19 December 2013

Social Life and Reminiscing (because I'm done thinking about finals)

Around this time last year I had just been accepted to Lewis and Clark, and now I have just finished my first semester. It’s an incredible feeling. I was living in an entirely different world back then. Now, I’m sitting in the Portland International Airport and thinking how different my life is now than it was when I arrived for the first time. That backpacking trip to the Wallowa Mountains I wrote about in my first blog entry. Moving into my new home with my best friend Sully. Meeting my friends Sarah from Belgium and Kat from Napa, California and Felicia from Costa Rica and so many others. Starting college classes for the first time. It all seems so far away even though it was only a few months ago.

It all comes down to the people you meet.

Summary of the semester: Julie and Rena and I being really excited about Portland weather and food carts! My whole floor trying to take a “selfie”! General laughter and creepiness from Sarah and Robert!

That, and comparing the Bible to Greek tragedy to Freud to modern British literature while writing poetry about antique shops or the color blue and learning how to graph the trajectory of light through the timeline of the expanding universe. That’s Lewis and Clark, at least for me.

I am so glad I chose to come here, out of all my other choices. It was a tough decision trying to narrow it down at the end of senior year, but ultimately, I’m more than satisfied. My words of wisdom to all you prospective students is as follows:

You might not see sparks fly the first time you visit a school. And that’s okay. It’s okay if you visit all the schools on your list and don’t fall head over heels with a single one. I visited all of the schools I was thinking of going to (multiple times!) and I still had no idea where I should go. Yes, trying to find the best one is hard, but the guidebooks and websites and all the hype tells you that there’s a “dream school” out there that’s “perfect” and you’ll know it when you see it. That’s simply not true for everyone. There was never a moment where I was dead sure Lewis and Clark was going to be the right choice until I was actually here, attending classes and making friends and living life. You just have to make the decision and everything will turn out just fine.

How did I make my decision? Well, I am super indecisive, so I was going back and forth between Lewis and Clark and Mills College for about a month. Then, I was considering Lewis and Clark and University of Puget Sound for another month. Then, Lewis and Clark and UC Berkeley. Finally, my family and friends made me realize that Lewis and Clark was the “common denominator,” so to speak. So I went here, and I have absolutely no regrets. I have been so happy here for the last four months

That being said, it was no cakewalk, finals were tough (especially astronomy), and I am so ridiculously excited to get home to California! There’s apparently snow at my house right now. Haha, I know… snow in California? What? Well, California is more than just Hollywood and beaches, you know. Give me mountains any day.

Enough nostalgia. Enough pontification on home and life and stuff. Let’s get to the story-telling part. As a break from finals, about ten people from my dorm went to go see The Hobbit!! It was so, so good. I was on the edge of my seat shrieking or laughing the whole time. The movie started at 10:40pm downtown and was about three hours long, so we had to sprint to catch the last bus of the evening back to school. It was so awesome! I mean, getting out of the movie into the winter air and running full-out through the empty city like Smaug the dragon was spitting fire behind us… what more could we want? We made it to the bus stop in time so we didn’t even have to pay for a taxi.

Well, I hope you all had good semesters of your own. I sure did. Still can’t believe I just finished my first semester of college. I feel pretty accomplished. Hopefully all of you who applied Early Action got accepted! Can’t wait to see you on campus next year once you make your decision.

Feel free to email me any questions at jessicakostka@lclark.edu. Happy holidays! I’ll be back in a month or so.


17 December 2013

Finals Week


I only have two more days, one final, about three loads of laundry, and a couple hours of packing left before I go home! I can't believe how quickly this semester has gone.

My finals were very spread out, and involved more outside-of-class work than in-class work. I had my climate science final on Saturday, which was the one I was most worried about. I spent all of Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday studying for it. I feel good about it, and am relieved that the class is over- it was very interesting, but was very work-intensive.

I ended up electing to do my Spanish final, which was optional. I had a big internal debate about whether it would actually make a difference with my grade, but ended up decided it was worth taking a shot- if nothing else, it would make sure I had a firmer grasp on the material. It was an outside of class, written final, so I went downtown on Sunday and wrote it in a coffee shop. We got to choose between three selections by authors we've read this semester, and I ended up writing mine on a poem by Quevedo. It was open book, but I ended up writing mostly from what I already knew about him and the time period- which was a lot, thanks to this class.

I didn't have an IA final, but we did have a final short paper that is due tomorrow. I wrote it on Thursday in order to get it out of the way, so I'm all done with that class too.

