Beacon Of Color

35734876_10209214198830669_4585640907247714304_n (2) by Kassandra Johnson

Standing in the hot sun, cheering as each float passed in a flurry of color, it seemed like everyone in Portland was on that street. In that moment I realized something: I’m thankful to live here.

It was Sunday, June 17, and I was at the Pride Parade in downtown Portland. As I looked around all I could see were happy faces. People were clapping along and high-fiving strangers as they passed by. I felt lifted up by the people around me and knew this is why I chose PSU.

There are always ways to get involved in the City of Roses, whether it’s supporting a parade or marching in a protest. Portland and PSU’s urban campus give you the tools to have your voice heard. While living on an urban campus can come with its own trials and tribulations, there is always support to be found in the city.  Becoming a PSU student lets Portland become not only your city but also your community — a community that’s supportive and very accepting of all who call it home.

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.

Job Hunting By The Numbers

img_7471.jpg By Naomi Kolb

As graduation approaches, I find myself in the same boat as many of my fellow soon-to-be-alumni: I still don’t have a job or other obligation lined up for after graduation on June 17th. In the hopes of securing a job soon, I thought that I’d share part of my job-hunting experience. . . by the numbers.

  • Days since I submitted my first job application: 60
  • The number of applications that a Career Services Adviser told me was average to submit before landing an interview: 25-30
  • The number of applications that my coworker told me was average to submit before landing a job: 50-60
  • Applications that I’ve submitted so far: 15
  • Applications that I haven’t heard back about at all: 10
  • Positions that I’ve interviewed for: 2
  • Job offers that I’ve received: 0

Hopefully sharing my experience will help give my peers a better idea of what to expect when job hunting in Portland! Applying for jobs while still being a full-time college student is stressful to say the least and entirely unattainable for a lot of us. As many enter into our final days at PSU, I just wanted to say congratulations to all that are graduating and good luck on whatever your next endeavor may be, even if you don’t quite know what it is yet.

Community of Action

1IMG_4856by Steph Holton

In my last blog post, I talked about failing my student commencement speaker audition, and since then I’ve realized that the things I’d hoped to be able to say to my graduating class are still words that I want to share, and ones that are just as true here as they would be on that stage. So to all of my PSU classmates, I’d like to say:

“Four years ago, when I stood in front of my high school graduating class of 121 students, I talked about the future. I talked about taking the lessons we’d learned from our parents, our teachers, our coaches, and going out into the real world to—eventually—do great things.

“Today, with this… marginally larger audience, I want to talk about the amazing lessons I’ve learned from you, my fellow students, and the great things you’re already doing.

“In our time together at PSU, we’ve seen newsworthy accomplishments—like our engineering students launching a balloon more than 20 miles in the air in order to bring the 2017 solar eclipse to the desktops of viewers worldwide, and students of different skin colors, religions, and nationalities rallying together swiftly and peacefully to stand for our rights to safe communities, women’s healthcare and affordable schooling.

“And then there are the more subtle, everyday accomplishments. It’s not uncommon to see complete strangers sharing their opposing viewpoints in the middle of the Park Blocks, or to inquire about someone’s pronouns, and then use them correctly. And even though at PSU we recognize that conversation, understanding, and respect are basic tenets of good citizenship, and that we still have a lot of room to grow in these areas, they’re not common practice on every campus. PSU is special because we don’t look past each other’s differences. We embrace them. We recognize that our different backgrounds and beliefs and aspirations are assets in our collective pursuits for a better world.

“Four years ago, I left my little Montana valley town for the stumps and bridges of Portland, and I’ve learned here that more than anything, it’s the small, everyday practices—recycling, asking others’ opinions, embracing difference—that make us all activists. I am so proud to be a part of this community of action, and I want to thank you for teaching me to appreciate the amazing things we’re doing right now.”

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.

City Escape

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Ever since I moved to Portland, I miss having a car. Even with a good public transportation system, I feel trapped at times since it’s confined to the city. I was bit by the adventure bug a couple weeks ago and really wanted to see the beautiful nature Oregon has to offer. I roped in a friend who had also been itching to explore and we decided we wanted to visit Three Pools.

Of course, the obstacle we ran into was transportation; neither of us have cars. As it turns out, this became an easy fix as well. There are three options outside of straight-up renting a car: ZipCar, Car2Go, and ReachNow. 

All three can be reserved for a day trip, but ReachNow stands apart from the others because it has a mileage cap of 400 miles per day. ZipCar and Car2go have a cap of 150 miles, which can be rather limiting depending on where you want to go. Plus, the day reservation was only one dollar more with ReachNow. 

Three pools is almost 90 miles outside of Portland, so ReachNow was the easy choice.

My friend and I were excited for a little road trip, and boy was it worth it. When we walked down the path to Three Pools, it actually felt like we’d stepped onto a different planet. The water was pristine, varying between stunning turquoises and deep emeralds. It was also an invigorating 45 degrees cold. This was the perfect place to put some space between ourselves and the city and relax. This trip gave me the little boost I needed for the last couple weeks of the term. It also served as a reminder that even without a car, there are ways to escape the city. 

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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.