Why I Love PSU’s Weirdness Factor

Kellie Doherty By: Kellie Doherty

A portion of my hair is bright orange. That isn’t terribly big news here in Portland, especially around campus. We have some colorful characters. I’ve seen flame-red, neon green, rainbow, mermaid, galaxy, and even multicolored blocked hair. I’ve seen spiked hair a foot high, hair sheered completely off on just one side, and myriad other things.

I’m originally from Alaska. We have some rustic stylistic charms of our own, but I only saw hairstyles like these during the state fair. In Portland this is their everyday look. And I’m certainly not judging them by any means. It’s simply a different world than mine back at home.

And people don’t just experiment with hair. I’ve seen fellow students walking around in cloaks that look straight out of The Lord of the Rings, neon blue pants that look like they’re from the ’80s, and, I swear, a girl in a full-blown Pikachu outfit from Pokémon.

Again, not judging.

This is what’s great about being at PSU. You can be anyone you want to be. (Within reason. You can’t aspire to be a murderer or something.) You can transform yourself here, and the students will accept you, and may even have some serious mad respect for you. (I know I do.) It’s a great campus in that regard.

And sometimes, when I’m walking around PSU, even I get a smile from a fellow student. Yes, even I’m keeping Portland State University weird, and I’m proud of it.

How are you keeping PSU weird?

Keep Portland Weird

“That’s so Portland,” “Keep Portland Weird,” and “Portland is so hipster” are several phrases I hear from my peers, especially friends who do not reside in Portland. But I feel like to really experience Portland life, you have to live here and see it for yourself.

There are atypical scenes you will come across on the PSU campus and in Portland in general. I do not regard them as “weird” but merely a pleasant surprise that can make one’s day.

monkeyIt was last year when I witnessed an unusual scene after leaving my Statistics final during Spring term. It was two fellows, one wearing a monkey mask, dancing by the streetcar stop near Subway. Their flamboyant van was blasting absurd beats and music—it immediately attracted students who were passing by. They danced the Macarena and used a street pole explicitly. People stopped, stared, laughed, and snapped photos. After a solid five minutes of spontaneous dancing, they got back into their van, waved, and then sped away.

At first, I was curious to see what their intent was, but I soon realized it was spontaneous and had no purpose. It reminded me of flash mobs, where groups of people come together to do something out of the ordinary simultaneously for a few minutes.

This particular scene conveys how the culture of Portland cannot be duplicated elsewhere. I’m proud to say that PSU embraces and welcomes an environment filled with various, cultural backgrounds, passions, opinions, and personalities all in one large, mixing pot. Whether it may be blatantly expressing yourself through your voice, or the random dancing act I witnessed, it is the epitome of what makes Portland, Portland.

What is your “weird” Portland story?