Reality TV in the U.S.

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When I came to America three years ago, I was very curious about what kind of TV programs were popular in the U.S. I started watching TV with my first roommate, Jennifer, whose favorite shows were on the Reality TV channel. She really liked watching every episode of “Cops”  and obsessed over “American Idol”. She would become upset, cry, or be very happy with these shows, which reminded me of reality show reactions in Japan.

We have many reality TV shows with similar line-ups, such as “Kesatsu 24ji” (Cops 24hours), “Aidoru Bangumi” (Idol competition show), and ”Kin^niku Banzuke” (Ultimate Figher Programs). Some of my friends in Japan  also have emotional attachments to these shows, displaying a sense of empathy to the people in the shows. I was not interested in watching these programs in Japan, but in America, I like to watch Cops, The Rattlesnake Republic, and Hard Core Pawn. I feel that these are real America, and that I am learning about parts of American society that I would otherwise not know.

Finally, a Place to Call My Home and People to Call My Family.

homeI have lived on campus for three years, and in three different locations. Living in the city was a drastic change for me. I grew up in a rural area where I had no neighbors, surrounded instead by acres of orchards. While living in the city brought me new experiences, it was expensive and at times lonesome for me.

I have had a total of seven male roommates, have lived alone, and at one point, I lived with five roommates. One can just imagine how things went living in a place with five guys. We were all single, young, and a bit naive  Yet, throwing parties, going out, hanging out as a group, and goofing around just wasn’t for me. At the end of the day, I would always feel alone or being left out of something meaningful.

My mornings, evenings, and my life are now spent with my new family. I moved in with my girlfriend this past summer into her sister’s house in Oregon City. It’s a full house; there are two cats, two dogs, her husband, her sister in law, and her 2 year old son who, I like to say, is the king of the house. It’s a great welcoming and friendly environment. I often hear the little boy call out everyone’s name from across the house. I get up every weekday at 7 to get ready for my day and help my girlfriend get prepared as well. I see the cats walking back and forth, and I hear the dogs in the yard barking for attention.

At 22, I love my new home, my girlfriend, my new family, and myself. I have left behind my single, lonesome, and confused life. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

You Are Not Alone

For the longest time, I felt that no one could ever really understand my troubles. We all have issues, concerns, and problems, but I felt I was on my own. I am the first one in my family to attend a university, and this tends to be a bit overwhelming and exciting for most students. Yet, over time I kept feeling frustrated, lost, and even sad. I simply didn’t know what was going on with me. This kept happening for a while and it got worse.

It wasn’t until I had several panic attacks that my family and I knew something was wrong. Our family doctor knew what was going on. He diagnosed me with Anxiety Disorder. I was a bit relieved to know what I had yet; my symptoms persisted even after getting on medication. Time passed by and I started to feel better.

However, I just had a recent panic attack. It has been over a year since I had one. I realized that I needed to take care of myself better by getting professional help and by reaching out to everyone I know. I was relying on my medication too much, and hadn’t developed a support system. This is critical for a well-rounded and healthy recovery and growth. I advise everyone to reach out for support from everyone they know and to go to SHAC or any medical center to get professional help. You are not alone, there is help out there.

Navigating PSU as a Student of Color

At one point, I was a freshman, eager to go to my first university class, but not knowing what to expect. Inexperienced and with no siblings who had gone through the college life before, I was all on my own. Class registration, time management, budgeting, making friends, housing, food, finding a job, and numerous more things were all put on my plate at once. This happens to be true for many Portland State students who are of color and even more so when the University is regarded as a commuter school.

However, I was fortunate enough to have met Perla Pinedo during my first Viking week. She is the coordinator of Latino/a Student Services. At the time I knew no one, and was glad to see someone with the same heritage. Not only did she help me understand how the university functioned, but she also did the same for my parents and provided them a sign of relief and assurance. Through Perla, I was introduced to the department of Diversity and Multicultural Services which located in the Smith building 425

They provide general advising, transition programs, college success courses and the diversity scholarship that help students build the skills needed to succeed and graduate from PSU. Students, especially of color, should go to the DMSS Office and seek general advising and other opportunities.

Where Is My Financial Aid?

Money makes the world go round, and even more so when I am waiting for my money to kick in. Like most students at Portland State, I have to apply to FASFA every academic year I am enrolled in. and while the deadline was months ago, I am still waiting to see how much I will be offered the upcoming year. Why? There is this step called “verification” I have been told that students are selected randomly to take this extra step in applying for financial aid. It essentially verifies that all the information that is provided is true.

