Embrace the Gray

 Chelsea 2

By: Chelsea Ware

It seems like every day, whether I’m in line for coffee, riding the streetcar or in class, I hear someone complain about the rain. “I’m just so sick of this gloomy weather” or “I wish we would get more sun.” This attitude towards the rain in the Pacific Northwest astounds me!

First of all, the abundance of rain we get keeps the foliage lush and leafy. Oregon and Washington have some of the most beautiful trails, forests, and outdoor scenery. This is largely due to the fact that it rains much of the year. It keeps everything clean, green, and growing.

Secondly, as a native Californian I love the rain because I understand how much of a precious resource it is. After the lowest snowfall ever recorded and no end to the drought in sight, many homeowners in California have resorted to spray painting their dehydrated withering front lawns green. Back home my parents have to time their showers so that they don’t overuse their water ration.

Lastly, the rain makes it perfect for studying at one of Portland’s many cozy coffee shops. I love to go with friends to the Mezz café at the Pearl District Whole Foods when it’s raining. Not only do they have delicious coffee, it’s also right next to Powell’s Bookstore. So next time it’s less than sunny outside and you feel like complaining about the weather, try to remember that the rain is vital to many of the things we get to enjoy in Portland.

Real Talk About Internships

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Photo credit to Internships.com

Brooke HornBy Brooke Horn

We’ve heard it before: Internships are a key part of your education. They provide valuable experience, they present networking opportunities, they look good on your resume, they help you transition from academia to the workplace, etc. We get it already. They’re important. What’s lacking in the conversation about internships (at least the ones I’m hearing) is how to really make them work for you. I’ve had three so far, and I’ll be the first to admit I made a few mistakes along the way. Here’s what I learned from them.

Like any relationship, it’s important to know what you want going into one so that both parties are on the same page. I’ve seen internships range from one to six months in length and require anywhere between one and 25-plus hours per week. Before you do anything else, figure out how much time you can realistically devote to interning. I made the mistake of overestimating how much time I had to give, and as a result, I’m writing this blog post at 4am. Sleep is important too, as is scheduling time for things that help you relax and genuinely make you happy.

When you interview, remember that it goes both ways. You should be asking questions and making sure that this internship will be mutually beneficial. Some things to consider: Will this internship provide you with new skills, or do they expect you to already be competent? Do you need to generate work samples for a portfolio, and if so, will this internship help you do that? Are you going to be exposed to networking opportunities? Will you be working on your own or as part of a team? Telecommuting? Not only will you impress your potential employer, but your internship experience will be that much more rewarding because you know what you want out of it.

Finally, no internship discussion is complete without acknowledging the elephant in the room: compensation. The ethics surrounding paid vs. unpaid internships deserve a blog post – or even a book – all their own, but I’ll say this: I’ve had one paid and two unpaid internships, and they ALL were irreplaceable parts of my education. It may seem incredibly unfair to have to pay tuition and fees for seemingly free labor, but you aren’t really working for free. You are gaining otherwise unattainable experience, academic credit, and networking connections. In many cases, you are also helping small businesses stay afloat in a difficult economy. My internship with local independent publisher Hawthorne Books taught me not only about publishing, but how small businesses interact with their communities.

In short, don’t just sign up for an internship to fill a requirement or a line on your resume. Be selective, know what you want and what you have time for, and do your research. Seriously… internships quite literally changed the course of my education. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask in the comments. I’m out of room here, but I’m always happy to help a fellow student.

If you’re on the hunt, the following resources are super helpful:

  1. PSU’s Career Center
  2. PSU’s Jobs & Internships Database
  3. Career Workshops, Classes, & Events
  4. 10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Internship
  5. Pinterest’s surprisingly good internship advice

For the Sake of My Sanity, Please Change the PSU Payment Plan!

By: Chelsea WareChelsea 2

I am an out of state student and PSU has offered me many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t have if I went to school back home. I have fallen in love with Oregon and don’t plan on leaving when I graduate. That being said, being an out of state student has also been expensive. While loans and help from family make my education possible, it’s hard not to cringe every time my quarterly bill is posted.

