Picture of self with cane in restroom before medical procedure

Helpful Holiday Hints

by AJ Earl

I think it’s important to have perspective.

For example, I think that we should all take a moment to think about the upcoming holiday break, and whether you celebrate or don’t celebrate the myriad holidays, we are all about to get some well-deserved time off from the books and pdfs, the proofs and the theories, the, well, everything.

I know there are some exceptions, but they, too, deserve some relaxation, and thanks to the very generous calendar, they will also get some time off.

To that end, here are my tips for making your holiday break a really great one:

Read anything that’s outside your academic field: I don’t care if it’s the instructions on the back of a gingerbread house kit, give your brain some time to absorb and integrate your field-specific readings. How many books can you read, anyway? Try this test to find out the possibilities: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/570929/how-many-books-to-read-year-test

Try a new recipe a week: Forget the 30 cookies in 30 days challenge, or anything that requires you to constantly try new things. That’s stressful! This holiday, try 3 or 4 different recipes and spend a week trying to perfect it. Knowing how to make 11 kinds of chocolate chip cookies is great, but why not learn how to cook the perfect Bûche de Noël? https://www.iletaitunefoislapatisserie.com/2016/12/buche-noel-roulee-chocolat-facile-rapide.html

Pamper your pets: If you have any kind of pet, take some time to give them a “me day,” where you treat them with good food, take glamour shots of them, and generally make sure they get the attention they need after a term of you focusing on schoolwork. If you don’t have a pet, the Oregon Humane Society is always looking for volunteers!

Learn your city: Staying in Portland for winter break? Why not hop on a Trimet bus or MAX and ride until you find something interesting? This kind of in-town tourism is helpful, it keeps you busy, and it’s low stress. Have you seen the Paul Bunyan statue?

If anything, this holiday break should provide you with the needed rest you’ve earned from this fall term. If you don’t do anything like the above suggestions, I hope at the very least you can take a seat, relax, and drink a nice cup of cocoa or whatever your favored winter drink is.

A Love for Classical Music

I have been playing classical flute repertoire for seven years, but it wasn’t until recently that I acquired a love for listening to the genre. Here are some of my favorite pieces that I hope will open up your mind to classical music. 

Nicole Chamberlain– Crunchy

When introducing others to classical music, I always start off with a contemporary artist because it is more exciting. Nicole Chamberlain is a 21st Century artist who explores extended techniques on the flute. Extended techniques are simply funky sounds on an instrument. This piece asks the player to beatbox throughout by saying the words, “za’s, ka’s, ta’s” into the flute. This is part of a suite that Chamberlain called “Smorgasbord,” and it includes four other movements that also bring the piccolo into play. 

Samuel Barber– Canzone for flute

My flute professor recently introduced me to this piece, and it is now one of my favorites. Barber is a 20th Century American composer and wrote many different pieces for choir, violin, and strings. This particular piece is slow and very lyrical. As a performer, it’s a fun piece because it gives me room for expression and expanded throughout the flute’s register. One of my favorite parts about playing the flute is how rich the low register can be and this piece shows off that part of the instrument. 

Bach– Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude

This is probably the most famous cello song and is my cello piece, but I absolutely love this cover by the piano guys. They arranged this solo piece to be played by seven cellos. This is the biggest part of the Suite and is filled with arpeggiated chords. Bach is one of the iconic composers, so much that his birth and death year are the start and end of the Baroque era. Interestingly, he died from complications of eye surgery at 65. 

Claude Debussy– Clair De Lune

Every time I hear this piece I begin to tear up!  Clair De Lune is French for “light of the moon,” and I first played an arrangement of it for one of my high school marching band shows. Debussy wrote this piece in 1890 when he was only 28 years old, but it wasn’t published for another 15 years. This is a very simple piano piece and is very straightforward to play. 

An Uncertain Senior

By Maya Young

Starting at PSU, I knew that I wanted to delve into communications studies but had no idea what that truly meant. My first year, I took an intercultural communications course and was immediately drawn in by the depth in subject matter that we covered. From this course, I found that I was deeply interested in the influence of cultural and societal effects on interpersonal communication. My interest has only grown as I have found myself more invested in communication theory and research.

Now, as a senior, I am identifying strong skill sets within myself that do not completely correlate with one specific job type. Beginning my job search for post-graduation has been a daunting task as I am met with a plethora of different fields to go into and little knowledge of my professional passions outside of academia. PSU has afforded me numerous opportunities, from networking with communications graduates, working as a learning assistant for a core course, and even beginning a position as a Business Minor Marketing Assistant. But despite all of these experiences, I remain overwhelmed by what my professional life will be after I graduate. 

My advice? Make the most of the opportunities and resources offered at PSU. From professors to advisers, and from internships to on-campus jobs and extracurriculars, there are numerous ways to test the waters and uncover your passion. Although I remain uncertain, I know that these experiences are invaluable and will eventually lead me to do what I love and hopefully make a difference.

Picture of self with cane in restroom before medical procedure

The Cancer Scare

I guess my life is one of those never-ending comedies of error now, each day an echo of the last, a rattling noise that gets louder and louder as we wind back to the day I had my accident. I haven’t kept count, but the frequency with which my health care providers offer me what can be summarized with the template phrase “the ______ scare” has given me little rest these past 11 months.

The first sign of something being wrong was extreme back pain. Imagine getting kicked in the back. Now hold that note for hours at a time. That’s what it was like, a grinding, soul-crunching physically impossible pain that made doing anything that required standing, walking, breathing, eating, drinking, or otherwise being alive extremely difficult.

