15 April 2014

23 Days

Twenty-three more days of school! Including finals! Only 16 days until classes are over! Including weekends! That's only 12 more days of class!

I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by. At this time last year I was thinking the same thing, and I dare say that this year has gone by even more quickly. I feel like I'm really established my place here, which is an amazing feeling. My first year was filled with my trying a ton of different activities and classes, and now I'm at the point where I'm really committed to a few activities and am only taking classes related to my majors. I continue to be amazed at how kind and friendly everyone here is. I'm still making new friends, and growing even closer with the friends I already have. I definitely attribute this to the small student body and the plethora of opportunities to meet new people. I feel like if I went to a larger school, I wouldn't have the same chances to get to know everyone to the same extent that I do here.

As close as we are to the end of the semester, I have a ton of work to do. I have a twelve page paper, probably about 100 pages of reading a week, and a final for Global Resource Dilemmas. In Spanish I have another ~50 pages a class, a test tomorrow, and another test around the time of finals. I'm finishing up a ~30 page research paper for Environmental Studies, plus my group has to make a poster. We also have to read ~20 pages each class, post in forums about the readings, and edit our concentrations. For Econ I have to study for a test we have next Thursday, then study more for our final. Luckily we've covered everything we are going to in that class, but I definitely have a lot of studying I need to do. I also have a final project I'm working on for Self Defense for Women. On top of all of this, we are sprinting to the end of the semester in terms of Symposium work, because we don't want to have to do too much over the summer. I'm Skyping with one of our keynotes on Thursday, and am working on editing our website, supporting my scholarly session liaison, and contributing to other general planning.

Somehow, I'm continuing to find time for College Outdoors trips. This last weekend I went on a backpack service project in the Klickitat Wilderness in Washington. It was beautiful! We were pulling out old barbed wire in a wildlife refuge that used to be private property.
Daphne and I struggling with rolling the barbed wire
It was tiring work, but rewarding. Apparently deer get caught in it, then die of stress, so I'm glad we were able to help out. The people we were working with were amazing, really interesting people, so it was also cool to get to talk to them about their lives.
Some of us hanging out with a truck full of the barbed wire we pulled
We then backpacked to our campsite down by a river. It was so pretty! The trail was an old road that ran along side these hills, so the views were amazing. It was pretty quiet and felt remote, despite the trial being an old road.
Not a bad place for lunch!
We got back Sunday evening, and I was up until two working with my ENVS group on our research paper. I'm glad I went, though, and am going on two more trips this coming weekend (a training for leading ethnobotany and wildflower trips, and a canoe outing). I'm really busy, but feel good about it.

If you have any questions about anything, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu!


13 April 2014

More Sunshine!

Update: IT IS STILL SUNNY HERE. It has been sunny all week! My roommate Sully, her friend Sarah, and I spent the afternoon on the lawn outside Akin Hall on yoga mats and towels, and wearing our bathing suits of all things! We may or may not have gotten sunburned, but it was worth it. I, like so many here at Lewis and Clark, am a California native, so seeing the sun out for such a long time was so nice. Although I enjoy the rain here in Portland, I really do love sunshine and love it all the more when it comes less often.

View of the trees in bloom from the Akin Lounge

While we were outside, I worked on my Mesopotamian astronomy research paper and looked at food blogs in preparation for writing an article for the next issue of the Pioneer Log. I’m interviewing two student chefs later today and there’ll be recipes and photos and deliciousness. Meanwhile, Sarah worked on her kanji work for Japanese, and Sully did Spanish homework. They both have foreign languages incorporated into their required classes, since Sarah is a Foreign Languages (Japanese and Spanish) major and Sully is a double major in English and Hispanic Studies. Sarah is also fluent in French from living in Belgium for most of her adolescence. I’m only studying English and know very rudimentary Spanish from high school, so my skill set is pretty boring in comparison to all those lovely polyglots out there. Maybe I will take a foreign language class next year.

