By: Xylia Lydgate
As I continue to push through my senior year, there are three things that can’t seem to escape my mind. First, graduating: walking down the stage and receiving my diploma. Second, my future career: where I’ll be applying post graduation and how I’ll get there. And third, traveling the world: having the ability to enjoy the cultures and cuisines and new sights of other countries before settling into a stable career.
My utmost desire is to travel. It is an energy that’s been burning inside of me since I took my first Spanish class in high school. Not only did I learn a new language, but it exposed me to a different way of life and a different way of thinking about the world.
Now that I have 44 weeks left of school, I feel that I’m in a now-or-never situation. I have one summer remaining before graduating; that means one step closer to transitioning into a career. I know most jobs don’t provide you with much paid time off or vacation days, especially for recent college grads. And I don’t want to be that adult who looks back and says, “Traveling is the one thing I wish I did.”
The clock it ticking, and I am proud to say that I have officially started planning for my first international trip projected for summer 2017. I plan to travel throughout Southeast Asia for two months, exploring Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
If you’re reading this right now, I encourage you to get outside of your comfort zone and see what else the world has to offer. In fact, PSU has a ton of resources to support you with international travel. In a rush like me? Campus Rec’s Outdoor Program is leading a week long, backpacking trip through Colombia this June!
Colombia Lost City Trekking: https://www.pdx.edu/recreation/international-trip
PSU Education Abroad Program: https://www.pdx.edu/ed-abroad/
Don’t allow yourself to become complacent to your day-to-day routine…travel!
By Emma Eberhart
As we all know this Winter Term is off to quite an interesting start; well “start” may not be the best term to use. This winter storm hit, and it hit hard. Below are some photos from, what I am calling, “The Portland Snowpocalypse of 2017.”
Tuesday night I had the bright idea of going to Ikea for some apartment necessities. The snow started as we headed home, and I’m fairly confident we spent more time driving back to downtown than we spent at the store.
In between snowfalls Tuesday night, I went for a walk. It seemed as if every tree branch in downtown was covered with a blanket of snow. The entire city was eerily quiet, most definitely an unnerving calm.
At one point on Wednesday a couple of pals and myself attempted to clear the path for our car with pots and pans, but were not successful with our endeavors.
All in all – I was not impressed with the white flurry and do not recommend attempting to do anything other than cozy up indoors.
Coming back to school at age 27 was weird beyond the on-paper age difference. Even though I no longer live in what some of us, to varying degrees of affection, call “the PSU fishbowl,” I still enjoy meeting people, making connections, and growing friendships. It was easy when I lived in a dorm (ahem, residence hall). My best friend from high school was my roommate, and I made friends with my neighbors on my floor, then later other floors. (I’ll cry if and when Ondine Hall ever goes on to meet the Great Real Estate Development Firm in the Sky.)
But how do you make friends when your classmates live in other neighborhoods, towns, or even states? (I see you, Vancouver commuters!)Talk (Effectively) with Your Classmantes
Effective communication is vital to the success of any major. I’ve found small class settings are more amenable to group discussions, where it’s easier to get to know students and the instructor(s) on a personal level. In lecture settings, I’ve usually tried to sit somewhere regularly and speak to the people around me, or get to know people with unique insight who can also Let the Professor Teach – rare birds indeed. Group projects are good for forced interaction, but can be a pain. As the meme goes: “When I die, I want to be buried by my group project partners so I can be let down one more time.”Actively Listen to Your Instructors
Actively listening to professors is a great way to learn about career opportunities and subjects relevant to your field that aren’t 100 percent related to the course. It’s not going to happen with each and every class, but there will be professors or instructors who will be formative to your career and life. I’ve found some amazing writers, artists and filmmakers, and their work, as a result of my instructors’ recommendations.Socialize Outside the Classroom
Finally, going to campus events is a great way to learn about outside events. Musicians that you hear in the cafe in the Smith Union, for example, might be playing a venue near your home later in the week, or an artist you see on campus might be showing in a professional gallery or even the Portland Art Museum.
