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:

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.


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:
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

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.


17 March 2015

Almost to Break

For some reason, every week before a major break becomes the busiest week ever. So this past week I've been working pretty hard to tie up all the things due before spring break. Unfortunately this includes two tests in biology and chemistry, an essay for E&D, and a chemistry lab write up on our first experiment we conducted. It’ll be tough, but I can definitely manage it all.  

This past weekend the rain finally came back. It was weird to see Portland how it usually is at this time of year again. The temperate weather was amazing to have for a few weeks. Saturday, it rained all day long from morning to night... it didn't stop once! It was actually nice though to get some rain before I head back to dry, sunny 90 degree weather back home.

On Saturday I was scheduled to work the baseball games, but that sure wasn't happening with all the rain that got dumped on us. Sunday though was a bit nicer, and it stopped long enough for the baseball team to play. Lewis and Clark played against Pacific  last weekend. I worked with my friend Mikey this weekend.  It was nice to have him there to keep me company, and so we could both work out the plays on the field.

About three innings into the game, the wind began to really pick up. It was almost as powerful as the time that knocked over a tree right next to Copeland Hall on campus earlier this year. On the fence of the baseball field, there are tarps that cover up the chain link of the fences. Those didn't hold out too long. They were blowing around on the fence and barely hanging on by the third inning.
Field getting covered up. You can see the covers in the back
blowing around. 

After the wind caused some minor delays, the game resumed for a little bit until it started raining. With the rain coming down pretty hard, the entire baseball team had to run out to left field to get the tarp that would cover the infield. It was interesting to watch them all run as fast as they could to save the infield from becoming soaked. They must have practiced at covering it up, because they covered it up before the rain really started coming down.  After about thirty minutes of rain delay, the game was resumed and the weather didn't act up again.

All in all, I was there at the game for about eight hours on Sunday. I am not complaining though;  it’ll be a good paycheck at the end of the month! So for now, it’s back to studying so I can get home for spring break.


Mikey checking for leaks in the roof. 

16 March 2015

chilean coast

It’s amazing how little things can remind you of people and places you’ve known at various parts of your life. I remember reading something somewhat recently about how when you first meet someone, you constantly compare them to people you’ve met before (the person has the same sense of humor as your brother, or likes the same music as your college roommate, or looks kind of like your childhood neighbor), and that only once you know someone for a while do you start seeing these traits as belonging to them, and not to the people you’ve known before. I think that’s also true for places.
I’m at the stage right now where everything I see, and everyone I meet, reminds me of experiences I’ve already had. I compare the palm trees to the only ones I’d really known before in Sanibel Island, Florida. The murals are much more abundant than but reminiscent of ones I’ve seen scattered around Portland, and the small corner restaurants near my house remind me of those in South Minneapolis. And it’s not just places reminding me of places- it’s places and foods and people and hole-in-the-wall shops reminding me of those folks I already know. I’ll see a mural and think about how one of my housemates would find it amusing, or a street dog that looks like my dog at home and think about how my sister would appreciate it. All of these reminders of home definitely make me feel homesick, but at the same time I know that they’re opening my eyes to how big (and at the same time, how small) the world is.
Really, I’m constantly reminded about how small the world is. A previous student that my host family hosted is friends on facebook with a high school classmate of mine. A guy in one of my Spanish classes has a girlfriend who is from Eden Prairie, a city near where I grew up in Minnesota. A girl in my group was roommates freshman year with one of my childhood best friends. Two other people in my group live in the same small town in Pennsylvania, but had never met before this trip- and they found out that one of them was working at a restaurant the same day the other went to the same restaurant last year. Beyond those immediate connections, I’m constantly hearing North American music or watching North American movies with my host family.
However, there are times I’m reminded of where I am and how unique of an experience I’m having. Last weekend included two of those experiences.
On Saturday I went to the campo, and then to the coast with my host family and my friend from the program, Lindsay. My host dad had a work related meeting out in a house in the campo, so we went along with him and sat on the porch and drank pap, a popular soft drink (I swore my host mom kept calling it “pop” with an accent, but turns out it’s called “pap”). We were greeted by two dogs who got very attached to Lindsay and sat with us while we waited.
one of the dogs
one of the dogs
That afternoon we took the long way home by driving along the coast. It was beautiful, and I was reminded of the awe I feel every time I see the ocean. I don’t know if I would feel the same way if I always lived near it (I would hope that I would), but every time I see it I am reminded of how big it is. The same ocean that I live by now is the ocean that borders Oregon, and the one that surrounds Japan, where some of my friends have gone on overseas programs (and is a country that takes 14 hours in a plane to get to from Oregon). It also extends to Australia, another ungodly long flight. It’s so big that I can’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve had a lot of debates with my California friends about the merits of ocean vs lakes, and I’ll stubbornly stand by my belief that lakes are better, but the ocean definitely has a magical quality to it.
the view from the car
the view from the car
my host parents and me at the "Puente de Los Deseos" (bridge of dreams) in Horcón, a hippy commune on the coast. People tie ribbons with their dreams written on them to this bridge. It was really pretty.
my host parents and me at the “Puente de Los Deseos” (bridge of dreams) in Horcón, a hippy commune on the coast. People tie ribbons with their dreams written on them to this bridge. It was really pretty.
A view of Horcón
A view of Horcón
the sun setting over the ocean
the sun setting over the ocean
It was nice to get to know the coast a little bit more, and I had another chance to explore the coast the next day. On Sunday I went to the “dunes of Concón” (las dunas de Concón) with a couple of friends to watch the sunset. It was a surreal experience. The dunes are about a 20 minute bus ride away, and once you get there it feels like you’re in another world. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
walking along the dunes
tiny me in the big dunes
friends and sand
a panorama from the top of the highest dune (which was really hard to climb up, but totally worth it)
the view looking up one of the dunes
the view looking the other way, towards the mountains and the city
you can't go to the dunes to watch the sunset and not take silhouette photos
the sunset
It was overall a really nice weekend. I feel like I may be starting to get more comfortable here, despite missing home and the people in it. Chile is definitely a unique and beautiful place, and I’m appreciating it more every day.
Remember, email me with any questions! rekidder@lclark.edu

