Summer Woes

by Beth Royston

While I am eagerly awaiting finals to be finished, I’m not exactly looking forward to summertime either. I’m a student that chooses to take a break over the summer and not take any classes, and work to save up as much as I can for expenses throughout the year. I usually approach summer with mixed feelings. I enjoy the break from classes, but I also miss them! However, I think this year will be different, and not in a good way.

I really despised the summers during high school — it’s an easy recipe for my depression to fester, sitting at home with not much of a structure and things to do. Now, my life is a lot busier, with a side business to run, a garden to take care of, novel chapters to write. However, there’s a looming possibility I won’t be able to go anywhere or see friends often — something else that echoes high school — and I’m worried about my mental health. While I’m happy to have a break from classes, as all-online learning has not agreed with me, I’m worried about the lack of deadlines. 

I appreciate that PSU has been asking for student input on what fall term will look like. I’m really hoping that classes are ideally split between online and in-person, which is the type of schedule I prefer anyway. If things are due to be all online again, I think I’m going to have to avoid taking the full course load I usually do, as I’m not confident my grades will be able to stick with another entirely online term. Thankfully, I have some leeway in my graduation plan where I can take less classes now and more later. 

A lot of friends and family I’ve been talking to have also been struggling with their mental health during this time, and worrying about their future when they are forced to perform as usual during these incredibly stressful circumstances. I’m also a planner, so I like looking forward to the future. However, when times are uncertain, it’s not easy to plan for things five months from now, because it’s impossible to tell if they’ll be open. I appreciate the opportunity to still be able to take classes and work on my degree during this time, but I feel my resolve and determination slowly slipping through my fingers.

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. 

Awestruck by the Eclipse

Version 2 By: Anna Sobczyk

The most important and surprisingly difficult challenge I took on this summer was convincing my parents to go see the solar eclipse. To me, it was an obvious once-in-a-lifetime experience. Plus, the path of totality would pass just four hours south of us in Idaho. Eventually my badgering won out, and we found ourselves camped out in Cascade, Idaho, waiting with thousands of other people for the big event.

There are no words to describe how amazing the total solar eclipse was. Watching the moon slip into place, I realized why even 99% totality is only as awesome as 90% or 70%. If any part of the sun is visible, you still need to wear solar glasses because it’s too bright to look at. One hundred percent totality, however, was the single most awe-inspiring and beautiful thing I’ve seen. No picture or description can do it justice. In those first moments, I was so taken aback and humbled by what I saw that a chill swept over me. A flock of birds flew into a nearby tree to roost. Venus twinkled off to the side, and the barest hint of a couple stars poked through the ecliptic darkness. In 1 minute and 55 seconds, the sun made its reappearance. My first thoughts when the sun’s rays began cascading out from behind the moon were, “I have to see it again!” And since I couldn’t reach out and shove the moon back into place, I decided I’ll just have to be an eclipse chaser. The next one in the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024.

If I missed this eclipse, I wouldn’t have understood what the big deal about it was. As I searched for pictures of the eclipse online, I realized none of them captured what I saw. Even the best cameras distorted the light or made everything too dark. All in all, a total solar eclipse is not something you can relive through a lens; it must be experienced.

Don’t Press Snooze on Summer

By Emma Eberhart

Last summer, I voluntarily chose to give up the ability to press snooze on my alarm, so I could instead spend my mornings in a classroom, and to be honest I would do it again.

The summer quarter at Portland State generally offers both the usual 10-week course and the occasional accelerated four-week course that condenses the curriculum to a shorter amount of time but meets more than the common two times a week. Courses are worth the same amount of credit hours regardless of whether they last 10 weeks or four, so you can pick a class that works best with your schedule, which is really great. The class I took was an accelerated course—a length I would choose again since it left a majority of my summer with no looming school deadlines.

Another positive aspect of taking summer courses, I found, is that the professors are teaching fewer classes, which means that they have fewer students to focus on. This is not to say that during the other quarters, professors care less, but they have given me more constructive help and have been more engaged during summer term.