I have been selected not once, not twice, but three times. At this point, it is no longer random in my opinion. Most students by now know their financial package for this fall term, I do not. My parents always file taxes in April and have the documents to prove it. Not only do I need to fill out extra paperwork, but I also have to turn in a copy of my parent’s taxes. However, there is a new system or process to being verified. PSU is now asking to turn a “tax transcript” instead. While this may be easy, it is complicated for me.

My parents don’t speak English, and thus any financial step or information they need to provide, an interpreter has to be present. Like any student with who has immigrant parents, this is part of our lives. This not only prolongs my financial aid distribution, but also holds me back from planning and estimating my living and school expenses.

Moving In and Moving Out, With Friends or Without.

There is nothing like moving into a new place, a new environment, and I could even say into a new chapter of life. The city has always attracted me, and with it came many opportunities to meet people and make new friends. Being one of the few Mexican Americans living on campus made it interesting trying to fit in. Nonetheless, with time I made new friends, and eventually got close with a few. At the time, I was living alone in Broadway but knew that I eventually wanted to move in with my friends.

From my experience, the more roommates you have, the more issues and tensions come up. The question is how these issues will be addressed and solved in a respectful manner?

I am a pretty laid back person, and I admit, shy. It takes me awhile to trust any person, I observe first, talk little, and try to understand the person. However, we all have different personalities, different ways of thinking, and making friends.

At the beginning of one of my move-ins, everything looked promising. We all expected to get along, go out during the weekends, and even throw parties at our place. However, issues came up. Someone wouldn’t clean up after themselves, someone would always be late paying bills, someone would constantly have their girlfriend over, someone had a huge ego, and someone was under age, the list goes on. By the end everything had changed, the lack of communication and respect didn’t help. I saw it as a learning experience, good and bad.

In the end the six of us separated, three of my former roommates stayed together and found a new place to live. I fortunately, paired up with one of my other roommates and found a new place. Nonetheless, some friendships were lost and others were changed.

Living in Downtown Has its Advantages

Coming from a small but rural town, I’m used to having stores, restaurants, and other places beyond walking distance. It’s very common to see young teenagers get their license and start driving to high school and elsewhere, I certainly did when I had the chance. Most cities have the same layout, where you need a car to get around. But Portland is small compared to other cities.

Powell’s bookstore, restaurants, Pioneer Place mall and are all within walking distance. Our public transportation makes it easy to travel one side of the city to the other. The street car makes it easy for me to get around. The street car, along with the MAX line and TriMet buses, are vital to many students and PSU commuters.

Without fail, the streets and public transportations are full with people every weekday who are ready to start a new day. It is nice to live near PSU so I don’t have the hassle of waiting for a bus or the Max and taking up some of my time commuting. It is expensive to livedowntown, but the experience and the independency are invaluable. I have been living in Portland for more than two years and I’m planning to stay here for a few more years.

What do you think: Are there more pros than cons living downtown?

Greek Life: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.

1-1-1-1-1-9. . . OHHHHHH 6! This is the chant many of you may, or may not, have heard roaring through the Portland State campus. Expect to hear my brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. making our presence strongly felt as the 2011-12 school year goes by.

Started in 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was the first ever Greek letter organization for African American males in college. Before becoming an Alpha, Greek life at Portland State seemed lackadaisical and non-existent to me.

When I found out about the Alphas here at PSU, and how they have formed a family unit of brotherhood, it is what made me want to add to the tradition that started over one hundred years ago.

When most people think of a fraternity, they think of crazy parties and hazing. Alphas are men of distinction, living by our motto “first of all, servants to all, we shall transcend all.” We pride ourselves through our commitment to community service and lead by serving the people. We are also a non-hazing fraternity and make a conscious effort to be the frontrunners and trendsetters at any establishment we happen to step foot in.

The Alpha Xi chapter of the Fraternity was chartered at Portland State in 2008 and has been growing ever since. This year our goals are to gain notoriety on campus and to expand our membership. We plan on doing this by being extremely active and showing our black and ole’ gold letters all over PSU. We are also having our first informational event of the year on Wednesday, October 19th, where students interested in becoming brothers can learn what it takes to wear our letters.

Support Alpha Phi Alpha and all other fraternities and sororities at Portland State as we lead the charge to invigorate Greek life here at our beloved university! A-PHI!!!!

Notable members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. have been:

  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Gene Upshaw
  • Thurgood Marshall
  • Lionel Richie
  • Duke Ellington