28 April 2015

Almost Done and Last Post

Well, this is it. My final week of classes before finals start. It’s crazy how fast my freshman year of college has gone.. Although I had a lot of fun this semester, I am ready to go home and have a break from school for a while. These last few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me.

Last night for instance, I finished up my ten page research paper for E&D. My topic was on the decline of the cavalry in the First World War and how veterinarians were involved in the war. It was particularly interesting for me because I  want to be a veterinarian. Seeing how they operated over a hundred years ago really fascinated me and helped make writing this paper a bit easier. Through a lot of procrastination over the past month, I was finally able to wrap up the longest paper I have ever written. It was a huge moment of relief once I finished.

Other than that, I have only one more presentation left before all my classes are done. It still feels strange saying that. Every time someone mentions that we are almost done I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Where did the year go? Unfortunately, this last presentation, which is for chemistry lab, will be my hardest one. Once it’s over with I’ll be happy, but putting it together will not be fun at all. It will be hard to put together because a lot of the data we gathered do not give us clear results.

This past weekend I really didn’t do a whole lot. For the most part, I just hung out with my friend Mikey playing video games and resting before finals. Next week will be a crazy time. All my finals are three days in a row, starting Tuesday. After finals, I am going to go back with Mikey to his house for a few days and help him with moving out of his house before I go home. As for myself, I plan to get a storage unit for the stuff I can’t take home.

Sadly, this is my last blog post this year. It has been a lot of fun describing everything I do here, and I hope that it has helped some of you out there make the decision to come here! Anyway, thank you to everyone who read my blog this year!

Working on the chemistry presentation. 

A nice day at Lewis and Clark!

-Remington Campbell

Last Post of the Year!

Well, my second year of college is drawing to a close. It's the last week of class, and I just have one more paper, one more project, reading days, and finals. Luckily, the semester seems to be ending on - well, if not a high note, then not a low one at the very least. I feel okay about the last pieces of work I'm turning in, and I don't feel too daunted by the prospect of exams. I've been doing well in Japanese, so I'm not worried about the final. I'm just planning to get together with some of my classmates and study on one of the reading days. One of the fun parts of learning a foreign language - especially one in a small department like Japanese - is that you have the same people in your class every semester, so you can get to know them. Unfortunately, it's not looking like I'm going to continue with Japanese next term. My schedule is a little up in the air, but I'll probably be taking a creative writing course called Introduction to Fiction, two literature courses (one on William Faulkner and one on William Shakespeare) with some of the my favorite professors, and a course in ancient and medieval theatrical literature through the Theatre department. I'm also on the waitlist for Acting, so that might replace something if I get in. If not, my schedule might be a bit too much literature for one semester. I wish I was taking Japanese to break things up a little, but I just don't have room. Maybe I'll take it my senior year.

Anyway, back to my end-of-term musings. The last weekend unmarred by studying for finals was super crazy in a good way. On Friday night, I saw my friend Sam's thesis performance for her theatre major. It was a one-woman show about the Russian folk character Baba Yaga that she both wrote and starred in. There was some really interesting storytelling using silhouettes and a lot of swapping in and out of different accents. It was a truly incredible piece of art and the ending gave me chills down my spine. Of course, it was all the better for having a close friendship with Sam, the star. This has been something she's worked incredibly hard on, and it combined her two great loves of theatre and Russian. I truly believe that she could take this show on the road after she graduates and really make something out of it. I'm really proud of her.

After the thesis festival was over and all the seniors' performances were done, I helped strike the set as a part of my theatre lab class. It was really cool. There's just something about being at the theatre late at night lifting heavy equipment and breaking down sets that made me feel strong and powerful on the inside, and connected to a passionate team of people. I hope to continue to be involved with theatre in other ways next semester.

On Sunday night, I went to my first ever concert. The show was Nightwish, which is a Finnish symphonic metal band, though it opened with two other metal bands, Sabaton (from Sweden) and Delain (from the Netherlands). It was at the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland, so it was easy to get to on the Pioneer Express bus. I went by myself and had a fantastic time. The pictures aren't great, but I hope you like them anyway.

So, I'm a little exhausted from doing so many late-night things this weekend. It was totally worth it though, and I managed to stay relatively on top of my paper-writing during the day too.

This morning, I had my last day of kindergarten, and said goodbye to my mentor teacher and the kids I worked with all year. The children were so sad to see me go and didn't understand why I couldn't just stay with them! I am going to miss them. It's been really rewarding to see them progress from September until now. They've gotten so much better at reading and writing and just talking in class in general. I feel lucky to have gotten to know them. Best of all, they made me this as a class project!

It was the most wonderful gift.

Well, that's all for this year. I sincerely hope that what I've shared with you has helped you make a decision on where to go to school. Personally, I really love Lewis and Clark and I'm proud to go here. I have so many opportunities, whether they are a part of my English major, or part of my career path as a teacher, or part of just trying new things like working in the theatre department or taking Japanese. Things aren't always sunshine and rainbows of course, but I find that what makes college life the most difficult is what I carry with me and not anything that Lewis and Clark could do differently. In fact, Lewis and Clark does a lot to improve what I carry with me. For instance, there's the on-campus counseling service! That has really done a lot for me this semester. And of course, most importantly, there's the group of friends that I've made here through living in the dorms. Just in case you're wondering, I would say that this is a campus that is very supportive to people who struggle with their mental health.

