale house at least 13 hours a day nearly all week. I take samples from every truck that comes in and run moisture, protein, and falling numbers tests on different commodities. With these samples, I keep track of each farmer’s opening and closing of lots and send their composite samples out for grade. On the busiest days, I rarely have the chance to sit down or sometimes even eat. After all, I’m servicing over 100 trucks every day, and they have to come across the scale twice—once full, and once empty.

Many people don’t realize how stressful and exhausting this time of year is for the farmers and harvest workers alike. My job requires my mental acuity to always be sharp because of the amount of paperwork I handle, but it isn’t nearly the most physically demanding job. The employees dumping trucks full of crops into the pits are in 90-to-100-degree heat, surrounded by dust. They also shovel out bins. When I start to feel like complaining about my job, I only have to remember I have air conditioning.

College students are no strangers to summer jobs, and one of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained from mine is a value for education. Harvest can be grueling, and while I love it—I love it as a summer job. The overtime pays great, but it isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life. So, even though I can’t say I’m looking forward to another term of homework and tests, I only need to remind myself of the future career I’m working toward.


Awestruck by the Eclipse

August 30, 2017 - 9:00am

 By: Anna Sobczyk

The most important and surprisingly difficult challenge I took on this summer was convincing my parents to go see the solar eclipse. To me, it was an obvious once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the path of totality would pass just four hours south of us in Idaho. Eventually my badgering won out, and we found ourselves camped out in Cascade, Idaho, waiting with thousands of other people for the big event.

There are no words to describe how amazing the total solar eclipse was. Watching the moon slip into place, I realized why even 99% totality is only as awesome as 90% or 70%. If any part of the sun is visible, you still need to wear solar glasses because it’s too bright to look at. One hundred percent totality, however, was the single most awe-inspiring and beautiful thing I’ve seen. No picture or description can do it justice. In those first moments, I was so taken aback and humbled by what I saw that a chill swept over me. A flock of birds flew into a nearby tree to roost. Venus twinkled off to the side, and the barest hint of a couple stars poked through the ecliptic darkness. In 1 minute and 55 seconds, the sun made its reappearance. My first thoughts when the sun’s rays began cascading out from behind the moon were, “I have to see it again!” And since I couldn’t reach out and shove the moon back into place, I decided I’ll just have to be an eclipse chaser. The next one in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024.

If I missed this eclipse, I wouldn’t have understood what the big deal about it was. As I searched for pictures of the eclipse online, I realized none of them captured what I saw. Even the best cameras distorted the light or made everything too dark. All in all, a total solar eclipse is not something you can relive through a lens; it must be experienced.


Easing the Moving Blues

August 25, 2017 - 8:01am

 by Steph Holton

It is not uncommon for college students to be on the move, especially in the fall. I’m about to move for the eighth time in three years, and with all of that back and forth, packing and unpacking, settling and relocating, I feel that I’ve picked up enough wisdom on the subject to help you lessen the annoyances of uprooting your life. Here are my top five tips from going from home to dorm and back again:

  1. Storage bins. I have a set of 10-gallon plastic tubs, as the 18- or 30-gallon tubs end up being too heavy to haul. You can basically pack up an entire apartment with 10 of them, and after you’ve unpacked, you can stack them just about anywhere until the end of the school year.
  2. Label everything ­especially if you’re headed back to your parents’ house for the summer. “Need” vs. “Don’t need” or “House” vs. “Garage” is a very useful way to go.
  3. Pack a suitcase as if you’re going away for the weekend, so when you get to your new abode, you don’t have to overturn every box to find clean underwear before you actually get a chance to unpack.
  4. Recruit help and be good to them (this includes returning the favor as often as possible). Moving is exponentially faster with extra hands.
  5. Limit buying groceries starting a few weeks out from your move. Cut down your packing load by getting what you’re going to eat, but not more.

In all honesty, though, the best advice I’ve ever gotten or given about being a frequent mover is the secret Tip #6: Acquire less stuff! And don’t be afraid to donate and throw away during the moving process. Happy moving!


What’s the deal with tipping?

August 6, 2017 - 8:00am

 by Steph Holton

Unless you want to look like a jerk, you can’t not tip. But after some thought and research into the matter, I feel that our cultural compulsion to leave gratuities for services rendered is perhaps a more sinister institution than we believe.

Tipping at full-service restaurants is a standard 15%, while tipping hairdressers, tattoo artists, drivers, and innumerable others “isn’t expected but is highly appreciated.” The American consumer likes to believe that leaving a tip is an act of kindness for a job well done, but studies show that the amount of a tip rarely has anything to do with the quality of service provided and often depends on factors of race, age and sex. The practice of tipping in restaurants can create both unnecessary competition between waitstaff, and a rather large wage disparity between front and back of house workers. Psychologically, tipping is a way for consumers to assert dominance over a server, and also to flaunt social status.

The no-tipping movement is struggling, however, because it is a financially risky stance for a restaurant to take: Consumers have shown they’d rather tip than be charged a service fee. I’m not suggesting anyone stop tipping when they go out to eat or get a haircut. At this point, it’s part of our social contract. But I am suggesting we all question the tradition, because like many other institutions in our country, just because that’s the way it’s been doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the way it should be.


