29 April 2014

Last Week of Classes!

This week, my three best friends, Sully, Sarah, and Sam, in addition to all having names that start with 'S', are all celebrating their birthdays this week. They are turning 19, 20, and 21! Wow. I'll be 18 until November. So between working on final projects and papers and studying for finals, I’ve been buying lots of supplies to make baked goods and throwing together last minute presents.

Sarah’s birthday was today, so seven of us went to Shigezo together. Yes, I know, we can’t go anywhere else. I think I may have gone there eight times now. I ordered ahi poke-don, unagi nigiri, and miso soup, with vanilla and mango mochi ice cream to cap off the meal. Fantastic. And since it was Sarah’s birthday, she got a free dessert crepe! It was so big that we all got to try it. Then, Sully’s and Sam’s birthdays are this weekend, and I don’t know if we are going out to dinner, but I’m for sure baking them double-chocolate brownies with cream cheese frosting.

I’m honestly so sad to be leaving this place for four months. I have made such great friends here and I don’t want to go home and not see them all summer. Two of them I won’t see all fall semester either – Sarah is studying abroad in Osaka, Japan and Sam is studying abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. I'm probably not going to study abroad until my junior year, and I am not sure where I'll go. Anyway, I’m still already excited for next term even though I still don’t know what classes I’m taking and lots of things will be different. I'll have the same roommate, but different neighbors, different professors, etc. etc. etc.

There’s always so much going on on-campus in the last couple weeks of the term. I went to two different theatre performances in the last few days – one staged reading of a play written by a theatre major, and one shorter performance from the Oresteia (a Classical Greek play). Both were incredible. The first was a comedy that made the audience roar with laughter, and the second was a hair-raisingly chilling and eerie tragedy in which a father sacrifices his daughter (who was played by Sam, which made it all the more chilling). I also started going to Yoga Club meetings, which for some reason I didn’t know about until now. Yoga is a great way to unwind during this stressful time of year.

Plans for the rest of the semester:
  • Attend awesome dance performance and a poetry reading
  • Edit two final papers for history and English
  • Finish logic take-home exam
  • Finish history reading
  • Finish all birthday festivities
  • Partake in school-sponsored reading day merriment (free massages! therapy dog petting! etc!)
  • Sell textbooks and pack many, many boxes for storage
  • Go to Salt N Straw ice cream and watch Anna Karenina with Sam
  • Take four finals L
  • Fly home to Northern California, where I'll hang out with some friends from high school, get a summer job, (hopefully) road trip to Santa Cruz, go camping, and catch up on reading!
Last minute questions? Email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.


Chugging Towards The End

Yesterday my environmental studies group turned in the research project we've been working on all semester. I definitely felt a mix of relief that we were done, and anxiety that I knew there was still more we could do. Our final product was a thirty-five-page paper and a poster, which we will be sharing at biannual poster celebration that the environmental studies department holds every semester. Our group probably spent a good twenty-four hours writing this paper, as a group, which means between the four of us we spent four days writing the paper. That's a lot of time, but we're pretty proud of our final product. We were looking at environmental justice in Portland's urban parks. If you're interested to see what exactly we did, you can check out our project mash-up page or our project record. Our poster and paper are linked to in the "interim/final reports" section of the project record page.

I'm also finishing up an eleven-page paper for my global resource dilemmas class. This paper has been a bit of a challenge to write, but also kind of fun. My professor calls it a "thought-paper," meaning it can only include our own thoughts. We aren't allowed to cite anything or refer to any specific real life situations, and we are supposed to show when something we've talked about in the class would work in the world. It's challenging because I'm so used to finding research and using it to back up my claims, so it's almost startling to just talk about my own thoughts for eleven pages. I wrote my paper on marketable population licenses, which is a proposed method for dealing with overpopulation. The idea is that people are given licenses (worth 2.2 children, if given to a couple, or 1.1 children, if given to an individual [this is the replacement rate]) and can sell them if they don't want children, or buy them (for about $15) if they want more children. The benefit is that it gives people the freedom to choose how many kids they want, while still limiting population growth. I'm still unsure how much I support them in real life, but I argued about why they were the best means of reducing population growth for eleven pages. Part of the paper has to be us rebutting ourselves, then responding to that rebuttal. It was kind of fun to take on this persona and argue with myself for that long, but it was also difficult to challenge what I said and then respond to those challenges.

