WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is just one option beyond studying abroad to get out and explore the world. I spent my entire junior year last year preparing for study abroad my senior year. My heart was absolutely set on it, and I was ready to follow through with everything. I’d attended orientation in Eugene, sent in my host family preferences, signed up for classes, and had even already checked out the tango dance scene. The only part that didn’t follow through? My finances.
Upon realizing a tad too late that there was no way I could afford the ridiculous fifteen grand to study in Lyon, I looked elsewhere for a way to 1) travel 2) ameliorate my French 3) have some fun. A few classmates and coworkers had done WWOOFing before, and they were the ones to put the bug in my ear. In exchange for approximately 5-6 hours of work per day, 5 days a week, a farm will host you, house you, and feed you. So essentially, you can go stay and work for a host family for the price of a plane ticket and whatever else you’d want to spend your money on for fun.
I chose to come to Velaux, France, just outside of Marseille on the Mediteranean, to work on a horse farm. My hosts have been incredibly gracious and welcoming, and I’ve learned a lot while being here. I still have two weeks left, but time seems to be flying. I’ve learned how to ride horses, how to care for them, the pain of getting stepped on by one and what the electrical fence feels like, and that horses get super cranky if you don’t feed them on time.
It’s been a great experience so far. I plan to do this again, but in Germany or Sweden next time. I’ve had the same advantages of studying abroad in that I’ve gotten much better at my comprehension of French, I’ve met a bunch of new people, and I’ve even been able to take my days off to explore Marseille, Montpellier, and Nice. And not to mention the food and wine… So if you’re strapped for cash but have a desire to go abroad, let me recommend you to WWOOF! If you’re interested in following my adventures as I’m currently working as a WWOOFer, here’s my personal blog: katiegoestofrance.wordpress.com. And if you want to check out what WWOOF is and how to get involved, go here.
Summer: the season of warm weather, tanning, outside sports, travel, beach trips, pool parties, BBQs… and sucky summer jobs. This summer I decided to “take it easy” and not have any obligations except for my two part-time summer jobs. As finals week neared the end and my regular responsibilities came to a close, I began to imagine in dream-like visions long sunny summer days with a constant stream of friends and fresh homemade dinners. I saw concerts, BLTs and popsicles, tango dancing every night, bike rides, and hiking in the gorge. I guess I also saw a glimpse of a few hours working here and there, but my ideal summer vision did not include more than a few hours of work a week; just enough to keep a steady flow of cash to fund my daily grind. In retrospect, I should have realized that you can’t make a ton of money and work hardly any hours at all at a seasonal minimum wage job.
I currently work upwards of 45-50 hours a week, sometimes working 14 hours a day. I’ve started to think: is this what working as an adult is like? –cause this is not fun. It feels like I’m busier now than I was during the school year with more responsibilities, and the stress level is equally high. But how can this be? Where is the summer?! There is at least some light in that I know I won’t have to do this forever, if only I can get through college…
The other night I had a sort-of epiphany: If I hadn’t have chosen to go to PSU, my life would be so different. I realized how much life has changed since the moment I stepped into my new dorm room, anxiously awaiting the arrival of my roommate whom I’d had yet to meet. Read more
Last week, I had the experience of being on the other end of the table for several interviews. As part of my job as a resident assistant, I am required to interview people for the positions that will be open for next year.
I found it interesting to see the process through the eyes of the person conducting the interview. There were so many things that I had in my head as a personal checklist: dress, eye contact, sincerity, understanding of the job, and a drive and willingness to be there. I was thoroughly surprised with how little confidence I saw in several of the candidates. I’ve been involved with Residence Life for two years, so many of the things that I took for granted, things that I naturally expected from those I was interviewing, apparently did not seem to be so obvious to the candidates. I guess it goes to show you what experience can do to change your attitude, view, and expectations.
Overall, what I took away from this process is that presentation is everything. That doesn’t mean you have to be obnoxious and speak over others at every given point, or digress onto points that are unnecessary. Rather, be clear and concise with your ideas and don’t be afraid to speak up when prompted. Also, there’s a lot to be said with the phrase “dress for success”: your clothes reflect that you’re collected, professional, and ready for business. Even if you aren’t the most confident person in the world, just fake it ‘til you make it.
Do you ever sit in class, and feel like you’re the one person that has no clue what’s going on? I seem to have already found myself in this dilemma this term. It’s now the second week of the term, and I’d say that I’ve already passed my previous record of stress-to-week-of-term ratio. On the second day of classes, I was assigned upwards of 200 pages to read before the end of the week. Granted, I signed myself up for these three 400+ level courses and one 300+ level course, but that still doesn’t mean that I’m not overwhelmed by this initial work load. This past week has left me feeling like this guy from the movie Better Off Dead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmdVqCNev6Q
I guess it’s time to hit the books!
