Don’t Tolerate Disrespect

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When it comes to summer jobs, there’s nothing quite as notorious as working in customer service. Coworkers and friends complain amongst each other, and entire memes exist based around the lamentations of the job. I work harvest during the summer, and so my job is a unique form of customer service. I see the same customers (the drivers and farmers) over, and over, and over again—and I’ve been seeing these same people for five years now. Each year I inevitably have to deal with cranky farmers and drivers who are upset about waiting in lines that are completely out of my control. In the past, I tolerated inappropriate and rude behavior. I also believed I deserved it, and that I was somehow bringing it upon myself.

One particularly negative experience this year reset my thought processes. A farmer chewed me out for something I had no control over. Everyone working was following a specific system for moving trucks along, and the farmer didn’t agree with it. The system set in place was done so by someone higher up than me, and yet this farmer decided to come unhinged on me. He cussed, pointed his finger in my face, and raised his voice. This, by far, was the nastiest experience I’ve had at work. I stood my ground and explained the reasons behind the system, but only once he’d left did I realize a few things:

  1. I did not owe him any explanation. He was upset over a decision, but that did not give him the right to yell at me.
  2. In any case, I do not need to offer explanations of how I do my job in order to—first and foremost—be treated with respect.
  3. Since he was so angry, he should have taken it up with a higher ranking employee instead of berating someone who wasn’t involved in the decision making process.
  4. My instinct was to stand there and take it, because I felt like walking away was a sign of weakness. However, listening to that hot-headed tirade was a waste of my time, and I was under no obligation to stand there and take it.
  5. He will likely never apologize.

I regret my tolerance in years past and shake my head at ever believing I deserved to be treated poorly. However, I know these feelings are a reality for a lot of young, service industry workers. My only hope is that others will recognize their worth on day one of the job instead of five years down the road. 

Goodreads for Summer

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

A typical summer for me involves relaxing, adventuring, and working. In the moments between working or exploring, I love to fill my downtime with reading. I’ve always been a bookworm; the only thing that’s changed is the amount of time I have to sit down and read. During the school year that time is nonexistent. When it comes to building my summer reading list, I rely completely on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a website I discovered in high school and is a book-lover’s dream. You can build virtual bookshelves and mark books as “read” or “to-read.” Based on your reading history and preferences, Goodreads will also generate recommendations in several different genres. Since I live under a rock when it comes to any recent literature during the school year, Goodreads is great for catching up on books from my favorite authors or finding a new breakthrough series that I missed during the school year. 

When it comes to obtaining the books, I always use the library. Most people are surprised to learn that you can find fiction, fantasy, and young adult novels at the PSU Library. The library’s online catalog is easy to use and shows a book’s location and availability. If the PSU Library doesn’t have the book, there’s the option to request it from a Summit library. This is nothing fancy—you just have to log-in and wait a few days for the book to arrive from a neighboring university. Between Goodreads and the library, finding books to keep me occupied during the summer is easy. 

City Escape

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Ever since I moved to Portland, I miss having a car. Even with a good public transportation system, I feel trapped at times since it’s confined to the city. I was bit by the adventure bug a couple weeks ago and really wanted to see the beautiful nature Oregon has to offer. I roped in a friend who had also been itching to explore and we decided we wanted to visit Three Pools.

Of course, the obstacle we ran into was transportation; neither of us have cars. As it turns out, this became an easy fix as well. There are three options outside of straight-up renting a car: ZipCar, Car2Go, and ReachNow. 

All three can be reserved for a day trip, but ReachNow stands apart from the others because it has a mileage cap of 400 miles per day. ZipCar and Car2go have a cap of 150 miles, which can be rather limiting depending on where you want to go. Plus, the day reservation was only one dollar more with ReachNow. 

Three pools is almost 90 miles outside of Portland, so ReachNow was the easy choice.

My friend and I were excited for a little road trip, and boy was it worth it. When we walked down the path to Three Pools, it actually felt like we’d stepped onto a different planet. The water was pristine, varying between stunning turquoises and deep emeralds. It was also an invigorating 45 degrees cold. This was the perfect place to put some space between ourselves and the city and relax. This trip gave me the little boost I needed for the last couple weeks of the term. It also served as a reminder that even without a car, there are ways to escape the city. 

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Doing it in four years, yes!

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

The fear of not graduating in four years is real. Going into my junior year, I frantically started assembling a “degree map” to chart out what classes I needed to take every term. I’d been following what courses I needed on my DARS report, but had never taken the time to sit down and map everything out. The biggest benefit of doing this was that it brought up questions I could address early and also made me conscious of term-specific classes.

Portland State has a lot of tools to help students plan accordingly. On Banweb, there’s the DARS report for detailing your major/minor requirements and the Schedule Planner, which has removed the hassle of avoiding class times overlapping when registering for class. Recently, PSU unveiled a cool new tool that helps a lot with planning out classes. Their Course Projection Guide extends three years out and lists what classes are projected for future terms. I started comparing my personal degree map against the Projection Guide and realized there were a couple of major schedule shifts I’d have to make. 

