Roof With a View

The fact that the city is filled with numerous food carts is one of my favorite things about Portland. Predictably, since starting at PSU, they’ve become slightly dangerous for my paycheck. The wealth of options for lunch and quick snacks around campus is really tempting. I find myself most often visiting the food cart pod on Fourth Avenue, hunting gyros or beef kebabs over saffron rice. It’s really amazing to be able to sample so many different cultures and try things that I ordinarily wouldn’t. Persian food was always in my rotation when I was younger but I hadn’t really found a good spot again when I moved away from my hometown. Luckily, there’s many Persian food carts around Portland — and they’re all mouthwatering. I was worried about having the same quality of Mexican food coming from California, but you guessed it, there’s multiple incredibly delicious food carts for that. Satisfying my desire to eat sushi as often and as on the go as possible? There’s a sushi burrito food cart for that! 

I still haven’t tried everything in the pod and around campus but it’s definitely on my to-do list by the end of the year. After an hour-long process to finally decide which cart to sample, the only decision left to make is where to enjoy my bounty. I am a proud and careful lunch-spot hunter. I like being somewhere semi-quiet and with a spectacular view. I haven’t been disappointed at all by PSU’s campus, and the downtown buildings have conjured a new option — a rooftop lunch. The best view I’ve found has to be on the fifth floor of the Academic Student Recreation Center. It’s nothing short of breathtaking to be able to see the changing fall colors and almost all of campus. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t before! It may be getting pretty cold, but I’m excited to see the changing colors of all the trees as the year goes by.

B.A. in Crochet

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

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My backpack is full of everything you might expect from a college student: textbooks, notebook, three-ring binder, a few candy wrappers, and a purple crochet dinosaur. Wait, doesn’t everybody have that last one? This particular dinosaur serves as my pencil case and has been an excellent conversation starter. That’s just one of the many benefits that crochet has brought me in the eight years I’ve been doing it.

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A lot of people hear “crochet” and think lace doilies or itchy sweaters. But crochet has come a long way since its early days, and it’s an amazing hobby. Crochet is my way of de-stressing after a long day of classes. When I sit down with a ball of yarn and a hook, the familiar movement of the stitches calms me like nothing else does. I love creating something out of nothing more than a ball of yarn, whether it be a sweater, hat, or dinosaur pencil case. Now I even have a job designing patterns for a popular crochet website.

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Crochet is perfect for a college student because it doesn’t take a lot of money to get started. You can get a crochet hook and a ball of acrylic yarn for less than $10, and there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to guide you on your journey. Crochet is one of the best things that ever happened to me, and I encourage you to give it a try. Who knows, you might just discover a new favorite hobby.

Getting Active

I used to play a lot of sports, but stopped playing in high school for various reasons before an injury put all sports on hold. I’ve played soccer, tennis, lacrosse, and volleyball, and really enjoyed all of them. I knew I wanted to get more active again, and hoped to find something that worked with my schedule and body. But I’m not the biggest fan of the gym so it was difficult for me to find consistent motivation to workout when I’m already on campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day — at least — and then tired and laden with homework by the time I get home.

       During a brief PSU stint in 2016, I played intramural volleyball, and was really grateful for the experience to play on a team at a higher-performing level. With that experience in mind, I checked out Night at the Rec at the beginning of the term and signed up for a bunch of different clubs that looked interesting. One of the only ones that worked with my schedule — and happened to seem the most open to clueless players — was women’s ultimate frisbee. I actually felt more insecure about continuing a sport I knew how to play because I hadn’t played in a long time, so something new it was! 

I was really nervous about it, but made myself go to the first practice, and ended up falling in love with it! There were a lot of new people and we have all caught on pretty quickly. Everyone is very kind and encouraging of one another, and it’s thrilling thinking about playing in tournaments representing PSU. Playing ultimate has kept me really active and has served as that motivation I was looking for. I find myself trying to be in shape to be a better player on the field. There’s also a profound sense of community at practices — especially when we’re doing ab workouts and all suffering together.

I’d encourage everyone to try out a club or sport if you’re thinking about it. You’re especially welcome at women’s ultimate!

Transfer Students Need to Stick Together

Thinking about transferring from Portland Community College to Portland State University, I had always felt exuberant and confident. Unfortunately, in the spring term of last year, my nerves about transferring had begun to swamp my excitement. I felt inferior to the other juniors who had spent their first two years at PSU, learning where the best study spots were and which elevators wouldn’t take an eon to reach the fourth floor in Cramer Hall. 