Now I just have my environmental studies final left. Instead of a test, we have to come up with a proposal for a research project we may want to do someday. We are sharing them with each other tonight. I'm actually really excited about mine- it's looking at how peoples' perceptions of an area affect their opinions regarding land use change in that area. I want to situate it in Patagonia, where dams may be installed in order to create energy. There's a lot of backlash against it (but also significant support), and I want to look at how someone's perception of Patagonia relates to how they feel about the dams being installed. Our proposals don't have to be a project we're actually planning on doing, but I wanted to put a lot of thought into mine since I'm planning on doing some kind of research in Chile while I'm (hopefully) there in the spring of 2015. We'll see how it goes tonight!

Reading days were a flurry of studying in the library, the basement of Olin (one of the academic buildings), my room, my friends' rooms, lounges, the Bon, the Trail Room, downtown, the library again- the longer I've been in college, the more I've realized that I need a change of scenery pretty often in order to stay focused while I'm studying. Highlights of reading days (and free time during finals) included:
-Dogs in Watzek: the library brought in therapy dogs for a couple hours in order to soothe students. They were really cute. And furry.

One of the dogs. I couldn't get a clear picture because I was so excited.
-Videogames in Watzek: the library also set up a GameCube with Mario Kart.
-Cat camera in Watzek: they also set up a live stream of kittens playing. They know how to calm college students down!
-The fog: there's been some really intense fog here for the last few days. Campus is on top of a hill, and the fog has mostly stayed up here- I went downtown a few days ago, and for a walk in Tryon yesterday, and when you go down the hill the fog disappears. But it's very pretty!
The fog on campus.
The fog on campus at night (and the view from my room!) 
The fog in Tryon. So pretty!
-Ordering Chinese food for my room: apparently you can order Chinese food to be delivered to you! For some reason I assumed you could just do that with pizza, but I was wrong. I got excited when I found this out, and ordered some.
So exciting!
Overall, it's been a good last week. Now, to go home, see my family and pets, eat lots of food, play in the snow, and relax! I'll try to update at least once during break. Happy holidays to everyone! Please, email me if you have any questions (rekidder@lclark.edu). I'll respond!


A little bit different...

Everyone back at LC are taking final exams right now, and are getting ready to go back home to celebrate the holidays with their family and friends. In Germany, it's a bit different. Instead of having a three and a half month semester in the fall and a three and a half semester in the spring with a month break in the middle, the Winter semester here goes from October to the beginning of February and then the Summer semester goes from April to July. So I am getting ready to have two weeks off for Christmas. I will not be going home though, nor will I be quite done with the semester yet.

When I get back from winter vacation I will have to write two papers (one that is 10 pages long, and the other which will be 15 pages long) and both will have to be written in German. I am getting incredibly nervous about that, but many people on this program have done it before me, so why won't I be able to do it as well? That's what I keep telling myself at least.

Also, even though it's hard to tell if my German is actually getting better or not I definitely think it has improved tremendously. It's kind of like living with a baby. You live with them every day and you don't realize how much it's grown until all of a sudden you look over one day and realize that instead of lying on their back, not really being able to do anything by them self, they are all of a sudden running around the house. I live with my German every day so I probably don't realize on a day to day basis how much it's getting better but then some times I have days where I realize, wow at the beginning of this trip I wouldn't have been able to understand any of this article in the newspaper, and now I am able to understand mostly all of it.

Any way, going home for Christmas, is really just too much money for me to spend on a plane ticket, so instead I am going to go celebrate Christmas in Wales and New Year's in England, with some friends of mine. I am incredibly excited. One thing that is really nice about studying abroad in Europe is that it is so easy, and relatively cheap to travel between countries. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season and if you have any questions as always send me an email at drussosavage@lclark.edu

16 December 2013

The Final Showdown: Finals at LC

   Hey Guys, I hope everyone has had a nice week. Here at LC we are in full finals mode. We finished classes on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were reading days. These are days that allow students to focus only on studying. I used my reading days to write a couple final essays and study for my Political science final. It was stressful, but I have found that being organized during these times makes the seemingly unmanageable work load manageable. Today, I am nearly through finals. I have one more final of Wednesday, and then I am done.
   On Friday, I had my final Inside-out Prison class. For those of you who have missed my earlier blogs, the inside-out class is an experimental program here at LC. I, along with fifteen other students, travel to Colombia River Correctional Facility and learn about the history of Crime and Punishment in the U.S together with Inmates. It is a very intense class, and the final day was very emotional. The inside students and the outside students are not allowed to communicate after the class, so there was an air of finality in our last meeting. We had a graduation with some selected speakers. Two inside and two outside students spoke. My favorite was a poem written by a man named Mister. It was very eloquent and I thought it really tied the class together.
   Yesterday, I had a lull in my finals schedule. I took the time to go downtown with my friends Scott and Kat. We all needed to get gifts for our family and friends. In Portland, there is a great place called Saturday Market. It is a collection of vendors that sell art, trinkets, and food. It is great for a poor college student like me because I can get a lot of great gifts for really cheap. I found a nice necklace for my sister. I also went to Powells book store and got my Mom and Dad a lot of cool books. I found a really nice gift for Madeline. She really likes big presents. So I got her the giant bear you can find in Costco. I am going to cover it with roses (also from Costco) as the most awesome gift ever. I am really excited for the semester to end. I think going home will be a nice break. Plus, this semester has been rigorous and I can't wait to have a break from school. Anyway, I hope you all have a great week. If you are taking finals, Good Luck!