Let’s see… what else has been going on lately besides relaxing my way through this lovely, sunlit afternoon? Well, by far the most exciting thing that has happened in the last week was discovering that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be speaking in Portland on Tuesday! We only found out Monday night, and were able to buy the tickets when they went on sale Tuesday morning. It was a real spur-of-the-moment thing, but I knew it would be the opportunity of a lifetime. It was truly amazing to hear her speak. She even made a reference to Voodoo Doughnut! Afterward, my friends and I agreed that being in college means being in a place to go to incredible events like that. I'm so glad I went.

Besides that, life has gone on as usual. I wrote for the Pioneer Log, hosted some prospective students, went downtown a few times, went to class, read, studied… Nothing too exciting. I took the bus to Fred Meyer yesterday because I like to switch up what I eat for breakfast once in a while. Last month I was eating bagels with peanut butter and Nutella, and now I’ve moved on to oatmeal with bananas, blueberries, and honey. It’s sweet, but healthier than anything made with Nutella! I always make my own breakfast in my room because my meal plan covers 14 meals per week, and I prefer to use those meal swipes for lunch and dinner.

My breakfast this morning

Well, I know that all you prospective students are making your decisions around now. I know that everyone needs to make their own choices based on their own needs and desires, but I sincerely hope you’ll come to Lewis and Clark. I personally have found it to be a wonderful place. 

Any more questions? Email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!



08 April 2014

Good COmpany

My first weekend back from spring break was busy, but rewarding. On Saturday I participated in Spring Into Action. It's this awesome event put on by the Student Leadership & Service department, as well as the Alumni Association. Current students, alumni, and staff all come together for an afternoon of volunteering in and around Portland. My group went to the Peninsula Children's Learning Center, which is this cool childcare/education program whose goal is to provide services to people of varying socioeconomic status. We spent a few hours cleaning the buildings, which was really rewarding. In school I feel like we get caught up with all of this hypothetical, mental activity, which is great, but it's nice to step back and do something physical and quantifiable once in a while. The people who worked there really appreciated our help; apparently they only have volunteers come in and do this sort of deep cleaning once a year, and it's too much for the staff to do all on their own.

Sunday, I went on another College Outdoors trip (here's where I point out how punny the title of this post is. Aren't I creative?). It was an ethnobotany and edible plants trip, and we went hiking near Catherine Creek in Washington. It was gorge-ous (get it? because it was in the gorge)! Unfortunately there weren't many edible plants, but the views were amazing, and I had fun. I was a student coordinator, so I got to practice my leadership a bit.
It was warm enough that I hiked in a tank top!
The view of the Columbia river from our hike 
Difficult terrain!
We stopped at Multnomah Falls on the way back, which is touristy but beautiful
It was sunny and beautiful out, and just a nice day. I came back and had to do my homework, which I had put off all weekend, but it was worth it.

The semester is definitely winding up! I'm at the point where I only have a couple of major assignments and tests left in each class. It's refreshing to see the finish line, but I'm going to miss being here this summer!

If you have any questions, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu. I'd love to answer them!


Wintersemester Video

Here is the video I made of my Wintersemester in Munich with Lewis & Clark College. Our Sommersemester (spring semester) just began yesterday. Hope all is well! Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad on a Lewis & Clark program or studying languages at LC or any other questions you may have. drussosavage@lclark.edu

07 April 2014


It’s an incredibly beautiful day outside (especially for a Monday!), so I decided to take my computer outside to sit on the benches between my residence hall (Akin Hall), and the Manor House and soak up some sunshine while I write this. There are butter-yellow daffodils and green grass, and a light breeze, and the tree across the walkway has recently exploded into bright white blooms of soft flowers, and I can hear the bustle of people heading to and fro behind me on their way to class or to the library. I’m even drinking a soy chai that I picked up at the Dovecote (an on-campus coffee shop) on my way back from class, and it’s delicious. It was my reward to myself for having the courage to do something I usually hate doing – giving an oral presentation. I had to talk for fifteen minutes about the research I’ve been doing for my Exploration and Discovery class. As I told you in my earlier posts, my research is on ancient Mesopotamian astronomy.