I knew that I would learn it all in time, but the feeling that I was playing catch-up still bothered me — especially as someone who considers feeling ahead of the game to be part of their personality. 

PSU was a much bigger campus than I was used to, with more resources, buildings and people. I was thrilled to begin taking upper division classes and starting to study some really fascinating stuff in preparation for my dream career, but it simultaneously seemed to loom over me like a mountain I wouldn’t be able to climb. I was incredibly nervous, but I made myself go to one of the Viking Days events — the transfer student happy hour. It turned out to be wildly fun, I got to demonstrate my prowess at trivia, and I got the sense that a lot of other people there also were nervous about starting school. It was nice to feel that I wasn’t alone, something which I knew rationally but still needed to see demonstrated to feel better.

 I’m learning the ins and outs of PSU pretty fast. Transfer students blend in pretty well with the rest of the crowd, but there are still resources to distinguish us and our different experiences. I haven’t checked out the new Transfer Student Resource Center in Fariborz Maseeh Hall, but I am curious about stopping by. I think in the future more events specifically aimed at transfer students would be a great idea — because we’re all out there, but finding and holding on to one another is really helpful! 

Five Beautiful Things a Day

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

It feels like just last week it was summer, and now fall is upon us. It’s easy to lament the loss of long, sunny days. As somebody who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly abbreviated as SAD), the transition into fall and winter is difficult. Lots of people have SAD. If you’ve ever felt more gloomy in the winter than you do in the summer, you may be one of them. 

There isn’t much you can do for SAD, because whatever you do, the seasons will keep on changing. Your doctor can advise things like Vitamin D supplements or spending time under a sun lamp, both of which are extremely helpful for me. However, I’ve found that the biggest difference comes from actively trying to change my mindset. 

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One way I do this is by making an effort to see the beautiful in the everyday. On my walk to the bus stop, I look for five beautiful things. It can be anything from a neat-looking rock to a cute corgi waddling along the street. The point is to engage with your surroundings and get out of your own head. 

I’ve been doing this for over a year, and it’s second nature now. The picture in this post was taken on my way to class when I got distracted by this cute little dandelion. It’s amazing how much beauty there is in the world once you start looking. 

Park Block Encounters

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

One of my favorite things about Portland State is its location, right smack dab in the middle of the Park Blocks. These blocks have the vibe of a traditional college campus, but they also have the energy of downtown Portland. I’ve had a variety of interesting encounters in the Park Blocks. 

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Photo credit: PSU Facebook

Just last term I was reading a book in the grass when a group of students came up to me with a clipboard. “Do you have a moment to rate your experience with the squirrels in this park?” This was such an unexpected question that of course I said yes. Turns out they were doing research on the aggression levels of squirrels in various Portland parks…and the PSU squirrels are overly friendly. (If those students find this post, good luck on your survey!)

I once stumbled upon a group of people doing yoga. They looked so peaceful and serene that I felt calmer just walking past them. On another occasion, I encountered a monk who was handing out books, and we had a pleasant conversation before I continued on my way (a few books heavier).

There are often events and music in the Park Blocks, which is a nice surprise. Because the Park Blocks are a public space, sometimes there are protests and demonstrations for various things. It’s all part of the PSU and Portland experience. I enjoy walking through these blocks on my way to class because I never know what I’m going to find. Who knows, you might even spot Cow Pigeon!

Calming the College Nerves

Untitled design-3 by Claire Golden

This post is for all the incoming freshmen out there who are nervous for the first day of college. I felt exactly the same as you do. I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that it would all be OK…It’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! This is what I would tell Freshman Claire if I could.

Starting something new is always nerve-wracking, and that’s my first piece of advice: remember that everybody else is nervous, too. No matter how calm and collected your classmate seems, chances are they’re anxious on the inside. It’s OK to admit that you’re nervous. People will probably find it relatable.

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Something that helped me a lot was finding my classrooms before the first day of class. Nobody wants to be running across campus five minutes before class, frantically trying to find their building. I write down my classrooms and go on a quest to locate them all the weekend before term starts…even now, in my fourth year of college.

It’s a good idea to get to class early on the first day. It gives you a buffer in case you can’t find the classroom, plus you get the pick of the seats. But don’t panic if you get there late – professors understand that the first day is hard! 

My biggest piece of advice is to take a deep breath and get through it because it only gets easier after the first day. You can do it!