The Last Word

IMG_7864  by Molly MacGilbert

I’m graduating next month. Just typing those words feels hard to believe. My college career did not follow a linear path; I attended four different colleges in three different time zones, with a year off in the middle during which I worked at a bagel shop and partied too much. I’ve learned so much in the past five years—and I didn’t learn all of it in textbooks or classrooms. As I prepare to leave PSU and enter the so-called real world, I will impart a few quick lessons I wish I could’ve told my freshman self:

  1. Sit in the front of the class. Simple but effective. By sitting near the front of the room, you’re up close and personal with the material. It’s harder to get away with smartphone distractions, side conversations, watching pigeons through classroom windows or daydreaming. The times I’ve habitually sat in the front have left me pleasantly surprised by my test grades.
  2. Get involved in the student community. This is something you’ve heard a million times and, like me, have maybe been reluctant to listen to. When I first transferred to PSU, I read the Vanguard every week and wanted to contribute. I included this goal in to-do lists, planner pages and new year’s resolutions. It wasn’t until my senior year that I finally wrote my first story— and I could not believe how exciting and rewarding it was to see it in newsprint. My only regret is not getting involved sooner.
  3. Use a planner. With Vanguard and student blog responsibilities, internships, a 6-credit capstone and homework, I could not have stayed afloat without my planner. Weekly and daily to-do lists and color-coding helped me manage my time confidently and efficiently. Once deadlines and due dates are on paper, they’re no longer building up in my head and stressing me out. Don’t think of yourself as a slave to your planner, though—just do things piece by piece, do the best you can and know that you will handle it all.

To those of you who are still powering through your education, you’ve got this! And congrats to my fellow soon-to-be graduates—we’re almost done, and it feels good. Feel free to comment your own tips for ruling your schooling!

Not qualified? Get an internship.

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

Here we are, students at Portland State, in the city of bridges and roses and sportswear companies. We’re all in a pretty good position for internships—being in college gives us an excuse to get some work experience in a field we’re not actually that qualified for (yet). When I was a junior at PSU, I interned with local nonprofit Literary Arts for seven months. My senior year started with a six-month marketing internship with TriMet and is now ending with a spring term internship with Overcup Press. These three internships have given me invaluable work (and life) experiences.

On paper—unless it’s resume paper—internships tend to seem undesirable. Interns may seem like doormats or Coffee Donkeys. This is a common misconception; in my own experience as an intern, I have not yet picked up anyone’s coffee or had anyone wipe their feet on me. Internships do require challenging (and often unpaid) work, but under the right circumstances, you’ll be too engrossed in your work to notice you’re doing it for free.

For more career and internship-related information, attend one of PSU’s career fairs, like the All Majors Career + Internship Fair on May 1 in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom!

My voice counts

WechatIMG12 by Qin “Summer” Xia

What’s SHAB?

It’s the abbreviation of Student Health Advisory Board, where students are able to work directly with and advise Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) staff on policies, student issues, budgeting, insurance, and outreach.

Why do I bring this up?

For most international students in a new environment, our priorities to survive include figuring out where to buy food, where to live and, most importantly, where to seek help when we are sick —one of the weakest moments in anyone’s life, right? So, a good health center or clinic is of great concern. As a student do you know what health resources are available to you?

I didn’t.

So, when I saw that SHAB was seeking 2018 members, I applied. The best way to know something is to let yourself in, isn’t it? But before I got in, I worried over the job description: policies, budgeting. These are such huge serious stuff. Will they really consider student advice, even a foreigner’s?

Yes, they do.

After fall term, I spent a great deal of time with SHAC. Every time I had a question, they explained the answer with patience. During the process, I learned that all students at PSU have the right and the duty to let their voice be heard.

One day, I said to a classmate, who is also an international student, “Do you know that every year SHAC pays a large percentage to PSU for management? And those of us on SHAB are concerned and fighting to cut it down a little bit.”

“Really?” My classmate said. “Sounds like you are doing something big!”

“Yes, I am.” I answered.

I’m Real, But I’m Not Sure You Are

img_4875  By: Beth Manney

A couple years ago, during one of my late-night Internet quests to find a video of a flying lawnmower that suited my needs, I stumbled upon the theory of solipsism, the philosophical idea that “only one’s own mind is sure to exist.” In an existential nutshell, how can you be sure anything else other than you is real?