Smile for the Running Community

July 26, 2017 - 8:01am

 by Steph Holton

I’m an avid runner. I have been since my high school Driver’s Ed instructor (also the cross country coach) convinced me to sign up, despite the fact that I couldn’t go more than a mile without thinking I was going to keel over right there on the course. And I definitely would not have stuck it out that first season, or the two more that I ran after that, if not for the incredible encouragement of not just my own team, but of the entire community that surrounds high school competitive running.  

When I moved to Portland, I almost immediately fell in with the Campus Rec running club, Running Around Portland, and gained several running buddies who share my enthusiasm for the sport. I’ve often lamented to them, however, that the experience of running in the city is lacking the kind of support from other runners that is so prevalent in high school. With the alive and well running culture in Portland, I’d expect there to be more “hey there’s” and “keep it ups” between passing runners on the waterfront.

I recently was running down Springwater Corridor along the east side of the Willamette, a popular route for runners and cyclists, and passed a woman taking the trail at brisk walk but clearly out to enjoy the day more than anything. As I passed, she made a point to smile at me and say “good morning,” and honestly, it made my day. Since then, I’ve made a more concerted effort to smile when I pass other runners, and usually, they smile back. It’s a small thing, but it’s already made me feel closer to the Portland pedestrian community. 


Mountains, Forests, or Shores: Just Explore

July 19, 2017 - 8:00am

 By: Anna Sobczyk

Recently, a friend from high school invited me on short notice to camp at Glacier National Park in Montana. Despite the anxiety I felt just thinking about how much I had to get ready in only a couple days, I said yes. That decision turned into a highlight of my summer.

Since it was short notice, it was too late to reserve a campsite, so we left Idaho early in the morning to try and snag a first-come site for our stay. Amazingly, and on the Fourth of July no less, we managed to claim a spot. From there, we did several day hikes around the park to Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake, the Highline Trail, and Logan Pass. The views were unbeatable, but my favorite part was when we saw arguably the most elusive creature other than Bigfoot—a wolverine.

My trip to Glacier National Park made me crave more adventures. As a freshman, I was still figuring out how much time I needed to devote to my classes and was always worrying about falling behind. There were several places I wanted to visit during my first year at PSU that I never did, like Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and Tamolitch Blue Pool. Now I know I could easily spare a couple weekends to explore Oregon. After all, there’s no time like when you’re young with good knees to go adventuring. If I could see a wolverine on my first trip to Glacier National Park, who knows what (or who…(Bigfoot)) I’ll see next.


Women & Apologies

July 10, 2017 - 11:01am

By: Sara Kirkpatrick 

Did you know women have more connectability between the left and right brain? This biological skill has naturally armed women with the ultimate advantage of engaging both sides of the brain: the analytical left and the creative right brain — amazing!

However, as this skill offers many social advantages, it also increases sensitivity to emotions and in turn creates an increased need to apologize, sometimes in situations where an apology is not necessary. This has been notably detrimental for women professionals in today’s workforce.

After viewing a YouTube video on this phenomenon in my summer Business Ethics (BA385) course, I found myself constantly falling victim to the phrase, “I’m sorry.” However, most of my alleged “infractions” for which I apologized were not infractions at all, they were merely apologies for simply going about my business in ways that were absolutely necessary. Whether it is taking a seat in class a few seconds before someone else was hoping to sit down, asking a necessary question of a colleague or peer who had the answer or carrying out other similar tasks and functions that allow me to successfully get through the day, I had subconsciously equipped myself with a canned apology waiting breathlessly to be delivered.

As women and young professionals who will soon be entering, or who are already in the workplace, we need to acknowledge this issue and eliminate our impulsive need to apologize. If we do not eliminate this subconscious affliction, it may impact our future employment opportunities. We could place ourselves at risk by not being taken seriously, or even worse, we could become overlooked by employers for an opening in a company or for a promotion to a managerial role.

Rather than falling victim to this rising issue, let’s embrace it! I encourage all of my PSU female peers to insert the #SorryNotSorry trend into their daily thoughts, interactions, and lifestyle. Let’s use it as a way to empower and solidify our future roles within the workplace of today!


Tuition Cash for Clothes

July 5, 2017 - 5:02pm

By Emma Eberhart

Portland State students are facing a 5% or more increase in tution, and this is at least the third year in a row that we’ve seen tuition raised at the university. Most students already have a hard enough time paying tuition as it is and are likely to struggle further with this most recent increase.

In order to help pay for school in the fall, I’ve been trying every which way to earn money – my most successful venture has been cleaning out my closet. Since the majority of my work experience has been in retail and thrifting is a favorite pastime, I have accumulated quite the wardrobe. Keeping only the pieces I absolutely love and wear frequently and parting with the rest, I have been able to cut down on clutter and earn some extra cash.

By making accounts on apps like Depop and Mercari and just posting my clothes on social media, I have had pretty good luck getting the most for my clothes! Both Depop
and Mercari let you upload pictures of your stuff, describe them, price them, and then let the other members all over the world shop from your closet! The picture to the right is what my page on Depop looks

 

like – super straightforward and easy to setup. It’s really simple and all are protected for safe selling and buying. These apps take only 10% of what you sell your items for. There are, of course, other options that are near campus where you can sell your gently used clothes. Stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange will pay you for your things. However, they take a much larger percentage – close to 70%.

I’m definitely not looking forward to paying more for college, but if the tuition hike has done anything for me it’s decluttered my apartment.