Keep Portland Geeky

      adbi2  By: Adair Bingham

I recently attended Portland’s own annual anime convention, aptly named Kumoricon (or Cloudy Con). As a novice con-goer, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. I felt like a bit of a clown as I passed my school peers dressed in a not-so-flattering green wig and anime apparel from a show that I don’t regularly watch. Public transportation felt like a one-way ticket to shame town, especially since my friends and I were the only ones in bizarre attire. That feeling, however, quickly vanishes as soon we arrived at the convention center.

I’m writing this on the final day of the convention, reflecting on just how welcoming, warm, and energetic these types of communities are. They’re also unexpectedly diverse. Often, the kinds of people who attend these conventions are severely misrepresented and made out to be obnoxious and horrid, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As someone who has always had a strong interest in anything and everything nerdy, I felt as if this was where I truly belonged. Being surrounded by hundreds of other like-minded people is a rejuvenating experience, especially for an entire weekend. In fact, this was my first ever experience being surrounded by so many other people like me and it was amazing.

I’m well aware that there are lots of other people who have interests akin to mine, and I’m not as alone as I was in high school, but isolation is still a hard feeling to shake. Living in Portland has shown me that no matter who you are and what your interests may be, there is always a community that will be ecstatic to welcome you.

My Reluctant Craving for Adventure

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I have never been a traveler. I’ve actually never been outside of the country, but I know that even if I did, I wouldn’t like it. I don’t like leaving the comfort of my own bed and home, and I never understood why people want to travel so much.

It wasn’t until about a month ago, I took a road trip to Las Vegas. A few of my friends and I drove 16 hours to Vegas, and within this short amount of time, my opinion of traveling changed completely.

During the trip, my friends and I took turns driving with each of us at the wheel for four hours. This car ride from Oregon to Nevada was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Going 85 miles per hour through the lonely road, going past the sand dunes, passing by the mountains, and especially seeing the sun rise in the desert was a sight that I will forever hold in my heart. It may sound kind of cheesy, but it was during this time that I realized that there is so much beauty to explore in the world.

I am now looking into studying abroad during my last term of college next year. I don’t know where I want to go yet, but I know for sure that wherever I choose to go, I will make it a goal to explore the nature and beauty of that country even if it’s something as simple as a sunset. Like I said, there is so much beauty on this Earth and all of us should take some time to search for it.

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.

Small Steps

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

I helped a friend move over the weekend. After getting the last of the boxes into her new place, a group of us decided to go on a hike. I knew we were headed towards the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland but didn’t know exactly where we were headed. One of my friends asked, “Are you afraid of heights?” Feeling confident I answered “no” and we set off.

We arrived at the Bridge of The Gods about 50 miles east of Portland. Not surprisingly I had some hesitations and some questions. “Are we really walking across that? Can we, since there is no sidewalk?” “Is it really that high?” “Why is it so high?!?”

Despite my objections we paid our dollar pedestrian crossing fee and headed towards the bridge. There was a lot to take in. The grate on the floor of the bridge rattled with all the movement from the cars. The wind was so loud and blew my hair in all directions. The railing was cold and dirty from car exhaust.

Looking through the grate the water rushed under me. Even though we were almost 150 feet above the water, it felt so close. I got to that level of scared where I started laughing, as if I were laughing at my own fear. Since I was already halfway across, there was no turning back.

Then I caught the view  — the sheer vastness of the river, the trees, the clear sky and shining sun. Just for a moment I dismissed all hesitation I had previously. We all paused to appreciate the view. All the distractions of before — traffic, wind and noise — no longer mattered. We lived in the moment, if just for a moment.

This small experience taught me a lot about taking risks. All the emotions I felt walking across the bridge are no different than any big life decision, with its fear of the unknown and exhilaration upon embracing the experience.

As I enter my last 3 terms at Portland State University and look ahead to the rest of the year, there are some big life decisions I have to make. As I work towards my goals it’s exciting to imagine them coming to fruition. Yet I’m terrified. That’s because attaining these goals brings great change, like being away from my friends and family in Portland and being truly on my own. But amidst all of this uncertainty, there is hope. I know that despite all my hesitation, my next life chapter will be just like the moment on the bridge, where nothing else matters except what’s on the horizon.

Learning to grow slowly

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.22.40 PM by Philip Hartman

As a transfer student to PSU from Portland Community College, I knew there might be some overlap of courses to meet degree requirements but I wasn’t expecting they’d be outside my major. As it turns out I had to take a few upper division cluster courses in Portland State’s University Studies Program. This program is required for all PSU undergrads and moves students to study topics outside their major as a means to expand their perspectives in their chosen field of study.

 

As a sociology major I decided to pick the Global Perspectives cluster which gave me insights into an array of cultures and, economic systems. Of all the cluster class classes I took, the one that stood out was Caribbean Spirituality offered by the Black Studies Program. In this class I learned about the history of the Caribbean and the the rich influences that language and food have on their culture. After taking all of the classes in the Global Perspectives cluster I was hooked on Black studies classes, especially those exploring the Caribbean. I also began to meet more people here in Portland from the Caribbean and hear their powerful stories.

 

To be honest when I first heard that i’d have to take Upper Division Cluster classes I wasn’t happy about it. But now I realize just how important gaining these other perspectives is to my learning. Taking the courses offered in my upper division cluster and learning about additional perspectives from another culture helped enrich and broaden my studies in Sociology, giving me valuable insights into a world outside of my own.

 

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!

Practice Instability

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.26.49 PM By Danielle Emeka

Talking about creating balance in one’s life is a common topic. Work, classes, family, friends, sleep. How do you delegate enough time to each without creating tension? You don’t.

As I juggle the many things that take up my time these days — my time with FIR the student run ad agency at PSU where I create ad campaigns for clients my job that pays the bills, my full class schedule and  a little sleep! — instability has become a close companion. It hangs out with me as I stay up late finishing homework and grab coffee before an 8:00 am meeting the next morning. I’ve come to know it well, and I want to embrace it even more. This is the key time for me to be busy and have a lot on my plate. even though I’m stretched a little thin, I know I’m working towards my desired career. I know that what I have to do every day brings me one day closer to that, and I couldn’t be happier.

I believe college isn’t the place to strive for the ideal structured experience. In fact I think it’s the best time to practice instability. Once you graduate, the real world hits and you’re in a  job, the work structure, with its expectations for results, takes over. I think it’s better to explore one’s field and work while you still have a support system in school, rather than experiencing that for the first time in the work world. Internship programs at PSU like FIR allow me to attain real work experience in advertising that will make me feel more confident when I take my first agency job.

So if you’re just going through the motions of work and classes collecting credits, maybe it’s time to search for a little bit of instability for a change. Practice embracing a little bit of the unpredictable. You never know where it’ll take you.