The only downside is there are fewer courses offered because fewer students sign up.

If you can find a class that is offered in the summer that works with your schedule and is necessary for you to graduate, I would advise you to take it. Any and all opportunities that get you closer to graduating are worth it.

Vacation, all I ever wanted…

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By: Sharon Nellist

I was under the impression that summer break would imply some rest and relaxation.

Certainly not this summer…..

Even though my last undergraduate year at Portland State does not arrive for another 72 days, I already feel slightly overwhelmed with all the work I have this summer in preparation. As well as being on-call for temp work to save enough money to make it through the next year, interviewing for internships, constantly reviewing my schedule choice, and considering graduate school programs.

So when I have a brief moment or a spontaneous weekend of freedom, I look for nearby areas that will assimilate that all so glorious feeling of paradise.

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A great little refuge is just a short 30-minute drive across the Washington border – a place called Lewisville Park. It has a clear river swimming hole nested in between towering pines and several wildlife hiking trails.

 

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Moulton Falls is another place that I have my eye keenly on. Just another few miles east of Lewisville Park, it also has several hiking trails with a billowing white falls, an old wooden bridge, and 15-foot cliff just waiting for a brave soul to jump into the icy cool waters below.

 

Tell me about your paradise?

Weather the Weather

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by Shezad Khan

It’s been an insanely hot summer for Oregon so far. We had a couple of weeks with temperatures sitting steady in the mid-to-high-90s. Thankfully, weather forecasts are finally showing our daily highs sitting between the mid-70s and low-80s. This is a great relief for those of us who aren’t so keen on hot temperatures and the blistering sun. However, aside from the hot weather, we have another big problem: drought.

I can’t remember the last time we had any measurable rain. I feel like it’s been at least a month, if not longer. Sure, we may have had some sprinkling, but that’s not enough. The last time I checked, 20 of our 36 counties had officially claimed to be in drought. We desperately need some rain!

A topic like drought can be scary to think about, but there are ways to help out during these conditions. With Portland State being a sustainability-minded school, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any word from them on this issue. Visiting the campus facilities page results in no mention of Oregon’s water shortage.

Fortunately, the Oregon Department of Water has put up some helpful links on how to conserve water. They have put up PDFs on how to save water inside the home, outside the home, on farms and ranches, and within municipal systems. Check these links out to see how you can help!

Summer Goals for Summer Blues

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by Shezad Khan

It’s already week nine of spring term, which means summer break is very, very close. I’m incredibly relieved and excited for the three month escape from schoolwork. Since I took classes last summer, I’ve been craving an extended amount of down time. If you’re anything like me, however, that down time can lead to some extreme boredom and sluggishness.

For me, it’s important to stay active during summer break – both physically and mentally. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a drink or ten to celebrate the end of the school year and/or your graduation or sit on the couch and binge watch five different shows on Netflix – go ahead, you’ve earned it – but it does mean making sure that kind of behavior doesn’t become cyclical and negative. This is especially important for those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression.

Something that I’m going to do to make sure my summer break is productive is keep a list of goals. I know, super cliché, right? But it will definitely help. Here are some of the goals that I’m setting for myself:

  • Read: I want to finish at least ten books over the course of this summer break. I don’t have enough time to read for pleasure during the school year, so I want to make my time off count.
  • Play Soccer: Playing soccer a few times a week is not only fun, but very healthy as well.
  • Look for internships/apply for scholarships: Yes, unfortunately, some work does have to be down over summer break. Grad school is coming up, and it’s not cheap. Looking for internships that apply to my field will help me find a career down the line. And with scholarships, well, who doesn’t need extra money?
  • Work, work, work: Summer break is a great time to try and boost your hours at work. Work may be stressful sometimes, but it’s a lot less stressful when you don’t have to worry about schoolwork on top of it.

These are just a few goals I have for myself to make sure my break is well-spent and productive. I would urge all of you to find your own goals. It really is good for you.

