28 October 2015

The Spring Semester Looms! And Some Pictures...

Hello again! Last week was a flurry of academic updates for me. As I am graduating in May next year, I recently applied for my degree and learned I only need 5 credits to graduate. I, as you could imagine, am very thrilled. I have therefore decided that I'd like to be a part-time student next semester and focus on producing a fantastic honors-worthy thesis for my BA in International Affairs.
With the spring semester already looming so large on the horizon, I have already received so many questions about my plans after graduating... It's a little intimidating to be honest. I'm not sure what I'll be doing next year.
With my degree, I have been mastering my understanding of politics, state structure, and conflict. However, I also have interests outside of the confines on my major that I would love to incorporate into a career. Over the next couple of months, I hope to attend more of the career events that Lewis and Clark hosts to help guide seniors on their post-grad paths. If anything though, Lewis and Clark has prepared me to adapt to any post-grad situation, whether it be work in another field, continuing my studies, uprooting myself to a new setting, or a mix of everything.
Regardless of my post-grad plans, I am still looking forward to thesis as an opportunity to really show what makes me passionate in international affairs and that I can produce very compelling work.

To end this academic-heavy post, here are some pictures from throughout my week - I hope you enjoy them!


I made I quick interpretation of a Tunisian dish called shakshouka, which is basically a spiced tomato sauce with poached eggs cooked directly inside the sauce. Traditionally served with sausage inside the sauce and accompanied with bread, mine replaced the sausage with fried tofu and the bread with rice. I was really pleased with the result.

 On Friday my apartment-mates and I stayed in for a fun night of watching Steven Universe, exercising, and playing a rousing game of Skip-Bo.

On Saturday, a friend and I went to the Portland Art Museum to attend their Paradise exhibit. It was a free museum day with lots of exhibit events happening throughout the day and around the city, so a lot of people turned up for the gorgeous exhibit.

Afterwards, my friend and I went out for some Indian food at one of my favorite places downtown. I got some amazing ginger chicken that wasn't even on the menu!

I love how downtown Portland looks at twilight. This is Pioneer Square, the center of downtown.

Lastly, enjoy the misty Sunday morning we had. Until next week...

- Nicole

27 October 2015

Take a Hike, Dude! A Break for Those Applying to College

Hi all!
Good to be back on the blog after a super eventful week involving meetings, meetings, and meetings, with a few lunches and a hike squeezed in between. The Portland clouds finally staked their claim last week as the temperatures dropped to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the LC community brought out the new winter fashion - which, for those of you who care, ranges from sweatshirt/pants combo to flannel fiends to yuppie-casual to Portland hippie to posh New York and on and on. This blog post will be a little different - it'll only feature a For Fun section, but I'm sure you'll figure out why! Enjoy : )

For Fun

On Sunday, I took my friend (who is in her senior year at her high school) on the Angel's Rest Trail in the Colombia River Gorge. With a breakfast of questionably acquired Bon (nickname for our wonderful dining hall) peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a handful of hours of sleep, we set off on the (only) half hour drive to the trailhead at seven AM. 

Fungi is everywhere in the NW forests. We spotted some
of this bright orange fungi on decomposing trees!
Sunday's adventures took us up 1,600 ft of elevation gain, through some wonderful old-growth Northwest mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, and across several stride-stopping viewpoints that showcased a sample of Oregon's killer natural scenery. a first time experience on the West Coast as well as an escape from the stress, pressure, and contrived atmosphere of the college application process, in which many of you are currently experiencing. During our morning trek, Jenn had tons of questions about college life, but what stood out was her desire to graduate high school to live a fulfilling, free, and interesting life that isn't so "safe" as high school sometimes can be. Torin and I were the perfect companions for her, for we both took a break in our educations to work or WWOOF or do pursue other things in life beyond school. Essentially in our 4 hour hike, we assured her that life beyond high school is exciting, stimulating, invigorating - depending on your will to pursue your passions and new interests. We were greeted by 60 mph winds at the top and had loads of fun leaning into the wind and taking in all that fresh air right in the face. The strong and crisp winds were the perfect reset button for our bodies and for our minds.

