A Healing Hiatus

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

Exercise is my catharsis, and it takes something major to throw me off my routine. A year ago, that unexpected “something major” happened. I developed sesamoiditis, the inflammation around two tiny bones in the ball of the foot, and it caused severe pain when I ran. I stupidly kept running on it because I refused to accept the fact that pain resulting from overuse counted as an actual injury. I thought since nothing was physically broken or fractured, it would just gradually disappear. When I reached the point where I could no longer walk to and from class without pain, I knew I had to quit running.

I thought maybe I’d give it up for a couple weeks—a month at tops. Little did I know, it would be 10 months before I could run again. For someone who has run for years, it was like having a piece of me ripped away. In addition, I couldn’t play Ultimate Frisbee, and I drifted away from the team I’d been a part of since I was a freshmen.

On the bright side, not being able to run forced me to try things outside of my comfort zone since I wanted to stay active. I picked up weight lifting, which is something I used to vehemently hate but now love how much stronger it has made me feel. This term I dabbled in rock climbing, and I learned a lot from attending the Rec Center bouldering classes. I even joined the dodgeball club—a dangerous decision for someone with as little hand-eye coordination as myself, but it’s ended up being really fun.

I used to consider running my utmost prioritized form of exercise, but my injury and months of subsequent recovery forced me to commit myself to new things that are now just as important to me. Strangely enough, this injury gave me the time to discover I enjoy other activities and the confidence to pursue them.

Internship Blues

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

My journey of internship applications began fall term. I never kept track of how many I applied for, but it was an absurd amount. I ended up interviewing for 10 positions, and it was absolutely exhausting. 

Time after time, I was not selected and my confidence really took a hit. The worst case was when I got a call from an employer explaining it had come down to the wire between me and another candidate, and I just barely got edged out by this other person. My entire interpretation of the conversation was, “You were great, but there was just someone better.” Essentially, they called to make sure I could be the back-up plan if the chosen intern backed out down the road. The feeling that there would always be someone better persisted to eat  away at me despite the validation I’d received of being a strong candidate.

From then on, my motivation plummeted even though I kept interviewing. My heart never felt in it because I’d stopped believing in my own potential. Eventually—probably because a person can only be turned down so many times—I was offered positions from two different internships. Finally, it felt like the long slog of applications and interviews had paid off. However, I went from feeling extremely hopeful and excited to completely out of luck; I was forced to decline both due to start date issues and inadequate pay.

Now, it’s spring term and I’m still internship-less. I never believed the stories of how hard it is to land an internship, but I understand now having gone through the process myself. It required so much time, energy, optimism, and commitment. But in the famous words of Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” and so my search for an internship continues.

PSU Accreditation Scare, Not So Scary

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

The PSU Vanguard recently published an article about PSU’s accreditation status. As of January 2019, PSU has two years to improve how it defines and assesses student learning outcomes. Less than half of PSU’s programs have sufficient plans to assess student learning, and accreditation requires that number to increase above 50% by 2021. If PSU fails to comply with these standards, the university risks probation and after that loss of accreditation. Losing accreditation is a big deal, as it means the loss of federal funding. 

Upon first reading this article and talking about it amongst my peers, we were all under the impression that PSU was already on probation when it is not. In this mix of misunderstanding, I’d started researching what a diploma from an unaccredited university meant for job and graduate school opportunities. All of my upperclassmen friends were thanking their lucky stars that they’d be graduating within a year regardless. In reality, we had no idea what the accreditation process and continuing verification looked like for a university. One thing that the PSU Vanguard article didn’t mention was that accreditation status is evaluated and reaffirmed in a seven-year cycle. PSU was last evaluated in 2015, and the next evaluation is in 2022. Additionally, the Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities, which governs the accreditation of regional universities, does not have a defined time period for probation. So while PSU has two years to fix the current student learning assessment problem, it could actually amount to several more years.

All in all, I know this article caused a level of fear amongst my peers. I know that I had never even considered what it would mean for a university to lose accreditation and what that would mean for myself and the entire student body. However, looking at the accreditation process as a whole puts everything in perspective. PSU has a lot of time to fix the current issue, and remains accredited at least until 2022—and hopefully for many years to come. 

Portland area winter hikes. Part 1

11050714_10153261569423675_1855416915072077955_n-3 By Josh McCarroll

One of the many things that make hiking in the forest such a beautiful experience is the knowledge that it is far older than us and the perception that it will be around long after we die. This perceived permanence always allows us the space to appreciate Oregon’s forests some other day. However, any of them could burn away by next summer.

I was born and raised in Oregon but since I started school I have used it as an excuse to be less adventurous. In light of the Eagle Creek and subsequent fires, I have made an effort to explore more and appreciate the beauty Oregon has to offer before it disappears.  