Make friends, or don’t. I went back to school thinking I didn’t need to make friends. But networking is where much of your college education gets its value. You have a limited time to interact with 20,000+ people. Make the most of it.
(photo: Andrew D. Jankowski)
By: Anna Sobczyk
I had a lot of illusions about starting college. Having grown up in a small town, I figured my move to Portland would initiate everything “falling into place.” To me, living in a big city meant an endless supply of opportunities and experiences. Six weeks after moving to Portland, nothing had fallen into place for me. I’d had no life-changing revelations, and I really started to question why I was here.
Then, of all things, a Business 101 lecture led me out of my rut. We watched a TedTalk of Simon Sinek, who developed the “Golden Circle” concept. It’s used to explain how companies communicate to consumers through three layers: what, how, and why. Most companies communicate from the outside in, starting with what and ending with why. Exceptional companies, however, will communicate the exact opposite way. Sinek demonstrates the difference this can make with Apple Inc, who begins its marketing message with answering why, ”With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?” The way Apple communicates with the consumer market has separated it from its competitors. People are inexplicably drawn to Apple, simply because by starting their message with why, Apple is appealing to the emotional impulse. They recognize that profit is not a reason why to do something, but a result of a deeper reason.
Afterwards, I began to draw parallels between the lecture and myself in college. I figured the reason I came to college was to earn a degree strictly so I could get a good paying job. However, getting a job after college wasn’t the reason why I was attending, it was merely the result I expected. Even though this a result I still want, my perception of attaining it has changed. For me, college isn’t just a pathway towards a career, but also a way to cultivate and explore my interests. Until that lecture, I hadn’t realized how overwhelmed I’d become from trying to force that result. Now, I’ve stopped trying to connect my major to job titles with fat salaries in favor of choosing classes that pique my curiosity.
As students, we tend to wear an assortment of hats, each representing the variety of responsibilities we shoulder daily. This includes student, leader, networker, teammate, organizer, employee, freelancer, etc. Our list of responsibilities is ever increasing, as employer demands are constantly changing and the need for additional skills outside of traditional coursework is highly desired. In the midst of this evolving set of commitments, we often forget to take time out of our busy lives to care of ourselves.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to even imagine prioritizing something as simple as taking a bubblebath when there are so many other demands in life. Despite my busy lifestyle, I am slowly attempting to rearrange my priorities to incorporate self-care (pampering) activities, since it is an important aspect of stress management, which in turn is essential for academic success.
It is amazing how beneficial a massage, soak in the tub, and other forms of pampering can be to revitalize us inside and out. Here are some pampering suggestions:
- Take a scented bubble bath
- Schedule a manicure and pedicure
- Cleanse facial pores with a clay mask
- Get a massage
Wearing lots of hats is definitely a balancing act, which is why prioritizing and scheduling at least some pampering activities is crucial. Self-care allows us the time we need to de-stress and revitalize so we can feel our best, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Alternatively, students are encouraged to visit PSU’s Mind Spa , a space on campus for students to relax and rejuvenate, and where some of these services are available for free.
By Emma Eberhart
In the wake of last week’s presidential election, now is the time to organize for social justice. Organize, in this context, means coordinating with others to take action or plan events for a better and more just America.
Below are links to some local Portland groups that have been around awhile, or are just starting up, and anyone can join. Click on their name and it will take you to their Facebook page!
- Portland Rising Tide
- Rose City Antifa
- Marilyn Buck Abolitionist Collective
- Portland Tenants United
- Socialist Alternative Portland
- Portland State International Socialist Organization
- Don’t Shoot Portland
- Anyone’s Resistance
A united front is the only way that we will successfully stand against Trump and stand for an inclusive America – one that does not allow for racism, misogyny, and homophobia to exist without resistance.
Check out these local groups and how they are taking steps to combat bigotry here in Portland.
