Fasting, going to school, working, and enjoying it all

By Wiwin Hartini

It’s 3:30 a.m. and my alarm just went off. With my sleepy self, I try to gather all of my energy to eat suhoor (early breakfast). As Muslims, we fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset during Ramadhan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. I normally have avocados with an omelet or toast and drink four glasses of water. It’s also important to be ready mentally because fasting is not just about not eating and drinking during the day, it’s about self-control.

After I finish my early breakfast, I normally stay up and start working on my homework before going to school. Coming from a country where the daylight is constant throughout the year, fasting in the U.S. in the spring is a new experience for me. It’s 16 hours of fasting: from 4 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. And it’s fasting by myself instead of with family.

At first, I thought it would be hard psychologically because it’s such a big celebration back in my home country but not as big in the U.S. Instead it has taught me to be more mindful about what I do, how I treat people, how I control my thoughts and emotions. It’s become a month of self-introspection.

There are many students at PSU who are fasting and going to school. For me, it’s never been this easy nor this hard before. Working 13 hours a week and going to school full time and commuting 3 hours every day keeps me very busy. As a slow eater, sometimes I’m grateful that I now have extra time to focus on things other than eating.

Two weeks have gone by, and believe me, it’s not always perfect. The reality is, I don’t always get up for the early breakfast even though I’d love to. I realized that I had to make a decision about whether to sleep or eat. And I chose to balance my schedule without breaking the main goal of fasting. I normally get home around 6:30 p.m. and take a nap to recharge. So, when I get to break my fast at 8:30 p.m., I can stay up until about 1 a.m. working on my schoolwork while snacking and hydrating.

What I learned is that fasting is not an excuse to do less, it’s a mental practice. When you have the mindset that you can handle challenges with a positive attitude, you’d be surprised by how much energy you have, even though you have to skip your favorite tacos.

What I learned from working at a news station

DSC04253 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

Last term, I had the exciting opportunity to intern at KOIN 6 News right in downtown Portland. I applied for this internship because working in the journalism field has always been something that interested me, and because PSU does not offer a journalism major, I figured that I should try to gain experience in this field outside of the classroom.

During my 10 weeks here, I learned so much about the world of broadcast journalism and television production. Here are some of the best things I learned from this internship:

1) How to run a teleprompter

 

First of all, I had no idea that at some news stations, the teleprompter, where the anchors read the script off from during live newscasts, is manually operated by hand. I had to run the teleprompter a lot of times and it was the most nerve-racking job I did during my time here. I had to listen closely to what the anchors were saying and if I stopped paying attention for like five seconds and stopped rolling the script, it would throw the anchors off track on live TV in front of thousands of people. 

2) How to operate a news camera 

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The camera that is pictured above costs $50,000, so you can imagine all the things it can do. The videographers were more than happy to teach me how to set up and operate these cameras. There were a lot of buttons and nozzles that I had to learn and memorize. 

3) How to conduct interviews

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Most of my time interning was spent shadowing reporters as they go out into the field and investigate. A lot of their work involved interviewing people such as politicians, witnesses to crime scenes, and police officers. The best advice I received was from the weekend anchor who told me that a good interviewer must be a good listener. Listening is a skill that a lot of people tend to overlook.

4) Asking questions is the best way to learnIMG_8279

If you ever apply to intern here, don’t expect anyone to sit you down and teach you everything  you need to know about the world of news. Everything I learned was from asking questions. If I was curious about how something worked or why things were done a certain way, I didn’t hesitate to ask whoever I was with. Everyone that I worked with were very helpful and were eager to answer my questions.  

If you are interested in learning more about broadcast news or television production, I highly recommend you apply to KOIN 6. This was a very memorable experience for me and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have! Good luck!

 

A Page From My Book

  By: Adair Bingham

First things first: Your school is probably bleeding you dry with outrageous costs for textbooks and books for supplementary reading too. Often times, the school’s bookstore will brand itself as the cheapest outlet for the book, and does its best to assure you that there is no better deal out there. Often times, there are many better options.

Portland State University is no exception. As a student here, I’ve come to shell out a lot of cash for textbooks that I could’ve gotten for dirt cheap- had I just gone digging a little deeper.

One resource that I’ve recently discovered and would have really liked to have known about at the beginning of my freshman year is https://www.thriftbooks.com, where you can buy books for about $10 a pop, including required textbooks! Without a doubt, it’s definitely one of the best resources for buying used books for university courses.

