5 Tips For Living It Up in a Tiny Living Space

By Claire Golden

If you live in downtown Portland, you probably know the struggle: Housing is so expensive around here that a lot of us are crammed into a tiny living space. Lots of college students live in a dorm room, which is not exactly known for its spaciousness. In my own case, my fiancé and I share one small attic room, with my office wedged into one corner. But I’m quite content in this space, because I have everything that I need. Here are my tips for making a small living space yours.

1. Decorate: The first thing I did in my “office” was decorate the walls. You can hang things up with tape or sticky wall hooks so as not to anger your landlord by putting holes in the walls. I’m not picky about what goes up on the wall. It doesn’t have to be an “art print” to go on my Wall of Art. Right now I have a picture of my chicken, my enamel pin collection on a pin banner, a pigeon ornament, an embroidered cat, a John Green quote poster, and the parking pass from the place where my fiancé proposed to me. These things have nothing in common with each other except that they all make me smile.

2. Double down on storage: Storage is key in a small space, and I take great delight in my miniature drawers from Target, which hold my school supplies, makeup, and knicknacks. I am also probably the target customer for IKEA’s Raskog cart, which is a three-shelved storage cart on wheels. I have two of them, one for yarn and one for stuffed alpacas, and they are a lifesaver when it comes to storage.

3. Try journaling for frustration: Journaling is a great way to create something beautiful on paper. You can go for a basic journal or go all out with art journaling — there’s lots of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. Journaling is also an excellent way to cope with frustration and process your emotions…and you can do so in a pretty way.

4. Go online: When  get fed up with not having enough space to express myself,  I turn to online platforms. Then, when I can’t control something in my physical space, I can make my online space a haven. My blog and Instagram are my creative outlets and ways to connect with people. I find happiness in curating them exactly the way I want.

5. Let go of the unimportant: Above all, the most important thing I’ve learned about living in a small space is not to hold onto things that don’t make me happy. There’s no reason to keep something you don’t want to keep (except, perhaps, those tax papers…) that will only clutter up your space. My favorite book on organizing is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, in which she advises only keeping things that “spark joy.” This is the rule that I live by when it comes to my living quarters. Because of this, everything that I have makes me happy when I look at it, and it’s enough to make a small living space feel exactly the right size.

New to the Marvel Cinematic Universe

By: Ragan Love

One thing that you should know about me is that I do not like action movies. Because of this I had only seen two of the Spider Man movies, which was only because of my brother. My roommates decided that we needed to have a MCU marathon to bring me up to date.

I took us about four months to fit all of the movies into our busy schedules and we decided to watch the movies in chronological order — we started with Captain America and just finished Avengers: End Game. 

A lot of these movies were hard for me to get through because I don’t like fight scenes. I feel like they go on and on, but I love the storyline of all of the movies and how they are all connected so I still found them worth watching. 

Because I am completely new to this series, I don’t have a bias when it comes to who my favorite characters are.I have been able to create my own opinion when it comes to the MCU universe.

If you’d like my fresh, hot take, here are my top MCU movies, ranked: 

(Not included: Captain Marvel (2019), The Incredible Hulk (2008))

  1. Spiderman Far From Home: What I love about this movie is how it showed the aftermath of End Game and how Peter was affected by the events of that movie.
  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: I never thought that this was going to be on the top of my list but I love how well the stories of the music and the plot of the movie fit together so well!
  1. Black Panther: This is one of my favorites because of the back story of the villain in the movie. I feel like he is one of the only ones who had a reason he turned bad and wanted to take over.
  1. Doctor Strange: This was one of my roommates least favorite so I was expecting to feel the same but I was surprised. I like that his superhero name includes his Doctor title and the visuals with all of the magic was very cool. 
  1. Thor Ragnarok: A favorite movie in my house and I think the dialogue was very funny. One of my favorite avengers is the Hulk and I think he was a wonderful addition to this film. 
  1. Captain America: The First Avenger: This was a pretty good movie overall. I actually ended up falling asleep at the end so I wasn’t aware that Captain America was frozen.
  1. Avengers End Game: The only reason why this isn’t higher is because of the amount of fighting there was, I ended up doing homework every time a fight scene broke out.
  1. Iron Man 3: This is my favorite Iron Man movie because it shows the evolution of all of the suits he ever made.
  1. Spiderman Homecoming: I love Tom Holland as Peter Parker because he really captures the “I am a teenager who is dealing with that as well as being a superhero” angst.
  1. Antman: My favorite element in this movie is the relationship that Scott Lang has with his daughter and his ex-wife. I am a big fan of Paul Rudd and think he played this character perfectly!
  1. Iron Man
  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  3. Iron Man 2
  4. Avengers: Infinity War
  5. Thor
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  7. Antman and the Wasp
  8. Captain America Civil War
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy
  10. Thor: The Dark War

