31 March 2015

Spring Break

Coming back from Spring Break, I realize that I only have four and a half more weeks of school left in my freshman year of college. It’s hard to believe that I am almost done, but I’m glad it is. Spring Break was just what I needed to get through these final weeks!


The Friday when classes were over, I ran back to my room to grab my bag and made it to the Pio Express right before it was about to take off. Then I took the Max out to the airport. However, I didn’t get back into San Diego until right before midnight. Thankfully, Ava was there waiting for me so that we could drive straight home. I finally crawled into my own bed at around 2:30 in the morning and proceeded to fall straight asleep.


Saturday morning, when I finally did get up, I went to my favorite place to eat, Johnny’s Burritos. Although not the healthiest food, it has really good Mexican food that I love and sweet iced tea which I can never can get enough of. After that, I relaxed all day at home and started to enjoy my break. The next day, since Ava’s spring break wasn’t until this week, I drove with her up to San Diego State and spent the day at the beach. Being here in Portland for several months, I forgot how badly I needed to tan… Laying out in the sand enjoying the sun was a great way to start off my break.


So after the beach, Ava and I naturally had to go to Buffalo Wild Wings. It was the meal I needed before driving back home. The rest of the week was a blur. I spent the first part of my break driving back and forth from somewhere. Besides taking Ava to San Diego and then getting her again on Wednesday, I drove to Palm Springs to pick up my best friend Matthew from Palm Springs on Tuesday. It was really nice to be able to catch up with him on the way back that day.

For the most part though, Spring Break was a blur. Besides working out in the mornings to stay in shape for football, I really just relaxed the whole time and tried not to think about school at all. Fortunately, I only have a few more tests and then I’m home free for the summer!

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Can't get any better than this. 
Also, I forgot to mention we started spring ball for football two weeks before spring break. It's been really fun to get back out and preparing for next year. I am positive that we will be doing a lot better next year than we did this year.

Remington
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Getting a tour of SDSU from Ava

30 March 2015

Patagonia

I just got back to my home in Viña del Mar from a weekend long trip to Patagonia with some friends from my program.

It was probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen.

I only have one class on Fridays and no classes on Mondays (and most of my friends don't have classes either of those days), so we decided to take advantage of it and fly down to Punta Arenas (the southernmost large-ish city in Chile) early Friday morning. We left Valparaíso on Thursday evening and stayed in the Santiago airport overnight.

my friend Tory trying to sleep in the airport- not the most comfortable place
By Friday afternoon we were in Punta Arenas and checked into our hostel. It is pretty far south (about 53 degrees, whose northern equivalent lands over Alaska), and very flat. We were past the southern tip of the Andes, and right on the Strait of Magellan, which connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

a sea lion statue in Punta Arenas
The next day, we got up early for a tour of Tierra del Fuego, an island at the southern tip of Patagonia. Part of it belongs to Chile, and part to Argentina. 

our ferry at sunrise

Once we got there, we toured a small town called Porvenir. We learned about the people who were native to the area, who were wiped out entirely by European settlers. The town had a little plaza with information about them, as well as a museum.

We then continued on throughout the island, seeing flamingos

dogs
and PENGUINS!
The penguins were amazing. There weren't that many, and they were kind of far away (my camera has a good zoom), but they're one of very few colonies of King Penguins accessible by the public in Chile (they tend to live in Antarctica). We also got to witness them teach their babies how to make the right sounds, which was really cute.

The tour continued throughout the island, and when we got back we went to bed early because we had to get up at 4:30 AM the next day for a tour of Torres del Paine national park.

It was so, so, so gorgeous. We went all over the park. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:







And those pictures only begin to capture it. It was an amazing weekend, and I feel so lucky to be able to be here doing this. I highly encourage everyone to study abroad- it opens your mind to how things work and are in other parts of the world, you get to meet new people and learn new things, and you get great stories out of it!

I'll leave you with a picture of my friend Holly (also an LC student) and I representing Lewis & Clark in Patagonia- to show where going to Lewis & Clark can take you! :

"LC"

Email me with any questions! rekidder@lclark.edu

Rebecca




The Oregon Coast

Congratulations to my fellow blogger Marissa for her acceptance to the Fulbright program in Colombia! It’s always exciting to hear what my fellow students are doing with their lives.