Well, that's all for now. Overall, I'm looking forward to my next two years here - both on-campus and abroad in Australia. Have a wonderful summer, and I hope to see you at LC! If you have any questions, you can email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.



27 April 2015

Lewis & Clark

Okay, sappy post time.

It being April 27, all of you prospective students planning on going to college this coming fall likely have less than a week to commit to a school. The number one piece of advice I give to prospective students is to follow your gut, which I did three years ago when I committed to Lewis & Clark.

A couple of nights ago I was talking with one of my friends on my program here in Chile (who also goes to LC) about how much we love and miss Lewis & Clark. I was reminded of all of the reasons I feel I made the right choice by choosing LC. Let me count the ways...

1. The size: Campus is relatively small and beautiful and is one of my favorite places on Earth. There are about 2,000 undergrad students, and about 500 in each class. This means that I at least recognize almost everyone that I'll be graduating with, as well as a lot of people in the classes above and below me. Even though most people have their "groups" that they hang out with, it's all pretty flexible and for the most part everyone is friends (or at least friendly) with everyone. While at the same time this means it can get hard to avoid people, I haven't really had anyone I've wanted to avoid because pretty much everyone who goes to LC is great. Likewise, a small student body means small classes which means more professor/student interaction, leading me to...

one of many pictures I have of our beautiful campus
2. The professors: Almost all of the professors at Lewis & Clark that I've had have been amazing. They're all friendly, extremely smart, and care about you as a student. They're available in office hours and it's common for students to go into office hours just to chat. I've had professors have students over to their houses for end of semester dinners, send me emails just to ask how I am, and remember details about my life that they could easily forget. Their students are more than just faces in their class, they're people.

3. The student body: I love Lewis & Clark as a collective student body. The students as a whole are creative, caring, compassionate, and eager to move forward. When there are problems, students band together and peacefully seek change. Beyond this, LC students are creative (from leading poetry slams to a capella concerts to sticking plastic flamingos in the trees of the ravine [because we have a ravine on campus]), academically motivated (we have some of the [objectively] best student run symposia in the country), and kind. I always feel so much support from my peers whenever I do anything, even from peers I don't know very well.
ukulele orchestra back in 2013- look at that creativity!
4. The activities: Besides the aforementioned poetry slams and a capella concerts, there's always a ton to do on campus. Plays, sports games, movie screenings, art making, game nights, music (often with live bands), speakers (like Bill Nye or Sonya Sotomayor)... there's always so much to do right on campus.
my ticket from when Bill Nye came this past fall
5. The location: I love the Pacific Northwest. Portland is an hour and a half from the ocean, an hour and a half from the mountains, right next to the Columbia River Gorge, and all around beautiful. Even though it's pretty rainy in the winter, it's manageable- more like a constant misting/light rain than constant downpour. Plus, it just makes the sunny days even better. Spring in Portland is my favorite time of the year- flowers bloom everywhere and it's warm and sunny and perfect. Because it's in such a great location, College Outdoors can take outside you to pretty much whatever climate you're longing for- mountains, ocean, beach, cliffs, desert, rainforest, waterfalls... Plus, campus is only twenty-five minutes from downtown Portland, meaning it's super easy to get off campus if you feel like you need to.
some of the wildflowers of the Columbia River Gorge in the spring, seen on a College Outdoors trip!
6. Portland itself: Portland is definitely exaggerated in Portlandia, but by less than you'd think. It's "weird" (and proudly so), but offers the best parts of any city: bookstores (especially Powell's), movie theaters, a ton of restaurants (and food carts), museums (Portland Art Museum is my favorite!), parks (including a state park right next to campus), concerts, and celebrity sightings (namely Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein).
one of the many places to go in Portland- a glow-in-the-dark minigolf place right downtown
7. The academics: Getting a liberal arts education means I take classes both within and outside of my majors, which is helping me to become a very well-rounded person. Knowing a little bit of a lot of things (in addition to the in-depth knowledge of specific things gained through my majors) means I have a better understanding of the full picture and better understand how every issue is complicated. It also means I have can better relate to other students, professors, and their interests. I've definitely become a better student and thinker through my time Lewis & Clark.
studying for said academics my sophomore year with my friend Daphne (namely for climate science)
8. The community: This is kind of a culmination of all of the above points, but deserves its own spot. Almost everyone lives on campus for two years, and a chunk decide to stay on their junior/senior years as well. This means that you get to know everyone very well, to the point where you kind of feel like a giant family (especially with the people in your dorm). I especially felt this with the dorm I lived in my first year, Akin. Living on campus makes it super easy to go to all of the on campus events, and it's essentially like a year long summer camp with academics and schoolwork. I love it. As much as I love living off campus, I do miss feeling as close to my classmates as I felt my first two years at LC.
part of my floor in Akin my first year, making up "A" signs and pretending we were a fraternity (in reality LC doesn't have greek life)
9. The flexibility and understanding: I had some pretty rough stuff happen to me in my personal life during this past fall semester, and my professors were all very understanding and compassionate. Their first concern was how I was doing, and they all were flexible with their attendance/homework policies for me. I ended up going home for a few weeks, and when I got back my professors all met with me personally to figure out a plan for getting caught up. Throughout the semester they all continued to check up on me and ask how I was doing. I really appreciated it and knew that it all worked out the way it did in large part due to the small size and great faculty of Lewis & Clark.