In fall term I had the pleasure of being part of Emerging Leaders PSU. Our group met almost every Friday in October-November and was focused on delivering lessons on leadership skills to a talented group of students. I admit the program was not what I expected. I did a lot of leadership activities in high school: running a club centered on coping with stress and mental illness; managing/coaching our school’s Mock Trial team; leading a rebellion against the blatant disgustingness of the cafeteria food. Well, not so much that last one. Where were you, Michelle Obama?! I’d been thirsting for more leadership opportunities like a hound, so I’d thought the program would be about flexing those already-existing skills and getting funneled into a position at PSU.
Not quite. We participated in presentations and demonstrations that taught us about conflict and time management and how to improve your work environment. Honestly I had learned most of the material on my own already in a more learn-it-the-hard-way fashion. However, I did indeed learn skills that I now apply to my current workplaces, such as different ways to understand others’ strategies of communicating and performing.
There are two more levels, at least, of the Emerging Leaders program at PSU. Each level must be completed to proceed to the next. I’m sure PSU offers more opportunities for leadership-seekers to quench their thirst. If you’re interested in learning more about how to be a great leader, definitely sign up. The mentors in the program are seriously amazing, and some of them are students, too. I do believe that Emerging Leaders will help me succeed. I never cease to be awed at the fabulous programs PSU offers. Check out what’s waiting for you. Try something you haven’t as of yet. Put those feelers out there like an overcaffeinated octopus.
By: Andrew D. Jankowski
What can I say, team. It’s been a devastating week.
Devastating as an American to see the bar of presidential excellence lowered by Donald J. Trump, who holds zero qualifications to hold the office less than a quarter of the nation handed him and whose wife is the embodiment of academic dishonesty and where it gets you in life.
Devastating to know that roughly one in two Americans did not even bother to throw their vote away for professional attention seekers Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.
Devastating as a queer person to have family members and friends disregard your wellbeing under what will likely be the most homophobic American administration of the 21st century.
Devastating to realize straight people still think that marriage equality is the only LGBTQ issue. (It’s not.)
Devastating to know that five-plus years of town halls on bullying and race relations somehow did not stop the election a white nationalist bully to the highest office in the nation.
Devastating to know our president will do more to denounce critical media coverage of him than denounce ideological violence carried out by his disciples.
What is not devastating is a week civil unrest.
PSU’s campus has not returned to peace and complacency following Alyssa Pagan-Pariah’s powerful forum takeover last year, nor should it. Portland State University needs to do more in 2016-2020 and 2020-3020 than offer lip service toward the populations which give the student body the diversity it sorely needs. It starts with we the students, we the faculty, we the employees who blur the line between students and professionals.
Because one rainbow-colored banner hung during the least populated academic quarter-
and-no-further does nothing.
By: Melissa Pyle
After the results of our November 8th election I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Where do we go from here?” Immediately I was afraid; I was afraid that all the hateful things Donald Trump spoke about could become a reality. I wept at the reality that my country will be in the control of this man, someone who could so easily discriminated on so many people. I was afraid for the federal grants I receive that allow me to attend school and I got angry thinking about the possibility of them getting taken away or reduced which would not allow me to attend school. I was afraid for my rights over my own body as a woman and I got incredibly angry thinking about someone else making my reproductive choices for me. I went back and forth for a while getting angrier and more afraid until all I could do was sob. I was crying not only for myself but for all my brother’s and sister’s that felt like our lives changed that Tuesday and not for the better but for the worse. I felt helpless but then I realized, it’s going to take a lot more than one person to get me to lose sight of my values. My actions and beliefs are strongly rooted in equality, inclusion, and integrity and that will never change no matter the circumstances. As a white cis-woman I recognize my privilege and I will not hesitate to use it against hate and bigotry. I refuse to live divided and I will support those that feel the most vulnerable by our President-elect. Together we are unified and we are strengthened by our hope for a better country. In the great words of Ted Kennedy, “What divides us pales in comparison to what unites us.”