 Well, spring break just ended. My mom flew up from California on Friday and we rented a car to drive to Seaside for the weekend, which is about two hours from Lewis and Clark. It's a very touristy little town on the coast with streets lined with novelty candy shops and bookstores that serve espresso and lots of seafood restaurants. Using Seaside as our home base, we took a few short trips to different parts of the coast. We drove up to Fort Stevens to walk along the beach and look at the wreck of the Peter Iredale. You can see the metal hull sticking out of the sand with rust and barnacles all over it. There were so many families flying kites and people driving around on the sand with their jeeps. And there were so many dogs! Dogs running free, dogs on leashes, dogs playing fetch, dogs, dogs, and more dogs! My mom and I are both "dog people" so we would cut our conversation short every few minutes to squeal over the nearest cuddly canine. Later, we went over to Astoria to walk around and eat some lunch. Another little excursion was to the little town of Cannon Beach and neighboring Ecola State Park. I had been there before on a College Outdoors trip with some other LC students, so I was able to show my mom around a little. 

Here are some pictures from our trip!



Astoria, OR.


 On the promenade behind our hotel in Seaside, OR.


Right outside our hotel.


Breakfast mocha and cinnamon bagels in Seaside.


Hiking at Ecola State Park.


Ran into this little buddy on the trail!


It was so good to see my mom. We had an amazing trip! 

The coast is truly beautiful, and so close to Portland too. It would be very easy to get to just for a weekend getaway - if only I owned a car. Oh well. That's what College Outdoors is for! Here's a throwback to last year when I went to the coast on a College Outdoors yoga retreat with other LC students.


Here's a link to when I blogged about that trip!

Anyway, it was a great weekend and a great spring break overall. But now it's back into the swing of things. There are just five weeks left, and I've got papers due every week until the end of the semester, projects to do, and final exams to study for. Wish me luck! And I in turn wish you luck in deciding where you'd like to spend the next few years of your life. Choosing a college is tough, but I'm sure that, in time, you'll end up where you're meant to be.

If you've got any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.

Best,

Jess






29 March 2015

Thesis blues? Here's FULBRIGHT NEWS

Hi everyone,

I heard back from Fulbright:
I received a Fulbright ETA. I can't even. How? HOW?

First, if you don't know what Fulbright is, here is a link to their website: 

    This is still sinking in, but I'll try to at least explain why I applied for this. While on a LC program in Seville, Spain, I tutored English to a 12 year old boy named Eduardo, and I learned so much about Spanish culture from our short classes. I'd ask Eduardo to tell me about his day, just a typical day at school, and what he liked to do on the weekends. He would talk about soccer practice, how he was looking forward to the summer holidays, and we would tease each other because I was still learning Spanish and he thought his English was better than my Spanish (it was-- he was a quick little booger). Teaching him was fun, and I realized that I missed it when I came back to Portland. Also, I felt like my summer service job was slowly sucking away all the sincerity out of human interaction. ssssssss

    I started volunteer tutoring ESL (English as a Second Language) in SE Portland, and had incredible students, most of them adult immigrants and refugees. I learned about why people come to the US and the resources that are available to them here. Also, it turns out that language and literacy are important. Teaching ESL led me to the very personal revelation that not everyone grows up with their parents reading Harry Potter to them at night.
       Some people are raised in a refugee camp and then come to the US, sit through high school ESL in complete culture shock, and then take free English classes from ignorant people like me. And, it turns out that any little bit of progress they make in class is such an astoundingly important little bit. Then, that student changes their teacher's life, making her want to understand language and how it can change other people's lives. It's really hard to articulate this. 

Too many words. Now here's a photo of my cute housemates being cute:


    Anyway, I have a lot of reasons for wanting to teach in English in Colombia, a country with millions of internal refugees but also AMAZING authors and poets and a rich literary culture. I didn't think that Fulbright was really an option because it is has a capital F for Fulbright and a very leggy legacy (idk I'm writing this late at night sorry), but I spent a few weekends drafting my application essays and working with LC Fulbright advisors because I couldn't not try. Dreams come true sometimes. Dream is a cheesy, cheesy, yet accurate word for this news. 

     It was a long application process that happened through most of October, and I was already making plans to stay in Portland because it would have been ridiculous to not make other plans. But now I have the news, and I am going to go on a big fat adventure after graduation. HELP my life isn't real.

I just want to point out too, that I'm lucky  LC has a great reputation of student's receiving Fulbrights: Go LC!