14 December 2013

Winter Wonderment

Wonderful Winter, Whimsically Wishing.

Hello again friends :)

Today I am feeling a mix of relief and anticipation. I handed in my LAST paper of the semester today which was a lovely 25 page autobiographical ethnographic research paper for a SOAN class. Which is a fancy way of saying I wrote 25 pages analyzing my chronic illness of arthritis for a paper. It was actually a really amazing class that has changed the way I view illness, disease, and healing. It's called Medicine, Healing and Culture. I suggest it. It's a lot of fricken work though, honestly, you better like reading and writing! 

What's left?
Monday 8:30am: Health Psychology Final
Tuesday 8:30am: Spanish 101 Final
Tuesday 6:00pm: Cross Cultural Psychology Final. 

I'm feeling pretty good for my finals, I'll just spend ALL of tomorrow studying ;) 

BUT, enough about school!

I'm incredibly excited for break and winter wonderlands and hot cocoa and Christmas music and most of all: my friends and family from back home! I'm starting off my break by going to Detroit, Michigan to visit my moms side of the family. Unfortunately, Chanukah didn't overlap with break this year, although thanks to my amazing friend, Elise, I received a little gift all 8 nights :) But, time to talk about Christmas cheer! Going to Michigan has always been in my mind, the pinnacle of a good time. Constant music, delicious food, games, and lots and lots of family. You really have to try in order to find some alone time but the energy of my family permeates the entire town. 

After Michigan, I'm going home to Baltimore for 1 day where I will have a fun daddy-daughter outing that my dad will come up with before I get there. Then it's straight to DC for the (5 day long) New Year! My best friends from home and I always have a "classy New Year's party" where we dress up and have fun music and again, delicious food. This year we're using my friend's apartment who goes to American University so we'll have the whole place to ourselves! 

Finally, I'm going to go home for the last 2 weeks of break and will probably sufficiently hermit in my room with a good book and good food (are you sensing a theme?!) I'll hang out with my parents and my dogs and catch up on all of my guilty pleasures that I forego over the semester (Teen Wolf, Scandal or Once Upon a Time anyone!?)

So, that's my plan! To inspire the holiday cheer in all of you, I've posted my new obsession. I love Pentatonix which is an a capella group that started their career by winning the Sing-Off a few years ago and since then they've released multiple albums and toured the entire country! Look out for them coming to P-town again-they're totally worth it!!! 

Little Drummer Boy-Pentatonix

That's one of my favorite Christmas songs! I promise you'll get chills :) 


Happy Winter,


Walk the Talk

Hey Friends!

I know it's been a while since I posted, but now I'll post double :) This first one is more serious than what I've posted in the past and a reflection of all the events surrounding social justice that have been occurring on campus lately. Unfortunately, acts of bias such as racism, still happen everywhere even in this day and age. Lewis & Clark is not immune to the flaws of our greater society and it's a disservice to everyone to have that false view. What I think is special, though, is how our community reacts to such hatred. In the past month, there was some anonymous race-related hate that further marginalized some minority groups on campus. Soon after two of these events occurred, there was an organized student response to show that although there may be some people in our community with those negative views, it's by far not all of us. 

Walk the Talk became the pinnacle student event from a very busy two weeks of organizing students and faculty and gaining support for a community-level change. Supported with hot drinks from the Dean of Students, College Outdoors, and the MRC (Multicultural Resource Center) hundreds of students stood out in the cold (on the first day of Portland snow) in front of our Manor House in support of equal civil rights. The black student union in conjunction with other interested students created a list of "demands" including petitioning for more cultural diverssity in our academic courses and diversity training for faculty members. This factor in particular circulated through the faculty and last I heard, over 70 faculty members had signed on in agreement.

Personally, this has affected me deeply. As one of the few black-identified females on campus, these anonymous messages did feel like a very personal attack. Initially, I didn't feel safe here and couldn't make sense of it all. I then realized that I shouldn't be suffering in silence, instead I should be talking about how this is affecting me with the people who care about me. Through many tough and exhausting conversations, I realized that I have found a much greater support system here than I could have ever imagined. I was flooded with love and hugs and friends checking up on me and teachers gladly allowing extensions and acceptance from all angles. Everyone I'm friends with was at the sit-in and felt empowered to take action as well. 

