A Degree of Suffering

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When I was a freshman, my pride in double majoring in math and quantitative economics held rank over my actual happiness. I didn’t go into college with the intention of double majoring, but quantitative economics and math overlapped so well I just thought, “Well, why not?” I was absolutely miserable, but I figured temporary misery was a solid trade for the salary I’d be making with my majors down the road. 

Halfway through my junior year, I had an epiphany: I hated economics with a burning passion. Math piqued my curiosity; economics did not. Math challenged me in a way I found rewarding, and economics was just boring. The more I thought about the future, the more I realized that I would hate my entire life if I pursued a career in economics.

Even with this realization, I still felt trapped by my freshman-year decision. I had poured over two years worth of time, energy, and tuition into two majors, and it would be wasteful to quit. My mind was going in circles, which prompted a phone call home to my parents. I had become so paralyzed by my pride that I had not considered a solution that my dad pointed out—minoring in Econ.

Sure, I wouldn’t be able to say I was double majoring anymore, but my suffering would be over. Plus, my previous coursework would not go to waste. Sometimes in moments of high stress, we need to seek out other perspectives because it’s too easy to get wrapped up in our own heads and lose sight of the bigger picture. I made the switch immediately, and it was hands down one of the best decisions I’ve made in college.

Picture of self with cane in restroom before medical procedure

Helpful Holiday Hints

by AJ Earl

I think it’s important to have perspective.

For example, I think that we should all take a moment to think about the upcoming holiday break, and whether you celebrate or don’t celebrate the myriad holidays, we are all about to get some well-deserved time off from the books and pdfs, the proofs and the theories, the, well, everything.

I know there are some exceptions, but they, too, deserve some relaxation, and thanks to the very generous calendar, they will also get some time off.

To that end, here are my tips for making your holiday break a really great one:

Read anything that’s outside your academic field: I don’t care if it’s the instructions on the back of a gingerbread house kit, give your brain some time to absorb and integrate your field-specific readings. How many books can you read, anyway? Try this test to find out the possibilities: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/570929/how-many-books-to-read-year-test

Try a new recipe a week: Forget the 30 cookies in 30 days challenge, or anything that requires you to constantly try new things. That’s stressful! This holiday, try 3 or 4 different recipes and spend a week trying to perfect it. Knowing how to make 11 kinds of chocolate chip cookies is great, but why not learn how to cook the perfect Bûche de Noël? https://www.iletaitunefoislapatisserie.com/2016/12/buche-noel-roulee-chocolat-facile-rapide.html

Pamper your pets: If you have any kind of pet, take some time to give them a “me day,” where you treat them with good food, take glamour shots of them, and generally make sure they get the attention they need after a term of you focusing on schoolwork. If you don’t have a pet, the Oregon Humane Society is always looking for volunteers!

Learn your city: Staying in Portland for winter break? Why not hop on a Trimet bus or MAX and ride until you find something interesting? This kind of in-town tourism is helpful, it keeps you busy, and it’s low stress. Have you seen the Paul Bunyan statue?

If anything, this holiday break should provide you with the needed rest you’ve earned from this fall term. If you don’t do anything like the above suggestions, I hope at the very least you can take a seat, relax, and drink a nice cup of cocoa or whatever your favored winter drink is.

A Major Change

By Erika Nelson

Since childhood, literature, writing, and media have been my biggest passions. I assumed that if I went to college, I’d major in English. However, with near-constant articles and reports warning of a difficult job market, I began to question whether English was a good choice. After extensive advice from well-meaning people, I assumed a business degree was the “safe” route to gainful employment after graduation. Business, after all, is a multidisciplinary degree — it has applications in virtually every field, and can lead to a variety of exciting (and potentially lucrative) careers. I was planning to minor in business anyway, so what would be the harm in swapping my anticipated major and minor? 

As the fall term marched on, I found myself deeply unhappy — I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the “wrong” place. I finally came to the hard truth that an intensive education in business simply wasn’t for me. 

I’d made my choice out of fear; chased a hypothetical future salary that would allow me to quickly repay loans. What was the point of pursuing a degree if my only purpose was to pay off that degree? Next term, I return to my original plan — an English major with a business minor. This decision … it feels right. There is certainly nothing wrong with majoring in business if that’s what you want to do — but I had to learn through experience that it wasn’t for me, in order to make the right choice.

The Other Side of the Tutoring Table

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

Today marks my 10th week of working in the PSU Learning Center, and I can say without hesitation that it’s the best job I’ve ever had. If you haven’t heard of the Learning Center, check it out! It’s a free service for PSU students and offers academic coaching and tutoring in nearly all subjects. You can visit on the second floor of the library…and be sure to come say hi if you do!

unnamed

Photo copyright The Learning Center. Psst…I’m on the left!

When I was in College Algebra, my required math course, I pretty much lived in the Learning Center. See, I’m a French major…which means I’m good with languages, but not-so-good with numbers. I became familiar with the student side of the tutoring table (and it saved my grade!) It was a completely different experience being the tutor, but one that I find extremely enjoyable and fulfilling.