Jenn looking off into the distance from the Angel's Rest viewpoint. If she turned around, you could see her huge smile she had! *also note, struggling to stand up in the wind
Which college you choose is important no doubt, but what rules over this is your will-power to take life's reins and... you know the rest of the saying. When you're going through the application process, as a transfer or as a senior in high school, this can sometimes be forgotten, and we helped Jenn get back on track and stoked for her future again. If that's not a good enough Sunday for you, we also had Pho for lunch in downtown. Beat that ; )

For Torin (another transfer friend) and I, this hike was a very welcome break from studies and the campus, but for my high school friend Jenn, who is currently applying to college, it was just how our lovely John Muir put it.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity    - John Muir, Our National Parks

So go ahead, try out a hike, anywhere - in the city or out of it.
Hit the reset button.

Go Timbers!

It’s official. The semester is halfway over! It’s crazy how fast this semester has gone so far. Still, classes go on and keep me busy which makes it go by even faster. All my classes are really going well for me, and I’m really trying to finish the semester strong.

This past week wasn’t too busy in terms of school. It was a pretty easy week since I only had homework for Spanish, calculus, and physics. Whenever I am struggling with my physics homework, thankfully I can go to the SQRC for help. The SQRC, or Symbolic and Quantitative Resource Center, is a place in Howard Hall where anyone can go to get help on almost all science and math work. It has really saved me a couple times over my time here. It is especially helpful because there are peer tutors there that have taken the same courses that you have and really understand the work you are doing. As soon as I need help on a problem and can’t see a professor for help, it’s the first place I go.

Other than homework, I didn’t really do much this week. For football, we played the University of Puget Sound this past Saturday. Unfortunately we lost 38-7, but we are still showing signs of improvement. It has been rough, but the only thing we can do is keep our heads up and keep getting better. This weekend we face Willamette for our rivalry game, and fortunately they haven’t played much better than us. Hopefully we can get our first win this weekend against our rival.

This Sunday I was able to go with a few friends to the Portland Timbers’ final game of the year. Lewis & Clark College had bought a lot of tickets for the game this past weekend and sold them to us for a discounted price. A lot was riding on their game that day because if they were able to win or get a tie, they would make the Major League Soccer (MLS) playoffs. Since the tickets were general admission, we were able to sit wherever we wanted at one end of the stadium. The coolest part about our seats was that it was in the die-hard fan section, nicknamed the Timbers’ Army. Before the game had even started, they had already started chanting and cheering on the Timbers. By the time the game had started, the whole stadium was completely packed for the game. Once the game kicked off, the Timbers’ Army didn’t stop chanting the whole time. Fortunately for all of us, we had a lot to cheer about in the first five minutes, as the Timbers were quick to score their first goal. After that their opponent, the Colorado Rapids, managed to tie the game for a little while. However, right before halftime, the Timbers scored their second goal and didn’t look back. It was such an incredible experience to be there that day. The Timbers ended up winning 4-1, making everyone in the crowd very happy and securing their playoff spot.

Looking forward to this week, things should return to the normal business of school. I just have to keep chugging along and knock out these next few weeks before Thanksgiving break! Until next week.  


Both sides of the scarf I bought at the game. Go Timbers!
View of the game!

26 October 2015

The Ground is Alive!

The scene of our story

Imagine you are spending your weekend on a college outdoors trip.  Since this is a training trip and you rotated through various activities during the day you end up sleeping in a tent someone else had set up during the last rotation of activities.  At about 5am you wake up because someone is poking you, you roll over and ignore it, but the poking starts again; then, and only then, do you realize that you are alone in the tent and the ground is poking you.  Sounds like Halloween, right?

Someone had set my tent up over a molehill and the mole was very confused to find his tunnels partially collapsed.  Being a mole he promptly started trying to repair them which would have worked a lot better had I not been on top of them.  Once I started poking back he decided it was a job best left for another time and left me alone for the rest of the night.  We left that morning so I’m sure he has fixed his home back up and is living comfortably again.