I’ll admit I was a bit tentative at first about buying anything from this site. Not that it wasn’t professional looking or anything like that; But, as a college student, seeing a textbook for $3 instead of nearly $200 made me question the site’s legitimacy.

But being sleep-deprived and indigent, I decided that it was too good to pass up, and I bought it on a whim. I felt a twinge of regret as soon as I completed the transaction. Something in the back of my head told me I was just scammed, as if the site just took my credit card and ran amok with it.

I shrugged it off and went about my day as usual.

There was no tracking number included in my order, further adding to my feeling that this was a scam. But then a week later, I got a surprise email saying the book had arrived at the post office and was ready for me to pick it up.

It was shipped in some kind of flimsy wrapping, looking as if it had just barely escaped a drunken bar fight. It didn’t look very good, to say the least.

Imagine my surprise after I removed the wrapping paper to discover the book was not only the right one I needed for class, but it also looked in near- perfect condition. In fact, it was in an even better shape than the one I was renting from the library. Imagine that!

Since discovering the site, I’ve gone back multiple times to purchase books for leisure reading as well as supplemental books for my courses. Just like the first time, I’ve had absolutely no problems buying from the site. I cannot recommend it enough, especially for those penny-pinchers on campus!

Hike to Council Crest from Campus

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Joshua McCarroll

Hikers enjoying a view of Mount hood from the OHSU tram.

As a student I have found if you work on a single project for too long without breaks, you begin to dig yourself into a sort of mental ditch, attacking the problem with the same strategy and thoughts over and over. You lose perspective.

I found myself in one of these mental holes of frustration at the PSU library recently and needed to climb out. I realized the perfect place to shift my perspective was only three miles away, and I headed to the highest accessible point in Portland.

A cyclist enjoying the view at the top of Council Crest.

This point is in the center of a park called Council Crest, and if you Google how to hike there from PSU you will likely find the 4T route. The route owes its name to the four methods of transit that lead to the top: the train, the trail, the tram, and the trolley. For instance, you can take the Max from PSU to the Oregon Zoo stop, then hike southeast to council crest.

Riding the Max is not my idea of adventure, so I modified the hike to Council Crest to begin directly from the South end of the PSU Park Blocks. I wanted to exit the library and immediately begin my hike. On the map below I highlighted in green the route I took including some convenient pedestrian stairwells and shortcuts.

Walking along SW Terrace Drive brought me to SW Gerald Avenue, the point where the highlighted path in the image above turns from green to brown. At this point, I found official signs leading to the Southwest trails that lead to Council Crest.

The view of SW Portland from SW Cardinal Drive, including the Benson tower, the Fox Tower, and the 1000 Broadway building.

I love architecture as much as I love nature so I was satisfied with the beautiful homes and the great views of the city provided by my trek through this neighborhood in the Southwest Hills.

The Fremont Bridge as seen through the trees about a mile down Cardinal Drive.
Many of the pedestrian shortcuts briefly lead off the streets and between beautiful private gardens.

At the entrance to Marquam Nature Park, another 1.3 miles of trails with many guideposts leads to the Council Crest Summit. The trails are uneven and at times steep but I hiked them easily in regular tennis shoes. The trails were also surprisingly empty. I only crossed one group’s path my entire hike.

 Near the entrance of Marquam nature park.
A view through the fog nearing the top of Council Crest.

At the top it was too cloud to see any mountains, but, on a clear day, it’s possible to see Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, and Mount Jefferson.

The Crest is a popular destination for bikers.

On the route back, take the Marquam Trail from the Crest to Fairmont Boulevard. I took a right on Fairmont Boulevard, and a 25-minute walk along SW Marquam Hill Road to OHSU.

A great part of this hike is the free tram ride at the end, offering an incredible aerial view of Portland as it glides through the air down to the South Waterfront.
Find the tram schedule here.

After the  tram, take another free ride on the streetcar back to PSU.

Internship Blues

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

My journey of internship applications began fall term. I never kept track of how many I applied for, but it was an absurd amount. I ended up interviewing for 10 positions, and it was absolutely exhausting. 

Time after time, I was not selected and my confidence really took a hit. The worst case was when I got a call from an employer explaining it had come down to the wire between me and another candidate, and I just barely got edged out by this other person. My entire interpretation of the conversation was, “You were great, but there was just someone better.” Essentially, they called to make sure I could be the back-up plan if the chosen intern backed out down the road. The feeling that there would always be someone better persisted to eat  away at me despite the validation I’d received of being a strong candidate.