If you have any questions about college, Lewis & Clark, or just want to talk, I'm here:
marissaburke@lclark.edu


24 March 2015

Things to Do Over Spring Break

It is currently spring break, and I am writing to you from the coffee shop inside Powell’s City of Books. I’m sitting at a table facing a huge sunlit window with two books, a doughnut, and a cup of chai tea. 



I arrived here when the bookstore opened at 9am and I do not plan to leave until dinnertime. Well, I’ll take a break to hit up the food carts for lunch, but besides that, my entire day is just going to be spent by myself wandering the aisles and aisles of books. Powell’s is truly a book-lover’s dream. It sprawls across an entire city block and it even has multiple floors. I would love to just live here.

Because I usually fly home to California for breaks, I’ve never stayed on campus while classes aren’t in session for more than a couple of days before. So, spring break is a new experience for me. And I have to say, so far it has been a dream come true. Just living in the dorms with my friends, without having to stress out about classes or studying or midterms? It’s fantastic! However, since a lot of people – my roommate included – did make the choice to either go home or go on some sort of trip for break, it has been a lot quieter than usual. It’s a little disconcerting, but I’ve gotten used to it already.

Since break has started...

1. I went on a long leisurely run in Tryon Creek State Park, and plan to do that several more times before the week is over.
2. I finished Firefly and watched Serenity. Joss Whedon, why must you hurt me so? I didn't need to feel that sad over my break... I also watched Anastasia, Sweeney Todd, and tonight my friends and I are watching one of the Lord of the Rings movies together.
3. I tried pho for the first time at Luc Lac with my friends Robert and Sam. It was delicious!


The bowls are larger than Sam's head, it's not too expensive, and the broth is the tastiest thing ever.

4. I also went to the Saturday Market and Stumptown Coffee with my friend Rose.


The Willamette River waterfront.


Stumptown Coffee

5. One morning, my friends Marissa and Brian made crepes, and we all got to try some!


A little tiny crepe with berries and whipped cream!

6. And last night, I played a rousing game of Cards against Humanity while eating cookie dough with a group of seven or eight people.



To end the break, on Friday my mom is flying up from California to see me! We’re going to rent a car and drive to the coast for the weekend. We've booked a hotel on the beach in the little town of Seaside. I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet, but I’m really stoked!

Besides either staying on campus or going home, there are plenty of other options for what to do over break. To give you some ideas, I’ll just tell you what some of my friends are doing. Charlie and Jasper are on a College Outdoors kayaking trip. Andrea is on a College Outdoors yoga trip. Anna, Matt, and Kayla took a bus up to Vancouver. Minoru is in Las Vegas with some of the other exchange students. Zoe is in Hawaii on tour with an LC choral group. Ian is in New York to look in a library for a rare manuscript (?). Basil is in Iceland (?!). There’s certainly a lot you can do in 9 days.

Well, I’m going to get back to my books and chai tea now. I need to start an English paper too, and study Japanese so I don't forget it all before the break is over. If you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.


Jess

P.S. This is what I ended up getting for lunch at the food carts! It's Georgian cheese bread with an egg, also called acharuli khachapuri. It's about the size of a football, and yes, I ate the entire thing.




23 March 2015

A month in!