By: Xylia Lydgate
Get trampled or feel alive? I know what I’ll be doing on Black Friday this year, and it won’t be shopping. Read more to find out why.
On the day after Thanksgiving last year, REI closed all 143 of its retail locations, headquarters and distribution centers on the infamous American holiday, “Black Friday.” Instead of extending its hours and offering big discounts, the outdoor retailer encouraged its employees and customers to spend their day off enjoying the outdoors. REI sparked one of the most successful outdoor movements that year with over 1.4 million people choosing to opt outside.
In response to this, the Campus Rec Outdoor Program is launching its own outdoor photo contest from Monday, Nov. 14 through Friday, Nov. 25 (Black Friday). The purpose is to support the Opt Outside movement and encourage people to share their favorite outdoor moments on social media using the #optoutside and tagging @psu_odp.
Plus, there’s no better place to Opt Outside than in Oregon. With hundreds of hidden gems, waterfalls and mountainous views, I wouldn’t want to spend my Black Friday any other way. If you haven’t taken a moment to go outside and breathe, are you really living?
by Steph Holton
I’m a millennial and I don’t know how to date.
But I’m also a film minor who puts way too much stock in the “art imitates life” concept, and I want to know who the onscreen-dating-dynamic of the ‘80s was imitating! Because apparently dating now is in no way as simple as when John Hughes was directing Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald.
Characters in “The Breakfast Club” didn’t have to navigate Tinder (or Match or Bumble or any of the numerous others), and dating in the movies almost always happens within the more or less reliable confines of high school where participants have considerably fewer responsibilities than college students. As students at PSU, most of us not only have school, but work and extra-curriculars, not to mention family and friends to fit into our schedules. And then to top that off with attempting to find someone to give you warm fuzzies – worrying about ‘the right way’ to go about doing so? Is anyone else floundering out there? We don’t ask each other to “go steady.” Hell, we can’t even change our Facebook relationship statuses because that’s so 2010.
So what are the rules?
What I’ve finally come to realize in this millennial world of ours is that even though we’re doing things differently (the trademark of our wonderfully weird, often frustrating, brilliantly innovative generation), there were never any rules. I’ve come to realize that even though we don’t swap letterman jackets anymore, there’s still no right way or perfect time to ‘become official,’ or meet the parents, or hit any other relationship milestone. Every relationship is unique, and no matter how you met or what the current culture may deem the right way to go about it, it ultimately comes down to the feelings of the individuals involved, and that’s something that transcends generations.
Student Legal Services is an amazing service that puts students in need of legal help –for whatever reason: roommate/landlord, employer, personal safety, business advice –in touch with a legal expert. There is a 95% chance you will leave learning something about your legal rights, even in day-to-day life.
2. The Cultural Resource Centers & Clubs
PSU’s cultural centers host a wide range of programming that’s both accessible to people wanting to expand their diversity experience, and engaging for their target audiences. La Casa Latina Student Center, the Multicultural Student Center, the Native American Student & Community Center, the Queer Resource Center, the Women’s Resource Center, the Pan-African Commons, and the Pacific Islander, Asian & Asian American Student Center are among our most visible centers for cultural exchange (with the last two opening this academic year!).
3. The Art Galleries
Full disclosure: I am the publicity coordinator for the Littman + White Galleries, two contemporary art galleries in the Smith Memorial Student Union exhibiting rising and established artists. In addition to the Littman + White Galleries, there’s also the Autzen Gallery in Neuberger Hall, the Broadway Gallery in Lincoln Hall, the Garage Projects at Station Place Garage on NW Lovejoy Court, and the Art Building’s MK Gallery, AB Lobby Gallery, and Sugar Cube Gallery.
4. University Success
University Success is a pair of study centers in the PSU on-campus housing, in the Ondine and King Albert Residence Halls. Open on Sunday and late nights, University Success offers additional help if you are struggling in a particular class.
6. The Gym
The gym/rec center has relatively new equipment, a pool and hot tub, and numerous athletic courts, along with athletic and fitness programs and classes.
