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Posts tagged ‘experience’

You Don’t Know What You Got . . .

By: Theo Burke

As I graduate, besides memories and friends, I am leaving behind the awesome Portland State student health insurance. I’ve written about this before, now I’m experiencing the difference.

Since I don’t know what job is coming down the pike or what kind of health insurance it might carry, I’ve applied for individual insurance through Cover Oregon, the state exchange that sells private health plans (with federal subsidies to help pay the premiums) under the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare.” The state exchange will alternatively sign you up automatically for the state’s Medicaid program (the Oregon Health Plan) if you qualify.

In the real world, I will have to think more about the deductible. A deductible is an amount you pay each year (usually $250 – $1000 or higher) before any benefits are paid by your health insurer.

At PSU, the deductible was $0.00.

My present doctors might not be covered by a new insurance company. At PSU, the Aetna provider network was vast.

I will have to worry more about whether alternative care is covered. At PSU, naturopathic doctors are treated the same as primary care doctors, and chiropractors are covered up to twelve visits per year.

Weirdly enough, when I heard from Cover Oregon recently, they put me in the Oregon Health Plan, even though I reported enough income to disqualify me from that program. Now I will have to figure out the Medicaid ”world,” which works much differently than the private insurers’ system, or else contest my placement in that program with Cover Oregon.

Students, the PSU plan won’t throw you such curve balls. You have an awesome, generous health plan, and you should take advantage of it before you graduate. As I’ve said before, you don’t know what you’ve got, until you lose it.

Who would want to take summer classes?

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By: Mario Quintana

The majority of people wait all year for summer to arrive and perhaps even more so students.After months of class, hours of studying, and weeks of cloudy days, summer is ever so calming.For those who work and go to school, it is a relief to have less stress and responsibilities to deal with. So it may come as a surprise to many students to see other students taking summer classes. Yet, there are lots of reasons for taking summer classes.

I’m considering taking summer classes this year to graduate sooner rather than later. Fortunately I have the finances to take the classes if things work out. In doing so, I can save time and money by graduating earlier. Yet, there are uncertainties that come about by rushing things. What are my options after graduating? Am I considering grad school or will I join the workforce? Do I have a plan for both options?

In the end, I suppose I’m ready to finish my undergraduate degree and to move on. This is my  fifth year at PSU and taking another year is not appealing to me. It almost seems that my path to adulthood has been stagnated for numerous and personal reasons. While summer is a great time for the majority of people, it does not exempt them from their work and responsibilities. So would you take summer classes if you could?

Call Campus Security? Maybe not.

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Another “phalanx response”, on Sunday, March 2, in Smith.

Over Christmas, as I returned to my car at 2 a.m., I was approached by four muscular campus security officers, in three patrol cars. It was a little scary.

Someone had called in a complaint about a man “trying to break into the library, wearing a hoody.”  I had returned some books to the Millar Library dropbox, and then carried the library’s delivered New York Times closer to the revolving doors as a courtesy, pausing to read some headlines first. I’m geeky like that.

After a check with dispatch that I was a bona fide student, the four officers let me on my way. I’ve since noticed this “phalanx of four” routine is common with Campus Public Safety Office (CPSO) responses:

  • HPIM2423Last week, I saw a solo CPSO officer patrolling the Broadway. Around the corner, I spotted three more campus security responding to an incident.
  • Later in the week, a young man was panhandling all of us in line for coffee in Smith. Someone apparently reported him, as later I spied one officer stationed by the coffee joint, two more interviewing him by the Information Desk, and a fourth officer by the front door on Broadway.

Clearly, CPSO is prepared for any escape in any direction! Their “I-formation” is as impressive as any our football Vikings might run.

I refrained from calling CPSO on the panhandler, as I also did last week when I saw an unstable young man kicking all of the gravel out of the tree beds in front of the Broadway. I imagined an overreaction from CPSO similar to my experience.

Is all this manpower necessary to keep us safe? A greater risk is created, I suggest, if some students avoid calling security in the first place, concerned about overkill. Money would also be saved if CPSO responded with two-man teams.

What do you think?  In April, the university will have a security discussion that will include the question of arming these officers with guns. Tell the university what you think here, or add a comment to this blogpost. You can bone up on the recent task force report on campus safety here.

Isn’t there an easy button for life?

By: Mario Quintana

The-Feel-Of-Everybody-Graduating-College-Is-Husky-RelatbleIt’s only been recently that I have given much thought on what may follow after I graduate. I find it hard to believe that four years ago I stepped onto this campus and thought it would seem forever before I found myself at commencement. I like many students, had my share of difficulties along the way, times of procrastination, and uncertainties about my major.

Every time I head over to the Diversity and Multicultural Student Services, I see new and young faces. Gone are the students I met when we were freshmen. I reminisce with my adviser on how not long ago I was one of the new, young, and few first generation students. Now, I am at a crossroads in my life.

