02 May 2021

Dungeons and Dragons

One common pastime of us at Lewis and Clark is Dungeons and dragons. Some games are school-sponsored but most are just friends getting together to have fun. It is one of the many things that make LC such a unique and community-oriented campus.

For those who don’t know, dnd is a role-playing game. Players use their imaginations to tell stories in a fantasy setting. Each person plays a character they invent within the structures of the game. They go on adventures, exploring a fantasy land filled with dangers, heartbreak, and victories that we’d never know in the real world. The shaper of this land is the dungeon master. They will describe the world and the actions that will take place. They will also voice and act as the non-player characters (NPC’s)


Dnd has many variations, not just your typical version. If you, like me, find the system of dnd overly complicated, then a more simple variation may be more fun to play. I played a version of dnd recently using playing cards instead of dice, that worked essentially like poker. Some variations just add on to the preexisting infrastructure of dnd. For example, if you want to add flying broomsticks to your campaign you can look up, or write mechanics for how they work. 


I am playing two campaigns right now, one with some friends long distance, and one with my pod here at LC. You can play it with people near and far, so it is especially good for covid. While they both use the dnd framework, the gameplay is very different. One campaign is more focused on storytelling with our dungeon master giving us beautiful descriptions of the setting and fully realized NPC’s. The other has more freedom in terms of how the characters can shape the campaign. What we do and where we decide to go completely determines the trajectory of the game.


My friend is designing a campaign right now in a whole new world with new races of creatures, new cultural structures, and new enemies to fight. I have agreed to help him by illustrating some of the characters in his game. Here are some samples I’ve come up with so far:











Logistics of Going Home

 It’s the end of the year here at Lewis and Clark. Unsurprisingly, the biggest thing I’m going to miss this summer is the friends I’ve made at LC. Don’t get me wrong I am excited to see my friends at home, but I have nothing like the community I have found here at LC. 


The logistics of going home can be complex. Especially if you’re dealing with these things for the first time, without your parents. I live far away, and I’ve discovered going home can be surprisingly expensive. Between flights, storage, shipping it can really add up, and that’s not including smaller expenses like getting to the airport or buying food on the way home. 


If money is something you worried about I would strongly recommend:

1. Planning far ahead of time. 

2. Work with friends and acquaintances to cut costs. Split a ride or a storage unit, ask a friend to drive you.

3. Weigh your options. You’ll have a lot of choices. Remember that these are big decisions and you should do what is best for you.


I, like many freshmen, am heading back to my parent’s house all the way in Indiana. This isn’t necessarily obligatory. Some people I know are staying in portland and living with friends or renting an apartment.


I will be flying home. There are a few things that make flying more difficult. Transportation is one of the biggest factors. There is a shuttle from LC to the portland airport, but because I schedule my flights so far ahead of time the shuttle hasn’t been there when I need it. Ride services are the obvious other source of transportation, but these can be deceivingly expensive. When I got a ride from the airport to LC it was 55 dollars. That’s over a fourth of the cost of my flight!


The other big logistical thing is storage. When first coming to LC anything I couldn’t take with me on the plane I had mailed here. Now, I don’t want to mails stuff back and forth, but I also need somewhere to leave my things over the summer. LC has some storage, but it is limited and international students understandably get priority. LC suggests that you get a storage unit. I am getting a storage unit off-campus with a few friends of mine. One great thing about the storage unit is that if you split it between enough people it’s pretty reasonably priced. I’m splitting it with five people and it’s costing me about 60 bucks for the whole summer. 


A quick tip: If you take any prescribed medication, getting refills in different places can be super stressful. Kroger subsidiaries are everywhere and they include, among others, Fred Meyers and CVS. The Pio (LC bus service) goes to the Burlingame Fred Meyers, and it is relatively simple to transfer meds between stores. So, that is something you can consider.


P.S. Indiana is going to be a hot spot for this brood of the seventeen-year cicadas, so I am excited to go home for that. Seriously, cicada’s are so cool!!


01 May 2021

My experience as a TA

Now that the semester is almost over, I've completed most of my responsibilities as a teaching assistant for Psychology Research Methods. All that's left to do now is finalize grades and listen to students' presentations about their research projects! I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my experience as a TA and what I've learned.