7. 5th Ave Cinema
Free classic and contemporary cinema every week?! They’ve got something for the film buff and the blockbuster lover. And I heard that the seats might be new, or something? I like popcorn.
It’s magical, and my most fondly reminisced about college memory. The food’s whatever, but it’s the dining experience that you remember forever.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!
P.S.: Happy Halloween!
By Melissa Pyle
As a student at Portland State, I have often found myself impressed at the available resources on campus that support students outside of our academic needs. For example, there is the Food Pantry to combat food insecurity, the Recreation Center to support an active lifestyle, or even SHAC which provides free and low-cost services supporting health and wellness. However, recently I was appalled to find a lack of resources in a very important and necessary place, the women’s bathroom.
A scenario some of us may be familiar with involves going to the bathroom and immediately being notified of an unexpected monthly visitor. Generally, I would pop a few quarters into a conveniently placed metal machine and graciously grab my supplies and then go about my day stress free. Unfortunately, when this happened to me I was in the Smith Memorial Student Union and instead of finding the trusted “tampon machine” there was just a sign. The sign, pictured above, read, “Feminine hygiene products are available for purchase from the University Market on the first floor of Smith Memorial Student Union and after hours at the Plaid Pantry.” PSU is better than this and should be supporting menstruation more inclusively and not suggesting they walk to an alternative location to purchase the supplies they need. I reached out to the Executive Administrative Coordinator of Finance & Administration who manages Facilities and Maintenance in Smith Memorial Student Union for a comment and they expressed, “we have just started to research best practices and create a campus standard around hygiene products in restrooms.”
As a cis-gendered woman, I know that menstruation is just a fact of life. I, along with many others with a uterus, experience a menstrual cycle, it is not gross, it is not shameful, it is natural and healthy. Providing menstrual supplies in all of the bathrooms around campus would be tangible representation of the supportive resources that PSU provides. PSU Camions of Care is a student club that is filling this gap. They not only provide menstrual supplies to low-income and/or homeless students, they also advocate for menstrual focused institutional change. Would you join me in supporting PSU Camions of Care and their November campaign, “No Shame November” and sign a petition in support of the administration providing menstrual supplies in all the bathrooms around campus? Let me know in the comments section if you are interested in being a part of this movement.
By Emma Eberhart
One of my favorite things about being an out-of-state student at Portland State is the fact that I am making a brand new city my own. Exploring this uncharted territory was difficult at first, until I realized the key was right at my fingertips: Facebook.
The social-media network made it easy to map out this new world by means of adding new friends, finding interesting events, inspecting local calendars, and liking various Portland-associated pages.
Below are five, upcoming public events in Portland that I found on my Facebook ‘s recommended, popular, and/or suggested events page that some of y’all might be interested in:
- “2016 Fall Mushroom Show”
Sunday, October 30, noon, World Forestry Center, 4033 SW Canyon Rd., $3 for students. It’s about shrooms of all sorts with vendors, samples, books, and experts.
- “2016 Women in Science Mixer at OMSI”
Monday, November 2,, $5 for students (admission can be waived for those in need) required RSVP. OMSI is at the base of the eastern side of the Tilikum Bridge.
- “Imperialism, War, & the Fight for a Socialist Future”
Thursday, November 3, 7 p.m., on campus and is free! (Their lectures are usually in Smith, but the exact room is TBD so check in on the link) It is definitely a timely lecture considering that this election has revealed a lot of discontent with our two-party system.
- “Portland – Fill Your Pantry”
Sunday, November 6, 11 a.m., Rigler Elementary, 5401 NE Prescott, local apples, honey, chicken and so much more sold in bulk or pre-ordered online.
- “Portland Green Festival Expo”
December 9-11, Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King, free admission to tons of vendors, speakers, and veggie food options.
I hope this very brief list of events helps to get you thinking about becoming a more active member in our Portland community.
