Work to Know the Value of Education

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

I live among the rolling hills of the Palouse in northern Idaho. Come August, those hills look like golden seas filled with wheat, barley, and legumes. The past four years, I’ve worked at a scale house during harvest. My experience there has been one of the most impactful on my life and character.

Once harvest begins, I’m in the scale house at least 13 hours a day nearly all week. I take samples from every truck that comes in and run moisture, protein, and falling numbers tests on different commodities. With these samples, I keep track of each farmer’s opening and closing of lots and send their composite samples out for grade. On the busiest days, I rarely have the chance to sit down or sometimes even eat. After all, I’m servicing over 100 trucks every day, and they have to come across the scale twice—once full, and once empty.

Many people don’t realize how stressful and exhausting this time of year is for the farmers and harvest workers alike. My job requires my mental acuity to always be sharp because of the amount of paperwork I handle, but it isn’t nearly the most physically demanding job. The employees dumping trucks full of crops into the pits are in 90-to-100-degree heat, surrounded by dust. They also shovel out bins. When I start to feel like complaining about my job, I only have to remember I have air conditioning.

College students are no strangers to summer jobs, and one of the greatest takeaways I’ve gained from mine is a value for education. Harvest can be grueling, and while I love it—I love it as a summer job. The overtime pays great, but it isn’t something I want to do for the rest of my life. So, even though I can’t say I’m looking forward to another term of homework and tests, I only need to remind myself of the future career I’m working toward.

Awestruck by the Eclipse

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

The most important and surprisingly difficult challenge I took on this summer was convincing my parents to go see the solar eclipse. To me, it was an obvious once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the path of totality would pass just four hours south of us in Idaho. Eventually my badgering won out, and we found ourselves camped out in Cascade, Idaho, waiting with thousands of other people for the big event.

There are no words to describe how amazing the total solar eclipse was. Watching the moon slip into place, I realized why even 99% totality is only as awesome as 90% or 70%. If any part of the sun is visible, you still need to wear solar glasses because it’s too bright to look at. One hundred percent totality, however, was the single most awe-inspiring and beautiful thing I’ve seen. No picture or description can do it justice. In those first moments, I was so taken aback and humbled by what I saw that a chill swept over me. A flock of birds flew into a nearby tree to roost. Venus twinkled off to the side, and the barest hint of a couple stars poked through the ecliptic darkness. In 1 minute and 55 seconds, the sun made its reappearance. My first thoughts when the sun’s rays began cascading out from behind the moon were, “I have to see it again!” And since I couldn’t reach out and shove the moon back into place, I decided I’ll just have to be an eclipse chaser. The next one in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024.

If I missed this eclipse, I wouldn’t have understood what the big deal about it was. As I searched for pictures of the eclipse online, I realized none of them captured what I saw. Even the best cameras distorted the light or made everything too dark. All in all, a total solar eclipse is not something you can relive through a lens; it must be experienced.

Mountains, Forests, or Shores: Just Explore

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Recently, a friend from high school invited me on short notice to camp at Glacier National Park in Montana. Despite the anxiety I felt just thinking about how much I had to get ready in only a couple days, I said yes. That decision turned into a highlight of my summer.

Since it was short notice, it was too late to reserve a campsite, so we left Idaho early in the morning to try and snag a first-come site for our stay. Amazingly, and on the Fourth of July no less, we managed to claim a spot. From there, we did several day hikes around the park to Avalanche Lake, Hidden Lake, the Highline Trail, and Logan Pass. The views were unbeatable, but my favorite part was when we saw arguably the most elusive creature other than Bigfoot—a wolverine.

My trip to Glacier National Park made me crave more adventures. As a freshman, I was still figuring out how much time I needed to devote to my classes and was always worrying about falling behind. There were several places I wanted to visit during my first year at PSU that I never did, like Crater Lake, Mount Hood, and Tamolitch Blue Pool. Now I know I could easily spare a couple weekends to explore Oregon. After all, there’s no time like when you’re young with good knees to go adventuring. If I could see a wolverine on my first trip to Glacier National Park, who knows what (or who…(Bigfoot)) I’ll see next.

Do The Math: Get A Tutor

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Not too long ago, I thought I was good at math. For some reason, it just always clicked with me and because of this, I chose to minor in math. Then I started Calculus III—and nothing was clicking. During the lectures, I stared blankly at whatever new theorem the instructor was scribbling on the board, thinking, “I’ll get it later.” When I clearly wasn’t getting it, my inner narration changed to a constant, “What the hell is going on?”

After the first homework assignment, I realized if I wanted a great grade in the course, I’d need to put effort into it. At first, I was hesitant to try out the free tutoring services offered by PSU. I was embarrassed for needing help—especially in a subject I’ve provided tutoring for in the past

My determination to do well trumped the shame I felt at seeking help. I visited both the Learning Center located on the second floor of the PSU Library, and the Tutoring Table in the third floor atrium of Neuberger Hall. The Learning Center provides free drop-in tutoring for several different subjects. The tutoring table in Neuberger Hall is all about math.

After I’d put the time in to see a couple different tutors, math began to make sense again. I could sit through the lectures, and despite continuing to leave confused most of the time, I’d think, ‘It’s ok—you won’t fail this class!