Something I learned from other friends who were also TAs this semester is that TAships look very different in different classes and with different professors. Some of my friends did more in-class instruction while others had lots of grading to do. I had a nice balance in my class; while I did grade assignments, we had a relatively small class. I also spent class time hopping from breakout room to breakout room to check in on groups and see if anyone needed support. I felt a bit awkward doing this, since I know it can be strange to have a professor pop into your breakout room, but I was happy to hear that this was actually helpful for students when I read my TA evaluations. 

Besides grading and helping out in class, my teaching responsibilities included leading exam review sessions before the midterm and the final, and giving a mini-lecture about my research project and how it connects to course material. The exam review sessions were a huge learning experience for me, since it's difficult to prepare to answer questions when you're not sure what those questions will be. My professor suggested including time at the beginning for people to submit their questions in the chat and for me to prep my materials, and this helped me better address students' questions. 

I also really enjoyed getting to work with individual students during office hours. Sometimes it was difficult to find solutions when challenges arose, but it was so rewarding to be able to problem solve with students and support them with their research projects. I'm really looking forward to hearing their presentations about their work! 

Overall, being a TA was definitely challenging and time-consuming, but I'm really grateful to have been able to improve my teaching skills while working with a great group of students!

29 April 2021

May Trips

College Outdoors usually arranges trips for new students to attend in August before their first year. This year, however, they were held virtually due to covid. The digital new student trips were definitely still worthwhile for making friends, and getting introduced to LC culture, but they were missing the wilderness recreation part that I was so excited about. Thankfully, College Outdoors has decided to do new student trips at the end of this year! 


I will be doing the Badger Creek Wilderness trip. We’ll be backpacking the foothills of Mount Hood. It will be four days of hiking. Not all New Student Trips are backpacking. Some are kayak or rafting trips, some are less rigorous forms of wilderness recreation. Other trips aren’t even about wilderness. There are trips exploring the art scene in Portland, or doing community service.


I love backpacking. I love being in nature. I love the exposure it gives you to the wilderness. You only having one destination and all you have to do is walk. Something about that is so meditative and it really causes you to contemplate the natural world. I truly believe that this kind of exposure to nature builds empathy for life outside of humanity which will fuel environmental stewardship for the rest of your life. That’s certainly what it’s done for me.


Of course, not everything about backpacking is magical and amazing. There is a level of grime sweat and dirt that happens when backpacking that is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever experienced. You do have to be willing to put up with a fair amount of discomfort. Usually, there’s no escaping the heat or the bugs. Minor injuries are frankly unavoidable. The main injuries will just come from all the walking. If you don’t break in your boots properly and you’ll have to deal with blisters and all other kinds of discomfort. That being said, all of that minor seems inconsequential to me when I’m experiencing nature so intimately.


If you are new to backpacking, never fear! This trip is super beginner-friendly. They have everything you need down to socks and shoes, and there are no additional fees for checking out equipment. They will teach you what you need to know, and then after the trip, you will have many of the skills you need to backpack in the future!


If you worried if you’re physically ready for backpacking, I’ll try and assuage your fears, but of course, know your abilities and exercise reasonable precautions. This trip is considered ‘rigorous’ which definitely intimidated me at first. It could be up to 10 miles a day, but it will be more like an average of five miles a day, and hey can easily do less if issues arise (that might be specific to this trip). If you don’t hike much that might seem like a lot, but I think it is very doable for only moderately healthy people (myself included). I have been on trips that were an average of 10 miles and while those were definitely challenging all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. At five miles a day you might begin to get sore legs or feet, but you probably won’t feel destroyed at the end of the day. You will also have all the time in the world so you can go slow and take all the breaks you need. The most challenging part then is the weight. The most important thing you can do about that is to wear your pack correctly. This will shift much of the weight to your hips. That will help you avoid shoulder and back pain as well as lowering your center of gravity so that it is easier to manage and the bag doesn’t knock you over. There are a lot of other tricks that can help you out with that. I would say that you shouldn’t be intimidated out of participating in one of these trips.


One really amazing thing about College Outdoors is that they provide financial support for their trips. I am receiving financial assistance and it is super affordable and helpfu.


I am super excited to go on this trip, and if you are an incoming student, you should look into going on one yourself!


For more information on my trip: https://www.lclark.edu/live/profiles/13654-backpack-badger-creek-wilderness 


For more information on New Student Trips: https://www.lclark.edu/programs/college_outdoors/programs/nst/ 


For more information on College outdoors: https://www.lclark.edu/programs/college_outdoors/

25 April 2021

Why I Chose LC

    Yesterday I was engaged in a conversation with one of my coworkers while we walked out of work and she invited me back to her dorm. Because of covid, I hadn’t been in any other dorms in a long time because the campus had enforced rules that people could not socialize in dorms that were not their own until around a month ago. We walked from the dining hall, where we work, to Akin. As soon as I stepped inside memories from freshman year flooded over me. 

