30 November 2013



Happy start-of-all-the Holidays!

This week has been fantastic and not just because it was only a 2 day week, (all my Wednesday classes were canceled.) I finally had the pleasure of celebrating both Thanksgiving AND the Chanukah on the same day! This is the first (and last) time that will happen in my lifetime!! (Cool, right?!) 

So, what have I been up to?

Well, Wednesday I decided to have a self-care day and I did my nails, took a nap with my best friend (Taylor, who I mention quite frequently) and took myself to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. AH. IT WAS SO GOOD. I literally can't get over how fantastic it was. Everyone needs to see it. My dream Katniss is to grow up and be Jennifer Lawrence; JLaw!!! *not because I'd rather not fight to the death of 23 other humans*

Thursday was Thanksgiving!!! I had the honor of being invited to Anna Gonzales's house (the Dean) and had a delicious meal..ok, more like 3 delicious meals :) AND was sent home with yummy leftovers! I.LOVE.FOOD

Friday (after I got over my food hangover) I buckled down, wrote a 12 page paper intermingled with watching youtube dance videos (So You Think You Can Dance=winning. always), ate leftovers and generally just stayed in my room. 

My goal for today is to get 4 small papers done and an anthropological interview of a chronically ill person for a class done today so that way tomorrow I can spend the morning transcribing the interview, rereading my papers and then RELAXING. I was looking on Groupon and found some really great deals for manicure/pedicure/facial deals soooo we'll see if I can reward myself for the progress I've (hopefully) made. 

Hope the holidays are treating you all well (and continue to) and you're making time to get things done AND take care of yourself!! Feed the soul :)



29 November 2013


Being Abroad for Thanksgiving is a little bit odd. No one here in Germany, obviously, celebrates Thanksgiving. We didn't have the whole day off but the LC institute was very generous and cancelled our two afternoon classes so that we would all be able to have time in order to cook for dinner. 

There were about 35 people who came to Thanksgiving. All of the people on the program, our teachers, and the mentors from the mentor program, who are German students and graduates were there to eat. There was a wide array of food. Three turkeys, 10 different desserts alone, and a spread of different foods for the main meal including cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, bean casserole, gravy, biscuits, etc. 

We spent from around 7 pm to 11:30 pm talking, eating and drinking. It was a wonderful time. It was really nice for me, and I think everyone else as well, to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving together even though we were all not able to be with our families. We were able to celebrate together as a program family though and that was really great. 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at home! 

I hope you all had wonderful days with your families and/or friends. 

As always, let me know when you have any questions. My email is drussosavage@lclark.edu 

Until next time,



25 November 2013

Almost Thanksgiving...

I get to go home in two days! I can’t even tell you all how excited I am to get back to California for Thanksgiving Break, hug my parents and my little brother and my dog, and eat plenty of mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean bake with crispy onions, and pumpkin pie – my three favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to lose track of where I am now. I still have to finish a poetry essay on “Ozymandias,” start an essay on Euripedes’ Bacchae with respect to Freud’s ideas on aggression, and do a few things like laundry and packing. I haven’t been home since I got here in August – what do I even pack? It’s only four days there, but I can’t remember what clothes I left at home so I’m not sure what I should bring. It feels like I’m getting ready to go on vacation, which is a weird feeling because it may be a vacation from school, but I’m just going home. Not to some exotic locale.

My weekend in a nutshell...

So, this is me taking a break from essay writing to update you all on life at Lewis and Clark. Everything is proceeding as usual – classes, studying, etc., etc., etc. I think everyone is a little crazy waiting for break to start. It’s definitely not just me. I know a lot of people are staying on campus over the break. Sully, my roommate, is, and so are all of the international students that live in my dorm. A bunch of them are going to my friend India’s family’s house for Thanksgiving dinner because her parents live in Portland about a half hour from campus. Earlier this semester when they were planning the festivities, I was sort of jealous that I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate with them, but now I feel really lucky to be able to come home for a while. 

This weekend, I went downtown for a stress-relieving session with Sully. We did some Christmas shopping for our families at the Saturday Market, which is about a fifteen or twenty minute walk from the bus stop. I had such a great time with her looking at all the art booths and vendors, and I got some great gifts for the people in my life. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you all what I got for them since my family reads my blog! J After we were done shopping, we walked to Portland State University and ate at Pizzicato. We split a cheese, basil, and tomato pizza and each had a bottle of root beer. It was wonderful to have hot food after a day of being in the sunny but freezing cold weather. The weather has been very clear lately, but no clouds means no insulation, so it’s been quite chilly. I wear gloves for my walk to class in the early morning.

Hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving! As always, you can reach me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu. I’ll tell you all about my break next week.


Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Hello All, welcome back to my blog. Last week was pretty standard. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time in the library. I finalized my recovery from my concussion on Tuesday. For the rest of the week, I tried to get caught up with school. It was kind of stressful, but I got it all done in the end. Fortunately, much of the work/reading was really interesting. My favorite assignment, by far, was to watch a movie. Periodically, we will be assigned films to supplement our readings. The one assigned this week was amazing. If anyone out there is a movie geek, I recommend La Haine. We had to watch La Haine for my Islam in Europe class. I loved the movie, it is really gritty, and is very well done. In other news, I also finished up my final essay for my prison class, and presented my final scene for my acting class. For some reason, my semester wrapped up earlier than normal. I now really only need to focus on two classes. It is a nice weight off my chest. 
On Thursday night the second installment of the Hunger Games came out. Somehow, Madeline and I were drawn into a group of midnight premiere goers. This group consisted mostly of the cross-country team. They all wanted to go, and, somehow, they roped me into attending. My friend Nick bought Madeline and I tickets when he got his. What was I supposed to do, not go? I ended up enjoying myself. I hated the first movie, but I thought this one had a marked improvement. We ended up going to a pie place called Bannings afterwards. It is a nice place to go when it is really late. When it was all said and done we didn't get back to campus until three thirty in the morning. I regretted my excursion on Friday, but by Saturday it wasn't so bad.
Basketball season is under way. Many of my residents are basketball players and I have enjoyed watching their first games. They were gone much of the weekend to play a tournament in North Cali. They ended up one and one, but I think they were happy with how they played. The girls season has also begun. On Wednesday, I went to see the girls play Lewis-Clark State. We ended up losing a heartbreaker in overtime. The girls from Lewis-Clark were really good, and it was really fun to watch two really good teams go at it. Basketball season is my favorite season. There is great community at the games, and I really enjoy hanging out with my friends watching the game.
We are about to get a nice Thanksgiving break. My family will be up here all week to celebrate the holiday with me. I am looking forward to seeing them. Although, I will say that it would be nice to be in Colorado. It is beautiful there this time of year. My parents plan to rent out an apartment for the weekend, so we will cook thanksgiving dinner there. I am exited to see them and have a break. Well guys, thats all I have for this week. I hope you all have a happy holiday. You'll here from me after the break.


Thanksgiving Week

We're in a three day week!
I'm looking forward to having some time off to spend with family (and not do very much work). Things had been pretty calm for me, but they're ramping back up again as we're getting closer to finals. I had a climate science midterm today, which actually went pretty well. I spent most of this weekend studying for it, so I was pretty well prepared.
Today is my busiest day for the week. I had that test from 8-9, then I have Spanish from 12:40-1:40 and environmental studies lab from 2-5. I then have a meeting for Symposium (I'll talk more about that below) from 5-6, and a hall meeting at 8. I'm using my free time to do homework for later today and for tomorrow, but I'm kind of sad that I'm so busy today, of all days, because my sister is visiting!
My parents are pretty busy and couldn't come out this year, but my sister is a junior in high school and thus is beginning her college-hunt. She flew out on Sunday to stay with me for a few days, and get a taste of what college life is like (so I guess my busy schedule is good, because it's a pretty accurate of a typical day, I guess). On Wednesday we are going over to my brother's apartment, and are staying there through Saturday. It's fun to have her around, I just wish I had more free time to spend with her.
My most exciting news from this week is that I was selected as a co-chair for the Environmental Affairs Symposium next fall. There are five other co-chairs (I'm trying to start using the term "co-couch" to apply to us, since I feel like one couch is about equal to six chairs?), and our first meeting is tonight. I'm really excited, and I've been researching potential keynote speakers. I know my schedule is about to get crazy, but I'm sure that this will be a great (and rewarding) use of my time.
I'll leave you with this picture of frost on the grass from earlier this week- it's been cold here!
Feel free to email me with any questions about Lewis & Clark! My email is rekidder@lclark.edu.


20 November 2013


This past weekend was so much fun. I travelled to England for a few days. One of the things I love most about living in Europe is that it is so easy and not that expensive to travel between countries. I have really good family friends from my hometown in Vermont who moved to England around 15 years ago. They invited me this weekend to visit them because they were having a Thanksgiving celebration a few weeks early at their house. It was a wonderful weekend. We ate lots of delicious food. Turkey, Gravy, Potatoes, Carrots, Pie, the whole lot. We also went on a few walks in the beautiful English country side and on a beach that is right near their house. It was just wonderful to be with family, especially now. When you do go abroad, I would expect to have some sort of homesickness at some point or another. Even when I was at Lewis & Clark my first year I was homesick at a few points. It's completely normal and happens (for me at least) mostly around holiday times. It's hard not to be able to go home and celebrate holidays with your family. It was wonderful for me though to be able to visit my friends who are pretty much like family to me. It was also my first time back in England in around 7 years. So I was able to see their new house, which is actually an old pub remade into a house. I will be going back for Christmas, to their house in Wales which should also be a ton of fun. I'm really looking forward to it. For now though, I will be trudging through these next five weeks of school. Wish me luck!

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to contact me at drussosavage@lclark.edu

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

I will be celebrating here in Germany with my program. We will each be making something and bringing it potluck style to a Thanksgiving dinner next thursday. More about that next week.


19 November 2013


Hey everyone,

I'm coming off a fantastic weekend because it was Race Monologues and Fall Ball! Probably my two favorite annual events we have here at LC! 

Race Monologues
Is the last event in the week long Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium and is completely run and organized and delivered by students of a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. The room (Stamm) is completely packed with students and faculty and staff who come to listen to these amazing monologues. The symposium has a different theme each year, this year was "Police States, Prison Nations" so each person tends to use this as a launching off point for their monologue. I can't even capture in words the emotion that takes over the room. Rarely in my time here do I get to hear parts of peoples most salient aspects of their life story, surrounded by people who want to support and learn and grow. So many of the monologues resonated with me deeply, especially as a student of color on this campus. I think there is so much value in being able to openly express your lived experience here. Everyone needs to attend this event.