The PSU payment plan has given me even more reason to cringe. Implemented fall quarter of 2014, the payment plan allows students to pay their tuition in three installments due on the 6th of each month. If a payment is missed, we are charged a $100 late fee. However, all students, not just those on the payment plan, must have a zero balance on their Banweb account on the 6th of each month. If they do not, they are automatically enrolled in the plan and charged the $100 fee. While I paid my tuition in full at the beginning of the term, I was charged the late fee because I didn’t know that I had a small bill from the student health clinic that had been posted the day before.

College is a privilege, and many students struggle to afford an education so that they can better their future. There are many international, out of state, low income and minority students who have unique funding structures that don’t mesh with PSU’s new plan. Some students I know didn’t get their financial aid before the 6th of the month, which happened to be only a few days into the term this winter. As a result they now have late fees to add to their already growing student debt.

PSU used to structure their payment system like many universities in Oregon do today. A 1-2% interest is added to outstanding payments each billing cycle. Therefore, the late fee is a reasonable amount compared to the student’s outstanding balance. I personally would like to see PSU go back to this system, what do you guys think?

Let’s Talk Trash

By Brooke Horn

Brooke Horn

Lauren Singer’s green philosophy is pretty simple: produce as little waste as possible by making smart, sustainable lifestyle choices. As a whole, our society subscribes to the disposable model. We have disposable plastic ware, drink cups, water bottles, napkins, food wrappers, product packaging… the list is seemingly endless. Generating no trash might seem like an impossibility but, as Lauren shows us, we can get pretty darn close.

I discovered Lauren through this EcoWatch article last week and became really intrigued by the concept of zero-waste living. Amazingly, almost all of the trash she’s collected over two years fits in a single mason jar. Her blog, Trash is for Tossers, provides tons of useful information on how she pulls her zero-waste lifestyle off. After doing a lot of research and taking a good, hard look at my own habits, I’ve decided to follow Lauren’s lead and implement some changes in my own lifestyle.

While I don’t think that I’m ready to transition to zero-waste, I DO want to transition to zero-plastic (or as close as I can get). Plastics have been shown to leach toxins into food, and while they can be reused, they don’t decompose like other materials. Does this mean immediately disposing of all plastics in my household? No, and it shouldn’t. Throwing away these items would only ADD to the problem.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf... I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

My dreaded Tupperware shelf… I plan on replacing all of that plastic with more sustainable containers.

Instead, I plan on gradually replacing my plastic items with glass, wood, or stainless steel equivalents (which you can find here, or even at your local thrift shop). The plastic items can either be donated or recycled as I exchange them. And while I’m generally pretty good about bringing a reusable water bottle and canvas shopping bags with me wherever I go, I’d like to go one step further. By using linen bags like these when I purchase produce and bulk items, I eliminate most plastics from my shopping routine. BAM. No more plastic bags, no more plastic Tupperware. One step closer to zero-plastic and zero-waste.

For tips on how you can live a more sustainable lifestyle on campus, check out PSU’s own Green Campus Living. The blogs Project Green Dorm, Zero Waste Home, and, of course, Trash is for Tossers are also really great resources. Wish me luck on my journey to zero-plastic! Feel free to share your own tips, recipes, resources, and ideas in the comments below.

On Ditching Cinnamon Toast Crunch for Organic Spinach

By Chelsea Ware

whole foodsMy first quarter at PSU taught me just how much of an impact healthy eating has on overall well-being. Like many students away from home for the first time, I considered frozen pizzas the base of the food pyramid. When I wasn’t at Victor’s in Ondine eating cake and burgers for lunch, I was at Starbucks setting a record for the most iced coffees consumed in 24 hours. While I didn’t gain the notorious “freshman 15,” I did notice other changes. I was constantly catching a cold, my skin looked dull and I was tired during my classes. I decided to make a change and embarked on a journey to find healthy, nutritious food items that are college budget friendly.

My favorite place to shop is Whole Foods Market. With the nickname “whole paycheck” many don’t see them as being economical. However, I disagree. While they do have some pretty expensive items, they also have a wide array of name brand products that are comparable or less expensive than the same items at other grocery stores. For instance, their 365 roasted red pepper pasta sauce for $2 is amazing. In addition, the knowledgeable and friendly staff is great when it comes to finding low priced items. Whenever I go in, the employees at the butcher counter tell me what is on sale and give me recipes on how to use it. As a result, I’ve never had a problem eating right and staying within my financial plan at Whole Foods.