From then on, my motivation plummeted even though I kept interviewing. My heart never felt in it because I’d stopped believing in my own potential. Eventually—probably because a person can only be turned down so many times—I was offered positions from two different internships. Finally, it felt like the long slog of applications and interviews had paid off. However, I went from feeling extremely hopeful and excited to completely out of luck; I was forced to decline both due to start date issues and inadequate pay.

Now, it’s spring term and I’m still internship-less. I never believed the stories of how hard it is to land an internship, but I understand now having gone through the process myself. It required so much time, energy, optimism, and commitment. But in the famous words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and so my search for an internship continues.

Academic Burnout

 

   By: Adair Bingham

The world of academia is almost entirely composed of never-ending stress, purposeful procrastination, and the always present fear of failure. Grades have, for many years of my life, been a huge indicator self-worth. For me, and most likely many others, grades are a means to measure not only self-worth, but also intelligence and one’s ability to succeed in the real world.

Only recently, especially since being in college, have I realized that there is a extremely unhealthy push for students to earn grades over 90 percent, particularly among those who were raised believing they were special or gifted. Among my peers, I have often heard complaints and lengthy rants about how Bs are considered to be subpar and signify that the student didn’t try hard enough. Not only is this an deleterious mindset, but it is especially harmful to one’s sense of motivation and ability to feel as if they can succeed.

If one feels as if they cannot properly succeed in school with class assignments and tests, and is then made to feel as if a B of all things is something to be upset about, then it really showcases the issues with modern academia.

The term “academic burnout” is thrown around quite a bit and often goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of grades determining self-worth. From all of my years in school, I can confidently report that academic burnout is a serious and often neglected problem. It’s important to be honest and upfront about this issue when it comes to freshman students, returning students, and even school faculty.

With Spring Term just beginning, I believe it’s important to acknowledge that college is supposed to be a place of learning. Students are going to make mistakes and that’s not only perfectly acceptable, but also expected, and should always be used as a learning opportunity, not as a setback.

As clichéd as it may sound, I believe it’s important for students to realize that, in the long run, it truly isn’t going to matter what grade you received, only that you graduated. One thing that has helped me overcome the hurdles associated with “good” and “bad” grades has been thinking more about the situation in the future, rather than the present. For example, in four short months, just how much is one grade you got on an assignment actually going to matter? Often-times, you’ll discover that answer is very little or none at all, and that, overall, your grades do not dictate your future happiness or success in the real world.

Think engineering students are smart, awkward nerds? Think again

By Wiwin Hartini

I still remember my first day at PSU as an electrical engineering transfer student from Clark Community College. I was excited and shocked. I was used to classes of about 20 and suddenly there were 100 students. I remember asking myself, “am I ready for this?” or “Is this how the program was set up?”

The truth is, as you take higher level courses, the class size gets smaller. But I didn’t think about that at the time. Also, as I have taken more engineering classes, I have learned more than just the subject. I’ve learned some “realities” of studying engineering. Here are a few:

You are more than smart.

Stop by PSU engineering building in the evening—7-8 p.m. is okay during weeks 8-10 of the term—and don’t be surprised to find a lot of other students. I’ve heard that some students stay overnight since most labs are available 24/7! And don’t worry, some of the food carts across from the engineering building are open in the evening, and if you need parts for your projects, there are vending machines! The point is, engineering students work very hard. It’s not just about being smart. It’s more about persistence.

Can you fix this?

I’d say that what we learn in an undergraduate engineering program is actually the fundamentals of applied physics. I took Electronics II, where we learned how to design a simple mini operational amplifier. We touch on many fields such as power, computers, signal processing, microelectronics, etc. It’s hard to be good at all of them, but engineering focuses on problem-solving methods. So, yes! Given reasonable time and resources, we can fix things.

Do we lack social and communication skills?

It’s a typical stereotype to say that engineers do not know how to start a conversation and prefer to work alone. I’ve learned that engineering requires a lot of “teamwork.” Can one person build a bridge? I spend my days in the basement of the Engineering Building working with students from many other countries, including U.S. students who’ve had work experience. We’ve had to learn to understand different perspectives and communicate creatively to get our projects done.