If you’re reading this, you made it through finals week! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to sleep for about three weeks and then eat a lot of cake – not think about summer classes. But this will be the third summer I’ve taken classes, and though my post-finals brain may protest, I’ll be happy to have something to keep me busy once summer boredom sets in.
What’s so great about more homework during the summer? I’m a former homeschooler, so I don’t think in terms of the “school year.” There’s no time limit for learning! It can be rough going from being a full-time student to having no classes at all, so taking a few credits can help keep your brain occupied. Plus, it means you can take a lighter course load during the year.
What I like best about summer classes is that many of them are online. Being homeschooled means I’m used to this format, and I love it. You can read the lectures at your own pace rather than frantically taking notes in person. Online discussions mean I sound way more eloquent than I do in real life (thank you, backspace key). If you’re going on vacation, you can work ahead in the syllabus so you don’t have to do homework on the beach.
Most importantly, you can go to college in your pajamas. Thank you, online classes, for helping me earn my degree in style.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I remember when I first came to PSU four years ago, I didn’t know anybody. I would see people walking in big groups or people studying with their friends and it made me feel like an outcast. I wanted to transfer to a bigger university because I felt lonely all the time. Things started to get better when I joined student organizations on campus and made a bunch of new friends, I finally started to feel like I belonged somewhere. I finally didn’t feel alone.
Since then, I have made plenty of friends that I’m convinced are going to be my lifelong friends. I’ve made the best memories at PSU and I consider college to be the best chapter of my life. However, since this is my senior year, everyone’s gotten busy. All of my friends are focused on their own thing and we have naturally drifted apart. Unfortunately, the feelings of loneliness that I felt during my freshman year have returned.
I spend most of my time alone on campus now. I can’t meet up with my friends because they’re busy or our schedules conflict. I’ve noticed that making friends in class is hard because everyone is just there to learn, not to socialize. It kind of sucks to be feeling this way, but I’ve found that what helps the most for me is to socialize as much as possible, even if it’s just small talk with the person that I’m sitting next to in class. Also, I have continued to be involved in several student groups, and I’ve met a lot of new people through that.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels alone in college. My biggest advice to anyone else feeling this way is to try to be more outgoing and participate in as many campus activities as you can. Become a member of a club or join an organization that interests you. Feelings of loneliness in college are normal, but with the right attitude, both you and I can overcome it.
This spring, I will graduate from Portland State with a bachelor’s degree in communications. I have long awaited this day since the moment I started college, and it’s been very comforting to know that after spending basically my entire life in the classroom, I am almost done. No more assignments, no more homework, no more projects, no more school. But for some reason, as graduation day gets closer and closer, I have this subtle feeling of not wanting it to come.
I’ve been a full-time student my entire life. Waking up and going to school is all that I’ve done for the last nearly 20 years. So how am I going to adjust to waking up one day and not having to go to school anymore? Sure, I will have to find a job, and that’s what most of my time will consist of, but the transition from full time student to full time employee is a big one, and it will take me a long time to adjust to it.
So after complaining for so long about how much I hate school and how much I want it to end already, I actually don’t want it to end. I am scared and nervous to be going out into the real world where it’s everyone for themselves. However, I guess it’s a good thing that I feel this way. If I wasn’t scared, then I’m not taking a chance.
Until the day graduation comes, I am cherishing every moment I have left of my time here at PSU. This is the last time I will ever get to feel like I’m not an adult. I want to leave, but I don’t. Graduation can wait just a little bit longer.
Standing in the hot sun, cheering as each float passed in a flurry of color, it seemed like everyone in Portland was on that street. In that moment I realized something: I’m thankful to live here.
It was Sunday, June 17, and I was at the Pride Parade in downtown Portland. As I looked around all I could see were happy faces. People were clapping along and high-fiving strangers as they passed by. I felt lifted up by the people around me and knew this is why I chose PSU.
There are always ways to get involved in the City of Roses, whether it’s supporting a parade or marching in a protest. Portland and PSU’s urban campus give you the tools to have your voice heard. While living on an urban campus can come with its own trials and tribulations, there is always support to be found in the city. Becoming a PSU student lets Portland become not only your city but also your community — a community that’s supportive and very accepting of all who call it home.
I’m graduating in 11 days. The emotion that arises when I think about this fact can only be expressed as a cross between a celebratory squeal of freedom and a blood-curdling Hitchcock scream. The question I’ve been asked at an increasing frequency in recent months, weeks and days provokes a similar cocktail of excitement and terror: “What’s next?”
Really, the person who has asked me this question the most is myself. And despite the ominous tick-tocking of the clock of my undergraduate education, the answer remains: I don’t know. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And regardless of my search for answers and the anxiety that arises when I come up short, I think I’m becoming more okay with not knowing.
From a young age, there’s so much pressure to know what we want to be when we grow up. We grow up playing house and prescribing careers to our Barbie dolls, from pastry chef to firefighter to fairy princess. Our high school years are geared toward preparing for college, and most of us start applying our junior year. I don’t know about you, but at age 16 I could hardly plan my breakfast, let alone pinpoint the career path I was supposed to follow for the remaining (hopefully) several decades of my existence. Which is probably why my college years have been full of indecision, confusion, change, dropping out and transferring.
But with every stressful semester and unpleasant job, I’ve gotten a little closer to figuring out what I want. And even if we never figure out what we want to be when we grow up, I think that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no matter how old I get, I’ll be stumbling blindly through life with more questions than answers. And anyone who honestly thinks they have all the answers is someone I neither want to be nor be around. Life is inherently mysterious and ridiculous, and we might as well accept that.
The one thing I know I’m doing after graduation is taking a well-earned road trip down the Pacific coast. Not only does this give me an opportunity to get a little less pale, it also gives me an opportunity to run away from my anxieties and put off the job search until July. Cheers to that—and cheers to the great unknown.