I’ve been pondering what I’ve dreamt up in the past six years while writing fiction, and what I have the capacity to create. I think if you keep an open mind, solipsism theory is plausible. Thinking about all that’s happened in human history, I wonder, could I think up such cruel and beautiful things? If you look at it in the right way, which I would define as being able to keep an open mind without developing a narcissistic god complex, it’s fascinating to wonder what could be and what is.

I think my generation is in existential crisis. Spend any time on most forms of social media, and you’ll find an endless stream of nihilist memes that embody our need to plant our feet firmly on the grounds of actual existence. This angst also circulates around the intrinsic human need to belong. I think that Portland State does an excellent job catering to students’ wish to fit in by offering a multitude of various resource centers and events. There are so many opportunities to get involved with things you’ve never tried before and things that are familiar. In this vast, frightening world, find a buddy to scream into the void with you.

I’d love to hear your perspective! Do you think solipsism is narcissistic? Give the ol’ noodle a whirl.

 

Why I ‘Sailed through the Stars’

Kellie Doherty  By Kellie Doherty

Graduate school is busy and stressful. But don’t get me wrong, I love my book publishing program. I’ll be sad to leave next month, but sometimes I just have to do something else. PSU has no shortage of cool events for students, and last Saturday was no exception.

I decided to go to the Pacific Islander’s Club 14th Annual Lu’au called “Sailing through the Stars.” It was held at the Stott Center a block from my apartment and the entrance was free for students, so I thought, “What the heck, a lu’au sounds fun.” I’m so happy I went.

First off, the place was packed—students, kids, elderly folk—it seemed like every age range wanted to participate. The dinner had traditional food, including Kalua pork, a lovely guava juice, and even wide range of desserts. (I chose poi for my dessert, a purple paste made of taro root but tasted a little like pineapple.)

The entertainment was quite fun. They had a show with traditional music and dances all from different islands, like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji, among others. (Plus there were fire dancers, and they’re just plain hot. Pun intended.)

Overall it was a great night. It made me forget my stresses for a while, and we all know that forgetting your stress, even for a moment, is important. If you’re still here next year, make sure to add this event to your ToDo. It’s one you won’t want to miss.

Why I’m Annoyed by the Alumni Countdown

Kellie Doherty By Kellie Doherty

There is a sign on the alumni building on campus that went up on March 5 declaring “100 Days Until You Are An Alumni.” It’s been steadily counting down since then. I get it. It’s supposed to portray the happiness and excitement of graduation. It’s supposed to get the students pumped about being alumni of this fabulous university. It’s supposed to be encouraging.

Well, guess what?

For me—a graduate student in Book Publishing planning on graduating this spring—this countdown annoys the heck out of me. And quite frankly, it stresses me out. Why? It’s a constant reminder that I have 100 days, or 85 days, or 52 days to get all my crap in order. To find a job. To (maybe) find a new apartment. To (maybe) move to a new city. It’s a constant reminder that I have less and less time to get my final grad projects in. A constant reminder that May 20—my thesis defense date, the one that decides whether I pass or fail this program—is getting closer.

And that’s freaking stressful! With all the other ToDo lists in my life, all the other deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise), all the other stresses, I don’t need this one.

But…maybe I need to look at it differently. Maybe this looming countdown can be…a count-up to my new life instead. My next adventure. That’s a better way of thinking about it. For now, anyway. Don’t ask me on June 12.

What do you think of the countdown?

How Technology Has Improved My Fitness Habits

Self Photos and Post by: James Wilson

Being a full-time student on top of working and maintaining a connection with family and friends is already hard enough. Adding the right time to get any bit of a workout or any form of physical activity adds just another layer.

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Technology for me has already made that first part way easier. We all are connected to devices nearly 24/7. We work on the go. We also are maintaining that social connection — maybe while even waiting for the Max — when we check our phones to message close friends or family members. But what about working out? How can technology help with recreation?

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Luckily, Android and Apple’s iPhone already have this problem solved. With their built-in pedometers you can see just how active you are in a normal daily routine. Walking 20 minutes to class is now an integrated part of my fitness regimen. Pairing a phone with a wearable device such as the Apple Watch or the Fitbit makes this even better. I’m able to link my smartwatch with my phone and keep tabs on my physical activity at all times. It gets me moving more. I have apps that notify me when I’ve been stationary for too long, and that motivates me to get up and move around. I also have the 7 Minute Workout app on my Pebble watch and phone, so I can optimize my free time when I can’t make it to the gym. For the busy student it really is a habit changer and motivates me when I need it most.