A “Swan” Summer

IMG_7345 By Claire Golden

This is my last term of college, and my classes are different than usual. This term, I’m taking my senior capstone and my last four University Studies credits…which is how I ended up in a Japanese Manga class. 

First of all, it’s a four-week class, which I’ve never done before. And it’s no joke! We have the same amount of content, but it’s squished into four weeks instead of the usual eight or ten for non-summer terms. Every day, we have a discussion assignment due, and every week we have an essay and quiz. It’s vital to write down my assignments and cross them off when I’m done so I don’t get confused.

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While it certainly isn’t stress-free, I’ve really enjoyed the texts we’ve read so far this term. One of the manga we read is Swan by Kyoko Ariyoshi. I fell in love with it from the first page. It’s the story of a teenage ballerina and her struggle to get into a prestigious ballet school. Since I did classical ballet as a teenager, I took to the story right away and liked it so much that I ordered the next book in the series immediately after finishing. 

I never would have discovered this book if it weren’t for my manga class. And I wouldn’t have signed up for this class if it weren’t for University Studies. It turns out that this manga class is the perfect way to finish my English major, expanding my knowledge beyond Western literature. It just goes to show that you should keep an open mind, because you never know where you’ll find your new favorite book.

Staying Social During Quarantine

IMG_7345 By Claire Golden

Today, May 13, marks 58 days by my count of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. That’s a long time to go without hanging out in person with other people. I’ve seen a movement toward calling it “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing” to emphasize that while people need to physically stay apart, they can still connect in other ways. Humans are social creatures and it’s important to stay connected.

One of the ways I’ve been keeping in touch with my friends is through our weekly Dungeons & Dragons sessions. We all hop on Google Hangouts and play D&D for a few hours on Sunday nights. It’s great to catch up with them as well as getting the escape that role-playing games (RPGs) offer. We played a really fun RPG called “Honey Heist” where you’re trying to infiltrate a honey convention, but everyone is a bear. It made everybody laugh and was a good time, so I highly recommend this if you want to try out a RPG.

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Another fun thing you can do with your friends is hold a Netflix watch party, where everyone starts the movie at the same time and chats throughout. You could also play video games online, or hop on the Animal Crossing bandwagon. We held a PowerPoint party where everybody gave an informal presentation of something that interests them, which was an entertaining way to spend an evening. Topics varied from the history of World War I to Frodo and Sam’s relationship in The Lord of the Rings. It was fun to learn about my friends’ interests.

Since I’m currently away from my family, I make sure to stay in touch with them. Usually this involves texting them silly pictures I find on the Internet. We also FaceTime every two weeks or so. Phone calls are wonderful, but seeing their faces does me a lot of good…even if my dog is pretty confused when she sees my face on the computer.

Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to take the initiative to set up a hangout with your friends. It’s important to keep physically distancing, but don’t let friendships fade just because you’re physically apart.

Tips for Trouble-Free Transit Travel

Untitled design-3 By Claire Golden

One of the main reasons I chose PSU is because I could live at home and commute to college. I didn’t want to live away from my family for that long, and the dorms were too expensive, so commuting was the perfect solution. After three and a half years of taking the bus, I’m far from a master of public transportation, but I’m much more comfortable with it than I was when I started. And I have some tips to share with anybody in the same shoes.

The best tool you can have as a commuter is a good bag. My backpack has held up through my entire college career, and I suspect it will keep going for many more years. As cool as messenger bags look, they’re terrible on your back. For me, nothing can take the place of a reliable backpack. Mine has side pockets to store my water bottle.

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TriMet is a great way of getting around Portland. They recently started a low-income fare program. If you’re a broke college student like me, you just might be eligible. You get to ride the bus, Max, and streetcar for half the price, which has been a lifesaver for me. (Don’t forget you can ride the streetcar for free with your PSU student ID!) The TriMet transit tracking app is useful for knowing when your bus will show up, which means you can time your commute so you don’t have to wait outside for so long.