Reading Fatigue: Pulling Myself out of a Literary Rut

By Erika Nelson

Every month, the Goodreads newsletter pops into my inbox. These emails taunt me by singing the praises of newly-published books: colorful rectangle covers lined up into neat rows by genre; enticing blurbs draw me in. I used to pore over these newsletters and make library holds based on book suggestions, but now emails from Goodreads just evoke guilt.

I love to read. As an English major, I think that goes without saying, but I love to read more than the average person. I’ll read pretty much anything. Fiction and nonfiction. Science texts and sci-fi novels. The latest poignant, “deep” literary triumphs alongside “comfort food” stories from childhood. A few years ago, I consumed the New Yorker cover-to-cover in an evening.  I read a book (or more) every couple weeks. More recently, however, my “to-read” list has grown longer and longer, my Goodreads account sits in stagnant silence, and I rarely read for fun anymore. Why?

College involves a lot of reading, and majoring in English involves even more reading. I read so much for school every day that by the time I have some free moments the last thing I want to do is pick up another book. Instead — and I hate to admit this — most of my spare time is spent glued to my phone. I keep up on news articles and current event pieces online and off … but when it comes to reading for the sake of reading, anything longer than 280 characters doesn’t have much of a chance.

Reading fatigue is fairly common in academic circles. In a recent discussion post on D2L, I asked classmates if they had any ideas to wake up from my word fugue. People commiserate and several expressed the same problem. They had some great ideas for combatting reading fatigue: reading while sipping my morning coffee, having a specific reading space, and reading in bite-sized pieces. From their suggestions, I’ve decided to set myself a New Month’s Resolution: read one non-school book a month for the rest of the year.

I think this is a reasonable goal, if I can manage to tear myself away from my phone more often … this is where self-discipline comes in. However, I’m going to allow myself some grace if I fall behind — after all, life happens, and instructor-assigned reading comes first. I’m excited to get started! Step one: Look over that email from Goodreads.

The Game Of Two Halves

By: Adair Bingham

Video games have always been a huge part of my life. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of sinking hours into platformer games on the Playstation 2 out in the living room or buffing up my party team in a roleplaying game on a handheld console. I don’t think that I’ll ever “grow out” of my interest in gaming or popular culture, it’s just too embedded in who I am as a person and, to be frank, I haven’t ever really felt a need to let go of these hobbies from my childhood. I consider video games an art form, a way to escape from reality, and much, much more. I like to think of them as their own little universes, really, something that’s easy to get lost in. They’re harmless fun for a lot of everyday people and get a bad rap for no real good reason at all, namely as a waste of time or something only for kids. 

If anything, the world of gaming has quite an interesting story, especially as it relates to mental health. Naturally, it’s important to consider the concept of  “too much of a good thing”, but games are a much-needed outlet for a lot of people, no matter their ages, and I think it can be a wonderful thing. In the same vein, they can serve as a form of self-expression. They can also be a way to cope with the stressors of daily life. Video games are a lot more than just mindless entertainment for people. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that my interests and hobbies, specifically gaming, have largely remained the same, if not rooted in the same things. A few things have changed here and there, like the genre, title, or console, but otherwise, my interests still lay in popular culture and the nerdy side of things. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very likely that these will still always be a part of my life and a huge part of who I am. That’s okay. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of my biggest gripes about having a keen interest in these kinds of things is the kind of backlash that often follows it. People are often quick to call them a waste of time or something meant only for kids when a good majority of those who actually play games are older and, on top of that, most titles are geared towards a mature audience. Maybe I’m just stewing on passive-aggressive comments from the past, but when I get to really thinking about them I still find myself getting peeved. Games are so much more than what most people make them out to be and, in all honesty, they deserve to be on the same pedestal as film and literature. That’ll likely be a long time from now, but for the time being and as the bare minimum, I think some respect is in order for video games.

