Doing it in four years, yes!

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

The fear of not graduating in four years is real. Going into my junior year, I frantically started assembling a “degree map” to chart out what classes I needed to take every term. I’d been following what courses I needed on my DARS report, but had never taken the time to sit down and map everything out. The biggest benefit of doing this was that it brought up questions I could address early and also made me conscious of term-specific classes.

Portland State has a lot of tools to help students plan accordingly. On Banweb, there’s the DARS report for detailing your major/minor requirements and the Schedule Planner, which has removed the hassle of avoiding class times overlapping when registering for class. Recently, PSU unveiled a cool new tool that helps a lot with planning out classes. Their Course Projection Guide extends three years out and lists what classes are projected for future terms. I started comparing my personal degree map against the Projection Guide and realized there were a couple of major schedule shifts I’d have to make. 

The greatest thing a degree map has done for me is alleviate the stress of not being sure if I’d graduate on time as a double major—I can! An added bonus is that when I go to speak with my advisors, I already have a plan laid out for them to work with and make suggestions. College is an expensive investment, and I think it’s great that Portland State has provided students with several different tools to plan their future accordingly.

Remember to Watch Your Back

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

One of the most detrimental things to our personal safety is having a complacent attitude. It’s very easy to believe that if something hasn’t happened to you that you have some sort of immunity. For instance, my six-foot-tall stature gave me a false sense of security because I thought it would make any creeper think twice about coming after me. I quickly learned this isn’t true, and luckily, I didn’t learn it through something awful actually happening to me.

I was walking to Safeway over the weekend when I passed a man who I’d seen at the PSU library a couple days earlier. I didn’t think anything of it until he began running at me and yelling, asking if I wanted to be friends and that he “saw me hanging in the library the other night.” The fact that he recognized me was definitely unnerving. Another day, I was walking home from class when a man acted like he was going to attack me. He very intentionally and aggressively lunged at me. Instantly, some of my old self-defense lessons seemed to emerge from deep within. I put my arms up to block his lunge, and I was in a fighting stance when he just scampered off.

Both of these events happened in broad daylight with other people around me. These oddballs probably didn’t even mean me any “real” harm—but it was weird. Of course, these instances aren’t unique to me or Portland, and I strongly believe everyone should know some self-defense. PSU offers a one credit self-defense class, and I’m excited to be taking it next term. I think I’ll also start lifting again—if being tall isn’t intimidating anymore, maybe some bulging biceps will do the trick.

Give Thanks for Thanksgiving

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

This week is Thanksgiving. A time for laughter and cheer, for friends and family, for great food and even better company. A lovely little holiday leading up to The Big One.

But honestly? It’s some pretty terrible timing. Next week is Dead Week here on campus and finals are literally just around the corner. (T-minus 14 days, in fact.) And I know I’m not the only one freaking out about the projects due. It’s stressful. Just thinking about it makes my shoulders tighten, and my stomach curl into a knot.

So, is this the best time to stop working on (or thinking about) those hugely important final projects? Probably not. My suggestion, though? Make the most of the holiday as you possibly can anyway.

Try to parcel the homework assignments out so you can spend time with the family (or friends or whomever you’re spending the holiday with). Take Thanksgiving dinnertime off, or better yet, take all of Thanksgiving Day off. If you’re traveling—like me!—try to do some assignments on the journey. (I know I’ll be writing a paper on my plane ride to the East Coast.)

Make some time for your loved ones. Heck, make some time for yourself.

You deserve the time off before the final push to finals week. Treat yourself, and your friends and family, to some quality time together this Thanksgiving. Trust me, your spirit will thank you later.

Memoir Writing at PSU

Andreea Nica_bio photo

By Andreea Nica

When I tell people I’m writing a memoir, they usually appear surprised and ask: “Aren’t you too young?”

In 2013, I began writing “Freeligious,” a memoir and narrative nonfiction about my detachment from a charismatic religious sect and community. As a former evangelical, my gradual transition from the Pentecostal community spanned 10 years. The book focuses on identity, power and society with the aim of empowering those who have left — or who want to leave — their religious systems. Since then, I’ve taken a memoir writing course in Seattle, joined a writing group and received attention from media outlets such as Fox News Radio. Around 200 pages later, I realized I still needed help organizing my book.

I decided to take a memoir writing class with instructor and author Paul Collins in PSU’s English Department this winter term. The course has been extremely helpful in not only focusing on creating new content, but organizing my existing work. While the workshops (each student and the instructor reviews the student’s work and provides open feedback) initially can be an uneasy experience, they have certainly been most useful. As a Ph.D. Sociology student, being the only non-MFA student in the course has also helped me learn from others’ writing skills and expertise.

Although some find it unexpected that I’m writing a memoir at a “young age” or while pursuing a doctoral degree in the social sciences, I believe following more than one passion or goal can be most satisfying in life.

If you’re interested in taking a course in PSU’s English Department, visit: http://www.pdx.edu/english/

School Stress… Here we go again!

Do you ever sit in class, and feel like you’re the one person that has no clue what’s going on? I seem to have already found myself in this dilemma this term. It’s now the second week of the term, and I’d say that I’ve already passed my previous record of stress-to-week-of-term ratio. On the second day of classes, I was assigned upwards of 200 pages to read before the end of the week. Granted, I signed myself up for these three 400+ level courses and one 300+ level course, but that still doesn’t mean that I’m not overwhelmed by this initial work load. This past week has left me feeling like this guy from the movie Better Off Dead:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmdVqCNev6Q

I guess it’s time to hit the books!