10. The opportunities: I've had countless leadership opportunities in my time at Lewis & Clark, some of which I've taken up (project leading for Spring Into Action and MLK Day of Service, co-chairing the Environmental Affairs Symposium, leading ukulele orchestra, working with College Outdoors) and others of which I haven't. I've been encouraged by professors to apply for various scholarships, some of which I've gotten, and some of which I wouldn't have applied for had I not been encouraged to. I've been put in contact with potential employers and given opportunities to volunteer around Portland and gain experience working in fields I'm interested in. Everyone at Lewis & Clark wants you to succeed, and there are entire departments (like the Career Development Center and Student Leadership & Service) that help you find and take advantage of opportunities around Portland and the country. I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities I've had!
me as a project leader for Spring Into Action my first year at LC
I could go on and on, about the study abroad department and the library and the dorms and the dining hall and the beautiful campus, but I have to stop somewhere and 10 feels like a good number.

The important thing to note, as prospective students, is that these are things that I (and many other people, but this post is from my perspective) love about LC. The same thing that I love could be something that someone else hates. I like being able to know everyone in a small school, but someone else might like the anonymity that comes with a large student body. I like getting a bit of knowledge from a ton of different subjects, but someone else may want to choose one topic and stick with it and not bother with other departments. Everyone needs to figure out their preferences on their own, and go with their gut feeling about a school- if you visit it and hate it, then you probably shouldn't go there. Likewise, if you visit a school and get a wonderful, magical feeling in your gut, then that very well could be the place for you. That said, I would love for everyone reading this blog to come to LC and experience this place that I, and so many others, love so much. My friend's and my conversation ended with us realizing that one of the things we most love about Lewis & Clark is how enamored the entire student body is with the school. Everyone loves it for different reasons, but everyone loves it. Few people tolerate life at LC, because almost everyone is head over heels in love with it.

If you want to hear me ramble more about why I love LC, want last minute advice before committing, or have a funny joke to tell me, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu!


21 April 2015

One Last Visit

With school beginning to wind down, my girlfriend Ava came up to visit me one more time before we both head home for the summer. She got in late Thursday night, so I was able to take the Max out to the airport to get her, and we made it back to downtown in time to catch the Pio back  to school. The next day, while she slept in, I went to the Festival of Scholars. This is an event for juniors and seniors to showcase their theses or research to the rest of the students in the school. While at the festival, I was even able to get information that will help with my biology presentation this week. From the presentation I attended, my group will be able use information about rainbow trout that we learned while there.

All classes were cancelled that day, so it was perfect for Ava and me. After the festival, Ava and I went and got lunch at the Trail Room, which is downstairs from the Bon and offers regular food such as burgers and pizza.  This weekend the weather was absolutely amazing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and it was just warm enough to sit in the sun and eat our lunch. We were both amazed at experiencing what spring is really like since spring doesn’t exist for us at home because it’s so hot. Once we finished eating, we went out to the gardens by the reflecting pool to lay out in the sun and enjoy the amazing day. It was really peaceful to just relax after a long week and enjoy the sun.

For the most part, Ava and I didn’t do a whole lot this weekend except hang out and be with each other. Most of that was due to the fact that we had already explored most of the tourist places here in Oregon that we could get to by public transportation. Having her and my brother visit back to back weekends has really given me the energy to push through and finish this semester. It’s hard to believe that my first year of college is already over.
Enjoying all the sun!

Looking forward to this week, I have two presentations due this week for Biology and E&D on Wednesday and Thursday, and another two next week. Also, I need to finish up my research paper, which is on the decline of the cavalry during the First World War and the role veterinarians played in it. It has been very interesting doing research on this topic since I want to become a veterinarian myself.

Well, that’s all for this week. I know the deadline for choosing a college is close. Good luck with that. For me, Lewis & Clark has been a good choice!

-Remington Campbell

20 April 2015


Hello, readers!

I got back last night from a weekend in Santiago. I've left the Valparaíso area a few times already in the two months that I've been here (to go to Patagonia, as well as Casablanca and other smaller towns around here), but this was the first time I'd left to go to a big city.

Santiago is a big, big city. It has about 5 million people just in the city itself (as a comparison, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar have about 600,000 between them). Because it's so big, it has a lot of things that I hadn't fully realized I hadn't been seeing in Valparaíso, but that I'm used to seeing in the US. There were a ton of North American chain restaurants (especially in the wealthier areas of Santiago), including Denny's, Fuddruckers, and Applebee's. There were clothing stores with big brands like Puma and Patagonia. Most of all, there was green space- and a lot of it. There's a big park right in the middle of Santiago Center called "parque forestal" (forest park), with trees and benches and grass. Valparaíso has one park that I know of, and it's pretty far away. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed walking in green areas- something you start to take for granted at Lewis & Clark, which has an extremely forested, green campus (as a side note, did you hear that Lewis & Clark just was named the US's most "green" school?) The main route that I walk in Valparaíso is a dirt median lined with palm trees on a fairly busy road, that's very rocky and noisy and not relaxing like a lot of parks. Santiago also feels very clean compared to Valparaíso. I think part of it is that, as a bigger city, they have more people available to work on keeping it clean. I think it also rains more, which helps a lot, and they have way fewer dogs (at least per capita), so there's less of the mess on the streets that comes with having dogs everywhere.