The Safeway near campus has made many recent improvements to offer healthy eating options. They have expanded their organic produce section and added a larger assortment of nutritious staple items such as brown rice, organic granola, and whole grain bread. With a club card, Safeway makes it convenient and affordable for students to make healthier choices.

The Farmers Market is also a great resource for wholesome eating. For those like me who live on campus, the one in the park blocks on Saturday mornings is a fantastic place to purchasing fresh produce. Strolling by the various booths trying samples and socializing is a fun way to spend the morning, and I love knowing that my purchases benefit the local community.

Learning to cook in bulk with quality ingredients has had a huge positive impact on my health. I have a stronger immune system and I feel much more energetic during the day, and I’m sure that if you try it, you will see a difference too. For quick nutritious recipes, I recommend checking out http://greatist.com/health/cheap-healthy-recipe-collection. Feel free to post your tips for overcoming bad eating habits below!

A purr-fect match: Tips for student pet-owners

Brooke's cat Ulysses

Brooke’s cat Ulysses

By: Brooke Horn

When I moved here, I couldn’t bring Bandit with me.

I knew that a 400sqft studio in the city is no place for an energetic Black Lab, and that I would be able to adopt after the move. Bandit was more than happy to stay home with family and escape the traumatic experience of flying. After settling into Portland, I did a lot of research into pet adoption. For my fellow students who own pets, or are interested in owning pets, here are some of the best tips I’ve come across:

 

  1. Know the pet rules for where you live. According to PSU’s Housing & Residence Life FAQs, “The only animals allowed in on-campus housing are fish in a small tank (up to 10 gallons), cats, and service animals that are pre-approved by the Disability Resource Center (DRC).” For those of you who live off-campus, it’s important to know that most management companies will require you to have renter’s insurance (I decided to go with State Farm for $10/month), and most have a policies regarding weight and breed restrictions.
  1. The Oregon Humane Society is wonderful. Not only do they have great pets that desperately need good homes, they have a phenomenal list of resources for pet-owners. This list covers everything from which apartments are pet-friendly to sample pet references/resumes.
  2. Buy all of your pet supplies in advance, and make sure you really have the room in your home AND your schedule to devote to a pet. Pinterest has some great student-friendly ideas for DIY pet furniture that saves space!
  3. Spend some time researching your local veterinarians. Although they’re a little far from campus, the folks at Powell Veterinary Center have been kind to me, my pet, AND my wallet.

I finally met my purr-fect match through The Delicious Mickey Grrrl Fund – a small group of dedicated, friendly locals who match neglected pets with forever homes. They went above and beyond to make my adoption experience wonderful, and now I’m the proud pet-mama of Ulysses (pictured above).

Have an inspiring adoption story, a cute pet photo, or know of a good pet resource? Share it with us!

Here’s looking at you PSU

By: Sharon Jackson

A year ago today I made my way to the streetcar on a very Portland rainy morning. It was packed and muggy – full of people’s breath and their steaming hot coffees. There was a tightening knot in the bottom of my stomach, that my breakfast lay precariously on. We pulled to the Market Street stop, and I stepped down cautiously in my worn brown oxford shoes and brand new dark jeans. I gently placed my hand on my head to check if my recently curled hair was still in place. I was ready, and excessively nervous, as I proceeded up the Park Blocks for the very first time. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship – at Portland State University.

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Tomorrow, I will be venturing out on the same route. Streetcar to Park Blocks and to begin with old-fashioned Cramer Hall. I am still nervous, but this time I am comforted with familiarity and wisdom. I will hold on dearly to the most important things I learned last year that made me a successful Viking:

Know PSU – and the various resources available that are usually FREE such as Buddy Up and the PSU Library.

Stay organized – keep your head above water, use Google Calendar or the inexpensive PSU Handbook to stay on top of your work.

Get involved – be a part of a group; Student Organizations and REC Clubs are easy to join and keep your mind from temporary insanity.