Being the French tutor has allowed me to help other students learn this amazing language. I’ve gotten to help with verb conjugation, adjective agreement, conversation practice, and more…all of which has improved my own knowledge of the subject. If I don’t know the answer to a question, then the student and I get to learn together. It brings me immense happiness when the lightbulb goes on for somebody, or the way I explain a concept helps them understand it.

Tutoring can seem scary if you’re unfamiliar with it. But trust me, tutors are nothing more than fellow students who want to help you learn. There’s nothing scary about me, an overexcited French nerd. So come by the Learning Center and say bonjour, or guten tag, or whatever your greeting of choice may be. We’ll be happy to welcome you!

A Love for Classical Music

I have been playing classical flute repertoire for seven years, but it wasn’t until recently that I acquired a love for listening to the genre. Here are some of my favorite pieces that I hope will open up your mind to classical music. 

Nicole Chamberlain– Crunchy

When introducing others to classical music, I always start off with a contemporary artist because it is more exciting. Nicole Chamberlain is a 21st Century artist who explores extended techniques on the flute. Extended techniques are simply funky sounds on an instrument. This piece asks the player to beatbox throughout by saying the words, “za’s, ka’s, ta’s” into the flute. This is part of a suite that Chamberlain called “Smorgasbord,” and it includes four other movements that also bring the piccolo into play. 

Samuel Barber– Canzone for flute

My flute professor recently introduced me to this piece, and it is now one of my favorites. Barber is a 20th Century American composer and wrote many different pieces for choir, violin, and strings. This particular piece is slow and very lyrical. As a performer, it’s a fun piece because it gives me room for expression and expanded throughout the flute’s register. One of my favorite parts about playing the flute is how rich the low register can be and this piece shows off that part of the instrument. 

Bach– Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

This is probably the most famous cello song and is my cello piece, but I absolutely love this cover by the piano guys. They arranged this solo piece to be played by seven cellos. This is the biggest part of the Suite and is filled with arpeggiated chords. Bach is one of the iconic composers, so much that his birth and death year are the start and end of the Baroque era. Interestingly, he died from complications of eye surgery at 65. 

Claude Debussy– Clair De Lune

Every time I hear this piece I begin to tear up!  Clair De Lune is French for “light of the moon,” and I first played an arrangement of it for one of my high school marching band shows. Debussy wrote this piece in 1890 when he was only 28 years old, but it wasn’t published for another 15 years. This is a very simple piano piece and is very straightforward to play. 

A Novel Concept

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I recall really starting to get into it as a hobby around the sixth grade. I keenly remember being confident that I’d have at least one novel done by the time I was eighteen, maybe twenty if I was busy as an adult. It definitely makes me laugh to look back on my perspective at that point! My dream career has always been to be a therapist, but I really want to pursue my writing on the side, and being a novelist in the future is an important part of my identity.

     I’ve entertained several different novel ideas, but the first one I settled to work on has been time-consuming, stressful, and tough. But I’m so in love with the process and project. Crafting a story that has strong female characters, a complex setting that tackles tough issues, and equally funny and heartbreaking moments is one of the best things in the world to work on.  I’m about fifty thousand words into what I’m aiming to be a hundred thousand word first draft. It feels really weird to be so far into a project, as I’ve written many short stories but never something this long and complex. The biggest challenge is finding the time and energy to work on it. Sometimes, I have unorthodox weeks where I write ten thousand words, and sometimes weeks go by with nothing new. Often, my time to write is after I get home and after a long day of classes, work, and sports, I’ve still got to do homework and make dinner. I’m usually drained. It’s tough, as I remember wanting to be done with my first novel at eighteen, and I’m twenty-one and only halfway through the first draft. But I’m persistent and trying to be more realistic about my time and energy. I’m passionate about it and know that I’ll get there eventually! I’ve got a couple other novel ideas now, and even tried competing in a writing competition again for the first time in years, and my success has been really encouraging. Hopefully you’ll see my books on the shelves one day!

An Uncertain Senior

By Maya Young

Starting at PSU, I knew that I wanted to delve into communications studies but had no idea what that truly meant. My first year, I took an intercultural communications course and was immediately drawn in by the depth in subject matter that we covered. From this course, I found that I was deeply interested in the influence of cultural and societal effects on interpersonal communication. My interest has only grown as I have found myself more invested in communication theory and research.

Now, as a senior, I am identifying strong skill sets within myself that do not completely correlate with one specific job type. Beginning my job search for post-graduation has been a daunting task as I am met with a plethora of different fields to go into and little knowledge of my professional passions outside of academia. PSU has afforded me numerous opportunities, from networking with communications graduates, working as a learning assistant for a core course, and even beginning a position as a Business Minor Marketing Assistant. But despite all of these experiences, I remain overwhelmed by what my professional life will be after I graduate. 

My advice? Make the most of the opportunities and resources offered at PSU. From professors to advisers, and from internships to on-campus jobs and extracurriculars, there are numerous ways to test the waters and uncover your passion. Although I remain uncertain, I know that these experiences are invaluable and will eventually lead me to do what I love and hopefully make a difference.