If my past self was able to peer into a scrying mirror like some sort of five-foot-two orange-haired Albus Dumbledore, I don’t think I would have ever foreseen being in a long-distance relationship. At least I can be confident about that, I would say, so assuredly. Nope, went my entire molecular structure a couple months later.
I can honestly say my partner, riding shotgun in the vehicle of life, is the only one I’d ever be able to do this with. My Ohio counterpart and I have been dating for almost a year and four months, and been friends for longer. We are so alike, but have our differences where it counts, and we balance each other out. One of the biggest things that brought us together is Portland State. About a couple months into our friendship, it was time for my college quest and I had my eyes set on only PSU. As I told Jakob more and more about the school, he grew as fascinated as I was—we share a lot of the same values about sustainability, nature, and giving back. PSU was like the answer to everything we’d been searching for. It became part of the dream of being together—I was set to move to Portland in September 2016, and he’d follow a year after. It’s been hard finding students that can relate to my situation, especially since I’m only going part time this year.
Once Jakob is at PSU I know we will both find things to get involved in together and activities we can wholeheartedly support the other in. I’m so happy our shared love for this amazing university has brought us even closer together in anticipation for our future. Watch out, world, we’re ready to gross you out with our sappy love.
Need some tips on maintaining a great and healthy LDR? Hit me up!
The fall leaves have officially fallen, and my summer tan-lines have slowly faded, but I am still determined to cling on to what’s left of my summer break activities. Gone are the days of karaoke Sundays, watching movie marathons, or attending an outdoor yoga class with my adorable French Bulldog (pictured on the right). Now, the majority of my days are filled with study sessions and research papers, with no chance of catching up on the latest paranormal romance novel. Nonetheless, I am steadfast in my resolve to find a way to integrate at least one of my summer activities into my hectic fall term schedule.
Say hello to hot yoga – a style of yoga performed in hot and humid conditions, typically referred to as Bikram yoga. Hot yoga seemed like the perfect solution to my fleeting summer fun, since I can practice it early mornings at 5:30 a.m. without schedule conflicts. Over the last month, yoga has created a space for my body and mind to take a break from social and academic pressures. This healthy new-found habit of mine has not only alleviated stress, but more importantly it has improved my overall concentration.
An interesting study by The International Journal of Yoga showed that students who devoted seven weeks of regular practice doing poses, breathing, and meditation significantly reduced their stress levels. As a result, their academic performance increased. Amazing!
I highly recommend to all of you, my fellow PSU colleagues, to consider adding yoga into your fall schedule. Note, as students we receive free yoga classes through the Campus Rec Center! Check out the calendar for more details.
By Jesse Turner
I recently celebrated my sister’s birthday with much of my immediate and extended family. I have a very conservative family and given the current election, conservative political and social ideas are often a topic of conversation. It took roughly twenty minutes before Colin Kaepernick was brought up, and not in a positive way. As someone who is well-versed in ideological family conflicts, I am here to give you advice on talking to the older adults in your life about frightening new ideas like gender roles, feminism, and protesting.
I know you care about the adults in your life and you want to protect them from harmful, scary new ideas. But as the times change, so must the people. If you don’t talk to your parents about tough topics, they’ll seek the information elsewhere. Who do you want your parents talking to? Glenn Beck? Bill O’Reilly? I didn’t think so.
Always start by giving your parents the facts. Asking someone for their preferred gender pronouns when you meet them won’t hurt you. The United States will not burst into flames just because Colin Kaepernick exercised his constitutional right to kneel. And no, Grandfather, the downfall of the American family did not begin because women were given the right to vote.
Next, address the many startling images the adults in your life may be seeing on television or on the internet. Tell them it’s really not OK to share that racist meme. Be sure to remain attentive and make sure they know you’re listening to their concerns. You may hear some of the following questions: “I don’t mind people being gay, but why do I have to see it all the time?” or “Why doesn’t Christopher Columbus get any respect anymore?” and the classic, “This is my country, why do I have to press 1 for English?” Now, you may want to respond to these questions with anger, but remember, they’re learning and you’re there to help them learn.