Taylor (right) and I (left) at Fall Ball!
If only I were looking at the camera...

Fall Ball
Do I even need a description?!?! It's a ball! We get all fancied up and go to the beautiful Crystal Ballroom downtown which somehow has slightly squishy floors. There's a DJ, good food, photo booth and one of the only times almost the entire campus will be at one event. Things absolutely get hectic, but my roommate from first year aka my best friend and I are always each others dates. We spend half the night in our dresses and the other half, just change into comfortable clothes and dance until we drop! It's the perfect release after the stress of midterms and the monotony that can sometimes kick in around this time of year when the prospect of a break is so close yet so far. Fall Ball. Fall Ball. Fall Ball. Winning.

Have a great week :)

18 November 2013

On Hiking and Dancing

Hi all! It's Jess again. Quite a few cool things have happened around here since I last posted for you. First, there was the Race and Ethnic StudiesSymposium, which I mentioned in my last post and I know that several of my fellow bloggers had a bit to say about it as well. That’s because it’s such a cool and all-inclusive event! Most of the events are incredibly popular and you actually have to get to the auditorium early to get seats. There were several events during the day, including a presentation of some student research and theses that related to the theme of race. It was definitely an educational experience, both for learning about race and for seeing what kind of research I’ll be able to do later on in my academic career. My friend Hannah, who is the RA for my dorm, Akin, did her presentation on the oral histories of native peoples in Kotzebue, Alaska, her hometown. She’s a SOAN (Sociology and Anthropology) major. Also, a history major told us about her research on language immersion schools in Portland and a psychology major discussed tattoos and national/racial identity before I had to leave for class. I also attended a lecture called “A Hip-Hip Theory of Justice” as well as the Race Monologues, which were incredibly moving. I had never had the chance to hear someone talk openly about their race and their experiences before, since there wasn’t a lot of diversity at my high school.

Saturday was incredible. First, I got to go to the ocean with College Outdoors! My roommate Sully and I had been anticipating this outing for weeks. My friend Maddie also went, but besides those two I didn’t know anyone who was on the trip, so I got to make friends with a whole host of people I never would have met otherwise. On the way there, we told stories, which were very diverse since the majority of the people on the trip were from countries outside the US – Russia, Germany, Japan... Naseer told one about a haunted house back home in Algeria. Maddie had a great one about a kid who lived with his mean cousin that beat him up all the time. This kid had a really tough life, despite the fact that he could talk to snakes (how cool!), until one day, a giant man showed up on his eleventh birthday to give him cake and tell him he was a wizard! Okay, so maybe it wasn’t too original, but a good story deserves retelling. Everyone’s a Harry Potter fan, right?

I’ll let you have some pictures so you don’t get too bored with me rambling on about race and diversity and stories and wizards. Enjoy the Oregon Coast!

That's me in the middle, with Shiho on the left and Sully on the right.

Down to the beach for a lunch of sandwiches, cookies, apples, and granola bars...

...and a nice game of Stuff-at-stuff! It's pretty simple. You just throw stuff at stuff. Such as rocks at a stick in the sand. I played it during my backpacking trip as well. It was mostly rocks at trees then.
Now for the scenery (my favorite picture):

And last, but not least, there was Fall Ball, which my friends and I got ready for right after I got back from the hike. It was a blast! Dancing is such a great way to relieve stress. It was such a liberating day of hiking and dancing and eating and being with good friends and making new ones. I'll leave you with the obligatory photo booth pictures (I'm in the sunglasses in the first picture). Have a good week, and don't forget to ask me any questions at jessicakostka@lclark.edu. 

Serphie's Room: Chess and LC Women's Ultimate Frisbee Team

Playing at Chess Club, Monday Nights!
Feeling good after winning a game of chess in the Trail room a couple minutes ago. Every time I go to chess club, I feel like I need to prove that girls are capable at playing chess too! I have enjoyed getting back on a regular basis of playing chess - thanks to chess club!

I have rarely played chess with people outside of my father, who taught me. My parents divorced when I was five, but on the weekends when I was with my dad, I would march into his room with the wooden chess set and slam it down on his legs to wake him up to play with me. Now when I go home for the holidays, playing chess has become an expression of our love. It may not appear to an expression of bonding, because we make $5 bets for each game and smack talk/sing/hum/find any kind of distraction to throw each other mentally off, but it is our way of communicating. Aside from chess, I really love playing sports and this year I got involved with Lewis & Clark's Ultimate Frisbee Team.

Frisbee Team! 
I didn't have time to post last week, because of all the work I had to do with the Ray Warren Symposium, which I will talk about in my next post, but first I want to concentrate on the fabulous weekend I had with my ultimate frisbee team in Burlington (an hour north of Seattle), Washington. We are LC's club team, our mascot is Artemis and we try to live up to that fierceness, while having tons of fun! I came back last week extremely bruised, sore and exhausted. We played four games Saturday with 4 subs and 2 games on Sunday. I have never played frisbee before this, so I was happy that my ingrained basketball skills came to the rescue when my throwing needed some help. While we got back pretty early Sunday evening, everyone was exhausted and I went straight to sleep from 6pm-10pm, woke up and then went back to sleep for the rest of the night. For first years looking to make friends and play a fun sport -- ultimate frisbee is for you!

