Portland area winter hikes. Part 1

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Josh McCarroll

One of the many things that make hiking in the forest such a beautiful experience is the knowledge that it is far older than us and the perception that it will be around long after we die. This perceived permanence always allows us the space to appreciate Oregon’s forests some other day. However, any of them could burn away by next summer.

I was born and raised in Oregon but since I started school I have used it as an excuse to be less adventurous. In light of the Eagle Creek and subsequent fires, I have made an effort to explore more and appreciate the beauty Oregon has to offer before it disappears.  

This post is the first in a series of three winter hikes. Many hikes become inaccessible or too dangerous in the winter time, so I will focus on hikes that are not only safely accessible and trekkable, but still beautiful during the cold months.  

Macleay Park

On a snowy Tuesday morning, I opted to go on a hike that requires no driving for Portlanders or park fees whatsoever, and I found Macleay Park.

From campus you can take the NS streetcar line to the NW 23rd and Marshall stop. From there you can make your way through a cute neighborhood by foot until you reach NW Upshur Street. The west end of this street dead ends at the park. After walking under the Balch Gulch Bridge, you will find the entrance to the trail, which has very clear instructions on possible routes depending on how deep into Forest Park you want to explore.

The great part about this hike is you can easily add it to the beginning or end of a busy day with not much preparation or planning. The trail is wide, easy to walk and is in excellent condition. I was able to hike the entire 2-mile loop comfortably in everyday tennis shoes. Same goes for the 6-mile loop: no hiking poles or fancy boots needed.

The small 2-mile loop brings you back to the top of the historic Balch Gulch bridge which is the route I enjoyed on my quick excursion before class. One of the things I found lovely about this hike was the structures. The beauty of this hike doesn’t necessarily rely on the lush greenery that comes about it in summer. The Lower Macleay trail runs along Balch Creek, and hikers encounter several wood bridges across the creek before they reach the Stone House.

The Stone House, known by some as the witch’s castle, is about fifteen minutes in. It is the point where the Lower Macleay trail intersects Forest Park’s Wildwood trail.

This trail is popular for Portlanders that want to get out of the city for a quick escape. However, this may make it a bit crowded on weekends. I would recommend visiting it on a weekday before the locals from the surrounding neighborhood get off work. I only encountered a handful of hikers during my visit on a Tuesday morning.

Hope(less?)

me! By Julien-Pierre Campbell

Sitting at my computer in my drafty little apartment, I’m sure I’m just a few mouse-clicks from insanity. I’ve got company tonight and work tomorrow, an essay due the same day, a lengthy blog, an essay Thursday — and about 500  pages of reading. All must be done within days of each other. I’m barely 19 and this seems awfully overwhelming.

Work to pay the rent. Go to school so that you can one day leave your food service job. Perform on the weekends so you don’t go crazy. Remember to be an attentive boyfriend, help your friends heal from their extensive traumas because they simply cannot on their own. Ignore your mental health and need for sleep. Finish that book. Make that discussion post. Attend that rehearsal. Watch your spending.

I push the laptop away.

I’m wrong, I decide. Overwhelmed is just too small a word for it.

Such is the life of a college student.

And yet, as I type and type, read and read, I don’t feel unhappy. Swamped and unmoored, sleepy and irritable, yes, but never unhappy. There is a spark inside me that work and school cannot put out. A happiness that my dear friends’ pain cannot quash. A stability and faith that my own mental illnesses cannot kill.

I have hope: That one day I will be in the career I want. That my friends will not be tormented by their minds. That my workload will be manageable.

There’s no panacea for college stress. Yoga and color-coded planners work for some people. Isolation and crappy dining hall food works for others. Diving into my workload and insomnia works for me.

All I know is that I am happy. Imperfect and overwhelmed, but happy.

I log back into my laptop. I smile at the screen. And back to work I go.

I love political science…right?

me! By Julien-Pierre Campbell

It’s fall 2017, and I’m sitting in my freshman honors class. “And what’s your major?” my professor asks.

