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Posts by Kate Jensen

Graduate school worries

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.
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Coffee obsession

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:
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A reaction to the Boston Marathon Bombing

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. Read more

A Devastating Leak

Knock, knock, knock! “ResLife!”

I sat up in bed. The clock read 4:30 a.m.

Knock, knock, knock . . . “ResLife!”

“Just a minute!” I yelled back. I scrambled in the dark to find my phone and a
sweatshirt. My boyfriend was up and beat me to the door. The light from the
hallway was almost blinding as we opened the door to find an RA standing
outside. Read more

5 Ideas for Valentine’s Day

V-day cookiesStill stumped with what to do on Valentine’s Day?  Check out some of these ideas, single or taken:

  1. Make something chocolatey – This is one of the most common gifts for your sweetie, and can have fantastic results. Maybe get some fresh strawberries and dip them in chocolate yourself; don’t underestimate the power of some homemade dessert.
  2. Dinner for two – Busy schedules keeping you two apart? Try getting together and making dinner as a team at home. This gives you time to catch-up on each other’s lives in a more casual setting than dinner out. Plus you get to keep the leftovers.
  3. Date night dilemma – Stuck in a dating rut and on a budget? Make a jar of popsicle sticks with fun ideas for a night in or out. This gives you something tangible for your better half, it’s inexpensive, and can help you spice up the romance.
  4. The Single Mingle – Get your single friends together for games and dessert. Just because you don’t have a date doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun!
  5. A Night for yourself – If you’re feeling down about single life, today is a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation. School is stressful! Use Valentine’s Day as an excuse for a night of pampering and focusing on your own needs.

Higher Education Cushion

higher_edLast term I took two elective courses that made me question my choice of major and career. After two years of pursuing Economics, a class in Health and Health Systems was precisely my cup of tea. At the same time, I was taking a course on Nutrition, which inspired me to cook more often and in a much healthier way.

I noticed that while I was excited to get ahead on readings and homework for my health classes, my econ homework was often thrown by the wayside. I procrastinated more for those econ classes than any other in my entire life. All fall, my close friends had to endure my constant narrative about whether to change my major. And at the end of the term, I finally did. I’m now officially majoring in Health Studies.

Nearing the halfway mark of my junior year, I am thankful for the cushion that comes with still being in school. Changing my career after college would be even more difficult than changing my major in my junior year, which, trust me, was terrifying. My appreciation for the security and freedoms I have as a student have grown substantially, as well as my respect for those who have made a career change, returned to school, or enrolled for the first time in order to make a job transition later in life.

How many times have you changed your major? Are there any other “cushions” in higher education that you have grown to appreciate?

Learning From Alexis

Alexis PicIn 2013, my ambition is to become more like my friend Alexis. She is a senior at PSU and has seen her family only five times since starting school four and half years ago.

I just got back from seeing my family in Colorado at Christmas, and it was the most important thing I did all year. The opportunity to see my family is a rare treat; traveling to another state requires plenty of money and planning that restricts me to only two visits a year, three if I’m lucky.

It’s easy for me to feel sorry for myself when I compare to friends whose families live close by in Oregon, but not at all easy when I look at Alexis.

She was born on Saipan, an island you’ve probably never heard of, and is one of the most dedicated students I have ever met. Most students have their entire junior and senior years of high school to decide if and where to go to college; Alexis was given the duration of one phone call to commit to moving to Oregon and left the very next day.

Despite being far from home, I have never heard Alexis complain about attending PSU, only about how much she loves and misses her family. What I admire most about Alexis is her perseverance and gratitude; always thankful to be going to school and eager to give back to Saipan.

It is time to make gratitude a priority; I am thankful for my family, both in Colorado and Oregon, and for the new friends I’ve made who continue to inspire me.  Your turn!

On the Field

In my intramural soccer game last week, a player on the opposing team got into an argument with one of the refs over a foul and spat on my teammate. Everyone saw it.

This is not exactly surprising behavior when it comes to sports, but it was one of the tensest moments I have experienced in intramural sports at PSU. In club and professional soccer, the player would have been given a red card and immediately been taken out of the game. But since the incident occurred during halftime, our intramural referees had no power to remove students or give any fouls. So the argument escalated between the two teams and refs until it was time to resume play. The second half was an ugly dance between the two players with a few empty threats from the center ref.

I always thought intramural sports were a good way to exercise and meet some new friends. But I’ve found that intramurals are really competitive. To be honest, I am not sure if all intramurals are friendly to students who are new to the sport. This term I tried intramural volleyball and was taken aback by how competitive some of the other teams were! I still love to play and don’t plan on quitting any time soon, but new students may want to go watch a game before they sign-up to see if the level of play is right for them.

Can Breakfast Save A Life?

I remember quite vividly my first walk to work at 4:30 on a Monday morning. I had just been hired as a barista and was scheduled to train during the opening shift from 5-9 a.m. On that first 25-minute walk to work in downtown Portland, I passed no fewer than seven men sleeping, either under trees and awnings or on the sidewalk. The first person I passed startled me; it was dark and I had walked within two feet of him and not even noticed until he made a sound. The second was similar, as were the next five — each a surprise in an unexpected place.

On Facebook the other day I read a status being passed around by friends from home about a college student who saved a man’s life by saying good morning and buying him a coffee. He was in the process of planning his suicide when she gave him a muffin and cup of coffee for breakfast without any prompt, and inspired him to live another day.

Since starting my new job, I can tell you which doorways and benches are occupied in a three-block radius of my commute, and know exactly where to walk to avoid them. How difficult would it be, and what would it mean for them, to leave someone a breakfast of my own?  I find myself using the excuse that “a poor college student” can’t shoulder the responsibility of helping someone in need.  Maybe this is the attitude that needs to change.

I haven’t found the courage to do anything yet, but I’m hoping that someday I will.

Federal Work-Study = Food Stamps

The art of grocery shopping has always been the epitome of “adult” to me ever since I was a kid, and I can’t help but feel like a grown-up as I strut into Safeway for the first time as a college student without a meal plan. Basket in hand, I stroll down each aisle, taking my time to consider which brand offers the most for the price and carefully avoiding my usual temptations.

I approach the checkout stand, pleased with myself for being so responsible, and the cashier announces my total.  What? I owe you how much? There must have been some mistake. This was not part of the deal, Safeway.

How are college students with minimum wage jobs supposed to afford groceries, let alone expensive healthy options? I lived off of a lot of soup and PBJs until a friend told me that if you have a Federal Work Study job you can qualify for up to $200 in food stamps a month.

I started receiving food stamps in January and they have completely changed how I budget and shop for groceries. Now I can base my choice in food more on what is in the product than how much it costs. Two hundred dollars a month is not exactly winning the lottery, but if you plan ahead and can keep from splurging you can eat pretty well on $50 a week.

Work Study students aren’t the only ones struggling to pay for groceries. Should there be a stipend available for a larger population of students? How do you save money on food?


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