Until next time,

Nearing the End (of First Semester)

Today at my staff meeting for the bio class I TA, I realized that there are only two more bio lab meetings this semester! There's one tomorrow, then none next week (because of Thanksgiving), one the week after that, and none the week after that (because it's only a half week of classes). We are getting so close to the end of the semester! Somehow my work load continues to decrease, which I'm enjoying. I don't think it's the norm, though- I've talked to a lot of people who have a plethora of tests, papers, projects, and presentations in the next couple of weeks. I just have a little reading for each of my classes, a climate science test next Monday, and an on-going environmental studies project that we are finishing our analysis of. I also have one more Spanish test and another Spanish essay, but those aren't for a few more weeks. My finals load is also fairly light this year- a take-home final in environmental studies, a climate science test, and optional finals in intro to international relations (a paper) and Spanish (a take-home exam). I've never had a class give me an "optional final" before, so I'm a bit conflicted about whether or not to take them. They give students an opportunity to raise their grade if they think they need it, but I feel like it's kind of a gamble.

Then, I'll be going home for three weeks, before coming back here to take a Wilderness First Responder course!

The most exciting part of my week was getting to see a friend from home on Thursday. She's doing a trip down the West Coast, and was spending a while in Portland. We met up downtown and walked for three hours, which was great. I learned a lot about how to get around parts of Portland I'd never been to before, and got to catch up with this friend. It made me a bit homesick, but I get to go home soon.

Last weekend was pretty relaxing. The biggest event was probably going downtown to get my hair cut!

The best pictures I can find to encompass the before/after haircut. I got 10 inches cut off!
It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment decision, but I'm glad I did it. I'm amazed how much lighter my head feels now, and how much less time it takes to wash my hair.

Friday night I went to the Race Monologues (described at the bottom of the link), which were incredible. A group of students shared their stories of how race has affected them, and they left me (and many other people) speechless. They were eloquent, powerful, and very thought-invoking. They encouraged the conversation to continue, and I hope it does. The monologues were the last event of the Ray Warren Race and Ethnic Studies Symposium. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to any other event, but I heard really good things about it. The theme this year was on prison and the relationship between race and different aspects of prison.

After the monologues, my friend and I found a room in Miller (an academic building) and watched the Muppet Movie. Students can go into these rooms and project movies onto a screen, which is pretty cool. I hadn't seen the movie since I was younger, and I realized it's hilarious.

Saturday I got my hair cut, then came back and got dressed up. Instead of going to Fall Ball, a couple of my roommates and another friend and I went downtown for frozen yogurt.
A (somewhat blurry) picture of my friends and I at the frozen yogurt place!

Then we walked around and got sandwiches at the cafe at Powells. I spent Sunday doing homework in the library and catching up on things like laundry. Overall, a great weekend!

If you have any questions ever, about anything, please email me at rekidder@lclark.edu. I would love to hear from you!

Injuries, Fall Ball, and the End of the Semester

    Hey people! Sorry for the weird title, but I couldn't come up with a better way to describe my week. It is an understatement to say that it was a crazy one. I'll start with telling you guys about fall ball. Fall Ball (for those of you who didn't read last week) is a school sponsored event at the Crystal Ballroom downtown. The idea is to go, have fun, and basically dance your face off. That is exactly what I did. We got ready at Madeline's apartment. I was ready in about five minuets, but Madeline and the other girls took a little longer. I hung out with some of the other dudes for a while. After we were all ready we went down to some buses the school had provided for transportation to the venue. I like this system, because 21ers don't have to worry about driving, or taking public transportation, home. The dance was pretty fun. We danced all around and had a general good time, it lasted until one. I was up pretty late, which normally wouldn't have bothered me. However, I concussed myself earlier in the week, and it made fall ball a more difficult experience. I couldn't really concentrate, and the lights hurt my eyes. 
   I got my concussion from being a dummy. On Tuesday, I played a pick-up basketball game in the gym. Once a week I try to get away from tennis and play basketball, or do something else that is fun and athletic. Anyway, this week I decided to play basketball. It was going great until I got a little to competitive and tried to drive when I should have passed. In the course of my drive I ran into another guy. Initially I though nothing had happened, and I kept playing for a little. However, afterward when I went to do my workout, I started to feel a little funny. I was in the middle of a hang-clean progression and, all of a sudden, it felt like my head was going to explode. So I went to the trainers and they diagnosed me. The treatment is to simply sit in a dark room, so that is what I did. All in all, it was a very boring experience. I didn't miss any class (that was probably a mistake), but I still fell behind. I am finally feeling better, so most of my Monday was spent caching up on readings I missed.
   It is very lucky I am getting better, because the end of the semester is looming. I am about to jump into my final projects and essays. For me, it is a fun time. For some reason I really enjoy the grind of finals. I'm not sure if it is the intellectual stimulation, or the fact that afterwards I get to see my family that makes it so great. I would guess it is probably a mixture of both. School can be a strain, but I think as long as you have fun and remember why you are where you are, it can actually turn into a pretty positive experience. Anyway, I am about to go celebrate my feeling better by playing a set against one of my teammates, Morgan. I hope you all have a great week.