My roommate just walked by and plucked a ladybug off my hair. Thanks, Sully.

Anyway, my research, as I was saying, is about Mesopotamian astronomy and how it related to the formation of the first cities, especially with their economic system of redistribution. This is my second independent research project that I’ve done – the first was on a YouTube subculture for my anthropology class last term. It’s been a great opportunity to have help from my professors in pursuing whatever I want to learn more about. And my presentation actually went really well. I need to remember that no matter how nervous I get to speak in front of a crowd (albeit a crowd of 10 or 11 – my class is really small), it always works out fine and is a lot easier than I think it’s going to be.

I finished reading Pale Fire last week, but we’re still talking about it. I would highly, highly recommend it. Seriously. Go read it. Or come here, take a class with Lyell Asher, and read it with him. That’s even better.

Just stuck my ear buds in, and now I’m listening to Astronaut by Amanda Palmer.

I had a good first weekend back from break. On Saturday, my friend Dida and I went to a theatre workshop held on-campus by a woman visiting from New York. She’s a director and has had a lot of experience doing theatre in East Africa – particularly in Rwanda (post-genocide) and Uganda. Dida knew her already because they worked in Rwanda where Dida is originally from. I was just at the workshop to write an article about it for the Pioneer Log, but I ended up staying the whole time and participating in the acting activities. I got to meet a few community members and talk about crossing personal and cultural boundaries. We even created a little song-and-dance routine! After that, I was picked up by my friends from BuildOn, Katherine and Allie, and we went downtown to ask for donations from stores for a dress drive we’re holding to raise money for the construction of a school in Haiti. We didn’t get any dresses, but we did go food-carting! I had an asada burrito and some horchata, and they had dessert crepes: pear and chocolate for Allie, and peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon for Katherine. Delicious, and not too expensive!

Well, I’m actually getting a little too warm in this sunshine, so I’m going to wrap this entry up and head back inside. Any questions? Email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.


31 March 2014

Spring Organizing!

I guess spring is the time of year that people like to organize and clean everything up, and I'm not escaping these urges. Before I left to go home for break on Friday, I spent some time organizing my dorm room since a couple of my roommates were having friends come over during break. This is a task I'd been neglecting; all of my school work was taking precedence over having an organized room. At home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had cleaned my room before I left last summer, so it was already organized. Regardless, I re-organized it a bit before I came back to school. Now I'm back, and spent some time today organizing my calendar. I realized that there's this amazing feature on Google Calendar that lets you put tasks in certain days, so I put in all my due dates for the rest of the semester (minus my readings for global resource dilemmas, because I didn't have my syllabus with me). I have to share how organized I feel right now, so look at my calendar!
This week!
Green is my calendarand is mostly my classes and meetings. Blue is Symposium, which is a shared calendar with all the co-chairs. It has our meetings and due-dates. Red is my assignments that are due on that day. On the right, there's a task list of everything I have left to do this semester, which some people may find overwhelming, but it helps me feel less stressed. Before now, I've kept my tasks organized via sticky note on my computer, which I'll probably still do on top of this, but now I feel even more organized.

Of course, I'm getting really organized when we only have about a month left of classes. I can't believe it! Most of my classes just have one more test/paper before the final. Summer feels like it's really soon, so I'm eagerly planning how I'm going to spend it. I'm getting excited! I'm going to have the same job I had last summer, working for my hometown's community education summer classes for kids. The job doesn't start until June, so I'm planning on going to Vancouver and Seattle for a few days each with my friend Gaby right after school gets out. Because she's an RA she's sticking around for a few days once the semester ends, so I may hang out with my brother or something during those days. Once I come home, I'm going to go on a canoe trip with a couple of friends from home. I'm currently working on planning the logistics of that trip, which is easier this year because I also did it last year, so now I have experience (you can see some of my canoe-related tabs in the above screenshots!). After that I'll be at my job, but I'm hoping to visit some Minnesota state parks on the weekends and go camping. One of my roommates is from St. Paul, so we're planning what all we're going to do with each other this summer. All in all, a lot of planning!