“I’m a political science major with a double minor in legal studies and theatre arts — and I’m on the pre-law track.” There’s a beat.

“Wow,” the professor chuckles. “That’s…a lot.”

glow. See, I’m the kind of overachiever who needs to, as I say, “major in everything.” I’m only 17 and academia is my thing. I know I’m smart.  My teenage bravado is real.

Winter term comes and I pile on even more credits, a political internship, an ex officio board position, a cabaret I perform in, my job, my social life. My political science classes are starting to weigh on me. Theory and economics wander into my dreams. My internship is overtaking my normal homework.

“Can’t wait to see President Jules!” one of my cabaret friends jokes one weekend. I glow. See, I only sleep tl3 hours a night, and my glow might be a little burnished now, but I’m an overachiever! I love politics more than anything!  Right?

I ignore the fact that I do much better in my English classes. It requires much less effort on my part, but I WANT to put in effort. English is the one place I feel free. But I’m going to the president one day! Politics is my thing. Right?

The spring term comes. I up my hours at work, keep up with my credits, and only take political science courses. I slowly notice my grades slipping. This is infuriating! I’m an overachiever! I get a tattoo that says “Nonstop” in a vain attempt to grab my passion back. I’ve made so much of myself political at this point that I can’t face how miserable I am. My weekend cabaret becomes the only thing that makes me happy. I drop the internship and board membership — really, I just let them slip away.

On comes the next fall term — I’ve turned 18 by now, still full of teenage bravado, still the overachiever. I did take 16 credits and work twenty-five hours a week all summer, after all!

I take a deep breath one day, staring at my computer screen. I carefully select “ENGLISH” as my major and political science as my minor.

And I glow.

So Long Social Media?

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

I don’t keep up-to-date on Apple’s software, but I kept hearing about its new Screen Time feature. It lets you know how much time you spend on apps and social media and will set limits if you want it to. I personally did not turn it on or give it a try, but I increasingly found my friends talking about it and social media’s effect on a person’s outlook on life.

With books like The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas and similar studies and articles in circulation online, it’s no secret that social media is linked to feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with one’s own life. Even weirder, they say receiving “likes” triggers a dopamine high equivalent to hugging. Reading things like this make me want to delete everything but my contacts from my phone—but it’s always a fleeting feeling because I’ll end up distracting myself on Instagram.

Only one of my friends goes sans social media. She has accounts, but long ago deleted the apps from her phone and nearly never chooses to check social media elsewhere. For me, social media is a platform that allows me to stay connected with distant friends and family. I look at my friend though, and she has no trouble keeping in contact with the people that matter to her. Another friend of mine recently deleted all social media from her phone and is going on a two week purge. The goal is that after two weeks, she won’t have any desire to re-download those apps. I’m genuinely curious to see what changes she sees in herself, if any. 

Meanwhile, I actually turned on Screen Time to satisfy my curiosity on my own app usage. In the past seven hours, I’ve spent 40 minutes on my phone and 28 of those were on social networks. Not even 24 hours have passed, and I’m disgustingly well on my way to wasting hours of time on my phone. 

Midterm pressure? Use the 5-minute rule

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By Wiwin Hartini

I just realized it’s week five already and midterms are coming up and lab reports are due the same week. It seems as if a 24-hour day is not enough.

I used to panic more as midterms got closer even though I tried not to. I felt as if everything was coming at me all at once, and I didn’t know what exactly I was worrying about.

It was last quarter when I learned to change my perspective from the professor who taught my Microprocessor class. It was the most difficult class I had ever taken. I worried all the time, wondering if I could understand the class or not and if I would have to retake it.

Apparently, I was not the only student who felt that way. One day, the professor told a story about his grandchild who would panic every time she was assigned homework. To solve this problem, he told her that she could panic or freak out, but only for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, she had to face her homework and start doing the problems she recognized.

He introduced this rule to the students who were taking his class. It even came up as a question on our finals. There was a day in the lab when I heard my classmates remind each other about this rule because a project was taking a long long time. We had to remember to focus on doing what we recognized.  