17 November 2013

Quick trip to southern California

I drafted this post while on the flight back to PDX after a quick jaunt to LA this weekend.  My cross country team and I traveled south to compete in the regional championships at Pomona College.  We had a pretty good showing, the women finished 6th out of twenty teams and the men finished 16th.  It was a lot of fun but a very quick and scheduled trip.  Friday was a travel day, we arrived in LA in the afternoon, just in time to run over the course before sunset.  We ate a lot of pasta and salad at an Italian restaurant before retiring to the hotel for an early night.  Saturday we woke up early to eat a little breakfast, nothing too heavy before a race.  By 7:30 we were en route to the course.  Women ran at 9am and the men at 10:15.  It was a great race, over 140 racers in the women's race and at least double that in fans cheering for the various teams represented.  I ran with six other LC girls, my family here in Portland.  We've been through a lot this season, ups and downs, tears and smiles, all getting ready for this one day.  The day to show everyone else what we really can do.  We missed qualifying for the national race as a team by a few places but I finished 12th and earned an individual bid to the D3 national championship race in Hanover, IN next weekend.  I will travel with my coach and see what I can do individually among a huge field of competitors.  Who knows what will happen, but I'm honored, happy, shocked, excited, and frightened all at once. 
Just a few of the highlights of the trip: chatting with the team as we flew from PDX to Burbank, running in warmer weather (even though we did bring some rain down the coast with us), running past a chicken coop during the race, eating weird fruits during our cool down run after the race (Pomona has a beautiful garden which we ran past during the race), being one of the many athletes on that campus all there to have fun and work hard, going to In-N-Out with the team on the way back to the airport (worth the stomach ache that immediately followed the order of french fries I ate), ending the whole thing with smiles and laughs and excitement about Fall Ball (the school dance that happened last night). 
My team is one of the best parts about LC and I don't know what I would do without that group of wonderful people.  We can accomplish anything we want together and that is powerful thing to be a part of. 

15 November 2013

Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh visited Powell's Books
here in Portland
My room smells like burnt popcorn because that's what I eat. I saw Vivre Sa Vie last night. I think I would have liked it if I weren't seeing it for credit in French class. Or if Anna Karina weren't in it. Did you know she's actually Danish? It explains a lot about her appearance.

I don't really eat burnt popcorn. It wasn't even that burnt. It's just that the bag is. I don't have a bowl, so I shake the popped popcorn into a pan and eat it at my desk. You can go through three bags during one episode of The Good Wife if you remember to make more as soon as you finish the last batch.

Now that it's almost Christmas (it's actually not even Thanksgiving), I've been eating a lot of chocolate.

Another food fact: a plain slice of bread is pretty okay. Especially if you're in a hurry. Besides, everything that goes inside a sandwich is in the fridge in the kitchen. You don't want to waste your time with movement.

She signed my copy of her book!
Someone stole one of the two chicken pot pies I stored in the freezer. Then I burnt the other one. Not on purpose! It was the same microwave that burnt the stupid popcorn, so all we know for sure is that it is the common denominator. It's not even the one in my kitchen. That one is waiting on parts / replacement. Or maybe that's a ruse. Like when Matt Damon told everyone on the plane it would be another half hour. You know, I liked that he was on the show, but Liz was right to fight with him over that. Also the WiFi never works here, but only at night. I'm a CS major so I know how crazy that sounds. But it's true.

Poll. Putting computer chips in everyone's brains so they can quickly do complicated math and easily memorize huge amounts of information. OR ... build a self-sustaining city on the ocean run by a council of scientists. I ask because I'm still considering what I want to do with my life, and these two always surface to the top of my list. Also, what if the city were all that was left of our species? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Oh my god my door is ajar. I've been in my room for just over an hour and I never noticed. Who could have seen me? Friends. Neighbors. Enemies. Anyone. Anyone!

Remember my entry about the grey skies? Well, it's been more or less sunny ever since. But it's finally started to rain again. And the night air is thick with fog. Oh there's nothing like this campus in the evening. Rays of light cut through the haze at every turn. I wish the whole world looked that way. All the time, I mean. No sunlight.

11 November 2013

Athletics, Acting, and Academics

   Hello All, and welcome back to my blog! This week was a pretty fun one. It was the last week of competition for Soccer and Volleyball. I spent the weekend attending their final games and cheering them on. Volley ball won one game and lost one. Soccer had the same results. I had a great time at all of them. Lewis and Clark athletic events are always very interactive. The athletic community is very small. The size is sometimes limiting, but it means that the teams are all very close and supportive of each other. When I go to games, I know I will see members from every team showing their support. This is really nice, it means that every team usually have spectators. Plus, being a spectator is really fun. It is really enjoyable to compete, but I also appreciate watching others. It is decidedly less stressful. I get to hang out with my friends, and see our teams perform. It is not a bad deal.
   This weekend I went with Madeline to see the Marriage of Figaro. It was the main stage performance for this semester. Over the semester we have one acts, and student directed plays, but the main stage is the biggest event. It is the longest performance and is the most selective in who gets in. Madeline and I felt like having a classy evening, so we got really dressed up and went downtown for dinner. We went to this Thai place called Thai Peacock, it is one of Madeline's favorites. Anyway, we made it back just in time to go to the play. A couple of my friends were in the play, including a fellow RA. It was pretty cool to see them act. The play was really cool, and pretty funny. 
   This coming weekend the school will put on Fall Ball. It is a school dance, but not really like the ones I remember from High School. The school rents out this great venue (the Crystal Ballroom) and puts on a huge party. There is karaoke, pictures, food, and good music. You basically go and dance your face off. I love Fall Ball. It is really great to let lose a little, especially because we are not entering the end part of the first semester. You release all your stress, and the last few weeks become a little easier. I am also exited for Fall Ball because my friend, Emmet, is coming down to visit his girlfriend. It will be nice to hang out with him, it will be like just like old times. Anyway, I have a staff meeting (for my RA job) that I need to get to so I'm going to wrap up this post. I'll let you guys know how Fall Ball goes. I hope you all have great weeks. Happy Monday!