This post is the first in a series of three winter hikes. Many hikes become inaccessible or too dangerous in the winter time, so I will focus on hikes that are not only safely accessible and trekkable, but still beautiful during the cold months.  

Macleay Park

On a snowy Tuesday morning, I opted to go on a hike that requires no driving for Portlanders or park fees whatsoever, and I found Macleay Park.

From campus you can take the NS streetcar line to the NW 23rd and Marshall stop. From there you can make your way through a cute neighborhood by foot until you reach NW Upshur Street. The west end of this street dead ends at the park. After walking under the Balch Gulch Bridge, you will find the entrance to the trail, which has very clear instructions on possible routes depending on how deep into Forest Park you want to explore.

The great part about this hike is you can easily add it to the beginning or end of a busy day with not much preparation or planning. The trail is wide, easy to walk and is in excellent condition. I was able to hike the entire 2-mile loop comfortably in everyday tennis shoes. Same goes for the 6-mile loop: no hiking poles or fancy boots needed.

The small 2-mile loop brings you back to the top of the historic Balch Gulch bridge which is the route I enjoyed on my quick excursion before class. One of the things I found lovely about this hike was the structures. The beauty of this hike doesn’t necessarily rely on the lush greenery that comes about it in summer. The Lower Macleay trail runs along Balch Creek, and hikers encounter several wood bridges across the creek before they reach the Stone House.

The Stone House, known by some as the witch’s castle, is about fifteen minutes in. It is the point where the Lower Macleay trail intersects Forest Park’s Wildwood trail.

This trail is popular for Portlanders that want to get out of the city for a quick escape. However, this may make it a bit crowded on weekends. I would recommend visiting it on a weekday before the locals from the surrounding neighborhood get off work. I only encountered a handful of hikers during my visit on a Tuesday morning.

So Long Social Media?

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

I don’t keep up-to-date on Apple’s software, but I kept hearing about its new Screen Time feature. It lets you know how much time you spend on apps and social media and will set limits if you want it to. I personally did not turn it on or give it a try, but I increasingly found my friends talking about it and social media’s effect on a person’s outlook on life.

With books like The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas and similar studies and articles in circulation online, it’s no secret that social media is linked to feeling dissatisfied and unhappy with one’s own life. Even weirder, they say receiving “likes” triggers a dopamine high equivalent to hugging. Reading things like this make me want to delete everything but my contacts from my phone—but it’s always a fleeting feeling because I’ll end up distracting myself on Instagram.

Only one of my friends goes sans social media. She has accounts, but long ago deleted the apps from her phone and nearly never chooses to check social media elsewhere. For me, social media is a platform that allows me to stay connected with distant friends and family. I look at my friend though, and she has no trouble keeping in contact with the people that matter to her. Another friend of mine recently deleted all social media from her phone and is going on a two week purge. The goal is that after two weeks, she won’t have any desire to re-download those apps. I’m genuinely curious to see what changes she sees in herself, if any. 

Meanwhile, I actually turned on Screen Time to satisfy my curiosity on my own app usage. In the past seven hours, I’ve spent 40 minutes on my phone and 28 of those were on social networks. Not even 24 hours have passed, and I’m disgustingly well on my way to wasting hours of time on my phone. 

New Year, Same Resolutions

IMG_0830By: Anna Sobczyk

I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions for a simple reason: I have made the same resolution for about five years in a row without ever completing it. For years, my goal was to complete an unassisted pull-up from a dead-hang. Every year, I continued with my usual patterns of running, swimming, and outright avoiding any weightlifting.  So, each December when I tried to do a pull-up, I really shouldn’t be surprised when I fail. Nonetheless, I continued to be disappointed. 

Last spring, I injured my foot and I couldn’t run. I still don’t know what’s wrong with my foot exactly, but running results in a pain that feels like ice picks being hammered into the ball of my foot. Needing something to fill the void running had left, I started weightlifting with a couple friends just once a week.

The PSU gym has a machine that assists you in pull-ups, and it was definitely my favorite. I started the term being able to lift 65% of my bodyweight and ended the term maxed out at lifting 93% of my bodyweight. I could do a chin-up from full extension, but the pull-up still eluded me. 

Then, one miraculous day over winter break, I finally did a pull-up and it left me in a state of shock. It didn’t seem real to have finally completed this goal—which started out as a New Year’s resolution—years later on a very un-noteworthy day in December. Now I know I could have accomplished it years earlier had I just devoted one hour a week towards it. For all my future New Year’s resolutions, I’ll just remember the history behind my pull-up and know there’s a process and a way to help me achieve my goals.

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.