Do your part, and make talking with the conservative adults in your life a regular part of your day.
Being the photographer and designer for the Rec Center means a couple things. I get to know about a bunch of great events happening here early, and I get to be included in most of them. My job includes everything from photographing the events to designing most of the materials used in them and to promote them. Before my job here I would only come to work out — I would never consider taking part in the events here, until now.
One that is always fun to shoot each year is the Sound Waves Pool Party. This year’s theme was the ‘80s.
Our aquatics team converted the pool into a huge party venue with strobe lights, fog machines, live DJing and even free pizza. I am just working at these events and am not there as a participant. But what other job pays me to go capture the fun memories going on at the Rec Center? I definitely recommend that every PSU student check out one of these at least once during their time here. You’re bound to make new connections and have a good time!
You can click here to go to the Rec Center homepage and see the next few events coming up.
by Steph Holton
I’m a conservative liberal.
I’m a feminist who hates the word ‘feminism.’
I’m a traditionalist who believes in change.
Three years ago, I was none of these things, for the chief reason that I never thought about myself in any of these terms. But then I graduated high school, and I flew the nest. I moved from a rural town, where I graduated with the same 90 kids whom I’d gone to kindergarten with. And I, like most other children, was a product of my environment. My “beliefs,” though I hesitate to even call them that given they were rather inactive, were the product of never having left the comfort of home.
Then, becoming a student and resident of Portland State where residents and opinions are so diverse, all of my beliefs were challenged. And you know what? Many of my preconceived notions about the world have changed in the last two years. Sometimes, that fact terrifies me. I’m torn between the ideals of my hometown and the ideals I’ve come to have as a college student at PSU. Even though I’m aware that change is very much a part of becoming an adult, I worry that my Portland community won’t accept my small-town values, and I worry that my hometown will think I’ve become a “flaming liberal” (actual quote).
It’s taken me awhile to accept that I’m an individual with a view of the world shaped by my unique experience, and my opinions and values are more valid than my fears of not being accepted. I’ve even found that the more I show both sides of me, the more I connect with the people around me and the more interesting my conversations become. We all share an experience as students of PSU, but we also all have a unique background that has helped shape who we are, and that’s definitely something to be proud of and own as an individual
When I started college at 19, I thought I knew exactly how the next decade of my life would pan out. I knew in four breezy years I’d have my English degree, and I’d learn the perfect balance between being a fiction writer and being an art photographer. I knew it.
As a kindergartener, I would stare across the water from my Vancouver, Washington bedroom window at what was probably Airport Way in Portland. I am legally blind, though I didn’t know it at the time, but when I looked out at night, those warm industrial lights shone like glittering yellow diamonds under murky violet water.
Higher education is one of the easiest ways to enter a new city. I moved to Portland in September 2008, days before the government took control of my bank, Washington Mutual. That sure made making my student payments awkward, let me tell ya. But as I spent the next four years riding out Great Recessional angst, I learned about Portland, Portland State University, and myself.
I’ve had a lot of Portland adventures. I’ve learned a lot about Portland State University’s criminally under-utilized resources. I’ve changed everything about the plan I made for myself at 19. I never imagined being a college dropout for four years. I never imagined giving up on, and falling back in love with, writing or photography. I never knew I’d carve out a mildly successful freelance career between my time in school. The only thing consistent about my plan is that I’m still at Portland State University and I’m still pursuing an English degree.
Now in the second year of what I call “college, part 2,” I still can’t believe I found the courage to return to college at 27. It’s still jarring to be in class with teenagers, who were probably in junior high-or-younger when I started and ended “college, part 1,” yet I find myself more at peace in school than I did as a late teenager. But I can probably trick one of them into helping me learn SnapChat, right?
Let Selfies Serve the City.
-Andrew D. Jankowski
with Allie Clark of NW Noggin at PSU’s Party in the Park Blocks 2016