If you’re going to be walking around after dark, it’s important to have a light – you can clip it to your backpack for easy access. You also may want to consider self-defense, whether that’s taking a class or getting some pepper spray. For safety reasons, I always make sure somebody knows where I am and when I plan to be home. I encourage you to make a safety plan, too. 

Another thing I like having in my backpack is my Kindle, which I use to read ebooks while I commute. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done that way. Or you can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or your favorite music. It makes the commute go by much faster. Now I look forward to my bus rides…they’re a fun part of my day.

Portland State’s Best Near-Campus Movie Theaters

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 3.31.14 PM By Andrew D. Jankowski

Who doesn’t love movies, right? Whether what you prefer, movies offer a means for finding common ground and expressing bold ideas. Portland State University has numerous professional theaters within an easy walk from campus, but PSU also houses numerous spaces to see movies on campus. All the listed screening spaces are free for PSU students.

5th Avenue Cinema

The most well-known spot on campus to see movies, 5th Avenue Cinema is a student-operated theater that screens a different movie every weekend in the term, with each term having an overarching theme, like the term where they screened movies directed by women. 5th Avenue Cinema is on the north side of the Ondine building, which, in addition to students, houses numerous resource centers, classrooms and a dining hall. In addition to film classes, I’ve seen everything from Space Jam and Magic Mike XXL to Rabbit’s Moon and White Zombie at 5th Avenue Cinema.

Lincoln Hall

Lincoln Performance Hall occasionally screens movies, sometimes with live scores from orchestra students. These movies are often of historical significance, like Jewish Luck, Hungry Hearts and The Picture of Dorian Gray; or are festivals featuring student works.

Smith Memorial Student Union

SMSU’s basement holds a multi-use space sometimes used as a satellite screening space for PSU film festivals, and the ballroom, along with other rooms on the second and third floors, have been used to screen movies in the past. The first floor’s Parkway North space screens movies in addition to hosting concerts. The movies screened in SMSU range from mainstream movies like Spider-Man, Star Wars and Blade Runner 2049, along with documentaries, foreign films and club-centric movies; I swear I’ve seen the anime club have a viewing party at least once.

Campus Rec Center

PSU’s swimming club has screened movies for people as they swim or float. These are usually popular movies that one can follow along with as people splash and slosh. The Dive-In Movie series has screened movies like Wonder Woman and Finding Dory. Near the Rec Center, along 6th Avenue, is a set of four screens that project curated art films 24/7, and have been featured as part of PSU’s involvement in festivals like Portland Winter Light Festival and Portland State of Mind.

 

What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen at PSU, and where did you see it? Tell me in the comments.

College is a Battle

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

When was the last time you actually did something fun at school? This week the Rec Center brought a life-size game of Battleship to the swimming pool, and it was one of the most thrilling activities I have done all year. Our rendition of pool Battleship stems from a classic board game that involves strategy and guessing. The object of the game is to “sink” your opponent’s ships that they have strategically placed on a 10×10 square grid. With each correct guess, your opponent’s ship takes a “hit” and slowly begins to sink until each part of their ship has been hit.

The life-size version of Battleship that we play mimics a similar concept to the board game. We have players team up into large, canoe-like boats where we’re given paddle boards and buckets as “weapons.” On the blow of the whistle, we paddle hastily towards other teams and fling buckets of water into their boat to sink their “ship.” As fun as it sounds, it’s certainly an upper body workout in disguise and a team effort.

Believe it or not, after nearly three years of working at the Rec Center, this was my first time stepping foot into our swimming pool. The game not only gave me a reason to try something new, but it reminded me that it’s moments like this that contribute to the overall value and experience we attribute to our time spent at a university. I think everyone deserves to have some enjoyable memories of their college experience, whether it be social outings with classmates or participating in a crazy, untraditional event like Battleship. We shouldn’t be leaving school with nightmares of the rough nights studying until 2 a.m. or that one test we scored terribly on.

