Excuses, excuses—what’s yours for not voting?

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Remember those videos where comedians like Jimmy Kimmel would walk around a college campus and ask random students questions about current politics? The point was to showcase how out of touch students are with the world outside of school. I remember watching those videos and laughing at how ignorant people were. Now, ironically, I am officially one of those ignorant college students. I never imagined myself being that person—the person who didn’t know and didn’t care. 

Yet, here I am. As soon as I started college, my focus shifted to only include school. My double major makes studying itself a part-time job on top of three other campus jobs. Over the past couple weeks I’ve seen several people on campus handing out voter registration forms. Each time, I feel guilty—because I’m not voting.

I don’t admit to this fact easily because I feel that both the media and this campus demonize people for not voting. Voting campaigns lean on turns of phrase like, “What’s your excuse?” and following it up with essentially, “there is no excuse.” There’s not much room to open up a conversation within that dialogue.

I’m not here to make excuses for why I’m not voting. Simply stated, I don’t vote because I’m uninformed and choose not to use my limited free time researching who and what is on the ballot. It’s not that I don’t want to vote; I just really value making informed decisions, and I am currently not up to speed on the happenings of the political world.

Voting is a right, but attending school is a privilege that carries a lot more weight in my life right now. For the foreseeable future of my academic career, I will continue choosing to study for a midterm worth 50% of my grade over looking up who’s running for governor.

Internship Fever

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When I started this fall term as a junior, I was bitten by the internship bug. Portland boasts so many great businesses and opportunities for internships. Luckily, PSU offers students a way to find potential employers. Handshake has hundreds of employers with job and/or internship openings. I recently found an on-campus job through Handshake and have discovered a couple of summer internships that I’ll definitely apply to. 

PSU also recently held a career and internship fair. I always found career fairs more awkward and stressful than anything. I would wander around aimlessly and always leave feeling unaccomplished. Once I found out Handshake lists all the attending employers, it changed my approach. Before any career fair, I peruse Handshake and find the employers hiring my major. From there, I narrow down which ones I really need to visit based on how their business fits my own career path. It makes the whole experience much more focused, efficient, and less stressful once I’m actually at the fair.

Even though it’s only fall term, some summer internship deadlines are fast approaching. I scroll through Handshake often to keep updated on deadlines and new opportunities as they come up. So far, I’ve been able to find internship opportunities that really align with my career focus, and I’ve never been more excited. Now, it’s all about applying and hoping for the best!

Is Crazy Bad?

IMG_0830By: Anna Sobczyk

Ableism is a term that didn’t pop until the 1980s and is a term I had never heard of until I moved to Portland. A quick Google search defines ableism as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). I recently sat in on a presentation on ableism given by PSU’s Disability Resource Center (DRC), and learned there’s a lot to unpack on the topic. The part that struck me the most was when the DRC presenter said we should be eliminating certain words from our vocabulary. Specifically, “crazy” was bad to say. Quite honestly, I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Another part of the conversation that made me check my perceptions was the notion that our society doesn’t inherently know the history of disabled persons or mental health. Everyone I know has learned about slavery, voting rights, and the Holocaust—including the derogatory terms that arose from these time periods and events. During the DRC’s presentation, it was evident neither my peers nor myself knew anything substantial about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the general history of disabilities and mental health. Perhaps this lack of education early on is to blame for why words like crazy are normalized and why it’s so difficult to recognize their harmful impact.

Although to me, using the word crazy is equivalent to using the word stupid. Both are adjectives to describe something or someone. If I called a person stupid, that’s simply a hurtful way to use the word. Crazy can be used in the same capacity. However, just because a word has the potential to be hurtful or mean doesn’t justify eliminating it from our vocabulary. Of course, slurs do exist that are implicitly hurtful, degrading, and derogatory—but is “crazy” really one of them?

Don’t Tolerate Disrespect

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When it comes to summer jobs, there’s nothing quite as notorious as working in customer service. Coworkers and friends complain amongst each other, and entire memes exist based around the lamentations of the job. I work harvest during the summer, and so my job is a unique form of customer service. I see the same customers (the drivers and farmers) over, and over, and over again—and I’ve been seeing these same people for five years now. Each year I inevitably have to deal with cranky farmers and drivers who are upset about waiting in lines that are completely out of my control. In the past, I tolerated inappropriate and rude behavior. I also believed I deserved it, and that I was somehow bringing it upon myself.