A Stellar Spring

by Beth Royston

It’s time for me to share another season’s worth of favorite activities again! A lot of these activities are open all year long, but the bright colors and fragrant blooms that come with springtime makes them particularly special.

Visit the Rose Garden!

Located in Washington Park, which is also home to the Oregon Zoo, the International Test Rose Garden is a stunningly beautiful trip. It’s host to more than 10,000 rose bushes and is truly a perfect visit for anyone that’s a fan of spring. There are some absolutely gorgeous varieties of roses that I never knew existed, and every time I feel like I see something new! Plus, you can make it a day trip with Washington Park’s other activities.

Cherry Blossoms at the Waterfront Park!

Perfectly instagram-able, not everyone knows that a large majority of the trees in the downtown Waterfront Park are actually cherry blossom trees. They bloom every spring, and pictures don’t truly do it justice. You can stroll along the park while observing the blossoms, appreciating this official sign that spring is here! For anyone that’s ever wanted to travel to Japan to see sakura season, this is a wonderful experience.

Check out the Portland Japanese Garden/Lan Su Chinese Garden! 

Located in Washington Park and downtown Portland respectively, these two attractions are open all year long, but are particularly beautiful in the spring (I can also vouch for the beauty of the Japanese Garden in autumn!). Seeing lush gardens so full of life always makes me happy after winter, and you can see them at the height of their beauty.

See the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival!

Tulips galore! Located in Woodburn, this extravaganza of tulips is a perfect way to celebrate spring. The best time to see the tulips is the first few weeks of April, but the festival is usually open until early May. They have an immense variety of tulips and other flowers to see and purchase, and also hot air balloon rentals! I hope you’ll keep these Portland spring attractions on your mind this year!

Five Common Misconceptions About Homeschoolers

by Claire Golden

You belong at PSU no matter what your educational background is, traditionally-schooled and homeschooled students alike. I’m a proud homeschool graduate, and today I’d like to share five common misconceptions that I have encountered through the years. (Plus, a picture of me with one of my classmates.)

Misconception #1: Homeschoolers are smarter than other students. 

Nope, just because somebody is homeschooled doesn’t tell you how smart they are. Homeschoolers have a reputation for being nerds, and while that’s true of some of us, it’s not true for all of us. 

Misconception #2: Homeschoolers are dumber than other students.

Same here — you can’t tell someone’s intelligence just by looking at where they went to school. I often got teased for not being super in-the-loop about current events. But I was always like this, even when I went to traditional school, and it doesn’t mean I’m not smart. I just find other topics more interesting. 

Misconception #3: All homeschoolers are taught by their parents.

It depends on the household! People assume that because I speak French, my parents are French. But my parents don’t speak a word of the language (except buzzwords like “croissant” and “oui”). I learned through online classes without my parents ever getting involved other than to pay my tuition. It also did not work for me to learn math from my parents; we all got too frustrated. So I took online classes for that, too. However, some homeschooled kids do learn from their parents, so it all depends what family you’re looking at.

Misconception #4: Homeschoolers don’t interact with other children.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t a particularly social child (nor am I a social adult). If I didn’t have to leave the house, I wouldn’t. But that says more about me as a person than it does about homeschoolers as a group. We often attend co-ops to take classes or are involved with clubs and societies where we meet other kids. (You’re looking at a former homeschool chess club member here. Yes, I’m cool.) We aren’t locked in our house for eight hours a day, five days a week. We go out and about, run errands, and learn out in the real world. We have plenty of social interaction. There’s just as much variance in levels of introvert and extrovert among homeschoolers as there is in any other population group.