Sometimes, we take school a little too seriously. While grades are important, they are not the only defining factors of success. I challenge you to purposely find ways to enrich your university experience not just through classroom learning but experiential learning. College is a constant battle of finding balance. How do you plan to enrich your experience?

Let’s be friends

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By: Sara Kirkpatrick 

Have you ever met someone and thought, “I would just love to be friends with this person?” However, before you could articulate “hello,” the fear of awkwardness and rejection stopped you.

Even extroverts, such as myself, from time to time find it uncomfortable when having to initiate conversations with fellow classmates, and fall victim to the above line of thinking.  This is particularly true when approaching classmates that I would like to get to know better.

For instance, last winter term, I met a fellow PSU student through SBA’s Fearless Friday workshops. She was knowledgeable, funny, outgoing and double majoring in my same fields. I immediately wanted to befriend her, but my fear of being awkward preventing me from introducing myself, and I said nothing.

sara-and-susieFortunately, in the next term, I found myself sitting next to this same SBA student in a PSU workshop.  This time, I decided to take the advice of a recent blog post I had read, 11 ways to turn strangers into friends, and pushed myself to use one of the blog’s suggestions: Imagine that the other person is already your friend.

In doing so, I stepped out of my comfort zone and was not only rewarded by a friendship with this classmate, we eventually became freelance partners, offering our collaborative talents and creativity to clients. None of this would have been possible if I hadn’t taken the risk to put myself out there to meet someone new.

I encourage each and every one of my PSU colleagues to take a chance today and talk to a classmate who you’d like to become friends with. You never know where that friendship might take you.  Who knows; you could be sitting next to your future business partner!

Fitness for Haters

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

As the Marketing and Outreach student coordinator for Campus Rec, part of my job is encouraging students to use our facilities and programs. When talking with students at the Rec Center’s information table, I encounter many fitness haters. Oftentimes I notice it is because they have misconceptions about the programs we offer and how easy they are to join.

I’ll often highlight certain features we have such as an indoor track, an Olympic lifting platform, a swimming pool, etc. While I think these are valuable resources, I’ll encounter students who are quick to say, “I don’t like running,” “I don’t lift weights,” or “I don’t know how to swim.” In my mind, all I’m hearing is “I don’t” or “I can’t.” It blows my mind how some people can be so bitter towards recreational fitness. So how do I respond to this?

In these cases, I’ll stop myself and ask students probing questions such as, “What do you like to do for fun recreationally?” “Is there anything you’ve been wanting try?” “What aspect of fitness do you find most challenging?” I notice it’s these types of questions where they pause and take a moment to reflect on what it is that they actually enjoy doing to stay active. In most cases, they’ll be open to some of our special programs such as Rock Climbing 101, SwimX, Dance-A-Thon, and many more.

Right now, I am encouraging everyone who wants to explore activities through the Rec Center to browse through our Schedule & Events page on the Campus Rec website, or view the current Fall 2016 Program Schedule.

Campus Rec is for everyone; all shapes, all sizes, all abilities. If you think you hate fitness, then you’ve come to the right place. We only have one body, so why not take care of it now?

50 Years of Adventure

blog1 (1) By: Xylia Lydgate

How do you like to spend your free time outside? I just hit the slopes of Mt.Hood Meadows with the Outdoor Program a couple months ago, which is now celebrating its 50 years of student-led adventure and services. That marks the longest enduring, university-led outdoor program nationwide!

Rumor has it that the University of Oregon was the first school to officially start an Outdoor Program. However, PSU’s Outdoor Program was established the year before in 1966 by a man named Sam McKinney and second PSU president, Branford Price Millar.

The program is rich with history and stories that have been shared from generation to generation. It has compelled students to get outside and explore, and to extend their university experience beyond campus.

Last week, I sat down with Todd Bauch, Campus Rec’s associate director of operations, and the Outdoor Program’s coordinator in 2002. Reflecting on how it has changed over the years, Todd recalls that it was once lacking in diversity. The office was primarily a “white guy’s place to hang out,” he says. Nowadays, students and community members, young and old, male and female, native-born Oregonians and international students alike share a similar passion for outdoor program activities. More structure has also been added to the program over time, ensuring a wide variety of trips, quality service and leadership opportunities such as the new WiLD program.