Favorite photos from the trip:

L&C Everyday Life: Mailroom

It's not quite as big as it looks in the picture.
Since this blog is aimed toward showing you what life is like here at Lewis & Clark, I’ve decided to start adding in a few bits of information on the everyday life of an L&C student to the end of each of my posts.

Each student is assigned a mailbox for their entire time at L&C.  It’s a small (≈ 6” X 3”) metal box in the mailroom.  Since 6” X 3” is too small for most packages, you will get a yellow slip of paper in your box informing you that you have received a package.  Getting your package is rather simple, simply bring the yellow slip and a photo ID to the mailroom counter.  Lots of people decorate their mailbox with stickers so feel free to do so, but keep in mind each box has a combination lock so you will only have about 4” X 3” to decorate.

Any questions (or suggestions for the L&C Everyday Life segment)?  Please email me at ameliaberle@lclark.edu

20 October 2015

Working on Campus - The Low Down

Fall decorations made from real chiles and vegetables @ the PSU Farmer's Market
Hey all!
In this post, I want to share a bit about working on/off campus. Many students choose to hold a part-time job as a student, and, for the most part, LC does cater to those students who need that extra income to make ends meet. For on-campus jobs, you'll find anything from working in the gym to the Bon (dining hall) to research positions to facilities and grounds maintenance. Pretty much anywhere you look on campus, there is a student working, and this is a very good sign. As a transfer student who has had a break in my education, I am familiar with job hunting, but for those of you who have never held a job before, working on campus is the perfect introduction! Campus jobs require very little commute time (no traffic!) and are super accommodating during high-stress times (think exams!). You can get a campus job in one of two ways:

1) Search for and apply online using LC's system
2) Network with contacts and see if they need student help

In your job search, you'll want to do both ideally. It's great practice writing/revising resumes (which you can get help doing for free at our Career Center). I work as an Academic English Studies (AES) helper in two of the many AES classes LC runs for its international exchange students on campus. Essentially, I get to drop into AES classes and help bring a closer more intimate English experience to students coming from abroad; activities change every week and can range from talking about my family history as a child of immigrants from Japan or helping students understand/dig further into social problems in the USA as a class assignment. It's a very rewarding job and fits right into the class schedule, which is just great. Interestingly, every student I know who is holding an on-campus jobs seems to enjoy their experiences working. While I don't recommend having a job during your first semester in college, sometimes it's not an option to not have one, so be glad that you will have options when you're at LC.

As for off-campus jobs, LC runs a page dedicated to listing off-campus non-LC related jobs. These are great if you live off campus or if you don't have a work-study award (if you don't have a work-study award, then your on-campus options are limited to working in the Bon, unfortunately). If you find a job downtown and live on campus, you can easily use the pio as your transport because it runs continuously from early morning to late late (think 2am).

If it exists, there's an artisan
version of it in Portland
For Fun!
This past weekend was Parent's weekend, and many students decided to go out with their parents and enjoy the greater Portland area and what is has to offer (food, outdoors, shopping, etc. etc. etc. you name it). Although my parents did not visit, that didn't stop me from grabbing a few friends and heading to PSU's farmer's market, which runs year-round on saturdays in downtown. This is one of my favorite places to go to get fresh groceries, locally-made gifts, tasty dishes, live bands, and of course, free samples for days. This huge farmer's market is often confused with the Portland Saturday Market, which is an even bigger local crafts and food/drink market that also runs on Saturdays in a different part of downtown.
This x100 = PSU Farmer's Market

Music, Food, and Homecoming

Last week was Homecoming Week and all of campus was abuzz with visiting parents and nostalgic alumni. This was also a week where I really could see the seasons changing and I took the opportunity to walk a little more around campus. Check out this beautiful photo of the footpath behind Frank Manor House!

For me, the week really started with the Queer Student Union's annual Acapella OUTLoud Benefit Concert on Wednesday night in the Agnes Flanagan Chapel. The concert is held every year to commemorate National Coming Out Day, and the QSU takes this opportunity to highlight some of the many real challenges caused by being out as LGBTQ+ even in the liberal city of Portland, OR. Donations from the concert went to Outside In, a local Portland organization that serves the homeless community and has specific resources for LGBTQ+ homeless youth.