Misconception #5: Homeschoolers have it easier than traditionally-schooled kids.

I sure do hear this one a lot. Luckily, COVID has made it easy to debunk this particular idea. Just because you’re doing something at home doesn’t make it less hard — in fact, doesn’t it seem harder to work from home sometimes than it is working in the office? There are so many more distractions. The vast majority of homeschoolers are hard workers. If they have it easier in one way, it usually balances out in another. For instance, I didn’t take chemistry in high school, but it’s because I was spending my time doing college-level French class instead. My history knowledge is sparse, but I’ve been writing novels since I was 15. I didn’t have it easier than kids in regular high school. I just had it different.

The biggest thing homeschooling has taught me is that everywhere can be your classroom, and that you can learn something from everybody. That’s a lesson I’m grateful for and that I continue to use every day. 

Hang Tight Just a Little Longer…

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

Vaccines are rolling out and the weather is getting warm again. I myself am fully vaccinated and feeling the pull of a social life. I miss going out to eat. I miss concerts and bars and hanging out with friends. I miss going on dates and seeing movies and attending classes on-campus. I miss not wearing a mask everywhere. Simply put? I miss life.

But I also miss the grandmother I lost to COVID. I miss not feeling like I was risking my fragile health every time I step out the door. I miss my elderly clients not feeling scared and trapped in their own homes.

It is so important, now more than ever, to take COVID precautions seriously. We are getting more and more people vaccinated. We are close to a future where, seemingly, real life could exist again. I’ve begun to make tentative plans for the summer and fall. I’ve dreamed about a trip to the coast with friends where I don’t have to worry if my actions are selfish. 

I feel, though, like I’m going crazy. People I know are travelling. I know someone who went to Hawaii, someone who went to Mexico, someone who went to California. I know people who are having large dinner parties, who are going drinking with friends, who are wearing masks less and less. I’m staggered by this. We’re so close! These actions are putting us farther and farther away from our ideal COVID situation. It feels stunningly selfish, especially those who are travelling to other states and countries. I’m going crazy in isolation as much as anyone else. I’m an extrovert who thrives on social interaction — but I refuse to give in to these selfish actions. 

There are so many ways to safely do things. Order take-out! Sit six feet apart, masks on, outside with your loved ones! Go for a countryside drive instead of traveling across the country! There are plenty of places that are taking wonderful COVID precautions: tattoo parlors, barber shops, grocery stores. And it is important to support local business. But hold on just a little longer, everyone! Our normal lives are closer than we know! 

The Best Beverage: In Praise of Coffee

By Erika Nelson

On any particular day, my morning routine always begins with coffee. It’s a stereotype: the college student who runs on coffee. But in my case, it’s true.  I. Love. Coffee. My morning coffee is the simple indulgence that kicks off my day; a form of self-bribery to hoist my tired body out of bed instead of pressing the snooze button. 

One of the little ways I show affection for my partner is by making coffee. We have an Aeropress, which is like a French Press but FASTER, meaning less time to wait for that caffeine jolt! I add a splash of cream to mine, and we sit and watch the news together before getting on with our respective days. If I’m at my place, I either brew a pot of drip coffee or trot down to Starbucks for the frothy goodness of a Grande Nitro cold brew. On days when I’m having trouble working up the motivation to study, I head to one of my favorite places on campus, Park Avenue Café. A mocha and an almond biscotti while I study? Heaven. 

Enjoying a caffeinated beverage (or two or three) in a place where I can have alone time, yet experience a fair amount of background stimulation while I work, is where I’m most productive. The concept of “productivity” is a double-edged sword that seems to go hand-in-hand with coffee culture: social media is saturated with pictures of espresso next to laptops, attached to hashtags like #onmygrind and #butfirstcoffee. Being busy (and the tasty brown beverage that gets you through the busy-ness) is glorified in our society, and some people criticize “busy culture,” pointing out that it can lead to burnout and feelings of inadequacy. 