Wisconsin, don’tcha knooo?

By: Kadie Kobielusz

Over the summer, I was able to live in lands distant and exotic – ahem – in Wisconsin. Yeah big deal, right? Well, actually, I had one of my most eye-opening experiences when I lived there.

It’s an amazing thing when you are no longer looking at the world around you through the lens of a traveler. Instead, you’re a resident, somewhat forced to live and think and act like the people there do. You’re trying not to be the obvious outsider. I don’t know how to describe it very well, but Wisconsin was a lot more lowbrow than I was envisioning it. Especially coming from the leanest state, Colorado, to one of the most obese states.

Yes, I realize that’s not very polite, but it was culture shock. I found myself thinking: “That’s funny?” “We’re eating that for dinner?” “That’s entertainment?” Halfway through the summer though, words of wisdom came a guy at a bicycle shop. After discussing the area and such, he said: “In the end, it doesn’t matter where you’re living or what you’re out doing. What matters is who you’re with to make the adventure worthwhile.”

 It’s true. Sure, I may not have enjoyed what we were doing, or liked the area that much. However, I did thoroughly enjoy my company, and I should have been appreciating them all the while. They made me laugh, they were always up for doing new things and they were the friendliest and kindest people I think I have ever met.

And now that I’ve been away, guess who’s looking to move to Wisconsin after graduation?

English 101: A sentimental summer lesson

By: Sharon Jackson

England was absolutely more than I could ever ask for. I have been to London, to the south in Devon, to the north in Chester, and to the phenomenal countryside in Yorkshire. I have seen medieval churches, ancient Roman remains, and pubs that date back to the Domesday Book of 1086. I have eaten Devonshire cream teas, Cornish pasties, and full English breakfasts complete even with a bit of black pudding, and I liked it. My two week venture felt like an accelerated Summer term at Portland State University!

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Considering all the splendid things that are England, the memories that I smile at most are the ones that involve spending time with my new family thanks to my boyfriend. From watching a movie around a cozy fire at Grandma’s house, spaghetti bolognese at Uncle Graham’s, a blast to the past in Huyton [the town where my boyfriend grew up] to the 90th birthday party for the man who is responsible for most of this very large and very loving family [seriously, all are not pictured].

Nevertheless, I am glad to be home and anticipating and preparing for another rigorous year at PSU. The most important thing that I gained from this trip is a reminder that in the coming endless hours of studying, gallons of caffeine and white nights that any college student will undoubtedly endure, I will always remember to make time for family and friends. At the end of the day, all we truly have are the people in our lives.

How will you make time for your family and friends this school year?

Permanent change from temporary work

By: Sharon Jackson

Anxiously awaiting to embark on my grand excursion to England in a few weeks, I have taken up a few temp jobs this summer. What I absolutely love about temp work is that you could call it a “paid internship.” Temp jobs are a fantastic opportunity to work, gain valuable skills, and begin potentially beneficial relationships at various businesses, non-profits, etc. in the Portland metro area – and believe me, they pay decently too. Nonetheless, there are the occasional experiences that can change your perspective of the world.

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I recently spent a week at Neighborhood House, a non-profit that helps families facing hunger and homelessness by providing food, shelter, distributing grants toward rent or energy bills, and school programs for underprivileged children. It is nothing less than despairing to be enduring times like these. I know as I once lived out of my car for eight months with little work and hardly enough money for food. The people seeking assistance at the Neighborhood House should be frustrated, and rightly so. However, most people had their electricity shut off and others were there for food, but everyone held onto their hope and had a sense of humanity. These people were giving up their chairs for one another, listening for others numbers to be called for their appointments, and when they were given food or enough money to turn their electricity back on, they were extremely grateful and thanked us profusely.

What I love about temp jobs such as this one is the joy I feel for helping people in need, and the joy I feel seeing hope alive in humanity. The money is a delightful bonus, as any college student can comprehend, but it is the experiences that weigh-in the most.