As of last Wednesday, it has since I left home to come to Valparaíso. I can’t believe it’s been that long, and at the same time, it feels like a lot longer since I’ve seen my friends and family back home.
The month that I’ve been here has definitely had its challenges. I’m still not entirely adapted to the admittedly small (but many) differences between life here and life in the states. It took me weeks to realize that my host mom kept giving me a new napkin whenever I put mine in my lap, because they keep the napkin on the table here (or at least my host family does), and she thought I had lost it. I’m also not used to eating a big meal at 2 PM and not eating a light dinner until 9 or 10. Nor am I used to paying for my ice cream before going to the counter to pick out a flavor, and I’m still thrown off every time someone on the street assumes I’m Chilean and asks me a question really quickly and mumbled. At the same time, I’m adapting. I now expect to tip my grocery baggers, and tell the bus driver my final destination when I get on, and it’s almost automatic to make small-talk in Spanish (which a month ago was very intimidating). If anything, I’ve figured out how to buy ice cream, which I believe is the most important thing you can learn in any country.
I’m finally getting into a routine with my classes, and as of last week, I’m officially registered for everything I want to be in. So, dear readers, here is my schedule:
Monday: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, like I would register for class on Mondays. Free day! Better known as “do all my homework I didn’t do over the weekend day.”
Tuesday: 10:05-11:35: Urban Spaces. This is an art class located in Miraflores, a neighborhood in Viña del Mar that’s (usually) an easy bus ride away (I say “usually” because last week two buses ignored me flagging them down, causing me to wait for 20 minutes before one finally stopped for me). The class is really big and is taught lecture-style. We’re given assignments to complete between classes- this last week we learned about beds and rooms as spaces and had to come up with a representation of our own room, and then we had to share our drawings with the class and explain them a bit.
my drawing, showing my bed here. I drew the curtains mixing in with the sheets for two reasons: my curtains here are really flow-y and are reminiscent of sheets, and it illustrates how everything I learn outside comes into my own space- how I can't leave what I learn outside. I also have the floor plans of each of my rooms- my room here, my room in St. Louis Park, and my room in Portland.
my drawing, showing my bed here. I drew the curtains mixing in with the sheets for two reasons: my curtains here are really flow-y and are reminiscent of sheets, and it illustrates how everything I learn outside comes into my own space- how I can’t leave what I learn outside. I also have the floor plans of each of my rooms- my room here, my room in Minnesota, and my room in Portland.
After this class I take a bus to the main PUCV building in Valparaíso, where I hang out for a couple of hours waiting for my next class.
2-3:30: Chilean Culture and Communication. This is a class through the international student section of the school. All international students have to take a Spanish class, and this is mine. The focus of the class is to learn about Chilean culture and, you guessed it, communication. It meets three times a week, which is more than any of my other classes. We’ve talked some about specific words Chileans use that aren’t used in other parts of the world, the Chilean accent, and Chilean music. My professor starts every class by showing us music by local artists. We’ve also gone on some excursions to the city- one to a pier to observe what we saw looking at the city from the sea, and one last Thursday to look at street art in one of the hills. Some of what we saw follows:
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A lot of the art is commissioned by the owners of the buildings, while other pieces of it are left without permission. There’s a huge variety of styles, and some of it is really amazing.
5-7: Modern History and Geography of Chile: This class is directly through CIEE, the program I'm studying abroad through. We meet in a classroom within the CIEE office. We started out talking about the political state of Chile in the 1960's, with Salvador Allende as president. For class tomorrow I have to read a speech he gave to the UN and present an analysis and summary to my peers. I really like the professor for this class, partly because he speaks more clearly than a lot of my professors here, and partly because he's really knowledgable and passionate about the subject.
Wednesdays: 10:05-11:35: I haven’t started this yet, but I’ll be volunteering in an English classroom and helping students practice their English. At the end, I get a certificate from Cambridge!
2-3:30: Chilean Culture and Communication
5:20-6:50: Mapuchan Games. This is another class directly through the university, and I’m honestly not sure why I’m taking it. It’s pretty much a middle school gym class, with the main difference being that all the games we learned are traditional Mapuchan (the local indigenous group) games. It’s definitely interesting, but also really scary. The first week we played Chueca, which is basically floor hockey. Two teams of seven stand in lines facing each other, so that each person has an opponent on the other team. The two people in the middle hit their sticks 3 times before fighting for the (scarily small and hard) ball. Each team is trying to get the ball to go to a goal in opposite directions. Despite directions to not hold the sticks above our waists, my finger was slammed between two sticks at some point while I was trying to get to the ball.
The second game we learned, which we played last week at a local beach, is called Linao. It’s essentially ridiculously intense rugby. Apparently the players would traditionally play it naked (save a loin cloth made of kelp), and greased up for easy escape from the tackles that happen in the game. Each team is trying to get the ball into the other team’s goal, and it’s perfectly fine to tackle, shove, pull, or do anything you can to get the ball from the opposing team. It was kind of scary, but fun to watch other people get so into the game. The name of the game apparently literally translates into “battle for the ball,” and I believe it. At points of the game we had pile ups of a good 15 people, with the poor person holding the ball stuck at the bottom. There were times I was shoved and stepped on as people tried to get past me to get to the ball. It made me miss flag football.
Thursdays: 2-3:30 Chilean Culture and Communcation
Fridays: 4:40-6:10ish: Camping Techniques/Outdoor Education. I’ve only been to one section of this class so far, but it sounds like we’re going to be learning about how to properly camp and teach others how to camp, as well as go on excursions to nearby mountains and stuff. I’m really excited (though a little nervous about the intensity of the excursions, but it should be fine).
Saturdays and Sundays: trips with my host family, exploring the cities with friends, and, coming up…
A TRIP TO PATAGONIA! That’s right, a three days from now I will be on a bus heading to Santiago, where I’ll spend the night before flying out Friday morning to PATAGONIA! I’m super pumped that I’m able to squeeze this in. It’ll be a really busy few days. Our current plan is to stay in Punta Arenas, and take a very long day trip to Torres del Paine (5 hours away, but there are tour companies that do it) on Saturday. On Sunday we’ll hopefully visit a penguin colony (pretty much a lifelong dream of mine), and we’ll come back on Monday. I’m very, very excited.
So there you have it, what my typical week approximately looks like! There are so many random things that happen that there’s no way I can describe what any of my days are really like. Some highlights from the past week include: a guy getting onto one of my buses and live rapping to some reggaeton (which is surprisingly popular here) (and he did it well), a stray dog walking with my class on our excursion to the hills for 90 minutes straight (and another that ran along with my group for 19 km on a biking tour of the city), hearing my host mom make a pun about the lentil soup I was eating (it’s called lenteja- comela o dejala [eat it or leave it {“deja” sounds like “teja,” the second part of the word}]), and getting my host niece really angry at me because she took my watch and I kept asking for it back (picture below).
(she wasn't really mad, but kept making this really cute angry face)
(she wasn’t really mad, but kept making this really cute angry face)
I’m generally enjoying myself, and I’ll continue to say that I’m learning a lot! 
Email me with any questions or funny jokes! rekidder@lclark.edu
Rebecca