Ultimately, Calculus III has taught me more about overcoming my fear of getting help than about infinite series. Below are the links to the resources I turned to and vouch for 100%. After all, it’s because of these tutors I was able to ace my first Calc III exam.

NH Math Tutor Schedule

Learning Center’s tutoring schedule

Don’t Forget What You Love

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Recently, I have found myself falling away from some of the hobbies I love in order to study and do homework. Even though college is definitely a time to figure yourself out and find your identity, I started to miss parts of myself I’d accidentally left behind.

For years I sang, played guitar, and enjoyed performing the songs I’ve written at open mic nights. In fact, Portland’s flourishing music scene is a key reason I chose PSU—and yet I still have not been to an open mic. For the entirety of winter term, I only picked up my guitar once and never wrote a new song.

I also haven’t been running as much. I loved having a goal to train for that culminated in a competitive race where I really tested my limits. Moving to Portland from Idaho, I was excited to participate in the races it had to offer. As in the case with my singing and songwriting, fall and winter term passed by and my runs grew few and far between.

Despite entering spring quarter of my freshman year with two academically successful terms behind me, I felt rather unaccomplished and disappointed. On a whim, I signed up for the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon with only a month to train. After my first long training run, I immediately felt like part of my old self was back—and in a good way. I have also queued up possible open mics to go to and ended my creative drought by writing a song.

Looking back, I see that I took the “fresh start” of college too literally and ended up sidelining the things I love to do. It’s very easy to get swept away in the idealized college life of self-discovery. Despite the transformations I’ve undergone, the biggest learning curve was realizing that not everything about me has to change.

 

The Ultimate Way To Get Involved

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Get involved is a phrase every college student has heard. As an incoming freshman, I didn’t put much thought into getting involved because I wasn’t entirely sure of the benefits. On top of my doubts, the sheer number of student organizations to choose from was overwhelming. But as I settled into Portland, I realized I lacked the competitive outlet I’d had back home with running track and knew I needed something to fill that void.

That something soon became Ultimate Frisbee (also called Ulitmate Disc). I’m not sure what drew me over to the Ultimate info table during a Viking Week event—outside of PE class, I barely touched a Frisbee—but I’m forever grateful I made the stop. Joining Ultimate has proved to be one of the best decisions I made this year.

In an Ultimate Frisbee game, seven players from each team take the field. On offense, there are typically three handlers (the players primarily responsible for throwing the disc) and four cutters (the players running around to get open for a throw from a handler). The handlers and cutters work the disc downfield against the defenders to hopefully score a point in the end-zone. Overall, it’s sort of like soccer, except you’re throwing and catching a disc instead of kicking a ball. From my first practice where I learned these Ultimate basics, I was hooked on the sport’s fast pace and intensity.

The practices and tournaments give me something to look forward to outside of classes and homework. Best of all, I gained an entire team’s worth of friends who made the transition into college easier simply by being there. My time on the PSU Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team has been a tremendous growing and learning experience. The memories I have of team dinners, sideline cheers, and coming out victorious against tough opponents are irreplaceable.

Now I have a new understanding and respect for what being involved does for a person. Especially as a freshman, becoming involved was a critical step for me to take to make new friends, find a support group, and establish Portland as my home away from home. Ultimate Frisbee filled my need for a competitive outlet, and also something I didn’t even realize I’d been looking for—a sense of belonging.

Bursting The Political Bubble

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Liberalism is a disease—a shirt design that wouldn’t turn heads in my small hometown in Idaho. I was raised in a conservative community of 950 people and my graduating class was 15. When I decided to go to college in Portland, I effectively jumped from one political bubble to another. This division between urban and rural ideologies hit home during an Honors class discussion on LGBTQ rights. A fellow student spoke up and said that conservatives didn’t understand the reason behind these rights because they “came from a place of privilege.”

For a moment, I struggled to process this statement. Immediately, the farmers back home who work relentlessly from sunup to sundown during harvest came to my mind. They are, hands down, some of the hardest workers in a thankless job, and far from privileged. In addition, rural areas just don’t boast the amount of high-income jobs that a city does. These people may be conservative, but it isn’t coming from a place of financial privilege.

Ironically, I distinctly remember political discussions back home where people thought of Democrats and liberals as privileged. These conservatives looked at how Democrats wanted to raise taxes through the roof, how liberals “wanted everything for free,” and figured they had the money to pay into the system. All they had to do was look at the wide variety of Hollywood A-listers who have voiced support of the Democratic party—think Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Madonna—and see people worth millions of dollars supporting candidates that want to hike taxes up on the majority of people making less than six figures.

This political “bubble” effect is dangerously blinding and makes it easy to lose perspective. As someone who has lived in the two extremes, I find it odd that both sides seem to think their opposite opinions stem from thinking the other has had life handed to them in one form or another with money or opportunity. Liberals and conservatives—rich and poor—can be found in every nook and cranny of this country. Therefore, the reason for such contention between them isn’t a matter of privilege; it is the misunderstandings that arise from either side thinking they are undeniably right that cause most attempts at communication to fall on deaf ears.