Be bold – and open minded; expose yourself to new Events, Performances, Lectures, etc. and be outspoken in your classes – it is the only way to be well-rounded.

Take care of yourself – you only do your best when you are at your best; we are lucky to have Portland Farmer’s Market at our doorstep and a state-of-the-art Campus Rec free with tuition.

What are some other ways that make You a successful Viking?

Eat like a caveman, become lean like caveman?

paleo dietBy Mario Quintana

The definition of a diet, according to Merriam-Webster, means food and drink regularly provided or consumed, habitual nourishment, or the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason. And for many, that special reason is to lose weight for a specific occasion or for their health. Some will try numerous diets and various exercise regimens to accomplish said goal. A few months ago, I jumped on the bandwagon and started the paleo diet in order to lean out.

Simply described, the paleo diet uses the logic that our ancestors only had access to meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fats from some of these these sources. Therefore, it excludes agricultural productions such as grains, dairy, legumes, refined salt, refined sugar, potatoes, and processed oils from one’s diet. At first glance, the paleo diet makes sense and even more so here in Portland. One month into the diet, I noticed a change in weight. However, I soon began to continuously feel lethargic, exhausted, and weak.

The paleo diet reasons that by consuming little to no carbohydrates, the body will naturally use up all the stored fat one has for energy. You lose weight and become lean like our ancestors were. However, there is no substantial evidence to support that our ancestors followed this diet. Up to 60% of the paleo diet heavily focuses on eating meat and fats. That percentage is simply too high for the average sedentary person, even for those who exercise, and even for world-class athletes. As for the weight that I lost, and much to my dismay, most of it turned out to be mostly muscle.

Eating healthy and exercising daily may be hard to start for many, but perhaps what’s even worse is doing both based on fads or what’s popular. In other words, one needs to research scientifically peer reviewed information on nutrition and kinesiology to understand the human body to successfully change it and maintain it. For those interested, I suggest reading Dr. T. Colin Campbell ‘s research.

One with the dragon

By: Sharon Jackson

In between lectures and essays, I will always have Dragon Boat. There is nothing like being on the open water with the wind in my face while gliding with focus through the Willamette on a warm spring day. Oh, and it is a full-body workout as well. It is the beginning of a new season and I feel like a full-body bruise, but that is all worth it for the experience in the end. It is an amazing feeling when 20 paddlers, on a more than 2,000-year-old boat with a Dragon head, synchronize to maintain a rhythmic power as if nothing in the world can stop us. An even better feeling is when we place first in a race – Rose Festival here we come! But most of all it is worth the relationships that are gained and the immediate trust that continues to grow among us. We row as ONE. And only then, I am able to continue to my class – Oui, parler en française.

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You Don’t Know What You Got . . .

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

Student Insurance . . . plus SHAC is available, too.

By: Theo Burke

As I graduate, besides memories and friends, I am leaving behind the awesome Portland State student health insurance. I’ve written about this before, now I’m experiencing the difference.

Since I don’t know what job is coming down the pike or what kind of health insurance it might carry, I’ve applied for individual insurance through Cover Oregon, the state exchange that sells private health plans (with federal subsidies to help pay the premiums) under the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare.” The state exchange will alternatively sign you up automatically for the state’s Medicaid program (the Oregon Health Plan) if you qualify.

In the real world, I will have to think more about the deductible. A deductible is an amount you pay each year (usually $250 – $1000 or higher) before any benefits are paid by your health insurer.

At PSU, the deductible was $0.00.

My present doctors might not be covered by a new insurance company. At PSU, the Aetna provider network was vast.

I will have to worry more about whether alternative care is covered. At PSU, naturopathic doctors are treated the same as primary care doctors, and chiropractors are covered up to twelve visits per year.

Weirdly enough, when I heard from Cover Oregon recently, they put me in the Oregon Health Plan, even though I reported enough income to disqualify me from that program. Now I will have to figure out the Medicaid ”world,” which works much differently than the private insurers’ system, or else contest my placement in that program with Cover Oregon.

Students, the PSU plan won’t throw you such curve balls. You have an awesome, generous health plan, and you should take advantage of it before you graduate. As I’ve said before, you don’t know what you’ve got, until you lose it.