Weekend Adventures! (i.e. Study Breaks)

Hi everyone! It’s Jess again. I hope you all had a wonderful fall weekend. I know I did. It started out on Friday night with a trip to the other side of campus to Fir Acres Theater where I saw The Marriage of Figaro. It was hilarious! It was my first time attending a drama performance here and I thought it was really well done. It definitely made me laugh, which was much needed after a tough week of classes.

On Saturday, I woke up early to volunteer for the admissions office. This weekend was the November Open House and so there were lots of prospective students around. Maybe I saw some of you! My job description was to stand in the parking lot, wear bright orange, look warm and welcoming, and give people directions if they needed it. It was rather cold out. Luckily, there was free coffee for all the volunteers, and I kept myself entertained by reciting “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe under my breath. I memorized it for poetry class a few weeks ago. It was quite an undertaking, but I was really proud of myself and I don’t want to forget it. I know, I’m a little crazy for wanting to memorize the entirety of “The Raven” (18 stanzas!) when the assignment was to memorize something “at least 14 lines”, but that poem was the one I genuinely wanted in my head.

The rest of the weekend was mostly working on my reading and essays, with several much-needed breaks for releasing stress. Although I am capable of (and have done) study sessions that involve me not leaving my seat in the library for five or six hours, my favorite way to study – and probably the healthiest – is to work at my desk in my room and whenever I feel like I need to, I get up and:

1.       Throw barefoot running shoes on and take off for a run in Tryon Creek
2.       Go to the Pamplin gym for a half-hour or so and ride the elliptical or stationary bike (this is a good idea if the weather is really nasty).
3.       Curl up in bed with an episode of Doctor Who.
4.       Curl up in bed with a chapter or two of The Golden Compass or Harry Potter (both of which I am reading for something like the nineteenth time).
5.       Stand above the heater by the window and eat a really yummy, crunchy apple as I look at the autumn leaves outside.
6.       Spontaneously decide that my roommate and my friends that are also in my room studying will have an impromptu fashion show down the hallway with the outfits we’re wearing for Fall Ball this weekend.

That’s pretty much the summary of my weekend adventures. Those are all really good options for study breaks. Trust me. It’s great to just savor the little things in life when you feel overwhelmed with schoolwork. As far as the actual schoolwork is going, I am enthralled as always. My favorite project that I am undertaking right now is reading In Search of Respect by Philippe Bourgois for anthropology class. It’s an ethnographic study of crack dealers in East Harlem and how oppression and apartheid create and affect an underground economy. It’s really interesting, especially in light of the fact that the Race and Ethnic Studies Symposium is going on later this week. This year, the theme is “Police States, Prison Nations”. I am excited to go to the different presentations and discussions, which are about things like the school-to-prison pipeline and how hip-hop culture reflects racial inequality in incarceration. There will be student speakers, professors from Lewis and Clark, and ethnic studies experts from other schools and organizations. There are lots of cool events like these on campus. Recently, there was an Environmental Studies Symposium, and there is also an annual Gender Studies Symposium.

Happy two-and-a-half-weeks-until-Thanksgiving-break everyone! As always, you can reach me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.

Good luck studying/applying to colleges! Take fun breaks!


Birthday Weekend

Hello, readers!

Yesterday was my birthday, which meant a weekend full of celebrating! People are pretty busy with homework and other things, so it was hard to find a time to hang out with more than a few people at a time. Luckily, because my homework was on the lighter side this weekend, I was able to spend a large portion of my weekend downtown!

Saturday morning my roommates and I all slept in. I have 8 AM classes every day, and I've been going on College Outdoor trips on the weekends, so this was my first chance to sleep in in a while. If I've learned one thing since coming to college, it's that sleep is very important. After brunch we went downtown and walked to Saturday Market. It's this really cool artistry market-type place that happens every weekend between March and Christmas. I went a lot last year, but this was my first time going this year- I guess I've just been too busy to go before now! We wandered around for a while then stopped at a thrift store before returning home.

That night I went downtown again with my friend Gaby. We went out for dinner (which was very exciting- Bon food is generally pretty good, but eating off campus feels pretty adventurous), then went to TartBerry (the best frozen yogurt place ever).
I tried to make a cake-like frozen yogurt with cake flavored fro-yo and whipped cream and sprinkles (and gummy worm candles). It was mildly successful.
Sunday morning I got up early with one of my roommates and with Gaby and went downtown again. This time, we ventured into Southeast Portland. Portland is split into five sections- Northeast, Northwest, North, Southeast, and Southwest. Lewis & Clark is on the edge of Southwest, and the Pio (the shuttle from campus to downtown) drops you off in the heart of Southwest, downtown. It's pretty easy to get between the sections, because public transportation is really accessible here. However, I haven't explored that much outside of Southwest, so going to Southeast was really exciting for me. I was amazed at how different the area felt, even though it still definitely felt like Portland. We took a bus across the river, and found a delicious brunch place.
This food was so exciting!
Then we wandered around around the Hawthorne neigherborhood a bit. It's a really cool neighborhood in Southeast with lots of fun stores and cafes. We even found this one store that had a cat wandering around in it, which was amazing.
Me with the cat. It was a very chill cat.
Gaby had to leave after that, but Annabel and I decided to venture to a mall in Happy Valley (which is right next to Portland). We took a series of buses and eventually ended up at the mall, where we went holiday shopping and I got my glasses adjusted. On our way home from the mall we had dinner downtown at a Chinese restaurant. It was a really busy day, but very fun.