The greatest thing a degree map has done for me is alleviate the stress of not being sure if I’d graduate on time as a double major—I can! An added bonus is that when I go to speak with my advisors, I already have a plan laid out for them to work with and make suggestions. College is an expensive investment, and I think it’s great that Portland State has provided students with several different tools to plan their future accordingly.

The Self-Care Backlash

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Between classes, homework, jobs, and more, student life is busy. Not only is finding time for yourself (self-care) difficult, but it isn’t prioritized. Even though self-care is all over the media these days, actually implementing it can be received with scorn. I encountered this when I began to shift my personal schedule around to make time for myself more of a priority.

Exercise is my version of self-care. Swimming and running are my main stress relievers and my form of meditation. I especially love training for long-distance races, because it’s time and effort I put in just for my personal achievement. When I signed up for a half marathon in May, one of my extracurricular groups knew and saw it as a conflict of commitment. They tried to guilt me out of it even though I had carefully planned my schedule to have time for everything. They completely overlooked and undermined how important is was to me. 

I didn’t anticipate that training for this race—something done for myself—would be met with such backlash, especially from people it really didn’t affect. Oftentimes I think it’s easy to forget that people are multifaceted with several interests, and that we’re all trying to find the mix of interests that make us the happiest.

Remember to Watch Your Back

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the most detrimental things to our personal safety is having a complacent attitude. It’s very easy to believe that if something hasn’t happened to you that you have some sort of immunity. For instance, my six-foot-tall stature gave me a false sense of security because I thought it would make any creeper think twice about coming after me. I quickly learned this isn’t true, and luckily, I didn’t learn it through something awful actually happening to me.

I was walking to Safeway over the weekend when I passed a man who I’d seen at the PSU library a couple days earlier. I didn’t think anything of it until he began running at me and yelling, asking if I wanted to be friends and that he “saw me hanging in the library the other night.” The fact that he recognized me was definitely unnerving. Another day, I was walking home from class when a man acted like he was going to attack me. He very intentionally and aggressively lunged at me. Instantly, some of my old self-defense lessons seemed to emerge from deep within. I put my arms up to block his lunge, and I was in a fighting stance when he just scampered off.

Both of these events happened in broad daylight with other people around me. These oddballs probably didn’t even mean me any “real” harm—but it was weird. Of course, these instances aren’t unique to me or Portland, and I strongly believe everyone should know some self-defense. PSU offers a one credit self-defense class, and I’m excited to be taking it next term. I think I’ll also start lifting again—if being tall isn’t intimidating anymore, maybe some bulging biceps will do the trick.

Introversion Conversion: I’m Social Now

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the lessons I’ve come across being an RA is that you really have to invest time into growing and maintaining relationships. In order to build community amongst my residents, it tookprogramming and being intentionally present in the halls to support them. At the same time, being an RA would be incredibly lonely and hard without the trust and camaraderie of my staff team. While there’s always our weekly staff meeting to look forward to, it’s the time we spend with one another outside of the “job” that really brings us together. With so many new people in my life, I feared that I was letting my old friends slide to the back burner. It would be easy to let the RA role consume my life, but making time for the friends who have supported me since the beginning keeps me grounded.

I’ve been an introvert my entire life. Any time I spent socializing meant I needed an equal amount of time alone—if not more—in order to recharge. Balancing so many social groups started off as overwhelming and exhausting. Now, I’ve noticed that being around my friends and peers energizes me—even if I go days without snagging some alone time. Even though being an RA can be stressful, there’s no denying that I’m much more openly appreciative of the people I have in my life because of it. Still, I’m an introvert at heart. I have those days where I don’t want to see another human soul, but those days are now few and far between.

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.

RA’s Face the Pros and Con(frontation)s

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

Confrontation is an art form. Like any artistic ability, some people just have an innate knack for it. Others work at it until they seem like naturals all, and some try it out only to decide it’s just not their thing.

A year ago, I definitely would’ve fallen into the latter category. This year, however, I’m a Resident Assistant (RA), and conflict is an inherent part of my job. Confrontation was definitely one of my biggest fears coming into this job, but so far I’ve gained an appreciation for it and new confidence in my approach. Of course, RAs go through training on conflict resolution, but the most valuable training happens on the job. Being an RA has forced me to live—on the daily—outside of my comfort zone. Not only have I had to act as the confronter, but also as a facilitator for residents confronting others to resolve issues internally.

Even though being an RA has given me more confidence in dealing with conflict, that’s in no way saying I look forward to it in the slightest. The only secret I can let you in on about RAs is that we hate confrontation as much as anyone else; we just have to hide it.

 

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.