Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

A few weeks back, I was low on money and had to budget in order to eat at least once a day. Fortunately, I was helped out by my girlfriend, who kept me alive by buying me meals. I am truly grateful to her for taking care of me. As a student, I have many educational expenses. Books, tuition, and course fees mount up to a huge sum of money. More often than not, a majority of my financial aid and work study money goes to paying off my expenses. My parents earn enough to sustain themselves and cannot support me financially as much as they would want. I have managed fine, but I became careless this summer.

I have been at Portland State for the last three years, only moving back home after my freshman year. Since then,I have stayed in Portland for work and school. I had managed to get a work study position last summer and even took one course. This summer, I managed to do the same. However, I moved to Oregon City at the end of spring term and could only obtain a part-time work study position. I was low on cash and had to even take a small loan out for my added expenses.

I got careless and didn’t plan ahead. I should have looked for another work study position. Honestly, I wanted to take a break and have a relatively mellow summer. But with expenses and bills, I should have known better. However, I am happy to say that I am in full swing this term working and going to school, with a few side projects. A pint of sweat saves a gallon of blood.

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.

When I Grow Up

He grinned at me from atop my desk, and I burst into giggles. “Oh, wow!”, I exclaimed. I snatched up the stuffed T.Rex to examine him further; his stubby arms, long tail, and reptilian eyes.

“I’m glad you like it,” said my husband. “I thought you could use a present.”

“Yeah, he’s great!”, I replied happily as I marched the toy around on my desk.

When I was a child, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would reply, “I want to dig up dinosaur bones!” I would spend hours in my backyard digging holes and dragging whatever I found into the house: old bottles, interesting rocks, and sometimes even bones, which I was convinced had once belonged to some ancient creature. My parents were encouraging; I owned countless dinosaur picture books and toys, a chemistry set and a rock collection.

When I grew older, my mother would often take my brother and me to the Natural History Museum on the University of Michigan campus. I would stare in open mouth wonder at the articulated skeletons of dinosaurs and mammoths and stare dreamily at the dioramas of ancient landscapes and their inhabitants. It was in this same museum that I discovered what came to be my obsession geology. I would press my face against the glass cases, marveling at the museum’s rock and mineral collection. I wondered how these things that were not living could grow with such perfection and beauty. I was always allowed to pick out a few rocks from the gift shop to add to my collection, which I still own.

T.Rex is keeping me company here on my desk as I study for finals. He reminds me that I’m doing this for that little girl who loved to play in the dirt and and stuff her pockets with rocks.

Time to Redefine Dead Week

I’ve been trying to memorize chemical formulas of minerals for the past three hours. (Ca,Na)(Mg,Fe,Al)(Si,Al)2O6…. My eyes are glazing over. I rest my forehead on my notebook and sigh. How am I ever going to remember all of this by Monday?

When I was attending a school on the semester system, our “Dead Week” was just that – a week without classes that was intended to allow us to prepare for exams and write papers. When I first came to PSU, I heard people refer to Dead Week and assumed that it was the same as on a semester system. I was shocked when I realized that wasn’t the case. Finals during my first term were a very stressful experience. I was angry and frustrated that I was expected to learn new material while reviewing the material from the rest of the term.

Since that first term, I’ve gotten used to how finals on the quarter system work, but I still find it unfair. If an exam is worth such a significant portion of our grade, shouldn’t we be given adequate time to prepare? Obviously, making each term one week longer would shorten our summer break, but there is a six-week break between the end of summer term and fall term as is.

What do you think? Would you rather have an actual Dead Week or are things fine as they are?

Getting in the Zzzs

As the quarter moves past midterms and revs up into finals, it is easy to find yourself trying to increase study hours through late nights and cans of energy drinks. During these stressful times, it can be hard to remember that sleep is a priority. 

 Exactly how much sleep do you need? The National Sleep Foundation says between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, even if you are getting in those hours, sleep debt (time that is accumulated due to waking up, bad habits, or sickness) can cause you to still remain feeling tired. The good news is that sleep debt can be made up, unlike most of your tests. By getting more sleep through naps or by going to bed an hour earlier, you can slowly catch up on the hours you have missed.

 For myself, I have found that using cell phone apps are a great way of keeping track of my sleeping habits. I have an Android phone and use the Sleep Bot Tracker Log to record how many hours of sleep I get each night, and how much sleep debt I have accumulated over the last 10 days. For iPhone users, there are plenty of sleep apps out there, but not all will track sleep debt. Make sure to try out a few. If you’re not a smart phone user, a simple sleep journal where you write down what time you go to bed and when you wake up can be an effective tool to helping you sleep better. Plus, you can add notes about what was keeping you up! 

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