I was surprised how comforted I felt in Santiago. It felt so much more similar to US cities than Valparaíso, and like I said, until now I hadn't really realized fully how different my life in Valparaíso is from my life in the US. I still have access to most things here, but it's all different brands and looks different than what I was used to. I hadn't realized how big of an impact that had been having on me until I realized how nice it was to see products and things that looked the same as they do at home.

We went to the city on Friday as part of the program that I'm studying through, CIEE. We were in two groups (split up based on what class we were taking with the program). My class (a history/geography class) started out at La Moneda, the presidential building (but not, as I learned, where the president lives). We watched the changing of the guard ceremony (which was very similar to the one in London at Buckingham Palace) then visited the cultural center inside the building, which had a free exhibit on Islamic art.

some textiles as part of the exhibit
Then we took the metro to La Chascona, Pablo Neruda's Santiago house, to meet the other class (who, as a literature focused class, visited the house while we were at La Moneda). We all took a bus over to El Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (the memory and human rights museum), where we learned about the Pinochet dictatorship and the human rights abuses that occurred under it. It was very powerful. They had a wall covered in photos of all of the people who were disappeared (arrested and then never found, or found dead)- there were thousands of them. They also had an area with videos of people talking about the torture they experienced. It was very intense, but I'm glad I saw it.

Finally we went to the Gabriela Mistral cultural center. The exhibit we were going to see (surrounding the recent history of Chile) wasn't open, so instead we looked at an exhibit with art made from around Latin America.

Most of the people in my program decided to stay the whole weekend, since we were already there. That first night I got Korean food with a few friends (that's another thing I hadn't realized I'd been missing- food from other cultures! Almost all the food I've eaten here has been purely Chilean, and while there are a few Japanese and Peruvian restaurants in Viña, I hadn't seen Mexican, Chinese, Korean, or Italian (among many other cultures) food in this area). 

The next day I went up to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, one of the highest hills in otherwise relatively flat Santiago. The view was amazing. We took a funicular (elevatorish thing, kind of like a roller coaster car that goes straight up some tracks) to the top.

one of the views of the city
After wandering around the top for a while, we came back down and went to a fish market called Mercado Central for lunch. Then the group split up, as some went back to Valparaíso. I stayed one more night with a friend. We hung out at some parks, went to a public art museum, and sat in a lot of cafes.

It was a really nice weekend, and I already know I'm going to go back to Santiago before the program is over. It's very close (only about 1 1/2 hours by bus), and there's a lot to do. I'm glad I went!

Please email me with any questions you have about studying abroad or Lewis & Clark! I know everyone is finalizing college choices right now, and I'm here to answer any questions you might have. My email is rekidder@lclark.edu.


19 April 2015

April showers? Nope. It's as sunny as can be.

I've been working on a paper and I'm really feeling burned out on writing, so this is going to be a shorter entry. It's a beautiful weekend up here in Portland. On Friday, my roommate and I went downtown to meet up with some friends for dinner.

We went to Brunch Box - a restaurant I have always wanted to go to! I got this fantastic sandwich-burger-breakfast thing. It has a sausage patty, bacon, ham, grilled onions, syrup, and a fried egg, and the buns are made out of French toast. Everything I love about breakfast in each decadent bite. Mmmmmmm! I already want to go back for more. 

After Brunch Box we went to Safeway for some groceries and I saw this... oddity. Very vague. Yes, please, I will have three "unique fruits." Um, what??? 


In other news, we just had the housing lottery. A lot of my friends are moving off-campus to houses in the surrounding neighborhood, but I will be living in Akin Hall again for one last semester before I go to Australia for a study abroad program in the spring. Have I mentioned how awesome Lewis and Clark's overseas program is? We have trips that go everywhere from Japan to Chile to Morocco! 

Well, now it's back to the library for more paper-writing. The poem I chose for my final English paper won't be the most interesting thing I've written about this semester, but it's still something I'm pretty intrigued by and have a lot to say about. Do you know the poem "Goblin Market"? It's fairly well-known and actually circulates as a children's book - though I personally think it's way too creepy to be for kids. Anyway, the poem I'm writing about is by that same author, Christina Rossetti. It's called "In an Artist's Studio" and I'm using it to discuss how women are portrayed in Victorian paintings. Rossetti emphasizes how the woman in the poem is portrayed "not as she is" but as the male artist imagines her - as a "queen," a "nameless girl," "a saint," and "an angel." And at one point, the narrator of the poem states that the artist "feeds upon" the face of the woman he paints! His art fuels his fantasies about her. So there's a lot to talk about with regard to gender.

