The Great Unknown

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

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.

The Last Word

IMG_7864  by Molly MacGilbert

I’m graduating next month. Just typing those words feels hard to believe. My college career did not follow a linear path; I attended four different colleges in three different time zones, with a year off in the middle during which I worked at a bagel shop and partied too much. I’ve learned so much in the past five years—and I didn’t learn all of it in textbooks or classrooms. As I prepare to leave PSU and enter the so-called real world, I will impart a few quick lessons I wish I could’ve told my freshman self:

  1. Sit in the front of the class. Simple but effective. By sitting near the front of the room, you’re up close and personal with the material. It’s harder to get away with smartphone distractions, side conversations, watching pigeons through classroom windows or daydreaming. The times I’ve habitually sat in the front have left me pleasantly surprised by my test grades.
  2. Get involved in the student community. This is something you’ve heard a million times and, like me, have maybe been reluctant to listen to. When I first transferred to PSU, I read the Vanguard every week and wanted to contribute. I included this goal in to-do lists, planner pages and new year’s resolutions. It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally wrote my first story— and I could not believe how exciting and rewarding it was to see it in newsprint. My only regret is not getting involved sooner.
  3. Use a planner. With Vanguard and student blog responsibilities, internships, a 6-credit capstone and homework, I could not have stayed afloat without my planner. Weekly and daily to-do lists and color-coding helped me manage my time confidently and efficiently. Once deadlines and due dates are on paper, they’re no longer building up in my head and stressing me out. Don’t think of yourself as a slave to your planner, though—just do things piece by piece, do the best you can and know that you will handle it all.

To those of you who are still powering through your education, you’ve got this! And congrats to my fellow soon-to-be graduates—we’re almost done, and it feels good. Feel free to comment your own tips for ruling your schooling!

Not qualified? Get an internship.

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

Here we are, students at Portland State, in the city of bridges and roses and sportswear companies. We’re all in a pretty good position for internships—being in college gives us an excuse to get some work experience in a field we’re not actually that qualified for (yet). When I was a junior at PSU, I interned with local nonprofit Literary Arts for seven months. My senior year started with a six-month marketing internship with TriMet and is now ending with a spring term internship with Overcup Press. These three internships have given me invaluable work (and life) experiences.

On paper—unless it’s resume paper—internships tend to seem undesirable. Interns may seem like doormats or Coffee Donkeys. This is a common misconception; in my own experience as an intern, I have not yet picked up anyone’s coffee or had anyone wipe their feet on me. Internships do require challenging (and often unpaid) work, but under the right circumstances, you’ll be too engrossed in your work to notice you’re doing it for free.

For more career and internship-related information, attend one of PSU’s career fairs, like the All Majors Career + Internship Fair on May 1 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom!

An “Honor”able Legacy

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

Every time that I see the Simon Benson House in the park blocks I’m reminded that graduation draws closer with each passing day. Today the sign on the building reads “53 days until you are alumni,” and that number will only continue to dwindle until the day comes that we don our caps and gowns. Amidst all of the other chaos of senior year, I’m currently in the throes of writing my senior thesis as I’m a member of the University Honors College. Instead of doing a senior capstone in the university studies program, I’ve gotten to pick a research topic of my choice and craft an entire thesis about it, a task that is as daunting as it will hopefully be rewarding.

Writing a thesis can be a lonely process, especially when the honors college has felt so separate from the rest of the university in many ways. When my peers who aren’t in the honors college ask about my capstone and I say that I’m actually writing a thesis instead, the conversation oftentimes comes to a screeching halt. I’ve noticed an air of misconception surrounding the honors college, one that unfortunately leads many of my peers to think that those who participate in honors are in some way elitist or exclusionary.

In my last term at PSU, I’d actively like to push back against that stereotype through both my thesis about queerness and veganism as well as in my everyday interactions with my peers. At its core, the honors college is about a hunger for knowledge, learning to conduct research, and preparing students for life after PSU. These are things that should be accessible to all of us as PSU students, and that’s what I want people to think of when they hear about the honors college, rather than a reputation that’s elitist or exclusionary. In the 53 days that I have left to leave my mark on PSU before I’m an alumni, this is the legacy that I’m hoping to establish as an honors student.

Networking Nerves

1IMG_4856 by Steph Holton

 

For Spring Break this year, I did not go to Mexico or Miami or even out to the Oregon coast. Instead, I traveled farther inland  to attend a conference where I made better connections with students in my department and networked with professionals in my field across the Pacific Northwest.