I’m no stranger to burnouts and feelings of inadequacy. I’ve had depression and anxiety since I was a kid, and was recently diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 27. My ADHD diagnosis has led to a new perspective on my own habits and productivity. Like others with the same concurrent conditions, I’m in a weird spot: common wisdom for the depressed and anxious is to avoid caffeine to prevent exacerbating symptoms. However, coffee’s mainstay stimulant helps many people with and without executive function disorders sharpen their focus. Many people with ADHD use coffee instead of (or in addition to) prescription ADHD medications for this very purpose. 

I sometimes wonder: is it the caffeine, the taste, or the ritual that makes me love coffee so much? Maybe it’s a combination of all three: caffeine helps me concentrate, coffee is yummy, and a morning cup of Joe signals my brain that it’s time to sit down and get things done. Whatever the reason for my coffee obsession, I don’t see myself switching to decaf anytime soon. 

I could probably stand cutting back to one cup a day, though.

So you want to be an Ambassador

By: Ragan Love

Portland State University has many different programs that help prospective students decide if PSU is right for them and one of these programs is the Students Ambassadors. This group of students is often the first connection that future students have to the university. They are hired to represent the student and campus experience. Ambassadors come from all walks of life and represent every college on campus.

I am not an ambassador but my friend, Sophia Hogan, has been involved with this program for the past year and is preparing to continue her involvement the next term. 

The different activities that she has done this past year include giving tours, currently virtual, to prospective students. As they would do in real life, she shows all of the different buildings on campus and shares the history behind them all. 

She has also been a part of different student panels. These panels are moderated by PSU counselors who describe the admission process and what the school is like. The counselors then ask the ambassadors about their experiences at their specific school. 

This spring, she participated in Admitted Students Day where they help admitted students decide if PSU is right for them. This is when students can talk to ambassadors in their same pathway to get an idea of what the culture is like. The ambassadors also have questions for themselves to answer if the prospective students are nervous to ask.

PSU is currently in a transition toward being back on campus where the ambassadors are holding “live from PSU” tours, where Sophia and other ambassadors will livestream a tour of campus. 

Giving these tours has actually helped Sophia still feel connected to her acting side which she hasn’t been able to do since she was in high school. These tours allow her to memorize lines and “give a show” of the campus which gives her a little break from her academics. 

Sophia has had a fun experience while at PSU and she has been wanting to share her experience with others. She also comes from an immigrant household so she is able to help prospective students who come from the same background feel welcomed.

If you are a prospective student and would like to get to know more about campus, college life, and academics, you can schedule a one-on-one meeting with a student ambassador who will tell you everything you need to know about PSU!

If you are currently a PSU student and are interested in becoming an ambassador, applications open every Winter term. Information about this process can be found here!

https://www.pdx.edu/visit/student-ambassadors

Art With A Side Of Psychology

By: Adair Bingham

Now that I’ve graduated from Portland State University and I’m moving on to the next big thing, I’ve made it a goal of mine to finish up as much personal art as I possibly can for my ever-changing and evolving portfolio. Since graduating high school, I’ve challenged myself to finish at least two sketchbooks a year, if not more. This goal has largely taken a backseat since my progression into digital art, and I don’t often feel the incentive to doodle on paper, but I’m going to make a serious effort to pick it back up and keep at it. I honestly can’t think of anything more satisfying than flipping through a sketchbook that’s been finished cover to cover and I want to see how much I’ve improved since completing my last one a little over a year ago.

So, my new goal is to to complete a halfway decent and a mostly finished portfolio by the end of summer, if possible. There’s a long way to go but I know that I can see it through if I push myself hard enough. In my previous post, I mentioned not being entirely sure of what to do with my psychology degree. That’s still pretty true. So, at least for the time being, I’m waiting on it before potentially pursuing anything with it to make sure, to make sure I don’t make any impulsive decisions. If possible, I want a career that’ll allow me to combine my degree with my passion for art—  and make something out of that, which is what I’m aiming for! I’ve always done things with a bit of unconventionality, so why not? I don’t see why that wouldn’t be an option for me. 

There’s a world of possibility out there, from art therapy to other professions that will let me use my art skills in ways that relate back to my degree. Besides, who knows what else may happen along the way? New opportunities show up left and right all the time., There is always something waiting for me, it’s just up to me to go out and find it.