In econ I'm busy studying for my final. I'll admit I haven't gotten very far on this front yet, since I've been so busy with my papers, but it's my main goal for tonight. Our final is cumulative, so I need to go back to the first chapters and read over them, as well as make sure I have a good grasp on the more recent material. I think this class may actually be the most difficult one I have taken so far at Lewis & Clark, but I've also learned a lot. I'm nervous for the final, but it should be okay.

We just finished reading our last book for the semester in Spanish. It was called Sueños digitales (digital dreams), written by Edmundo Paz Soldán. It was by far my favorite thing we've read this year. It's about a man in this semi-futuristic society that is very based in technology. The interesting part is, it's all technology that we currently have. This man (Sebas)'s life revolves around Photoshop, and all this confusion arises about what is real, and how we form our realities. Everything in this world is touched by technology, so that there are pictures of historical figures standing together who had never met, and the news is made up but supported with these fake images, and people dream of one celebrity's head on another celebrity's body. It was really interesting, and we had really cool discussions in class. I'm looking forward to rereading the book this summer, since I know I will pick up on things that I missed the first time.

In my final class, self defense for women, we have a final project due today. The guidelines were very loose; we were just supposed to plan a project that related to something we got out of a class. I made an art project out of the board we broke last class. I based it on the place in Washington I camped a couple of weeks ago when I went backpacking. The place reminded me of this meditation that we do in self defense. The meditation has you imagine a body of water, and calm all of the ripples that appear in the water. At this campsite, there were rapids that were separated from the water right next to our campsite by an island. I really liked the metaphor of the rapid water separated from the calm water, so I drew it on the board. In the calm water, I wrote all of the affirmations we say at the end of class (things like "I am strong," "I am worth defending," "I am beautiful"). The break in the board is the break between the calm water and the rapid water.
my project
I'm pretty proud of it, and it was fun to make.

The other big thing I'm working on is Symposium. We are finalizing the website, which is exciting. I think it's looking good! You can check out our almost final version here. Tomorrow is our last co-chair meeting for the semester, which is bittersweet. I've been spending so much of my time on Symposium that I'm not sure what I'll do without the weekly meetings (though I guess this holds true for all of my classes and the work that comes with them).

We are so close to the end! One final push for the rest of this week and finals, then it's summer break! I know you all are very close to making your college decisions, if you haven't already, so good luck with that! You'll be great wherever you end up- my biggest piece of advice is to trust your gut. If you feel like a school is the place for you, then it probably is.

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


22 April 2014

Weekend with the family and Spring Fling!

What a busy weekend -- in the best sort of way! I managed to hit nearly all the best places in downtown Portland in just 48 hours. Even better, I got to take my family with me! Since it’s my brother’s spring break right now, they drove up from California to see me. Together, we went to Voodoo Doughnut, Powell’s Books, the Saturday Market, the food carts, and my favorite Japanese restaurant, Shigezo. To top it off, Spring Fling (an annual dance similar to Fall Ball) was this weekend and so my friends and I got to go to the Crystal Ballroom and dance it up for a couple hours. I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves on this one.

Sully (my roommate!) tagged along for our dinner at Shigezo! From left to right: Sully, me, my mom Diana, and my not-so-little brother Jon.

My dad Scott, me, and Jon sitting at the Saturday Market by the waterfront. I'm enjoying a blueberry bubble tea and a pork dumpling.