The biggest take away from all of this is that we truly are a community. And when one person isn't feeling safe, it's not just that students problem or students that look like them. This is a Lewis & Clark Community problem which can only be solved in that same way. We can always find ways to heal. 

With love,


11 December 2013

Seraphie's Room: Last Three Days of Classes!

Instead of using tons of words to describe my last few days, I am going to mostly rely on videos and pictures. Please enjoy! 

Sunday: African Dance Class Performs 
Marisol Dancing in the Middle
My girlfriend took an African Dance Class this semester. The drumming and dancing was super cool to go watch. At the end of the show, the performers went and pulled people from the audience to join in the last dance!

Monday: Starting the Juice Fast: 5 Juices Per Day
On Monday, I started juice fast with my friend Chelsea. The first day was kind of fun, but by the time I got to the second day of only drinking gridded veggies and not chewing anything, I was the grumpiest person on campus. The green colored juice has 3 stalks of celery, 1 cucumber, 1 beet, 1 bunch of parsley, 5 kale leaves, 1 lemon and 2 thumbs of ginger. The orange colored juice has 3 carrots, 3 apples, 1 lemon, 1 thumb of ginger and 4 leaves of mint.
Dinner: Green 
Breakfast: Orange

Tuesday: Christmas Tree Out of  Books
Christmas tree made out of my bookshelves
On Tuesday, since I can't have a real christmas tree in my room, I made one out of books! Unfortunately most of the books I own are tiny novels, so my christmas tree is a little squat, but with the star on top, held up with a sponge and popsicle stick, and with the lights on, who can tell the difference?  I think it is beautiful, especially with all the lights turned off in my room.

Wednesday: Last Day of Classes and A Capella Concert
The last day of classes is always on a Wednesday. At 7pm on the last day, there is always the Winter A Cappella Concert in the Chapel! This year five groups performed: Semper Solus, Merryweathers, Portfolio Paths, Section Line Drive and Momo and the Coop. Take a look at some of the videos and pictures I took!
Merryweathers perform one of my favorite songs, "The Sounds of Silence"  
Portfolio Paths is an a capella group made up of football players
All the a cappella groups sang the last song together 
Can you guess the song they are singing? 

Hope that gave a good picture of my last few days! (haha picture haha) 

Anyways, bring on the finals!!! 



09 December 2013


Everything is building to a whirlwind finale of projects and papers and having a sore throat and losing my voice before a poetry recitation (here's the one I memorized-- my favorite poem) and watching the Big Bang Theory instead of studying and studying instead of sleeping and getting driven out of the shower and into the cold night air by a fire alarm and more studying and eating cookies and peanut butter cups and pot-stickers and neglecting the laundry and every single upside and downside of college. What a ride. I cannot believe that, by Wednesday afternoon, I will be totally finished with all of my classes for my first semester, and exactly one week from then, finals will be finished and I’ll be flying home for Christmas! I feel really accomplished, having almost finished my first semester of college, though I probably shouldn’t feel relieved until I’m actually on the airplane home. There are too many things to do before then.

The last bit of actual "homework" I have to do is for astronomy. We only made it about halfway through the Cosmology book, but I’m planning on reading the rest of it by myself over break because it so incredibly interesting. So I have a long and difficult worksheet for that class due Wednesday, and then everything else I have to do comes under the category of “finals”. First, I have my final project for anthropology, which I am very excited about. I have been working on my research for it for the last month or so, and now comes the much-anticipated end product – a 10 page research-based ethnography. That might sound kind of long for those of you still in high school, but honestly, I am going to have a problem keeping it that short. My research focuses on the portrayal of gender in ASMR “whisper” videos on YouTube and how that creates a culture that can be incorrectly presumed/misunderstood as sexual fetishism. It’s something that truly fascinates me and I am so excited about it! I am not even going to try to explain what ASMR videos are here… it’s hard enough to summarize such a thing even in the four pages of writing I have finished so far. Here’s a link to some more information on it if you’re interested.

I also have to write three final papers for poetry. It sounds daunting, but two of them are quite short – basically a couple of paragraphs on one of our own poems and then one of our classmates’ pieces. The third is a longer one relating a famous quote about poetry to an actual poem. The rest of my work for the term is studying for my in-class anthropology final (which is going to be a compilation of short answer questions), studying for my E&D final (an in-class essay and some short answer questions), studying for my poetry final (which besides the essays I mentioned seems straightforward enough) and then studying for the astronomy final. That’s the only one I am genuinely worried about. The other three I can totally handle! Well, I say that now… I’ll be able to tell you how they actually went next week.