If you have any questions about life at LC, just email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu!


14 April 2015

Almost there

This past week my brother Alex came up to visit me for part of his spring break. Alex is a junior in high school, so my parents and I thought it would be a good idea for him to come see what college is like for me. On Thursday he flew up by himself to Portland and was able to use the Max and the Pio Express to get to campus. After I met up with him, we went and got lunch together at the Bon. Then, while I went to lab, he got to go lie down and take a nice nap. Later in the day, he went  to the library with me while I was working on some homework, but he was able to read a book while I worked.

Friday, Alex again was able to just relax while I went to class all day. After I finally finished classes, we went down to the weight room so I could show him some of the facilities we have he here at Lewis & Clark. Also I got the chance to introduce him to some of my coaches while he was here too. While we were down at the weight room, we worked out a bit.  Later we played Spikeball with some of my friends. Alex really like it, and we both decided to try and get a set for this summer. The rest of the night, we both hung out with Mikey and Dylan playing video games and relaxing..

Enjoying the outdoors with no heat, unlike home. 
Saturday, we both slept in as late as we could before getting brunch. Then Mikey, Dylan, Will, Alex and I all went down to Pamplin to play basketball. It was the first time in quite a while that I had played basketball. It wasn't too pretty since I am not too good, but fortunately we were really just messing around and having fun.

Once Alex and I were done playing basketball, we showered and went downtown. The very first place we went to was Powell’s Books. Alex has been dying to go there ever since I came here in the fall. He probably spent an hour in there just looking for books. When he picked out some books he wanted, I bought him some books for him since it’s his birthday this Friday. After Powell’s, we found a small pizza place to get some dinner  before we went and saw a movie. We went to the movie theater in the Washington Theater Mall and saw Furious 7 late at night. Since it was almost 1 A.M., the Pio Express was not running. This gave us a chance to get a taxi back to campus and check out that mode of transportation since Alex had to get up at 4:30 A.M. to get to the airport! Now I know how to get to the airport early and I won’t have to spend the night there like I did earlier in the year. It’s not too expensive to go just between campus and downtown, then the Max runs up to the airport.
Getting some pizza.

I was really happy that Alex came this week. It was a nice break from all the work I have coming up. With only three weeks of school left, everything is starting to wrap up and get crazy. All of the last tests I have in class are this week and then all the presentations start. I am very excited to get this work done and return home for the summer!


13 April 2015

Final Project Time

Well, I'm still sick, so I haven't got a lot to talk about. I've literally been in my room all week except for classes and a brief excursion to Fred Meyer to buy cough drops. I've been spending all my time sleeping, studying, and taking brief breaks to watch The Legend of Korra with my roommate.


The fact that I've been lying low for a while gives me a chance to just talk a bit about what I've been doing in my classes. In particular, I'm excited to tell you about my final project for my Inquiry into Teaching and Learning class. Two of my classmates and I are researching place-based education, and it's going really well since the three of us are super passionate about the subject. If you don't already know, place-based education is kind of like service learning and environmental/outdoor education rolled into one. It synthesizes teaching and learning within both the cultural history of the surrounding community and the physical ecology and landscape interacts with. It takes real-life issues and responds to them. Rather than staying in a classroom and learning from textbooks that separate subjects like math, art, and science into neat little artificial boxes, students engage with the material in an interdisciplinary, hands-on, project-based way that makes everything more relevant to them.

One example of place-based education that we learned about was a school that did a river clean up for the town. Science classes took pH balance measurements and studied bacteria and pollutants in the water, while English classes wrote an article for the local newspaper. This benefits both the community and the students. Another example might be an elementary school classroom that learns about baking. The kids practice writing by making cookbooks and learn math by measuring for recipes and counting change for the bake sale. That way, writing, reading, math, and other things are shown to have a real purpose. There's no teaching to the test in that classroom! Other schools have done trail-building, interviewed community members for oral history projects, and looked at neighborhood street art. The idea is that establishing a sense of place and learning about the immediate local world provides a foundation for learning about more global issues later on.

Anyway, for our research project, we're creating a website to use as a portfolio for our work, which includes results from a survey we just sent out about people's experiences with place-based education, personal blog entries about how we relate to place and how place-based education could be implemented in our hometowns, notable examples of place-based education, and some lesson plans to show that place-based education can be reconciled with things like Common Core standards. Next week we'll give a presentation in class for about 45 minutes. It's going to be a lot of work, but it's something I'm really excited to see the end result of. By the end, all of us will hopefully be able to tie in what we've learned to how we want to proceed as teachers in the future.

In my other classes, I'm starting my final papers for my two English classes and studying kanji and vocabulary for Japanese as usual. Also, course registration for the fall term is in progress. Fun fact: Lewis and Clark is finally offering Arabic 101!

Anyway, that's all for now! If you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.



