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.

Letters to Avoid Losing Touch

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Last month my best friend left for Senegal, Africa with the Peace Corps. All this past summer I dreaded the moment we would have to say goodbye. I knew communication with her would be next to none once she left. We promised to write letters, but the mail takes around two months to deliver—if it doesn’t get lost first.

This situation reminded me of a different friend who wrote “read when” letters to me when she left for her mission years ago. “Read when” letters (also called “open when” letters) are prewritten notes that help you remain  present in someone’s life even when they are far away. I kept every “read when” letter that my friend wrote for me, and they remain one of the most precious gifts I’ll ever receive. I decided to write the same letters as a gift for my Senegal-bound friend.

Sitting down to write the letters for my friend was honestly depressing. Every word I wrote was a constant reminder that she was leaving soon. The hardest letters were her birthday cards; those really drove home the fact that we wouldn’t share any adventures or experiences for two years. As emotionally draining as it was, I only wish I had written her more. I feel so much more at peace knowing that she’ll have birthday cards to open on her birthday, and that they can’t get lost in the mail. Even though I can’t support her in person, she can immediately turn to my words over and over again when she’s lonely or in need of a boost.

I know this won’t be the last set of “read when” letters I write. As my time at PSU nears its end, I recognize that graduation causes people to scatter. This first—but far from last—goodbye made me realize my lifelong friends and how determined I am to stay in touch with them past our PSU experience.

 

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!

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Finding My Voice

The first time I had to give a presentation using my text2speech was terrifying. I was still at American University and presenting on Eric Rauchway’s The Winter War for my US History colloquium with Professor Allan Lichtman, a scholar of not only voting rights, but also President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the topic of my presentation. He knows his stuff, why wouldn’t I be afraid?

A few weeks prior to that presentation, I had lost my voice abruptly as a complication of an accident I was in over the winter holidays. It started with a sudden deepening of my voice and then one day I had a full-on stutter, and the next, nothing. I could conjure up simple words from time to time for a while, and even that gave out. From then on out I had to use a text to speech program on my laptop, the program speaking whatever I typed into it.

The presentation went well, and I got a 4.0 in that class.

Ultimately, after further complications, I transferred back here to Portland State University to complete my MA close to home. This decision was a good one, and I’m still learning every day how to deal with each new problem that appears with my health, from increasing dizziness to unforgiving fatigue that knocks me out for an entire day.

In the end I did find my voice, and it’s a robot.

My Senioritis Self-Diagnosis

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Each year at PSU has challenged me in different ways. Time management is something I’m continually navigating as a student, and each year of school brings its own twists. Freshman year, I remember being so scared of falling behind in school and getting a bad grade that I kept to an extremely rigid schedule. I was still figuring out that I didn’t need to over-study; an A is still an A—regardless of whether you got a 94 percent or 100 percent in the class. However, back then classes were significantly easier. 

Come my sophomore and junior years, I constantly thought to myself, “Why was I ever stressed as a freshman?” I had so much unrealized free time, classes were easy, and I had no idea what being busy actually felt like. As a sophomore and junior, I was constantly challenged to find the balance between school, work, and my personal life. I still had the self-discipline from my first year of college, but I learned to be more flexible with my schedule to allow life to happen. I started to enjoy the sense of purpose I found in being busy and working toward a math degree.

Now, my senior year has rolled around. Instead of getting better at time management , I have gotten worse. I have diagnosed myself with senioritis—and I’ve got it bad.

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A key component to successful time management is motivation, and I seem to have misplaced mine. The problem is, I know that I’ve kept my days very full and productive with my work and involvement on campus. By the time evening rolls around, the last thing I want to do is study math when my brain already feels fried just from the last 12 hours of waking life. My inability to manufacture more time has caused me to become accustomed to living with a constant spike in my cortisol levels. 

Looking ahead, I know there’s a lesson to learn from all of this because eventually, I will have to find the motivation to push through this final year. I didn’t enter my senior year with perfect time management skills, and I certainly won’t leave PSU having perfected them. Once I start working after graduation, I know I will go through a whole new adjustment period of balancing my time. For now, though, this term is teaching me that there’s constantly room for growth.

 

5 ways to prepare for a job fair

Career fairs are a great tool for students looking for jobs or internships.

Learn about different career paths and ask your career questions directly to employers. Develop and implement your professional image and build confidence in approaching employers.

5 tips to make the most of a career fair:

Review the list of participating employers in advance and identify which employers/organizations are most important or interesting for you to meet (available in Handshake prior to the event).
Bring 5-10 copies of your resume.
Practice your “elevator pitch” or how you will approach employers. For example: “I’m a psychology major and I’ll be graduating in June. Can you tell me more about your organization? What kinds of positions do you have? I’m interested in positions related to…”
Prepare some questions to ask the recruiters and feel free to take notes when they give you information. Questions may include: What types of entry-level positions do you have? Do you have any internship opportunities? How do I apply? May I have your business card so I can follow up?
Take notes and bring them to your next advising appointment.

Remember: Employers are attending because they are looking to hire. Take this opportunity to network with employers and make a great first impression. You can do this!

Winging It

By: Adair Bingham

I am positive that most university students are totally unsure what they should be doing at any given moment. At least, I know that’s how it feels for me. That being said, it’s perfectly OK to be uncertain of your life’s path. It’s OK to not have a plan for every tiny aspect in your life. It’s important to recognize that life has a slew of ups and downs, and that one little bump in the road isn’t the end of the world. In fact, I think that it’s for the best to just let life take its course and to take those bumps at face-value. Something good may come of them!

Allowing life to simply take its course is how I ended up where I am today. My college career up until this point has been rather incongruous, to say the least. In the beginning, I had no plans to attend this university, and although I’m not too proud of it, I have essentially waited until the very last second to do anything of importance. For example, I literally waited until the last hour of the last day that Portland State University was accepting applications to send mine in. I think that it goes without saying that I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today if I had made any other decision. It’s OK to stumble and take baby steps, eventually you’ll get to a place where you’re happy.

Even as I’m writing this, contemplating my awkward plunders navigating higher education and adult life, I must admit that I am truly surprised about what I have managed to achieve without a career-map, so to speak. I like to think that I’m on the right track, but truth be told: I really have no idea what I’m doing. I know for a fact that I’m not the only one, but it’s pretty easy to let a thought like that spiral out of control,  leading me to think, “Oh god I haven’t done anything right at all.” 

Clearly I’ve made it this far for a reason. It wasn’t by accident and it certainly wasn’t by pure luck that I’ve amounted to the success that I have. I wonder, sometimes, if I had a plan of action, if I would be better off in any way. I’m definitely trapped in the dichotomy of caring too little and too much all at the same time, but it certainly hasn’t hindered my ability to succeed. In the long-run, I think that winging it works best for me, and I’m going to continue to let life take me in whatever direction that it wants without making too much of a fuss. Life works in funny ways and things usually happen for a reason. So sit back and enjoy the ride, you never know what will happen!