Classes are winding up very quickly. I had a Spanish test next week, and I only have one more test and one more paper before our final in that class. My environmental studies group is starting our final stage of analysis for our final project. We only have one more test in climate science before our final. And I only have six more class periods of intro to international relations! The bio lab I TA is also wrapping up- the students are starting to analyze the data they've been collecting all semester. My workload is definitely a lot smaller right now than it was even two weeks ago, so my stress levels have gone down a lot. I'm in the process of registering for next semester, and I realized that I'm going to go from having two labs this semester (plus a third that I TA) to having no labs next semester. It's crazy!

Please email me with any questions about Lewis & Clark! My email is rekidder@lclark.edu.


Class Dinner

This last Thursday my whole German class went over to our professor's house to make dinner all together. It was so much fun. The point of it was so that we could learn all kinds of food and cooking vocabulary. We didn't end up talking about vocabulary until today in class, but we did have an amazing time. The dinner consisted of lots of red wine, duck, pumpkin soup, Blaukraut, dumplings and for dessert we had Apfelstrüdel. A typical German dinner. It was so decadent it almost felt like Thanksgiving. We took about 2 hours to cook everything and then we spent around 3 hours sitting around talking and eating. It was one of the most fun nights I have had in a really long time, and a great example of learning culture, language and having fun all at the same time. Here are some pictures: 

The table setting


Blaukraut, Soup and Dumplings on the stove


My plate of food


05 November 2013

A Little Gloom...

Hey all!

So, honesty hour. I've been feeling a bit gloomy this week. It's been raining a lot and I have holes in almost every pair of socks I own and realized I don't have any water proof jackets :/ woe is me.., but not really! Yes, it's getting to be that gray, stereotypically "Portland" time of year but 3 years in is making me a pro! 

What to do when feeling the gloom?!

1) Go to the Student Health and Wellness Center and rent a "Happy Lamp" 
They really work and you can rent them for a week at a time and get in some good vibes while studying away!
2) Go off campus
Paired with this feeling a gloom, a lot of people start feeling like things are becoming monotonous and  motivation to do things such as school work gets alarmingly low. Do homework in a coffee (or tea) house off campus. OR leave the homework behind and do something fun in the city! I think this weekend I'm gong to go to a dance club with some friends!
3) Have a lazy day. 
This is me last year once I beat the gloom!
Sometimes, the best thing is to get into bed with your favorite pillow, snacks, movies, books, whatever your guilty pleasures are and INDULGE! Allow yourself guilt-free self-care however you choose and normally don't make time for. Invite a friend or go solo, just make at least an evening of free time.
4) Take some vitamin D. 
It helps. Really. 
5) Take a walk.
Put on your rain coat and your socks that don't have holes and take a stroll around campus in the rain. If you go at a time when you're not rushing off to class, you won't mind being wet and the campus is truly a beautiful place if you allow yourself to enjoy it. 

Those are my..I guess 5 cents about mastering the gloom! I better start taking my own advice!



Seraphie's Room: Back to the Dark Ages

Copeland Parking Lot
Back to the misty mountains and slick bridges where I always slip and fall on my butt. Back to the the Dark Ages! I have no midterms, however, the amount of work and little things I am working on is like reading a novel that never ends. Every time you get to another chapter, you realize there are 50 more to go. While I love a bit of healthy stress, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above the water. The tree above represent how sad winter weather in Portland can be. This was the same set of trees that two weeks ago I picked up the multicolored leaves and pressed them in my book to hang on my wall. I love the seasons. (I know some of you think Portland has no claim to having "different" seasons, however, since I am from California and am barely used to it raining in the winter, I am delighted). 

The Ray Warren Symposium I have been working on since summer is next week. I get to moderate a panel of Student Research Presentations: Racial Politics, Identity, and Popular Cultureinterdisciplinary discussion with students who will share original research projects that are in their developing stages.  Their projects address issues of race and ethnicity at national, international, and transnational levels. I cannot believe after 6 months of planning and preparation it is happening. 

Ray Warren Symposium on Race and Ethnic Studies: Poster 2013

Not to toot my own horn, but I helped voice decisions about this poster and what it looks like. As a co-chair of the symposium you have to help make even the most minute decision, such as what color napkins we should use for our opening dinner on Wednesday evening (we decided cream). Anyways, all very exciting and I am happy things are all coming together. 

I am also really excited for the upcoming frisbee tournament in the Seattle area! I will travel up with my teammates on Friday and stay till our last game on Sunday. We've been having some really good practices, so I hope we do well. I will be sure to post about how we do next week (: 



p.s I do not even want to talk about homework, because I am trying to avoid it by writing this post now... *sigh*

Happy birthday to me!