So, what does the “Outdoor Program” do exactly? At Campus Rec, the Outdoor Program offers guided trips throughout the Pacific Northwest, including service trips and seminars, discounted equipment rental services, free trip planning and resources, kayak roll sessions, a rock climbing center and more.

Stay up-to-date with the Outdoor Program’s 50 year celebration by visiting our microsite and following the hashtag #ODP50 on social media.

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A happy bunch celebrates victory after braving rapids on their Umpqua River trip (2000).

 

My Epic Snowboarding Experience [for Beginners]

blog1 (1)  By: Xylia Lydgate

This past weekend was my second time snowboarding and I had a blast, thanks to Campus Rec’s Ski Shuttle.

I was more than ready to make a comeback from my first snowboarding experience, which involved me not having snow pants and falling down the mountain every five feet. This time I was equipped with Gore-Tex snow pants and “ButtSaver” pads, including a tailbone protector— I felt pretty invincible.

Each year the Outdoor Program at Campus Rec has a Ski Shuttle to Mt. Hood Meadows that students and anyone in the community can ride. Jake and Scarlett were our trip leaders. They did an awesome job keeping us well informed and making sure we received our equipment and passes before hitting the slopes. Additionally, our group got to skip the long lines at the rental center and get right to picking up our gear.

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It was a beautiful day at Meadows. The sun was out, it was snowing, and the mountain was covered in fresh powder. As I skated towards the lift, I already felt a greater sense of confidence on my board. I set a goal that day to focus on learning how to turn on both my front and back edges, and how to properly break, rather than intentionally falling every time I wanted to stop.

After a few practice runs on the Bunny and Buttercup Hills, I was ready to progress to the Daisy Hill. The hills on this run are steeper and longer. I felt a rush of exhilaration down each slope. As I began to pick up speed, adrenaline surged through my veins. But the fear of taking a hard hit stuck a pin in the back of my mind.

Suddenly, I lost control.

My momentum launched me forward, sending me into a complete 360 flip, first taking impact from my knees to chest then chucking me straight onto my back. I had of course opened my mouth in shock, inviting a chunk of snow to the back of my throat. I laid on the mountain, motionless, until I regained my senses. Once I realized that had just happened, I started laughing to myself at how incredible of a fall that was yet my body was still in one piece! I was also surprised at how little it hurt— luckily the snow was extra powdery, and the ButtSaver might have helped a bit too.

If you’re a beginner like me, falling is only part of the experience and half the fun. I hope this will serve as some motivation for you to make a trip to the mountain and to never give up when learning a new skill gets frustrating. Don’t forget that the Outdoor Program Ski Shuttle is always a great option if you’re considering your next snowboarding or ski trip.

Putting the Pub Back in Publishing

Kellie Doherty

By Kellie Doherty

Every year the second-year graduate students of the book publishing program join the new students (we call them “little fish”) at a local bar. Last year it was at Cheerful Tortoise and this year, Rogue. Not all the little fish go, of course, but the ones who do get to meet the second years and mingle with their incoming class. It’s a fun process, and one I was glad to be a part of two years in a row. I have to say, though, the way I felt about this informal meeting couldn’t be more different.

Last year, I was part of the incoming class. I was the little fish. It was seriously overwhelming, meeting all these new people and hearing about the jobs the second years had, but it felt good to be part of a group, too. Knowing I could learn from these awesome people diminished some of the fear of starting the program.

I’m a second year now. I know things! I’ve been through the gauntlet, survived, and had a blast! So when I walked into the bar and saw all the cheerful (yet apprehensive) faces of the little fish, I felt pretty good about easing their worries. At the very least, I made them feel welcomed, feel part of a group like the second years in my term did for me. And hopefully, when it’s these little fishes’ turn, they’ll do the same, too.

Do any of your programs have an informal meeting like this?