My Mom came up and visited me over the weekend, which was really nice. I was a little sick, so we went out for hot drinks whenever we passed a coffee shop. I can’t even tell you how much tea I have been drinking. The main reason she came up was to see my Ghanaian Dance performance, which was totally a blast!!! I loved getting to dress up in costume; the colors of the fabrics were so beautiful. I don’t have any pictures right now, but hopefully I will get my hands on some by next week. I can show you this video of Ghanaian dancers that I found on YouTube though. The costumes are fairly similar and some of the movements are the same as what we would do in class. Everything went really well at the performance. I would highly recommend taking the class, which counts for a PE credit.

Hope all is well with you! Contact me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu with any questions.

Christmas and Finals

  Hey guys! I hope everyone is doing well. It is really cold here at LC. I think right now it is around twenty degrees outside. I am layered up, but I'm still struggling with staying warm. It is not all bad, however. We had our first dusting of snow a couple days ago. The snow didn't stay long, but it was enough for me to get into the christmas spirit. After the snow, I got my residents together and we decorated one of the common rooms with paper snowflakes, stars, and lights. The common room looks great, and we have started playing holiday movies in there on the weekends. I also hear Christmas music everywhere on campus. Last night, Scott and I were hanging out and playing pool at Maggie's (the on-campus store). Madeline works there on Sundays and she played about two hours worth of awesome Christmas music. It made my day.
    On Friday, a whole group of RA's got together to go to Dance Your Plants Off. It was an event put on by SEED (the environmental activist group) to promote their upcoming activities. It was a really fun event. We have a band here called Hop-on Hold-tight. They are really good. My friend Cassie is their lead singer and she is really talented. Anyway, we got a group of RA's together and danced our plants off (whatever that means). I thought it was a great event. SEED ended up getting a lot of support for their upcoming events, which is always nice to see. This weekend, I also went to go see Dance x. Dance x is a dance performance put on by the theatre department. Each dance has a student director and all the dancers are students. It is really fun to see student productions like Dance x. The student body is extremely talented. Sometimes I forget this fact, I always appreciate things like Dance x to remind me.
   Finals are just around the corner here at Lewis and Clark. I am currently wading my way through all the various papers that represent my ticket out of this semester. Right now, I am writing a final essay for my Political Science class. I am nearly done. After this essay, I only have one more. It is always a great feeling when you come up on the end of the semester. You feel very accomplished. My finals schedule is pretty light this semester. In fact, I only have one official final (the perks of being a history major). This means that, when I finish my papers, it is pretty smooth sailing. I am pretty exited to go home as well. Colorado is a beautiful place to spend Christmas. Plus, it will be nice to see my family. Anyway guys, this essay is calling me back in so I'm going to go. I hope everyone has a nice week!



Christmas Time in the City

These past few weeks in Munich have really started to feel like Christmas time is near. I've woken up a few times to find the ground covered in snow. It always makes me happy when it snows, although in Portland it rarely does. When it does snow in Portland though it's even better because it is so rare.

Another reason why it feels so much like Christmas is because there are Christmas decorations all over Munich and of course Christmas markets and a huge christmas tree set up in the main square. Bayern is extremely Catholic so I'm not sure but I feel as though they might even get more into this holiday and celebrating it, than other parts of Germany do.

Glühwein is very popular this time of year in Germany. 
Christmas Markets
Christmas Tree in Marienplatz
Christmas is also a bit different in Germany than in the United States. They celebrate Advent, not only with advent calendars, but they set up a wreath with four candles, four sundays before Christmas and light a candle every sunday up until Christmas. They usually stand around the wreath and sing Christmas songs as they light the candle.

Instead of celebrating Christmas on the 25th, most German families celebrate it on the evening of the 24th. The Christmas tree is usually brought in on the 24th and presents are also opened then.

On the evening of December 5th, children will put their shoes outside of their door, and sometime during the night St. Nikolaus is supposed to come and leave sweets and smaller presents in their shoe. If the children is bad a character called Krampus is said to come instead of St. Nikolaus and apparently he captures naughty children in his sack and carries them away to his lair.

This past Sunday there was a parade of around 100 different people who were dressed up as Krampus and walked through the main square in Munich. There was this one kid who was particularly cheeky and who was at the front of the crowd and he got "whipped" and carried away by the Krampus multiple times. It was really funny and I really enjoyed watching all of them.

Here are some pictures from that:

Krampus scaring a boy

Me and a Krampus

Krampus taking away the particularly cheeky boy

All of the Krampus were dressed up differently, but all equally scary.