                Having a birthday while living in a dorm is a truly wonderful experience. People keep coming down the hall to my room and wishing me a happy birthday and telling me all the cool things I should do since I am an adult now! I feel so incredibly happy and loved. I even got a bunch of gifts from my  family in the mail! I have a few favorites – a little globe ornament that my roommate Sully bought me at the Saturday Market that I had talked about wanting for a long time, and a book that my parents sent me called Humans of New York. Some of you might recognize the name from the Facebook page by the same name. Both the book and the page are full of really cool photos and quotes from random people on the streets of New York City. It’s a truly amazing collection of what it means to be human. You can see some of the photos here.
                It was my friend Aubrie’s birthday yesterday, so to celebrate both of our birthdays we watched Lord of the Rings (the extended edition). We just watched the first one, and later this week we have plans to watch the next two. We would have loved to have done a movie marathon and watch them all at once, but each movie is about four hours long and twelve hours of Lord of the Rings is a little much. Believe me – I’ve done it before. It's intense.
                All in all, this has been one of my best birthdays ever. I am planning on Skyping my parents and grandparents later, and Sully has made me my favorite dessert for after dance class tonight!! It’s ice cream pie made with an Oreo cookie crust, a layer of cookies and cream ice cream, a layer of fudge, and a layer of coffee ice cream. I have it every single year! Here’s a picture of it. Doesn't it look delicious??!


                All in all, I feel incredibly happy right now. The only thing bothering me about my life is the fact that I have been trying to eat more healthfully lately, and, well, the ice cream pie is just ONE of the desserts that people have been making me! Like I’ve mentioned before, people in Akin, my dorm, love to bake things. Oh well. One does not simply not eat a lot of junk food on their birthday! And it’s not like I get to turn eighteen every year!
                To all prospective students – good luck with those college applications! I know it’s about time to start sending them off, or even receiving your admissions letters if you applied Early Action like I did. Don’t forget to come visit Lewis and Clark to see if it’s going to be a good fit for you! I know it is for me, but I wouldn't have come here at all if I didn't visit and meet professors and current students and of course, see the beautiful campus. I sat in on an English class when I visited, and I think in the end that was the reason I decided to come here. It was that amazing. Plus, if you stay overnight, you might get to hang out with me (!) since I'm an overnight host for the admissions office.
                As always, you can contact me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu. Have a good Tuesday!
                Until next time,

November WHAT!?

This week is the first of November (How the heck is it already NOVEMBER?) and classes are progressing at their normal break-neck pace. It's now starting to get to that time in the semester when we really have to start those big semester-long research projects and spend a bit more time studying for midterms.  Not to mention daylight savings that just happened so now when I get out of cross country practice it's pitch dark outside. November is the time when things get real, there are only a couple weeks until Thanksgiving break and then after that the semester is basically over if we survive finals.  Instead of making myself even more stressed out, let me instead talk to you about my favorite assignment so far this semester. 
I'm taking Photography 1 this semester, my first ever experience with taking photos besides the basic point-and-shoot method.  I've learned a lot about what it takes to create a successful photograph and all the planning and forethought that goes into an image.  Before this class, I never thought about a picture and then created it, all my photos are of situations I did not create.  Photography is about more than just documenting, it's also about imagining and planning and creating.  For our third assignment of the semester we get to explore portraiture.  We're supposed to use friends, family, acquaintences to portray a message and a story.  Whether it's contextualized with a background or props or whether it's simply a shot of a face or single body part, the person in the photo is the most important subject matter. I have a few photographs of my housemates and a series of photographs of my friend, Pete.  Each snap of the shutter was a new experience and a new way of looking at my close friends.  Viewing them through a tiny rectangle puts them into a different frame, so to speak. The second half of the assignment requires us to ask strangers if we can take their picture.  That part is intimidating for me but I think I will be an interesting experience and a way for me to PRETEND that I'm a real photographer. 
Here's one of my photos from the last assignment...

studying abroad is hard sometimes

So, I’ve figured it out. The hardest part about learning a foreign language while surrounded by native speakers is when they make jokes and you can’t for the life of you understand what the joke was.  They burst out laughing and you either pretend you understood the joke and laugh along or just look around and try and enjoy the fact that people find something funny even though you have no idea what was just said. I don’t know if you have ever been in a room before where everyone else is laughing but you. And you have no idea why they are laughing. Obviously a joke was made, and it was funny. But you didn’t understand the joke because you are still learning the language. And either route you take can get you into trouble. If you laugh and then they ask you oh you understood the joke? You kind of have to fess up and admit you didn’t actually understand, but then you kind of look like a fool for laughing. Or you are the only one in the room not laughing and people might look at you and wonder why you are finding whatever was just said not funny.  Also a large part of making friends, I think is finding people with the same sense of humor as you. And when you can’t make, or understand jokes, how are you supposed to make friends?
I know it all comes in time, and every joke I somewhat understand I give myself a pat on the back and smile at that small success. However, in the meantime it’s just a bit frustrating. 
“Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?”
― Melina Marchetta
I just keep reminding myself that it all comes in time. I have lost my whole self for a while because I can’t completely express my entire person in a language I am just learning.  I essentially have no language at the moment. It’s hard, however once I am able to fully communicate in German, I will have gained a new part of my self that I have never known before.  And that’s really exciting :)