It’s a mad, mad world

We all know going to school is stressful and being on your own is too. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. I’m happy, healthy and stable due to my doctors, prescriptions – and most of all – due to the amazing support system I have in my family and my friends – my two best friends to be precise.

On the days when I am “off”, because of stress or being sick or meds mixing wrong, I lean more heavily on the people around me. I had one of these days recently, and I was not functioning well, if at all. Someone, whom I love dearly, stepped up without question to take care of me. While I knew before how valuable my friends are, and how much I love them, this instance only made me understand it better.

For some of us though, our support systems are far away – either in different states, or maybe in different countries. I say, be aware of the people in your life. Take notice of them, and when someone is having a bad day, be a little nicer. Because you never know, it might just make a difference to them. For those out there like me, be aware of your resources. Sometimes all you need to do is tell a friend, “I’m having a bad day.” But if you need more support, PSU’s Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) can help.

Going into this academic year, I plan to stay healthy, and to have as much fun as I can. With the support and love of the people in my life, I know this is not only possible, but guaranteed.

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.

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.

A Night in the Life of a Resident Assistant

It’s 10 p.m. on a school night. Most of you will probably be home, studying, or finishing a night with friends, but for a few students on campus, their night is just beginning. These students are on-call Resident Assistants (R.As).

Do, beep, do, beep, do, do, do….The phone is ringing and I’ve just begun my night on-call. I pick up and the voice on the other end says, “Hey, I’m locked out of my room.”  I walk a few blocks in the rain to get to their building, the entire time my mind is on the fact that I still have to finish the last few pages of my essay due at 9 a.m.  I let them in and then continue on my rounds, checking to make sure that all the doors are locked, nothing’s amiss. Ew! What did I just touch? One of the handles is covered in a semi-opaque, slimy, sticky substance. Suppressing my gag reflex, I head to the nearest office to find a sink and some hand sanitizer. I go back to clean up the mess and hope to never find out what I just touched. Something tells me I don’t want to know the answer.

The night goes pretty smoothly as I finish both sets of rounds. There’s the call I seem to get every week complaining about the upstairs neighbors, so I write another information report.  All I hope for is no call from Campus Public Safety, as last time they called about a party with underage high schoolers, and the week before it ended up with somebody in the hospital. Those calls are always the worst. Finally, I fall asleep around 1 a.m., but it is of course too good to be true; the phone rings again at 4 a.m., waking me from a dead sleep. The alarm is set for 6:30 and I still have to finish that paper.