18 March 2015

Take a Walk With Me

I took a walk to the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling the other day for a meeting with my education professor. Even though she works for the graduate school and her office is there, she teaches a couple of undergraduate education courses. One is called Education in a Complex World, which I took last term, and one is Inquiry into Teaching and Learning, which I'm in now. I know that you're probably reading this blog to help you decide on an undergraduate school, but I'm going to start here with the graduate school anyway. I might go there for a M.A. in Teaching after my four years as an undergrad, and it's a good starting point to write about my experiences with studying education at Lewis and Clark.

Most of the students call the graduate school campus "South Campus." On sunny days, people will go there to just chill on the lawn or swing on the wooden swing. I climb trees there when I need a dose of nature. It's quite beautiful.






After walking around for a while, I had a great meeting with my professor. We ate muffins and talked about teaching in elementary vs. high school, place-based and environmental education, the privatization/charter-school movement, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It was very inspiring. I've never felt like I was aiming for a goal before, in terms of career anyway. But for the first time. this year I feel like I might know where I'm going. Things are starting to come together, and I'm really excited about it.

As I've probably also mentioned before, I volunteer in a kindergarten classroom. I've been with the same group of kids the whole year, and it's been so rewarding to watch them grow up. I was so proud the other day when one of the kids spelled a word in front of class correctly for the first time! And today was St. Patrick's Day, so the whole kindergarten class was decked out in green shirts and dresses and suchlike, and one of the kids had even dyed his mohawk! Everyone was very, very excited about the possibility of there being leprechauns hiding in our classroom, so we didn't get a lot of work done. The most exciting moment was when another teacher came bursting into our room claiming to have caught a leprechaun! He was wrestling with this big plastic bag, and saying, "I'VE GOT HIM! I'VE GOT HIM! LOOK!!" and he opened the bag to show us... nothing. There was just a big hole in the bottom of the bag. The kids were in hysterics! My mentor teacher and I couldn't stop laughing at the other teacher's acting skills. Finally, everyone settled down. While my mentor teacher led a spelling exercise, I poured bowls of Lucky Charms. But when we got back from recess for snack, someone had come in and turned the milk bright green! Darn those sneaky leprechauns.

I'm so glad that Lewis and Clark gives me the opportunity to work in a real classroom like this as an undergrad, just to see whether teaching is right for me. But I'm still not sure if I want to become an elementary teacher, a high school English and creative writing teacher, or something else entirely. Good thing I have some more time to decide. I'm just a second-year student here, and I'm planning on taking a break before grad school anyway.

Well, that's all for now. If you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.

Jess