As always if you want to contact me please feel free! drussosavage@lclark.edu


Today I wrote a list of everything I have to do in the rest of the semester, and it didn't even take up a whole page.

I wrote it as follows:

IA: Quiz on human rights/humanitarian intervention. Short (1 pg) paper due 1 pm on 12/18. 1 more class period.
Spanish: Turn in paper. Study for test on 12/11. Take-home final, due 12/17 at 8:30 am. 2 more class periods.
ENVS: Plan project proposal for final period (12/17 6 pm). Print poster, attend poster celebration 12/11 at 5 pm. One more class period, one more lab.
Climate Science: Finish reading chapters 15 and 16. Study for final (12/14 6 pm). One more class period, one more lab.
Bio: Final meeting today at 11:45 am.
Symposium: Plan write ups of what we've been planning, to share at poster celebration on 12/11. Continue researching keynotes.
Other: Pack, print boarding pass, get presents for family and friends, finish laundry and tidying up my room.

I like being at the point in the semester where I can write down every single thing I have to do, and can cross things off as I go. It's nice to see it all laid out.

This weekend kind of felt like the calm before the storm. On Saturday I went to the Portland Art Museum with one of my roommates. I had never been there before, and it was a nice way to spend my morning.
I appreciated the art.

We came back and I attempted to work on my Spanish essay, but ended up taking a nap. It was probably better in the long run. I then worked on my essay most of the evening, and managed to get a rough draft out.

On Sunday I spent the day editing my essay. I actually feel pretty good about it. I took a break in the afternoon to go to the orchestra concert, which was really good! I hadn't been to any this year, and one of my really good friends is in it, so I thought it would be a nice way to spend time- and I was right. In the evening my roommates and I decorated some pine boughs as a mini-tree for our room. We made ornaments out of earrings, and by taping hair bands onto other objects.
It's pretty cute. We even put presents under it!
I hope that everyone is giving one last push before break- it'll be here soon! Good luck as you continue to work on your college applications. If you have any questions, please email me at rekidder@lclark.edu.


07 December 2013

Last full week of classes...

Uh oh. The last week of classes just came and went.. It's now the last weekend before finals begin which means the semester is quickly coming to a close.  You can probably guess about the stress and craziness that all LC students are experiencing right now.  Even though I've been through this six other times, I always forget exactly what these last couple weeks of the semester are like.  It always sneaks up on me and hits me in the face.  You might expect one to get better as the years of college pile up but it's never easy.  Amidst all the final exam preparation, the term-paper writing and editing, and the presentations, there are the last non-academic events sprinkled throughout the last couple of weeks.  This week I have the end-of-season cross country banquet, a lunch with President Barry G. and the rest of the fall student-athletes, a dodgeball tournament and field trip to the Portland Art Museum to attend.  It's all fun and exciting, the anticipation has been building for quite some time but it still surprises me when I realize the deadlines are less than seven days away or that I will be going home to my family in less than twelve days....

Speaking of my family back home in Fort Collins, CO... This thanksgiving I did not make the trip home, instead I went to Seattle (about three hours away) with my boyfriend to spend the holiday with his family.  Thinking back to last week, it was a great time in a different city, a chance to get out of the Portland bubble for a couple days.  The best part of the weekend (besides the glorious food, of course) was exploring a new city and meeting new friends.  We ventured to Pike Place Market, a hip hop concert at the Crocodile Cafe, up to Capitol Hill to a speak easy bar, and Gasworks.  I had a great conversation with Grandma Betty, a fabulous old woman who lived most of her life in a small town in eastern Washington.  Right now, as I sit on my couch trying to put the finishing touches on essay number 2 of 6, I keep finding my mind drifting away.  Away to last weekend and away to what lies ahead in about thirteen days.  Winter break is almost close enough to touch but there are about 50 pages standing between me and some much needed R&R.

Thanks for reading about my hectic life this week.. I'll check again at least once more before the end of finals.. In the mean time, enjoy NOT being a LC student this week and get some extra sleep for all of us.  

03 December 2013

Seraphie's Room: The Simple Things in Life

Hello folks of all ages and sizes,

First, I want to apologize for not posting regularly! These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of movement with papers, meetings and all the other nonsensical stuff one deals with in college. 

Thanksgiving Break
Last Tuesday, after turning in a last minute essay and hurriedly throwing things into my car, I picked up my friend Liliana and we were off--driving away for Thanksgiving break! As it is an 11 hour drive from Portland to Sonoma County, we arrived just before midnight and were greeted by my loud doggy with her barks and kisses! I drove Liliana to San Francisco the next day and I got to meet her father. One of the things I hate about college is that you rarely get to meet your friends parents (or maybe that is a good thing, I don't know). But I love parents, so getting to meet Liliana's father and then mother later on was a real treat. 

