Go Homemade For Heartfelt Gifts

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Years ago, my mom started a tradition where everyone our family has to make a homemade Christmas gift for someone. At Thanksgiving, we draw names to see who has who. I didn’t think much of the tradition when I was younger; it was just something extra I had to do. I eventually saw the value in exchanging something homemade, but moving away from home and starting college made me really appreciate it.

Like any student, I always feel short on time. Making gifts can be so time consuming—yet I’ve found I’m always more excited to gift something I made than something I just went out and bought. Plus, knowing how difficult it can be for me to find the time to sit down and make a gift makes me appreciate receiving one all that much more. Money is replaceable, but time isn’t.

When it comes to homemade gifts, there’s no competition. It’s simply the fact that someone is willing to spend their time on making a gift that makes the receiver feel special. On top of that, homemade gifts don’t have to look or be perfect because regardless, you’re giving something away that’s absolutely unique.

Natural Hair Journey

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

I started my natural hair transition about three years ago. I put the straightener and blow dryer in storage and embarked on my own personal hair journey. Maybe it wasn’t the best time being a student taking 12-16 credits a term, working part time, and still trying to find time to eat and sleep, but there never is a perfect time.  

A black woman’s hair is her crown and I wanted to grow mine. Learning about my hair’s texture, porosity and what it loves and hates was a big challenge. But I’ve learned more about myself in the process.

In college, multitasking is a way of life, and my natural hair journey forced me to become better organized in that I had to schedule my wash days. Nothing is worse than having to decide between washing a two week old twist out and finishing that essay! After many discussions with myself over the bathroom mirror, detangling my hair with a wide-tooth comb. Tangles are all too very real. The longer one goes between washes, the longer it takes to get all the tangles out. I will never again wait too long to wash my hair. Learn to be more patient. It’s called wash day for a reason. You can’t expect perfect curls and healthy hair if you aren’t willing to put the work in. I love myself and my uniqueness. Yes, my hair is different than most. I couldn’t love it any more.

College is all about self exploration and discovery. We’re all here not just to get a degree but to learn about what kind of person we are. For the black students who are  pondering starting their journey, do it! If you’ve already taken the plunge, congrats! Don’t give up. It will get easier. I promise.

Changing Seasons

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.22.40 PM By Philip Hartman

Autumn is slowly changing into winter. The leaves that once shone brightly in the trees on those clear crisp fall days have long since faded into the ground. Walking across the Park Blocks to class and seeing those vivid colors become muck reminds me of the change of the seasons.

As I start my senior year at Portland State I become uneasy with what the future holds. Can I actually succeed in the career path that I worked so hard for? My insecurities slowly fade as I realize I’m not the only one who has these thoughts. I’m not alone. The seasons do change, but I’ve made a variety of friends on campus who lessened my fears and insecurities for the future.

It’s not selfish to think about these thoughts, but to keep moving forward without holding back.

With each passing season let’s not hold back from our dreams. Every day is a new day in which we can succeed.

One Stretch At A Time

nc1By: Naela Cabrera

When you have constant terrible pain in your leg, walking through an urban campus with hills and long distances between places is not fun! That was my struggle this past year until I finally decided to help myself.

At the start of the year, small leg and hip discomfort lead to unimaginable pain, which led to numbness all the way down to my toes and the inability to even get out of bed. By the summer I was on crutches! After a long time with pain, I learned I was a victim of sciatica, a pinching of spinal nerves that affects the back, hips and outer part of the legs. A lot of damage to our spine and nerves are caused by bad habits such as poor posture or excessive sitting, or a lack of good habits, such as walking, stretching and exercising. This experience taught me that the pain was there only because I wasn’t doing enough to help myself. I could have stopped the pain myself with small habit changes.

A physical therapist helped me learn more about things I could change in my daily routine. Water sessions taught me how a simple back and forth walk from one end of the pool to the other could really make a difference. Land sessions taught me about powerful workout machines that only take 10 minutes of my day to really help the pain. Five simple stretches a day also keeps the pain away!

The pain has slowly lessened over time, but when I feel it coming back I quickly hit up Campus Rec to follow the therapy routines on my own. My access to Campus Rec has been a game changer. The facility has a ton of equipment that I used during my PT sessions, and the pool couldn’t be better. I realized a lot of the free aquatic fitness drop-in classes are very similar to my pool PT sessions, so I’ll definitely be taking advantage of those to help myself! It’s amazing to know how much you can do for yourself to overcome pain and keep yourself healthy.

 

Scared but not alone

WechatIMG12  By Qin Xia

I don’t know if you have the same feeling as me, but if I am scared of something, I will force myself to face my fear until I am not scared anymore.