I think part of the beauty of a study abroad experience like mine is the simplicity of it- my day to day life consists of living with a family in Chile. That means that although I don’t have thrilling adventure after adventure, I do get to know the ins and outs of life here, and get to become comfortable in the nuances of living in Chile as a foreigner.
Here are some quick observations and stories from the last couple of weeks:
1) A few days ago I saw ten dogs all crossing the street at the same time. I counted. There were ten. I was waiting on one side of the street for the light to turn green, and directly across from me stood ten dogs, and maybe two people. As soon as the light turned, all ten dogs trotted across the street, weaving between me and the other people crossing the other way. All ten made it safely across. The dogs here are seen as a nuisance by much of the population, but I kind of love them.
2) Last week I went to Ruby Tuesday with a few friends. I’ve never even been to a Ruby Tuesday in the US, but we were all craving hot wings and were about ready to ride two hours on a bus to Santiago to get some, before finding out there was a Ruby Tuesday in Viña that had them. Our waiter definitely hated us. We all got combinations of hot wings and buffalo chicken tenders, as well as fries, drinks (it was happy hour!), and dessert. We also all spent way too much money. It was probably worth it.
at Ruby Tuesday- you might spot some LC faces in there!
3) My host family got a bunny. His name is Pascual and he likes to cuddle.
cuddling with Pascual
4) I think I dreamt in Spanish, but then I also dreamt that I was telling someone that I dreamt in Spanish right afterwards, so I’m not sure.
5) I’m not sure my Spanish is getting better, but my English is definitely getting worse. I keep putting my order in the wrong words.
6) It’s still really hard for me to speak in Spanish in conversational settings. Put me in a classroom and I’ll say super profound things, but put me around a dinner table and I’ll say two words in the hour and a half that we’re sitting there. I can definitely understand way more now than I could a month and a half ago, but by the time I formulate something to add to the conversation, the topic has shifted. Add to this that I’m normally a pretty introverted person, and it’s a surprise I manage to talk at all.
7) Today I rode a micro (the local bus) home that was fuller than any micro I’ve been on thus far. To add to it, elderly people kept getting on at each stop. It’s polite (as it is in the US) to offer your seat to an elderly person if there are no other seats, but that was nearly impossible twenty minutes into the ride because there was literally no space to move around the people standing in the aisles in order to make space for others to take your seat. I was stressed.
8) The other day in class I accidentally pronounced “Putaendo” (a small town in Chile that was the location of a story we read) wrong, putting the emphasis in such a way that it made it sound like I was swearing in Spanish, and my professor laughed for like a whole minute straight.
9) Sometimes I say things that I know are grammatically correct and still get blank stares from people. It's stressful because I'm doing the best I can, and accents are something you can only control so much.
10) Last week, there was a national empanada day in the US. I celebrated by trying to find an empanada before class, but due to time constraints we ended up going to the stand in the back of Jumbo, a supermarket (and an experience) right next to the main building of campus. I had the first disappointing empanada of my time here. But I also had my first egg roll of my time here. It was probably worth it.
11) I think I have turned into an ice cream cone. It was probably worth it.
12) My host family’s dog (Benito) will follow me for blocks and blocks, whenever I walk anywhere. I like him a lot.
Benito likes to stick his head through the window
13) I’ve been feeling a lot of homesickness for both Portland and Minneapolis, and it's hard knowing that as soon as I get back to the States, I’ll probably feel that for here, too. I wish it was easier to focus on where you are and not on where you could be.
14) It’s also hard to focus on being here when I’m talking with both of my advisor’s about doing theses and am registering for classes, but I think I’ve finally figured out my plan for next year, and that’s a good feeling. A few nights ago my host parents really sweetly started giving me advice for thesis topics and telling me about all of the environmental issues here. I can't realistically use any of the topics (because they don't have the depth that the department looks for), but it was really sweet and definitely helped me brainstorm. I feel so much love from them, and it's a good feeling.
15) On Good Friday I went to an orchestra/choir concert in the chapel of my university, which is Catholic. All the music was performed by students, and was really beautiful. I think we were the only students there. I tripped on the kneeling benches because I have very little experience walking in Catholic chapels, but it was a cool experience.
16) Easter candy doesn’t go on sale the day after Easter in Jumbo the same way it goes on sale at grocery stores in the US. I bought some anyway.
17) I’m slightly worried about coming back to the US lactose intolerant because all the milk I have here is lactose free, but I think I eat enough ice cream that I’ll be okay.
18) Two of my classes have been talking about Chilean history, especially that of the 60s/70s/80s (from when Allende [the first socialist democratically elected as president in the world] was elected, to the military coup that overthrew Allende and resulted in his death, and the Pinochet dictatorship that followed). Really horrible things happened, and really horrible things were supported by the US, and it’s making me think about my role as a US American in the world, and why the US education system doesn’t teach much about these things (especially before college).
19) I’ve been hearing a lot of US news via social media, and I’m curious how much of it I’m not hearing, and how much of the Chilean news I am hearing is news in the US. Do people in the US know about the floods in northern Chile right now? Do they know about the volcano, or the fire that happened here a few weeks ago? Do they know about the corruption scandal surrounding Michelle Bachelet’s son? Likewise, what is happening in the US besides people announcing their candidacy for president and the drought in California? I feel pretty out of the loop, but it definitely puts perspective on the news I've heard in the US versus what is going on in the broader world.
20) I rode the metro the other day. It was very clean and quiet.
21) I have found the perfect empanada- actually, two in one day! It's been a mission of mine since I got here, but all of the empanadas I'd had were honestly a little disappointing. Not these two! I'll need to make sure to go back.
22) I’ll never not love living by the ocean. The other day, it was the same color as the sky. The clouds were all flat on the bottom and were at the same level as each other and it looked like they were rising up out of the water on the horizon.
23) I went to a wine festival last weekend. It was really fun- it was half like a block party for the small town it was in, and half like a wine tasting. There were lots of kids running around, people demonstrating the national dance (the cueca), and lots of people drinking wine.
the square where the wine festival was held in Casablanca
24) I’ve gotten used to Chilean money. It’s very colorful and each bill is a different size. Each bill also has a person’s portrait on one side, and a landscape on the other. One of the bills has Gabriela Mistral, a female poet, pictured. I think that’s really cool. I’ve also gotten really good at converting between pesos and USD based on a gut feeling. Brains are cool. Today I estimated that 30,000 pesos is about $45 (it’s $48) on a gut feeling.
25) Last weekend I wandered around Cerro Barón with a friend. It turned out to be a mostly residential hill, and we got a few glares from people sitting in front of their houses. Eventually we stumbled across a soccer game and we sat and watched it for about half an hour. We were basically the only people in the stands. We almost witnessed a fight on the field, but it was broken up. It was oddly therapeutic.
I could go on! Everything is still great here; I just need to remember to keep focusing on the details and finding beauty in the small things. As should everyone all the time!
If you have any questions about my time here, LC, or anything else, email me at rekidder@lclark.edu! And to those of you hearing back from schools around right now, I hope you're figuring everything out and feeling the support you need. My number one piece of advice is to go with your gut, and don't worry about asking too many questions!