Thanksgiving itself was wonderful! My older sister and I had thanksgiving lunch with my mom and that side of the family, which was wonderful because I got to see my two baby second-cousins who are the most adorable things in the world. I have never been a big baby fan until now. Before my sister and I left to join my father, we took a family picture.

Thanksgiving Day. Left to Right: Me, Mom, Older Sister
Our parents are divorced, so my sister and I drove across town to have thanksgiving dinner with my father and my step-mom's side of the family, which was also wonderful even though there were no babies. At my dad's house, we wrapped the evening by watching The String with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. I felt very lucky to have two thanksgiving meals with such a wonderful people. Family has been on my mind a lot lately and keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be in college and be able to go back to a place where I feel loved. Don't forget that people! There is hopefully at least one person out that loves you, thank them.
Not Thanksgiving but: Me, Father, Older Sister 
The next couples days passed in a blur of friends and family time including chess games, movies, lots of food and me doing a lot of homework. 

Liliana and I crossing the state line back into Oregon
On Sunday, after another 11 hours of driving, which included: being pulled over by a cop, meeting my friend for a burger who lived along our trajectory, jamming to really loud musc, talking about our childhoods and both being hit on by the gas station attendant near Salem we arrived back at LC. After turning in some last minute homework online, I crashed into bed. And that dear people was a semi brief summary of my Thanksgiving break. 

Hope everyone else had a good Thanksgiving and are now preparing for the last three weeks of the semester! 



02 December 2013

Home Sweet Home!

Hello again! How were everyone’s Thanksgiving breaks? Mine was much-needed and the flight down to California was so worth it. I was incredibly happy to see my family after three months of being away! Before I went to college, I had only spent about five days away from home before. I’d say that I did fairly well in light of my lack of experience, despite getting a little homesick towards the end. So, prospective students, never fear! Even if Lewis and Clark is a plane ride away from home, you will be just fine. If you have a bad day, you are surrounded by your friends that live just next-door and care about you. You and your parents and siblings (if you have them) will probably miss each other a lot, but then seeing them again will be that much more wonderful. Plus, in our small world, it’s so easy to keep in touch. Skype, cell phones, and email are your friends, and you hopefully have care packages and letters to look forward to! I correspond with my friend Sarah back in California, who still goes to my old high school, and my friend Faith at the University of Dallas in Texas. I treasure every letter I receive, and then writing letters back is so satisfying, especially on my special poison-dart frog stationary! I hope they aren’t getting tired of all the Doctor Who sticky notes I send them.

Anyway, back to Thanksgiving break. My dog was beside herself at our reunion. Her name is Amber and she is a Golden Retriever, which is the only type of dog my family has ever owned because my mom is a fanatic. Here’s a cute picture of Amber and my mom together! Awww… I miss them both already.                                               

And then there’s Amber and me on our hammock. Sunny California! It’s not a recent picture, but the weather was almost warm enough for shorts and T-shirts while I was there even in late November. Almost. Not quite. But still much warmer than here. I prefer cool weather anyway. Summer is my least favorite season at home because I just can't stand temperatures above 90 degrees.

I had quite a bit of astronomy homework over break, but I wasn’t able to do all of it. I am meeting my professor in his office tomorrow to get some extra help, and if I still need it after that, I’ll go to the Math QSRC, which stands for the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center, where all the math and science tutors wait for their victims. As cool as graphing light paths through the expanding universe is, relativity is hard! I also have an essay for Exploration and Discovery due on Friday, which I think I mentioned in my last post. I really like how it’s coming together, but it’s pretty tricky to organize since I’m not used to writing comparative papers. Normally, I’m focusing on just one text, and drawing from two is a little more difficult to keep coherent. I had a meeting with my professor last week though, and she gave me a lot of help. Lewis and Clark professors are wonderful in that they make it so easy for you to talk to them outside of class! Even if you’re not sure if you need that much help, they are a great resource just to converse with and run ideas by. I’m always shocked when my friends at larger universities say they have never personally talked to their professor. 

Finals have really snuck up on me, and I can’t believe my first semester of college is nearly over. I have two finals on Saturday the 14th, then one on Tuesday, then one on Wednesday, and then I fly home again! But first, my mom is flying up to see my Ghanaian Dance performance this weekend. Hopefully I can balance my time between hanging out with her in Portland and studying.

As always, contact me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!