Many questions and scenarios come to my mind. Should I, upon graduating, immediately seek a job? Or should I pursue my master’s or hope to create something for myself? It is often said that graduates should seek a job that they love to do or that has meaning to them. However, while it is a comforting idea I don’t believe it to be realistic. Yet, the idea of simply working to make money is dull itself.

But I ask myself, how many people have the privilege to work? How many others have meaning to their jobs or let alone their life? These questions may seem naive and repetitive, but it is often through contemplation that we can find ourselves. Perhaps then I should find work for the sake of working and on my free time create meaning to my life and myself.

A live phone call — someone loves me

By: Theo Burke

"Hey, I didn't know it could TALK!"

“Hey, I didn’t know it could TALK!”

Not long ago, while working on a PSU Vanguard story, I received a return phone call, within 24 hours, from Scott Gallagher of the University Communications office. I nearly fell down from shock.

I had not received a live phone call in months from anyone other than my mother. And it seemed as though an ever-increasing amount of important people in my life had barricaded themselves behind “email walls.”

When I recently asked to meet with an editor at one of the three student media outlets I worked for, she simply refused to do it. Her supervisor had established a policy, she said, that editors could limit communications with writers to email. No meetings, live conversations, or body language required.

A professor supervising me on a huge term paper could only be reached by email and was only on campus two days per week. She had not even set up the voice mail on her office phone. But this makes her no different from most PSU profs —not a single professor in my three years here has used the office phone.

Mr. Gallagher reminded me what humans are capable of. Follow up.  Consideration. Professionalism. Simple human respect and kindness. And he understands that the old standards of professionalism still matter to do your job.

I submit to you all that we will not be able to live without live voice communication and nonverbal body language over the long run. We will not be able to abandon those and hold onto the jobs that we like, as well.

No amount of quiet, feverish tapping on our devices will replace our voices and ourselves.

The taste of a Guinness

By: Mario Quintana

Portland is home to more than 60 breweries, more breweries than any other city in the nation. It should then come to no surprise the high number types of beers that are offered across the city. There are pubs and bars all around to provide a taste of the variety of beers available. Purchasing beer at the local supermarket while cheap can deprive the consumer of the full taste of beer from a tap.

It was in Portland where I first began to get a taste of what beer was. Beforehand I lived in Portland, I only conceived beer as light and dark. I couldn’t have imagined the vast types of beers that existed. From Indian pale ales, to porters and stouts, the range of beer types is larger than most people know. I was used to drinking mainly lager beers with family and friends. However, I soon came to find my preferred type of beer.

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It was at an Irish pub where I had my first stout beer, a Guinness. It’s dark and heavy but it has a refreshing taste to it. Most beers tend to be too carbonated for myself, something I realized only after having a stout beer. I’ve introduced this beer type to my family back in Hood River and have had a pint with friends as well. And every once in a while, I enjoy a pint of Guinness as a sort of delicacy.

There was never enough time.

imagesBeing a full time student and commuting from quite a distance has some straining effects on my time. However, the strains tend to be created out of my choice whether I like to admit or not. One of those strains used to prevent me from working out consistently throughout the week. What is ironic is that I never had the time to work out when I used to live on or near campus. One would imagine that being so close to the gym would give me an incentive to workout.

For the last two months, I have successfully worked out throughout the week in one hour sessions. There have been days in which I missed a workout but they are few and far. Whether I am tired, feeling depressed, or if it’s late in the evening, I always have to get a workout done. The results have been satisfactory, I have gained decent amount of muscle.
Working out for two months has proven to me that I can mold my physique, but more importantly, that I could commit to achieve a greater will. I will admit that I work out to look good but consequently I have also started to feel better, perhaps because I know that I can control how my body looks but also how it performs. Ultimately however, my body may be one of the few things in which I have total control in my life.

Rain, rain, go away and come back another day

outdoor_raining-1280x800I was dreaming that I was sailing a small ship through a tremendous storm. The rain was heavy and dense, battering the ship and causing metallic thumps that scathed my ears. Then I awoke from my sleep and the sounds had not ceased. I cleared my eyes and sat up in my seat and saw a heavy downpour battering my car, where I was sleeping.

The rain had always made me feel blue. It’s common among people deprived of sunshine to feel blue and even develop a condition known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. It comes to no surprise to any of us that it rains for most of the year in Portland. Still, why do so many people feel blue because of the rain?

Indigenous people tend to see the rain as sacred and as a sign of life. For some reason, it seems that modern society and individuals do not see it in the same light. Perhaps our need for comfort through materialistic and superficial things have deprived us of the opportunity to reflect on ourselves in solitude.

WWOOFing in France

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.

River rafting in Estacada

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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.

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