08 April 2015

April Already?

Hello again. I’ve been pretty sick the last couple of days, so I don’t have a lot of exciting news to report. Yesterday, I had to skip my classes, my work in the scene shop, and my weekly trip to kindergarten to volunteer because I had a fever. I was pretty bummed about that, but I knew that the best thing for my own health as well as the health of the people around me was to stay in my bed and sleep. I’m just trying to stay on top of my work at this point. The good news is that all my professors have been very understanding. There are resources on campus to help you when you get sick. First, the RAs in my hall have a “sick box” with everything from Band-Aids to herbal tea to Nyquil in it. You can get a friend to pick up a plate for you at the dining hall if you're too sick to go. Also, there is an on-campus health center if you feel like you’re sick enough to need care from a professional. We all get sick sometimes – that’s just the reality of college life!

On a happier note, I had a really good weekend. I went out to sushi with my friend Rose. It was a little place I had never been to before. Honestly, I didn’t think the quality of the fish was particularly amazing, but the setting was really cool because it was one of those places where the sushi goes by on a little conveyor belt. If you see something you want to try, you just grab it off and eat it!

Rose checks her phone in between plates.

Roe, salmon, and unlimited ginger.

I discovered the miracle that is takoyaki, or octopus dumplings.

When I wasn’t eating sushi, I was working on my paper for Literature of the English Renaissance. It was about a poem called “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne. I focused on the way his language compares others’ purely physical love to Earth while locating his own more “metaphysical,” spiritual, intellectual love in parts of the universe thought to be closer to heaven. Here’s the diagram of the universe I was working with.

The Ptolemaic geocentric universe. It's awesome that I get to combine my interests in both astronomy and literature! Gotta love the liberal arts.

My work station.

It turned out to be a really interesting paper. Hopefully my professor will think so as well.

Another thing I did this weekend was go walking in Tryon Creek State Park around sunset. Tryon is a short walk from campus and I go running there all the time.

Beautiful, isn't it?

Well, back to my studies for now. Time to drink tea and listen to the rain while reading Virginia Woolf.

If you have any questions, email me at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.


07 April 2015

Thesis Week & Pints With Profs

Hi everyone,

    Today's post is a short one because I have a thesis draft due on Friday and it's taking over my lifeeee. The whole darn thirty pages is due on Monday. SO SO CLOSE. It's been a slow process because it's in French, so there's that. Everything is going great though! I am so proud that I'm at 26 pages. I wrote that. Me. I did it. Not to toot my own horn, but I think that's pretty awesome.

   The highlight of this week so far has been going to Pints With Profs. It's one of the "Senior Experience" events put on for the graduating class. Today seniors and their professor all got to eat some tasty free food outside together, and we were all given two free drinks. It was nice to chat and drink wine with my French professors before running off to choir. I was late to rehearsal today, but I couldn't pass up the chance to hang out with my professors in a non-office setting. I feel like freshman year I could just walk into their offices and talk about what I liked about class, talk more in depth about the material, career goals, learning a language, our favorite food carts in Portland (Potato Champion obviously).

     Lately, I've just been visiting their offices when I need help, and I forget that they are real people with cute kids and interesting lives. I hope I can stay in contact with them when I graduate-- it's coming up so soon. I can't think about that right now... thesis. thesis. Before I tell you about Alsatian poetry, here's a little clip of my housemate Katherine and I taking a study break to play some music, and FYI we are definitely not pursuing music careers.We're just hanging out in my bedroom, a typical Tuesday:

Good night everyone! If you have any questions about LC, college, or Katherine's banjo skills, I'm here:

International Affairs Symposium

This week on campus, Lewis & Clark College had its 53rd International Affairs Symposium, titled The Dynamics of Identity: Characterizing Conflict in a Globalized World. This event brings in several different types of speakers from all around the world to speak about important topics concerning the world today. For those of you  planning to major in International Affairs, this is a really fascinating event that you should look forward to.