I had stayed in Akin as a prospective student before I even decided to come to Lewis & Clark. One of my scholarships had a program that flew out a group of seniors to stay on campus for a weekend with tours, events, and games. It’s funny to think back that I was just meeting some of the people who are now the most important to me and I can’t imagine life without them. We each stayed with a student at LC who showed us around and invited us to tag along with them downtown. So many people seemed so excited whenever I told them I was thinking about attending LC and I automatically felt very welcomed. 


Lewis and Clark are very welcoming and community-based, I decided to attend and to room in Akin because I had met so many cool people during my visit to Portland. The environment in my living hall was amazing. My neighbors left their doors open and we hung out together all of the time. The whole hall knew each other and we spent as much time in our own rooms as we did in others. We had nights of laughing and others of focused studying. I was living the college experience that I dreamed of. 


Thinking back on these memories now they feel distant yet I know that I cannot expect to live that experience in the middle of a pandemic. A lot has changed since then, some of my closest friends transferred, some of the friendships faded away and of course, now there’s covid. As I reach the end of the semester and the weather is getting warmer so I can socialize again, I feel like there’s an essential piece of my college experience being returned to me. We’re in the final push so I’m thankful for the library is open 24/7. Seeing people sitting out on the grass in the sun with their laptops and notebooks reminds me of why I decided to come here. LC is a place for serious students, but also for people who care about connection and community. 


24 April 2021

LET'S TALK: finishing the semester with scary emotions

 Hi friends! 


As always I hope whoever is reading this is okay or even more good. I’m pretty sure this is my last blog post for the semester/ year so I guess thanks for reading and sticking around whoever you are :) 


It’s Saturday- the weekend, my only productive plan is homework, still catching up on some work I missed while I was in Kenya and in general preparing for finals. In other news I officially signed up for housing and a meal plan next semester/ year- sophomore year homies. I genuinely don’t know how to feel about it. I’m super excited and looking forward to living and reconnecting with my roommates and just being on campus. I recently heard from a classmate that they don’t enjoy being on campus and it’s overrated, and I would have to disagree. Being on campus is what you make of it. 

To be more specific, things like meeting your roommate for the first time whether it be through social media or the first day you move into the dorms; staying up late hours getting to know your roommate(s) until you have to attend NSO. Making plans with your roommate and trying out Maggie’s for the time or taking walks on campus and getting familiar with the territory. I believe making/ finding the time to hang out with friends, to meet new people, taking the PIO to Freddy’s or just for fun, try new things that LC has to offer, explore Portland and its community, and literally doing things outside your comfort zone are just a few things that can make your time at LC and college in general great.


In all honesty it’s been a pretty challenging semester with a lot of personal things going on, then travelling during the pandemic and school year made me feel incredibly disconnected with myself, school and my external environment. Thankfully I have some people in my life who I can talk to about such feelings and thoughts so I don’t necessarily have to keep them to myself and suppress them. But the feeling of disconnection is a new feeling and it made me terrified because I feared what I didn’t know/ understand. And I'm not sure if I'll ever get to a point of understanding said feeling and I'm okay with that for now. I’m sure this feeling isn’t new to some college students so if you’re an incoming freshman I would recommend preparing yourself that there are going to be so many moments and feelings that may or may not make any sense and hopefully you not only get through those moments but grow and learn in the process but of course it's not easy. I think something that helps me get through any of these feelings is definitely taking naps, and sitting down with my thoughts. (please remember these are some things that work for me so they're subjective of course). It may sound cheesy and cliché, but I believe it's a piece of truth people can hold onto. let's just say its been a semester of scary emotions and feelings- for me, but it's slowly getting better.


I can spend a lot of time continuing this post but I don’t wanna bore folks so I guess there’s a lot to look forward to in the near future, but first we/I gotta through this week, these finals and in general this semester. It’s been a pleasure having the opportunity to write for the LC blog site. 


tchau,

natalie :) 


Here are some photos from some beautiful moments on campus:


first floor akin window
gill & ro


downtown fun
halloween week


downtown fun


The Voices You Don't Hear Because You Don't Want