On the academic side of things, I'm working on organizing my schedule for next semester. My current debate is whether I want to only take 13 credits next semester (environmental education, Spanish conversation, colonial Latin American history, and drawing), or whether I want to take another class (Latin American culture studies) for a total of 17 credits. I know I can do the 17 credits and it would still be a decrease from the 19 I'm currently in, but I was kind of looking forward to having a semester with a smaller workload. It's my first semester where I'm not only taking major-required classes. I think I'm going to go ahead and register for Latin American culture studies, because I can always drop it if I change my mind. Also, environmental education is only going to run if at least 7 or 8 people register, which apparently may be a lofty goal. If the class is cancelled, then I'd have less than 12 credits (the minimum needed to be considered a full-time student), so it'll be good to have another class ready as a back-up.

We're also continuing to move forward with Symposium! Today one of the other co-chairs and I Skyped with one of our keynotes, who lives in Australia. We learned a lot, and I'm even more excited for Symposium now, especially for our keynote event. We are currently in the process of applying for a budget, and the co-chairs who were focusing on budget planning are interviewing for our budget on Wednesday. Everything is coming together!

If you have any questions about planning, organizing, or cleaning (or anything else), email me at rekidder@lclark.edu! 


30 March 2014

April 1st, 2014

So, I’m actually transferring because I don’t want to go here anymore.


Gotcha! Just kidding! I love it here and I am not planning on leaving this place anytime soon. Well, except for things like Spring Break. I spent the week at home in Auburn, California with my family. I got to hang out with my mom and my dog (Amber!) a lot, and my dad and my brother when they weren’t at work or school. My mom, Amber, and I took a bunch of "selfies" with my mom’s new iPad that she is super excited about.

Similarly to the Mt. Hood snowshoeing trip I told you all about previously that kept getting postponed due to rainy weather, my plans to go Nordic skiing in the Sierras over break were brought down by an ill-fated storm. Bummer. I was a little disappointed to come back to California to find myself back in the rain, but goodness knows we need it with the drought and everything. I ended up just spending a lot of time indoors, except for Friday when I went to a track meet at my brother’s high school. He’s a freshman, and goes to a different high school than I did, but my high school was also at the meet and I got to hang out with some friends from my old distance team! I had a great time talking with the seniors and juniors who wanted to hear all about college. I must have spent a good two hours talking with my friend Anderson – whenever he wasn’t warming up, racing the two mile, or cooling down, we were talking college. I couldn’t stop telling him about how awesome my professors are. They are so incredibly passionate about what they do – especially my English professor, Lyell Asher. We’ve been reading Nabokov’s Pale Fire, and Lyell is obsessed with that book. It’s infectious. I love literature already, but he makes me fall so deeply in love with it I can’t imagine myself studying anything else at this point. Even books I didn’t like at first, like Pride and Prejudice, I ended up loving by the time we finished discussing them. Being less interested in English literature than things like science, Anderson was less interested in my ecstatic rambling about my reading list than what time I got up in the morning and what the food was like. Regardless, it was great talking to a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. 

Well, tomorrow, it’s back to the old regime – 9am class and lots of studying and eating at the Bon and living in Portland! It was so hard to convey how much I like going to school here to people like Anderson back home who want to know “what college is like” or my grandparents who just want to know how I’m doing. Back here, I don’t have to explain why I love it here – I just live it.

Questions? I know all you seniors have heard back from the admissions office by now, so if you want to talk about decision-making, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu. I had such a hard time deciding where to go, but I’m happy with my choice.