Last night, I attended the debate/discussion between retired four star General Wesley Clark and Murtaza Hussain, a national security and civil liberties journalist who works for the online newspaper The Intercept. The topic for their discussion last night was foreign fighters, or people who are leaving their countries to fight in another. Both men brought up strong points about the concern of people leaving nations to join militant groups such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda; however, they both seemed to downplay the emergence of ISIS, stating in their own ways that the use of social media by ISIS and the 24 hours news cycle has allowed them to stay in the spotlight and get the attention they want.
Unfortunately, the Council Chambers were full so I had to watch a live feed in Stamm Hall

Although I’m not an IA major, I still wanted to go to the debate last night just to hear these two men talk about what I think is major topic in today’s world. It really was interesting to listen to the debate, and I plan to go to more tonight and tomorrow. A few of the other topics in the discussions are on the use of surveillance by the government and another is examining where the root of conflict is today in the world.

Other than  that, spring ball for football has been going very well for our team here. Both sides of the ball are learning the new systems we have, and everyone is coming together as a team. With the incoming freshman class next year, we are looking to make change within our program and win some games at last.

With only a few more weeks left this semester, I've just been chugging along in my work. Next week is when everything hits the fan. I have The last of my tests will be finishing up and then its preparation for finals. Also, I have a research paper coming up for E&D and presentations in all four of my classes.  Summer couldn't get here any faster. Well that’s all for now.


04 April 2015

Thinking Ahead

I'm interrupting my usual stream of "thoughts while abroad" to bring you an update on my life at Lewis & Clark:

This past week, I got two emails (within a day of each other) that served as a big reminder that my time at Lewis & Clark is coming to a close. The first, sent from the registrar's office, looked like this:

It took me reading it twice to realize that I actually needed to pay attention to it. Because I came in with a bunch of AP credits, I've technically been "within reach" of graduation for a few semesters. However, because I've been planning on graduating in May of 2016 all along, I've been ignoring the emails telling me about it. I can't do that with this one, because it's actually applicable to me. Which is kind of scary, kind of exciting, and definitely evoking a sense of "well, now I need to prepare myself."

The email went on to explain what I need to do (make sure I'll have all the specific credits for my majors fulfilled by the time I graduate, double check that I've fulfilled all of my general education requirements, talk with my advisors, etc). I'm a big planner and love to have everything planned out long in advance, so that's all set for me. It feels reassuring to know that I've done everything that I need to do at this point, and that, from the registrar's end, it looks like everything will work out.

I still have a few more classes I need to take for my majors: for environmental studies, I need to take global environmental history and thesis prep in the fall, and senior seminar and environmental/natural resource economics in the spring. For Hispanic studies, I still need to take a senior topics class, that I'm planning on taking in the spring, and potentially do an honor's thesis.

The second email, received not a full day later, was from my environmental studies advisor:

This is another email I'd been anticipating, but hadn't really thought about much. All environmental studies majors are required to do a thesis or a capstone project their senior year. The program is set up to have you gradually narrow in on it throughout all your classes, so it really isn't a huge shock- it's something I've been working towards for three years. The first year ENVS class is like an intro to the department and environmental theory, and from there you typically create a concentration your sophomore year, before refining your concentration your junior year to be ready to create a thesis or capstone that fits within your concentration as a senior. Because I'm a double major, my thesis has to relate to my second major (Hispanic studies), instead of my concentration specifically.

Depending on the type of thesis I end up doing, I potentially will have to start researching my topic this summer (which is really soon). I've come up with a long list of topics, but I'm not sure I like any of them enough yet. I'm also still deciding whether I'll write a Hispanic studies thesis (I need to get more info on what is involved and if it's really a good idea to be writing two theses). Unlike environmental studies, the Hispanic studies department only does honor's theses, so not everyone ends up writing one. Comparatively, everyone in environmental studies does a thesis or capstone, and you can make your thesis an honor's thesis by following specific timing guidelines and by defending it in front of environmental studies faculty. Both require specific GPAs among other things in order to be eligible to do them.

So there you have it: all that's between me and graduating on May 7, 2016 is 1-2 theses, about five or six classes, and one year, one month, and three days. I'm still unsure what I want to do after graduation, but Lewis & Clark graduates have a good record of getting jobs, internships, and into grad school after graduation, so I feel like I'm in good hands. I'm thinking of trying to work with state or city park services and potentially work towards teaching as a career, but we shall see!

I'll leave you with a picture from my new student trip right before my first year of college. How far I've come!

As a side note, I highly recommend doing a new student trip to any incoming first year student- they're a great way to get to know some friends as well as the Pacific Northwest before starting classes!
If you have any questions about the environmental studies or Hispanic studies programs, new student trips, Chile (I'm still here!), or anything else, please email me at rekidder@lclark.edu!