The concert featured our four main campus Acapella groups, known collectively as Acabrella: Semper, Section Line Drive, Momo & the Coop, and the Merryweathers. Check out some pictures from the concert - sorry for the low-quality photos!

Semper getting set up after opening with some Elton John.

Section Line Drive during their performance of "Forrest Gump" by Frank Ocean.

Momo and the Coop getting funky with some tUnE-yArDs.

The Merryweathers also covering Frank Ocean, and later closing the night with Queen.

 In addition to these spectacular performances, some slam-poets from Apocalips - our on-campus competitive poetry team - also performed moving spoken word pieces in between songs to capture their authentic and personal experiences with coming out and being out. Myself and another QSU member worked together in compiling a spoken word piece on this topic created from anonymous submissions from the Lewis & Clark community. It was amazing to show the range from triumphs to tribulations in such a vivid and impactful way.

Later that week, I was lucky enough to be able to explore NE and downtown Portland a bit. I love riding the buses and public transit here - trains and buses are really clean, and in my experience drivers and passengers alike are fairly helpful. While I was traveling to NE Portland I got some gorgeous views of the city, and while downtown, I went with a friend for Thai food at one of the most popular Thai places in Portland - Thai Peacock. Thai food is very common in the Bay Area where I'm from, so eating at Thai Peacock reminds me a little of home. While I don't have any photos of my delicious pad see ew noodles, I did snap some pictures of the sun setting over the Willamette River and downtown Portland - so enjoy them below!

That's all from me, so have a good week - talk to you soon!


What a beautiful sunset!

Homecoming Weekend

This past was a very busy week on campus. It was Lewis & Clark’s Homecoming and Parents’ Weekend this weekend, which meant it was very crowded on campus. The school does a very good job of bringing back alumni and welcoming parents. It hosts lots of events to showcase the school and area around it. I know that they host hikes in Tryon State Park, have acapella group singing, and even a breakfast on Saturday morning for all the football alumni that were there this weekend.

I didn’t really get to see much of the action besides all the extra people on campus. By the time all the parents and alumni were arriving on Thursday, I had been working all day on my physics homework. It is definitely my toughest class right now, but mostly because it has the most homework. Other than that, all my classes are going really well for me right now, and I’m really happy with how I am doing in them!

Since it was homecoming this week, a lot of football alumni game to our game this weekend against Pacific University. One of the coolest things I think they do for our alumni and parents is set up a giant tent in the back of our end zone under the scoreboard where they can watch the game. They also serve food and drinks for them in the tent, and it’s a really amazing experience to see all the former football players there cheering us on. Unfortunately, we lost in front of a really great crowd this Saturday. Our team is so close to winning, but we just can’t string everything together right now.

The game really started off well for us, and we even scored on our first drive of the game which hasn’t happened while I have been here. After that though, things went downhill for a while. We were able to stop them on their first two drives, but then we gave up several touchdowns in a row off big plays that really hurt us. Towards the end of the game though, some of our freshman players displayed some phenomenal talent that narrowed the score for us. The backup quarterback, Mike Machado, was able to lead our team on three scoring drives in the fourth quarter. Another freshman that played really well was Bryce Johnson, who made a spectacular one handed grab over two defenders to set up our last touchdown. Hopefully soon we can combine all the really good things we have built and get our first win of the year.

Other than football and school, I haven’t really done much. Those both keep me busy all week, but I might be able to go a Portland Timbers game this week. The Timbers are the local Major League Soccer team here, and I really hope I can still get tickets that the school is selling for a good price. Since it is Lewis & Clark Night at the Timbers game, the school buys a chunk of tickets and sells it to the students for a discounted price. They also do it for the Trailblazer games in the winter, which I really like. I'll tell you all about it next week.


Beautiful day for sports: I was watching the girls soccer team play before our game.

I'm on the far right, #44. I was named a captain for this weekends game. 

Getting a tackle!