When I was a kid, I forced myself to get used to hearing the iron scratching sound outside my window, but it left a lump in my throat. I have checked under the bed three times before going to sleep to make sure no monsters were hiding there. And I stared outside to make sure my place was free of ghosts.

But not this time.

On November 7, it was almost 1 o’clock in the morning when I woke up to two “bang, bang” sounds. I was not sure if the sounds came from my dream or from outside my Park Blocks apartment. But when it was followed by screaming, I knew something was wrong. I was too scared to move. I just lay in my bed. I felt like even a slight movement would cause the attention from the shooter, even though I was in an upstairs apartment. This time, I didn’t force myself to open the curtain, because I was so scared something bad would happen.

The next day, I had to get up and continue my daily life. But I felt safer when I saw the yellow cordon tape. And I felt warmer seeing the memorial candles when I got back home. I felt even better when people around me kept checking with me to see if I was ok.

I know, I will be scared of something now and for the rest of my life. Danger is never very far away, and I will have to deal with it and not always know how. But also, I know fear might be a good thing when it keeps us together.

 

PSU Vanguard Bridges Campus Gaps

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.31.14 PM By Andrew Jankowski

Portland State University is a unique college in that it is a commuter college in the heart of downtown Portland with a vibrant on-campus community. Off-campus students are within walking distance of PSU buildings, or they drive from out of town or even out of state. Whether we are immigrants, refugees, natives or nationals, we together make PSU a diverse community.

Sometimes, though, on campus we develop insular communities that don’t interact with each other. It’s normal. Think about it: engineering students, how often have you attended an art reception at one of PSU’s six art galleries? Art students, how often have you attended a history lecture? History students, how often do you attend literary events? English majors, how often do we attend science lectures? And how often do we engage with cultural resource centers that don’t center on our identities? And truly, for that matter, who is attending sports events or voting for ASPSU?

Portland State Vanguard, PSU’s de-facto journalism program, is a learning lab that connects students of all majors and ideological viewpoints in the common goal of informing PSU students, as well as our non-student community partners like city hall and local professional journalists, about events that impact their lives. We’ve done it for over 70 years, and now that we’re in control of our own distribution, we’re now on racks and tables in almost every PSU building, and a few off-campus spots like McMenamins, Pizzacato and University Pointe. Based on our print circulation, social media interactions and story comments on our site, more of you are picking up papers or clicking on our content to find out what’s affecting campus. Even more encouraging, when I’ve heard that print is dying for almost two decades, we’ve seen a surge in contributors for writing, photography and videography.

The best part is, we’re still seeking new people to come aboard. We’re now hiring for most of our editorial staff (hiring as in money!), and we’re always seeking contributors for #VikingVoices, our op-ed section open to whatever you’re passionate about in 600 words or less. We recently featured one of our ASPSU senator’s letters as a dialogue for how to engage students on campus and have talks about ideologies we may disagree with personally.

Perks of working at PSU Vanguard include:

  • An impressive addition to your resume.
  • A fast way to develop a comprehensive writing, photography, video, design and/or art portfolio.
  • Connection to numerous professional, academic and social circles, including ASPSU, campus clubs & student groups, resource centers, city hall, CPSO, and more.
  • Opportunities to interview celebrities, elected officials and public figures.
  • Meeting people who can become important professional contacts or really close personal friends.

More than calories

img_4856 by Steph Holton

Food is the one great unifier. For starters, it quite literally sustains life. But the importance of food goes beyond mere calories.

In a world with such remarkable cultural diversity, it is sometimes difficult to find common ground. Every single culture has customs surrounding food, though, and therein lies an opportunity for shared experience. In the simple act of preparing a meal, one is communicating a willingness to expend energy nourishing a companion, and also a desire to share what is potentially a meaningful aspect of one’s life—a favorite food, a traditional mode of preparation, even the excitement of acquiring a new culinary skill.

Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and households around the country are already prepping for that magnificent turkey-centered feast—making grocery lists, contacting all the relatives, delegating side dishes. We’ve made Thanksgiving primarily about gorging ourselves. (Don’t get me wrong; I too purposely wear bigger pants to Thanksgiving dinner.) But I also think that on a day so dedicated to food preparation and sharing, we have an opportunity to do something more, like expressing awe for the unique story and the genuine care that goes into every dish on the table.

College students often don’t have the luxury of traveling home for Thanksgiving, so I think this message rings even more true among us who, perhaps for the first time, are spending the day with friends and bringing together a multitude of traditions into a new shared experience. Personally, I’m greatly looking forward to the experience.