10 March 2015

Halfway Done

The semester is in full swing now. We are officially half way done with our semester. It sounds so weird saying that… It feels just like yesterday that I was arriving back in Portland after a nice winter break. Now spring break is only two weeks away!

School has definitely picked up now. Within the span of two weeks, I will have four tests and a paper due before I get to go home and relax for a week. So with all this work, getting sick was the worst thing to happen to me. Fortunately it was only a little cold, so with some NyQuil and lots of sleep this weekend, I was able to beat it without missing any classes. So now it’s out of my room and back to the library to study for my next classes.

Even with all this work on my plate right now, I was able to get away last Thursday for a little fun. My friend Mikey was able to get us tickets to the Portland Trail Blazers game versus the Dallas Mavericks, my favorite NBA team. The main reason I wanted to go was to watch my favorite player, Dirk Nowitzki, play. He is one of the best power forwards to play and is 7th in all time scoring!

The best part of going to the game was that the tickets were only nine  dollars! Mikey was able to get them really cheap a few hours before the game. If any of are you interested in going to these games, somewhere there is an app that you sign up for that alerts you if there are open seats available the night before the game.  It’s part of a student package for people in the area. The only downside to these tickets is  that they are just standing seats, and are at the very top.

So Thursday night we took the Max all the way to the Rose Quarter, which is across the river from downtown, where the Moda Center is located. Getting in was super easy and we got all the way up to our seats just as the game was starting. Now these were the absolute nosebleed seats. Our “seats” were at the very top, the row after where the chairs stopped. We could either stand or sit on the concrete, but for nine dollars I'd say it was worth it!

The view from the very top!

Unfortunately the game didn't go too well, at least from my perspective as a Mavericks fan. They ended up losing pretty badly, but I did get to see Dirk Nowitzki play. Also, in between the 3rd and 4th quarters, a fan hit a halfcourt shot to win a car! The entire crowd went crazy for the lucky guy.

Now it’s time to push through and finish up the semester. I’ll be spending plenty of time in the library studying my butt off. Until next week everyone!

-Remington Campbell
Enjoying spring. It hasn't rained in over a week!

Me running at morning workouts.