19 October 2015

Once Upon a Parents' Weekend

As promised, here are the photos of me spinning fire at the Fire Arts club. We’re getting ready for the Halloween show. I’m not experienced enough yet to choreograph my own piece yet, but I can freestyle burn at the beginning with the other newbies.

I had a really busy weekend for two reasons. First, my family came up to visit for Parents’ Weekend. We browsed Powell’s Books for a while, which is this huge bookstore downtown that covers an entire city block. I was geeking out because I found a translation of the Greek tragedy Trojan Women done by one of my favorite poets, Alan Shapiro. I actually met him two years ago when I was a first-year here. We read some of his work in my poetry class, and then my professor brought him to campus for a poetry reading. We all sat in the Frank Manor house and had cookies and coffee together. I even got his autograph.

I then introduced my family to the wonders that are Voodoo Doughnut, Salt N Straw, and Tea Chai Te. In addition to eating copious amounts of doughnuts and ice cream and tea, we went food-carting and had Greek gyros and Georgian khatchapuri and more tea. Finally, we went hiking around Tryon Creek State Park, which is a beautiful wooded area really close to campus. I go running there often.

This is khatchapuri. It's amazing. 

Also, I was in Once upon a Weekend for the first time. Every year, the (Pause.) Journal of Dramatic Literature, a student-run theatre publication on campus, posts a short prompt in the theater. This year's was "Standard Procedure." Students have one week to submit a short play in response to the prompt. (Pause.) then chooses five or six plays to produce. That Friday night, there is a two hour casting/audition period. I showed up and we played improv games for an hour while the directors watched. Then the directors went into the corner and made important decisions while we talked amongst ourselves. Finally, we were all assigned our roles. I got the part of Haley, who is in heaven due to death by shark attack and has to navigate the bureaucracy of annoying and unhelpful angels to find her mother. Along her way, she encounters a miniature pony named Beth who helps her in her journey. I had the rest of that night and the next morning to memorize my lines, and then we had a grand total of two hours of rehearsal in the afternoon. The show that night went really well and the whole thing was a ton of fun. I will definitely do it again next year. I like that it's only a 24 hour time commitment and that you get to meet so many people through it. If you come to Lewis and Clark, I would highly recommend participating. If you’re not into acting or writing plays, then you should still definitely show up and be in the audience. It’s always a huge crowd and it’s pretty interactive and noisy. Not your typical theatre-going experience (if there is such a thing).

Anyway, because my weekend was so busy, I need to catch up on some Shakespeare reading now. Stay tuned for more on life at Lewis and Clark next week! As always, if you have questions hit me up at jessicakostka@lclark.edu.



18 October 2015

Atomic Adventures and Ninjas

You are supposed to leave an apple on your teacher’s desk, right?

Antimony Pentachloride (SbCl5)
In chemistry we are working on figuring out the various shapes of atoms and the professor suggested that we try making our own models because illustrations just aren’t the same as having something you can hold in your hands.  The next morning a friend and I arrived early for class prepared with apples and sharpened chopsticks.  The smile on his face when he walked in was definitely worth getting to class 20 minutes early.  It stayed on his desk for the remainder of the day before finally being eaten.

If you aren’t paying attention while walking late on a Saturday night you may find yourself in the midst of a battle.  At 11pm every Saturday, L&C students gather by the outdoor pool for a game called Ninja.  Ninja is more or less capture the flag with foam swords.  The goal is to capture the flag of the opposing team and place it with your own.  Failing this, you could always kill the entire opposing team.  There are various rules of combat; mostly along the lines of don’t hit people in the face, don’t stab anyone, and try not to die.

My Saturday night was spent fighting enemy guards, ninjas, shoguns, and the occasional wanderer.  I have yet to be anything other than a guard, but this was only my second time playing.  As a guard I get sent off on various tasks such as trying to steal the enemy flag, defending our flag, and attempting to defeat the enemy shogun.  It is a lot of fun, gets you outdoors running around, and I find that hitting people with a foam sword (when they are armed too) turns out to be a pretty decent way to make friends.

If you have any questions feel free to send me an email at ameliaberle@lclark.edu