I was extremely hesitant to commit to this trip; it meant that I would be doing very anti-Spring Break things like getting up early, wearing professional attire, and because I presented a paper at the conference, putting together slides and stressing over the finer points of my research right up through the end of the week. Honestly though, these were minor factors. My biggest mental roadblock in attending this conference was the dreaded idea of networking. Going up to professionals and introducing myself over and over again, especially in a fairly small community where everyone seems to already have connections, is not only hopelessly daunting, but seems exhausting.

I learned a few things once I arrived at the conference.

First, a lot of professionals are more than willing—excited even—to talk to students, so don’t feel like you’re a pest if you go up and introduce yourself. If that idea truly wigs you out, go to a talk or a panel by a professional you want to connect with and email them after the conference, mentioning that you’re interested in their research. We live in a world of digital networking, after all.

Second, don’t discount your student connections. In the not too distant future, we are going to be each other’s network, and the best thing I got from this Spring Break was better relationships with the other students in my department.

And third, put yourself out there. Like I said, I didn’t really want to go to this conference at first, but I knew it was a great opportunity. When I went the extra step and contributed to the conference as well, I gained not only connections but added to my own professional experience.

NWAC Table Rock 2 NWAC Table Rock 1

A few of my fellow Anthropology Student Association members and me at the top of Table Rock overlooking Boise, ID after the Northwest Anthropological Conference.

 

 

 

Portland State’s Best Near-Campus Movie Theaters

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

Who doesn’t love movies, right? Whether what you prefer, movies offer a means for finding common ground and expressing bold ideas. Portland State University has numerous professional theaters within an easy walk from campus, but PSU also houses numerous spaces to see movies on campus. All the listed screening spaces are free for PSU students.

5th Avenue Cinema

The most well-known spot on campus to see movies, 5th Avenue Cinema is a student-operated theater that screens a different movie every weekend in the term, with each term having an overarching theme, like the term where they screened movies directed by women. 5th Avenue Cinema is on the north side of the Ondine building, which, in addition to students, houses numerous resource centers, classrooms and a dining hall. In addition to film classes, I’ve seen everything from Space Jam and Magic Mike XXL to Rabbit’s Moon and White Zombie at 5th Avenue Cinema.

Lincoln Hall

Lincoln Performance Hall occasionally screens movies, sometimes with live scores from orchestra students. These movies are often of historical significance, like Jewish Luck, Hungry Hearts and The Picture of Dorian Gray; or are festivals featuring student works.

Smith Memorial Student Union

SMSU’s basement holds a multi-use space sometimes used as a satellite screening space for PSU film festivals, and the ballroom, along with other rooms on the second and third floors, have been used to screen movies in the past. The first floor’s Parkway North space screens movies in addition to hosting concerts. The movies screened in SMSU range from mainstream movies like Spider-Man, Star Wars and Blade Runner 2049, along with documentaries, foreign films and club-centric movies; I swear I’ve seen the anime club have a viewing party at least once.

Campus Rec Center

PSU’s swimming club has screened movies for people as they swim or float. These are usually popular movies that one can follow along with as people splash and slosh. The Dive-In Movie series has screened movies like Wonder Woman and Finding Dory. Near the Rec Center, along 6th Avenue, is a set of four screens that project curated art films 24/7, and have been featured as part of PSU’s involvement in festivals like Portland Winter Light Festival and Portland State of Mind.

 

What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen at PSU, and where did you see it? Tell me in the comments.

Food for Thought On Exercise and Weight Loss

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

While the recent sunny days have given us a tentative promise of the beautiful seasons to come, some not-so-beautiful conversations about our bodies have also begun taking place. There’s a certain rhetoric around “shedding the layers of fat” that we gained during the winter, or hitting the gym to get “bikini body ready” that seems to get more prevalent as we draw tantalizingly closer to spring break. I recently started working out more and was floored when someone asked me how much weight I was trying to lose. The answer? None. There have certainly been times in my life before this that I was actively trying to lose weight, but my relationships with food, exercise, and my very sense of self were deeply fractured during those times.

It was jarring to again be exposed to the idea that working out is often synonymous with losing weight, or that losing weight prior to being able to don a swimsuit during spring break is some sort of inherent expectation. So why am I working out then, if not to lose weight? For one, I love the way that yoga makes my body feel and how strong I feel while doing it. For another, I want to be able to go camping and hiking with my friends without getting too fatigued. Lastly, I’m doing it just because I’m finally able to try to develop a healthy relationship with exercise.

My desire to work out is no longer fueled by the hatred, self-loathing, and internalized fatphobia of my past. Rather, it’s become a new and exciting way for me to connect with myself, my friends, and the world around me. So let’s stop associating working out with losing weight, and let’s start looking forward to a spring break hopefully full of radical love and acceptance for our bodies no matter where they’re at.