Le Bistro Montage
If you’re like me, you aren’t old enough to experience the night life of Portland. It seems that everything after-hours requires an ID. So what’s there to do when you’re itching to get out, but you can’t get in to 21+ places? I prefer the following places which have excellent food and foster friendly and relaxing environments.
- Le Bistro Montage: (301 SE Morrison) located underneath the Morrison Bridge on the east side. Once you enter, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself in the dimly lit room with music blasting and shared community tables. And trust me, if you’re craving mac-n-cheese, this is the place to go. Everything they serve is delicious, and they always give away the most creative to-go packages.
- The Roxy: (1121 SW Stark) This 24hr joint has basically everything that you’d crave at 2 or 3am, minus alcohol and ice cream. It’s 15 minutes from campus, and you don’t ever have to worry about a lack of conversation since the interior is decorated with so many pictures of drag queens and the aftermath of the surrounding gay clubs that it’ll be impossible for dead conversation.
- The Hotcake House: (1002 SE Powell) Also open 24hr, and as you may have guessed, they serve pancakes here among other breakfast foods and burgers as well. You’ll need a car to get there, but the Journey blasting on the jukebox and the 70s feel is worth it.
- SE Grind: (1223 SE Powell) This is a block away from the Hotcake House. It’s a 24hr internet café featuring a multitude of comfy couches and tables. I find it a great place for those all-nighters. You can get your constant fill of coffee, tea, or kombucha and stay as long as you need to finish research papers.
- Rimsky Korsakoffee: (707 SE 12th) This coffeehouse isn’t open too late during the week, but it’s open until 1 am on weekends. It’s an experience. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that there are special characteristics that give Rimsky’s a kind of haunted feel to it. Their food is always especially delectable and sometimes they have live musicians who play the piano or guitar.
Decorative interior to Rimsky’s
There are a few other places, but these have proven to provide an excellent non-21 experience every time I go. What are your favorite places?
Walking into the room, one hears the creak of a bandoneon, two violins and a rhythmically syncopated piano. The voice is incomprehensible to anyone who is not fluent in Spanish, but the pain behind the vocals brings a thickness to the chest that requires one’s attention to the dance floor. It’s impossible not to notice the couples of people, embraced and wrapped up in the moment, connecting to the music, the floor, and to each other.
Tango originated in the slums of Argentina, and since the 1920’s has since flourished around the world as a dance of connection and improvisation. The dance involves a feminine role and a masculine role (though either can be dance by both genders), and operates in a certain fluidity in which the lead invites the follower to move with him while allowing room for self-expression. It’s danced in close embrace, which can be related to a good hug.
I am so grateful to be able to take three hours from my life to connect with others through dancing Argentine tango at the PSU Tango Club every Tuesday. If you’d told me before I moved into college that in my first week, I would be trying tango for the first time and then develop such an addicting desire to continually grow, learn, and connect, I would have laughed at you.
I joined the PSU Tango Club a little over two years ago during my first week, and since then the dance has taken hold of my life and serves as my weeklycreative, social, and physical outlet. Tango is my antidrug that lets me let go of the stress of school, work and life for just a few hours at a time. I go out several times a week to get my tango fix at different venues around Portland. It’s a passion that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life that that has significantly increased my ability to meet people, escape my comfort zone and expose myself to communities and cultural activities I didn’t even know existed.
Being in college is all about these life experiences that force us to open our minds and explore, sometimes resulting in life-long passions.
Have you found yours yet?
I remember all too well my very first time walking into a college class. It was a 9am French class, and I had woken up two hours earlier to prepare. I was terrified. I was late and then proceeded to answer with a Spanish “si” instead of “oui” when my professor asked me a question. My heart raced and my face flushed deep red. I had from that day set the standard for the rest of the term, and I suffered painfully shy and awkward moments nearly every class.
I can now say that walking into my classes this term has been the opposite experience. With practice and time comes confidence. I no longer have to carry a map to locate my classrooms, and I’ve learned to plan my walk accordingly so I don’t show up to class 20 minutes early or 5 minutes late. I no longer feel the pang of anxiety every time a professor calls on me.
A metaphor I heard last year compared being a freshmen to a baby T-Rex: We have awkward arms and fumble about trying to find our balance. But by the time we leave campus, we’ve become the king of the dinosaurs, and the smaller dinos looks up to us.
You best run while you can, ’cause the T-Rex is comin’.