Decided to have a throwback to the old days and have an Easter Egg hunt in my family's hotel room!

Julie, Sully, me, Sarah, Belen, and Sam getting ready to go to Spring Fling.

Grace, Sully, me, and Sarah! We love to make full use of the photo booth at these dances. I can't tell you how many pictures we took with all the various props.

The roommates.

Unfortunately, having such an adventurous weekend means I have put off the not-so-fun business until now. I got a little bit done in the library on Sunday once my family left to go back home, but I still have a bit of catching up to do. I need to do some reading and prepare another presentation for Exploration and Discovery -- we've moved on to Ancient Rome now -- and make some headway on my Ancient Greece paper about Athenian women for history class. Then I need to read some more in The Unbearable Lightness of Being for English, and do my Logic homework. I also have to figure out what classes to take next semester because I'm not entirely satisfied with my schedule. Everything sounds equally interesting, so I just can't decide what to take!

Have a wonderful week! If you have questions, don't hesitate to email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.



There's an old adage about the life of a college student that I've found to be somewhat accurate. It goes something like this: imagine that you have a triangle. On one corner, you have enough sleep. On another, you have plenty of social time. On the last, you have good grades. The idea is that you can have any two of the above at the same time, but never all three.

To a point, this is true. I've definitely been struggling between balancing getting all my work done and getting enough sleep. I feel like I have it a bit easier on the social side of things, since I live with three of my friends, so it's a bit hard to not get social time in. I guess for my life, I'd interpret that more as trying to fit in CO trips, ukulele orchestra, and general relaxation. I think I generally do a pretty good job of balancing all of these, but it definitely gets tough around finals. I had my last econ midterm today (!), which was pretty hard, but I'm glad I'm done with it. I'm now pretty much done with everything I have to do before finals (besides reading a book for Spanish, doing some readings for global resource dilemmas, and doing miscellaneous assignments for environmental studies). I really need to start focusing on this 12-page paper I have to write for global resource dilemmas, because it's due in a week. I'd been putting it off to work on other things, but it's really getting to the time where I need to sit down and just write it.

What brought this triangle to mind is weirdly the recent release of a website where you can take "classes" at a virtual version of Hogwarts. It's pretty ridiculous, but, for an avid HP fan like me, it's also pretty exciting. I made the mistake of signing up yesterday, and starting "taking" astronomy. The ridiculous part is, there are actual assignments. I'm supposed to write a 300 word essay about my favorite constellation, including a creation myth of how it came to be, and then I have to come up with my own creation myth for it. It then gets graded (I think a real person actually grades it), then I get to move on in the class. As proof of my nerdiness, it's honestly something I would enjoy doing, but I definitely cannot even be thinking about it on top of my real work. My roommates and I all signed up, then made a pact to not do anything on the site until summer, when we will have a lot more time. We'll see if we stick to it.

This last weekend I went on my last two CO trips for the year, and they were excellent (as always). The first one was an ethnobotany training trip. We went out to the gorge and learned about a ton of plants, both edible and nonedible. We hiked up to the top of this big hill, where the view was amazing.
a panoramic view from the top
On Sunday, I went on CO's second-ever-recent canoe trip. It filled a really special place in my heart, since canoeing is kind of my jam.
I obviously still love canoeing in Minnesota, but something about canoeing in Oregon is different. Probably the waterfalls that you can canoe right next to, and the big, mossy rocks on the side of the river.
Overall, a good weekend! We only have one more normal weekend, then reading days (Friday and Saturday), then finals, then I'm off to travel to Vancouver and Seattle for a week, before I go home! Busy busy busy, but I'm happy.

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


15 April 2014

23 Days

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

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

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

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

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


13 April 2014

More Sunshine!

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

View of the trees in bloom from the Akin Lounge

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

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

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

My breakfast this morning

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

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



08 April 2014

Good COmpany

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

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

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

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


Wintersemester Video

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

07 April 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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