Thanksgiving in Portland

   Hello all! Welcome back to my blog, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. My Thanksgiving was pretty great. To understand why I need to go on a short tangent, so bear with me. My sister is currently in the process of looking at schools. She is looking mostly at east coast schools, but she is looking at a few out here on the west coast. Specifically, she is thinking about Claremont or Lewis and Clark! I believe I already mentioned she did her recruiting trip up here a couple weeks ago. Anyway, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Glenna (my sister) flew out to LA to visit Claremont's campus for her recruiting trip there. Since she was already headed out West, my parents decided to accompany her and have Thanksgiving up here in Portland. It was a great experience. My parents managed to find a hotel with a kitchen, so we were able to cook Thanksgiving dinner there. We had an amazing Turkey along with all of the trimmings that usually accompany Thanksgiving dinner. I spent the time hanging out with my family. I watched the Packers and Lions play with my Dad, but it wasn't much of a game. With my Mom, I played board games. She particularly likes the game Take Four, it is essentially speed scrabble.
   On black Friday, we tried to avoid the shoppers and instead went to the beach. It is only about two hours to get to Cannon beach from Portland. We took advantage of the short trip and spent a nice afternoon on a beautiful beach. The sun was out, and the tide was down. In other words the beach was the most peaceful I had ever seen. When I go for RA retreats or weekend getaways, the beach is usually violently rainy. I was very pleased to find the beach so nice. While we were there, we found a plethora of seafood restaurants. Because of the easy access to fresh fish, it is hard to find a bad seafood restaurant. We found a really nice one, and I enjoyed a really nice pacific cod. Seafood is one of my favorites, I am really happy that Portland offers easy access to nice seafood.
   Back on campus, things are gearing up for finals. On Wednesday, we will be officially one week away from the end of classes. It is kind of scary, but I have decided that it is all manageable. At times all the work can seem overwhelming, but with focused effort it all gets done in the end. Honestly, I am a little bummed the semester is coming to an end, it was a pretty good one. However, next semester is looking pretty great too. The tennis season is coming up. So while I am preparing for finals I am also trying to polish up my game to make it ready for the season. Overall, these final weeks are ones of preparation. Anyway, i'm going to end this post here, those essay won't write themselves! I hope you all have a good week. 



Wrapping Up (Presents and School)

Three more weeks! A week and a half of classes, half a week of reading days, and about a week of finals, then I'll be home for three weeks!

As I talked about in my last post, I didn't go home for Thanksgiving. It's a long way to go for just four days off, and my sister got to come out here and visit campus. We also all got to hang out with my brother and my sister-in-law, which was fun. Break mostly consisted of relaxing, catching up on homework, and finishing Breaking Bad (it's so good! I highly recommend it). My brother pulled out the N64 that we had when we were kids and we spent an evening playing it. I'm not a big videogame person, but I actually had a lot of fun- probably mostly for nostalgia reasons. I regained my skills with Kirby in Super Smash Bros, and ended up beating my brother, which was really exciting- when we were kids, he always won. Also, Pokemon Snap remembered me- which is impressive, because I haven't touched it in probably 10 years.
it even remembered my name
As much as I wish I went home, I think these next few weeks will be easier because I didn't. All of my friends who went home (both who go to LC and who go to other schools) seem to be having a harder time concentrating now, because they had a brief taste of home before they had to leave it for a few weeks. It was hard for them not to settle in the same way that you do during longer breaks, and it sounds like it's hard to focus having experienced that.

My work is ramping up again as classes are ending. We're reading one final play in Spanish- "La vida es sueño"- and I have an essay due on the 9th that I have to start. We also have a final unit test on the last day of class, which is the 11th. I have a couple more chapters of the textbook to read for climate science, a chapter quiz, two more labs and whatever assignments come with them, and a final. Environmental studies has two more labs, one to finish our group project (which we are presenting at a poster celebration on the 11th- my group studied the aesthetics of invasive species and how they influence the public's desire to spend time outside) and one to get started on our final, which is a mock project proposal. It's supposed to relate to our concentration, so it'll essentially be like a mock thesis project proposal. In our final period we are presenting these, as if we're trying to get funding for it. International affairs is pretty much almost done, but we still have one more quiz and one more short (one-page) paper. On top of that, the biology lab that I TA is presenting their research projects tomorrow. I'm excited to see how they analyzed what they found, and the implications of their results. Work for the environmental studies symposium is already pretty intense, also. Over break another co-chair and I researched potential keynotes, and started thinking about logistics. Other people started looking into other aspects of the symposium, and we have at least two meetings about it this week. Luckily it's work that feels good to do. I'm excited to move forward with that.

So, it's a lot of work, but it's good work. I've learned a lot this semester, and I know I will continue to in future semesters. I can't begin to express how lucky I feel to be experiencing such a solid education. And, in three weeks, I'll have a small break to spend time with family and friends, and relax.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at rekidder@lclark.edu.