I went to the ER, got some scans, the scans were abnormal. Aside from tears in my spine, which was now also curved to the left, I had a hiatal hernia, and my gastrointestinal tract just looked wrong. I got blood tests, other tests, and then they took a look inside and got samples. Things kept coming up wrong, inflammatory markers were high, I had an infection, and even more inflammatory markers came out on the high side of abnormal.

“Well, there’s a few things this could be,” my gastroenterologist said to me just before my testing, listing off a few things before saying it. “There’s also a chance it could be cancer.”

So, when my post-consult tests came back abnormal, I held my breath. What if it’s true? What if I had to deal with something I haven’t got the money or time to handle? Was this going to end my school career for a while? Could I die? The latter question was answered when I got notified that an advanced directive questionnaire was available to me.

What are some facts that would help me get the best care? Who do I designate to make decisions for me? I like peaches for dessert and turkey with rice for dinner, and music by Annie calms me down, especially “Bad Times” and “Heartbeat,” specifically the Alan Braxe remix of the latter.

Refreshing my test results over and over, I finally worked up the urge to email my care team to ask how long it takes. One to two weeks, they said, but it seems they just got some of the results in. Soon thereafter, my doctor emailed with the results of those, telling me they found nothing cancerous.

I was relieved, mostly.

I can’t say I’m happy with the current state of my health, but one year into such a dramatic change I’ll take what good news I can get.

Traveling in College

by Ragan Love

This past Veteran’s Day , I traveled to Saint George, Utah, to see my younger brother perform in a national marching band competition. I knew this trip was coming, but I didn’t realize how quickly the school year would go by. This past week I felt as if I was scrambling to prepare myself for the trip. As students we have a habit of biting off more than we can chew, and that can cause stress on vacation and get in the way of spending quality time with your family. I was determined not to let that happen. The first thing I did to prepare for this trip was to compile a list of homework I needed to get done and prioritize assignments. My main focus was working on my Honors 101 summary of argument essay. After that, I planned to work on scholarships, read for University Studies and practice. I told my family that I wanted an hour each day to work with no distractions. I also planned to use any free time to study. . 

As a music major, it’s more difficult for me to bring my homework on the road. It is easy to bring a flute on a plane, but when you spend your whole day hanging out with your family, it’s hard to make time to practice. When I am on the road, I bring the pieces that I am working on, find a good quality recording on YouTube, and then air and finger along with the video on a pencil. I don’t work on improving my skills or increasing tempos, I focus on keeping the music in my fingers. This allowed me to show my family some of the repertoire that I get to play this quarter.

For non-performance majors, I suggest taking your notes and reading through them when you have free time. This time is not about gaining knowledge, it is about retaining knowledge. 

I also suggest that you create a buffer time when you get back to get yourself reorganized – even if it’s just a few hours to recheck assignments and finish up any loose odds or ends. 

By sticking to this plan, I was able to enjoy the time with my family.  NowI am back at school, and I do not feel like I have fallen behind.I hope my experience can help you learn how to balance homework with vacation time.

Portland State tackles food insecurity

By PSU Social Media Contributor

Millions of students, including a staggering 42% at PSU, are food insecure. That’s why Portland State University offers many resources on campus to provide access to free food and assistance.

Food Pantry
The PSU Food Pantry is available to any PSU student taking one or more credit hours. Hours are Mon., Tues., Fri. 12:30-3:30 p.m.; Wed. & Thurs. 2-5 p.m.

Free Food Market
Everyone is welcome to come to PSU’s Free Food Market, held on the second Monday of each month, rain or shine. The market has given out over 321,000 pounds of food since April 2015. All are welcome, and volunteers are needed.

Meal vouchers
Students may get up to 5 meal vouchers per term, good for free meals at Victor’s and Ondine. There are only a few vouchers left for fall term, and more will be available for winter term.

Help for students with children
The Winter Wonder program, coordinated through the Resource Center for Students with Children, provides crucial support to our PSU students with children, many of whom struggle to make ends meet during the holiday season. 

SNAP food benefits
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal and state-funded program providing food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Special criteria exist for higher education students, and it’s now easier to qualify.

Hardship funds
Hardship Funds offered to students in School of Business, School of Social Work, College of Urban and Public Affairs, the College of Education and other departments. The Student Financial Wellness Center can connect students to resources and assist with navigating financial hardship. 

Other basic needs assistance

  • A Home for Everyone offers a list of emergency shelters.
  • Showers are available at the Rec Center for students.
  • Call or text 211 to find more resources or go to 211info.org

Someone Pinch Me

It’s been a month and a half since I moved,

And I’m still amazed at the beauty of what is Portland.

A city built within nature,

So many colors and scenery.

As I walk with my friends through the forest,

I marvel at the beauty.

This place that I never knew about up until this year,

Has a type of wonder to it. It pulls you in, hypnotizes you and won’t let you go.

Some days it hits me like

“Whoa I’m here, I’m actually here.”

Other days, like today it hits a little different,

“Someone pinch me, I must dreaming.”

“This is so beautiful and gorgeous!”

“I can’t believe I get to spend the next three years out here!”

You can get lost here,

And not the bad lost where you wonder around and forget where you came from.

The type of lost that just makes you appreciate what’s out here.

City and nature,

All in one.

What more you can you ask for,

In a place that has me say “someone pinch me”

-Krystal Figueroa