The rule now applies to almost everything I do. I can really see the difference between what I was like a year ago in dealing with exams, and what I do now when faced with challenges.

Also, If I want to do something fun before a midterm, I know that PSU offers an event called “Midterm stress relief,” where students can try Thai massage, eat food, and play with Corgis for free. It’s Feb. 6 and next term it is May 1.

[link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PortlandStateU/events/?ref=page_internal%5D

Feeling Lonely in College

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I remember when I first came to PSU four years ago, I didn’t know anybody. I would see people walking in big groups or people studying with their friends and it made me feel like an outcast. I wanted to transfer to a bigger university because I felt lonely all the time. Things started to get better when I joined student organizations on campus and made a bunch of new friends, I finally started to feel like I belonged somewhere. I finally didn’t feel alone.

Since then, I have made plenty of friends that I’m convinced are going to be my lifelong friends. I’ve made the best memories at PSU and I consider college to be the best chapter of my life. However, since this is my senior year, everyone’s gotten busy. All of my friends are focused on their own thing and we have naturally drifted apart. Unfortunately, the feelings of loneliness that I felt during my freshman year have returned.

I spend most of my time alone on campus now. I can’t meet up with my friends because they’re busy or our schedules conflict. I’ve noticed that making friends in class is hard because everyone is just there to learn, not to socialize. It kind of sucks to be feeling this way, but I’ve found that what helps the most for me is to socialize as much as possible, even if it’s just small talk with the person that I’m sitting next to in class. Also, I have continued to be involved in several student groups, and I’ve met a lot of new people through that.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels alone in college. My biggest advice to anyone else feeling this way is to try to be more outgoing and participate in as many campus activities as you can. Become a member of a club or join an organization that interests you. Feelings of loneliness in college are normal, but with the right attitude, both you and I can overcome it.          

[Unconventional] Social Butterfly

      By: Adair Bingham

Ever since I was young, the idea of being a social butterfly frightened me. As a child, I was far from the type to be invited to parties and I was never first pick for sports teams. I was that socially awkward stereotype all throughout my primary academic years, and sometimes I still fall back on it. As I got older, I realized that I need to implement a change in life. It didn’t matter how small it was, what I needed was something new, something that I never would have dreamed of partaking in.

That change was social media. Many of my formative years were spent fearing social media, how it warped people’s sense of reality and how it was nothing but garbage content produced by outlandish, awful people. At least, that’s what I was told.

But as someone who wants to work in the creative industry, I knew that I needed to have an online presence.

At nineteen and after some heckling from friends, I hesitantly made my first-ever social media account: Instagram. I let it sit alone and unoccupied for one month before I even had an icon. A month after that, after riding out some strange wave of confidence, I posted my first drawing. I used the amount of likes as a means to measure my worth as an artist. Sometimes it would make me feel horribly self-conscious. At other times, I’d feel like the very definition of narcissist. It was like some kind of game, you could play to either make yourself feel special or just outright awful. I’m well aware the amount of likes and followers one has are all superficial, but it gives you some kind of elevated importance. After consistently posting my work, and during a particularly rough spot of self-depreciation, something that I never dreamed of happened.

I posted a piece of artwork inspired by one of my favorite games and it was noticed by the developers themselves. As small as it may seem, the fact that they saw it and acknowledged it greatly inspired me, and that was truly something special. It gave me the confidence that I so desperately needed to keep creating. So, I started posting on different platforms, and the day after doing so came floods of requests to buy artwork from me.

I am living out one of my longtime dreams: to be a freelance artist and to sell artwork. After harboring an irrational fear of social media for years, I am finally glad to call it a friend. Ideally, the takeaway from this is to unlearn your fear, to unlearn what you may have been told from others. Great things can come from it, and the only way to know is to take the first step into the unknown.Be bold, be brave, and be unashamedly weird in your creative endeavors. Most importantly, always create from what inspires you. Life is too short to not dabble in something new, even if it may be as small as social media.