One particularly negative experience this year reset my thought processes. A farmer chewed me out for something I had no control over. Everyone working was following a specific system for moving trucks along, and the farmer didn’t agree with it. The system set in place was done so by someone higher up than me, and yet this farmer decided to come unhinged on me. He cussed, pointed his finger in my face, and raised his voice. This, by far, was the nastiest experience I’ve had at work. I stood my ground and explained the reasons behind the system, but only once he’d left did I realize a few things:

  1. I did not owe him any explanation. He was upset over a decision, but that did not give him the right to yell at me.
  2. In any case, I do not need to offer explanations of how I do my job in order to—first and foremost—be treated with respect.
  3. Since he was so angry, he should have taken it up with a higher ranking employee instead of berating someone who wasn’t involved in the decision making process.
  4. My instinct was to stand there and take it, because I felt like walking away was a sign of weakness. However, listening to that hot-headed tirade was a waste of my time, and I was under no obligation to stand there and take it.
  5. He will likely never apologize.

I regret my tolerance in years past and shake my head at ever believing I deserved to be treated poorly. However, I know these feelings are a reality for a lot of young, service industry workers. My only hope is that others will recognize their worth on day one of the job instead of five years down the road. 

Goodreads for Summer

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

A typical summer for me involves relaxing, adventuring, and working. In the moments between working or exploring, I love to fill my downtime with reading. I’ve always been a bookworm; the only thing that’s changed is the amount of time I have to sit down and read. During the school year that time is nonexistent. When it comes to building my summer reading list, I rely completely on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a website I discovered in high school and is a book-lover’s dream. You can build virtual bookshelves and mark books as “read” or “to-read.” Based on your reading history and preferences, Goodreads will also generate recommendations in several different genres. Since I live under a rock when it comes to any recent literature during the school year, Goodreads is great for catching up on books from my favorite authors or finding a new breakthrough series that I missed during the school year. 

When it comes to obtaining the books, I always use the library. Most people are surprised to learn that you can find fiction, fantasy, and young adult novels at the PSU Library. The library’s online catalog is easy to use and shows a book’s location and availability. If the PSU Library doesn’t have the book, there’s the option to request it from a Summit library. This is nothing fancy—you just have to log-in and wait a few days for the book to arrive from a neighboring university. Between Goodreads and the library, finding books to keep me occupied during the summer is easy. 

The Great Unknown

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

I’m graduating in 11 days. The emotion that arises when I think about this fact can only be expressed as a cross between a celebratory squeal of freedom and a blood-curdling Hitchcock scream. The question I’ve been asked at an increasing frequency in recent months, weeks and days provokes a similar cocktail of excitement and terror: “What’s next?”

Really, the person who has asked me this question the most is myself. And despite the ominous tick-tocking of the clock of my undergraduate education, the answer remains: I don’t know. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And regardless of my search for answers and the anxiety that arises when I come up short, I think I’m becoming more okay with not knowing.

From a young age, there’s so much pressure to know what we want to be when we grow up. We grow up playing house and prescribing careers to our Barbie dolls, from pastry chef to firefighter to fairy princess. Our high school years are geared toward preparing for college, and most of us start applying our junior year. I don’t know about you, but at age 16 I could hardly plan my breakfast, let alone pinpoint the career path I was supposed to follow for the remaining (hopefully) several decades of my existence. Which is probably why my college years have been full of indecision, confusion, change, dropping out and transferring.

But with every stressful semester and unpleasant job, I’ve gotten a little closer to figuring out what I want. And even if we never figure out what we want to be when we grow up, I think that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no matter how old I get, I’ll be stumbling blindly through life with more questions than answers. And anyone who honestly thinks they have all the answers is someone I neither want to be nor be around. Life is inherently mysterious and ridiculous, and we might as well accept that.

The one thing I know I’m doing after graduation is taking a well-earned road trip down the Pacific coast. Not only does this give me an opportunity to get a little less pale, it also gives me an opportunity to run away from my anxieties and put off the job search until July. Cheers to that—and cheers to the great unknown.

City Escape

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Ever since I moved to Portland, I miss having a car. Even with a good public transportation system, I feel trapped at times since it’s confined to the city. I was bit by the adventure bug a couple weeks ago and really wanted to see the beautiful nature Oregon has to offer. I roped in a friend who had also been itching to explore and we decided we wanted to visit Three Pools.

Of course, the obstacle we ran into was transportation; neither of us have cars. As it turns out, this became an easy fix as well. There are three options outside of straight-up renting a car: ZipCar, Car2Go, and ReachNow. 

All three can be reserved for a day trip, but ReachNow stands apart from the others because it has a mileage cap of 400 miles per day. ZipCar and Car2go have a cap of 150 miles, which can be rather limiting depending on where you want to go. Plus, the day reservation was only one dollar more with ReachNow. 

Three pools is almost 90 miles outside of Portland, so ReachNow was the easy choice.

My friend and I were excited for a little road trip, and boy was it worth it. When we walked down the path to Three Pools, it actually felt like we’d stepped onto a different planet. The water was pristine, varying between stunning turquoises and deep emeralds. It was also an invigorating 45 degrees cold. This was the perfect place to put some space between ourselves and the city and relax. This trip gave me the little boost I needed for the last couple weeks of the term. It also served as a reminder that even without a car, there are ways to escape the city. 

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