Envisioning Equality in Computer Science

Alex (right) going for a walk with a friend

Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Alejandro Castaneda, (Alex) discovered Portland State University in high school while he was searching for Computer Science programs and schools in the Pacific Northwest that participated in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program. He told me his mom said “I want you to go to school somewhere that is close enough that I can drive to you.” He went on and told me that he loved the way campus looked and the close proximity and connections with large companies like Nike and Intel. He wanted to attend college in a big city that was growing so that he would have lots of job opportunities after graduating. “Even today, the city of Portland is one of my favorite parts about attending PSU,” he says. The discounted tuition rate he has with WUE made it possible for him to attend PSU and that’s what helped make the decision.

When he was growing up, he would always help his family with technical stuff and grew to have an interest in computers, so choosing Computer Science was natural. However, when he got to college classes, he discovered that the content he would be learning was very different than what he was expecting. “It’s less…IT than I expected. More data. Like, less fixing and more making. But I love it. The most exciting part is being able to create whatever you want. There are infinite possibilities in the field of Computer Science.”

Alex and I talked for over an hour, but I feel like I only got a hint at his depth of knowledge and interest in the topics we covered. He has such a vast understanding of not only the subject matter he studies but the social and cultural significance around it, and what the implications are for the future of his field.

The main thing I noticed during our conversation is that Alex is committed to building equality in the field of computer science. He is involved with so many organizations I could barely keep track. He is the Mentorship Director at WiCS (We in Computer Science), a student group that works to challenge the exclusion of LGBTQ+ people, women, gender non-conforming, first-generation immigrants, people of color, and disabled people from the field of computer science. “We aim to build spaces where people feel as though ‘We Belong’ so it’s exciting to partake in something that will change our community. In the mentorship program, my team works to pair students in need of a mentor with those who are seeking someone to help out, so it’s extremely beneficial.”

He works with tech organizations off-campus as well. “By being part of the campus, you are also part of the city. You can easily meet so many other people who aren’t students.”

He is involved with the organization Out in Tech: a non-profit that aims to unite LGBTQ+ tech community. They do a lot of Portland community events and mixers. He also mentioned the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, a national organization of professional engineers to serve as role models in the Hispanic community. Engineers without Borders do various projects around the city. He said they worked on building solar lamps and a self-sustaining shower designed for homeless populations in the city.

At this point, you may be wondering how on earth he keeps up with all these commitments in addition to going to class and having a social life. He turned his phone toward me so I could see his Google Calendar — it was like a colorful Christmas tree, with overlapping calendar notifications, reminders, and color-coordinated events. In awe, I told him how impressed I was by his commitment and drive and managing this crazy schedule. He laughed and said “I get it from my mom. She is always working. I can’t just sit around and do nothing. So I seem to always occupy myself in some way by taking more than I can handle and then managing all that and feeling so awesome when I do.”

We talked a little bit about his transition from Las Vegas to Portland. He came to Portland not knowing anyone and he said he felt alone for a little while, but decided to try and make friends and was able to meet tons of people through campus. At resource centers like the Global Diversity and Inclusion Club, there were always events going on. Living in Campus Housing his freshman year gave him a lot of points of connection and helped him build friendships with other students. “The university provides structure to the events on campus by posting fliers, and The School of Business highlights every event on campus to get you involved.”

He was telling me he knows so many people now from his involvement though classes, the Ambassador Program, and Campus Recreation, when, by sheer coincidence, he looked up and pointed to someone walking by on the sidewalk outside. “Like her, I actually know her, that’s Amber. We were in the same dorm our sophomore year.” He lives off-campus now, but the roommates he has are friends that he made from living on campus.

He told me something that I hear a lot of students say: “Professors really care about you and try to get to know you. They want to see you succeed. If you actually put in the time and effort, the professors will reciprocate your hard work.”

I was really moved by a story he told about his most pivotal moment at Portland State. “At the end of my Freshman Inquiry class, my professor, Dr. Kenny Bagley, came up to me and extended his hand and told me “Alex, you should get a Ph.D.” I was completely taken aback because I barely considered getting my bachelors, and here my professor who’s known me for only a year was recommending me to pursue a doctorate. This experience motivated me because I feel as though now I have many people invested in my life. He saw capabilities in me that I didn’t even see in myself.”

Here at PSU, we are so proud of students like Alex who work hard to make opportunities equal for everyone. Increasing representation and dismantling structural barriers is so important to building a better world for us all. People like Alex are shaping the future by emboldening others today, and at PSU, the possibilities for this are endless.

Discover your potential. Apply today.

5 Ways to Ease Homesickness

Homesickness can be one of the toughest, most unexpected challenges when you’re new in college. It can really happen to anyone, even if you’re just one city away from home. 


Homesickness feels a lot like like anxiety or depression and usually happens when we feel disconnected from familiar people and places. There are lots of ways homesickness can present itself but the most common symptoms are comparing your old setting with the new one or wanting to call home frequently. You could also have trouble sleeping or eating, feel nauseous, excessively sad or sluggish. 

It’s important to be able to enjoy your college experience! Not everyone’s process to overcome homesickness may be the same, but here are our best suggestions for dealing with these feelings:

Join a club to meet people.

PSU has your back with over 200 student clubs and groups! From a neuroscience club, to Greek life, to Acapella groups, you will definitely find a group of people with shared interests. The website also has links to volunteer and service opportunities if you want to go beyond campus. When you’re feeling down, it’s important to branch out and talk to new people! Even if it’s difficult, and especially if you don’t feel like it. The more you get out there, the more chances you’ll have to meet new friends. 

Visit SHAC.

All students enrolled in at least five credits can visit the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). Counseling Services offers brief individual and group counseling, crisis/emergency services, and workshops throughout the year to support your transition to PSU. Getting help is a really smart and brave thing to go. Actually a lot of students experience homesickness, so you are not alone. Definitely consider visiting SHAC for other health and wellness needs, too, from health and dental check ups, to acupuncture, to scheduling a time in the Mind Spa, which features a massage chair, light therapy and biofeedback games to help you relax.

Distract yourself!

One of the best ways to get yourself out of a funk is to just focus on something else for a little while. Go to the library to study rather than your dorm room, or go for a walk, or check out a new coffee shop, or visit a thrift store. There are unlimited things going on in the city pretty much all the time, you just have to get out there. The 5th Avenue Cinema is a student-run cinema that shows FREE movies for PSU students. The PSU Farmers Market is every Saturday, rain or shine, right on campus at the park blocks. The more places you go, the more people you will meet, and the more chances you’ll have to make friends. Our Visitor Guide also has tons of student-recommended activities (a bunch of them free or discounted for PSU students), restaurants and other cool spots to visit.

Visit the Campus Rec Center.

When you’re feeling bad, it can sound really tempting to loaf under a blanket and dig into a massive tub of ice cream, but this will likely only make you feel worse. To combat this, get some exercise to get those endorphins flowing, our body’s natural feel-good hormones. I always remind myself that the hardest part about going to the gym is just getting dressed and heading out the door. The Rec Center also makes it super easy and convenient to get a sweat going, with all kinds of fitness options, including an Olympic size pool, a hot tub, cardio and weight rooms, and a rock-climbing wall! They also offer a wide range of group fitness classes, including yoga, cycling, and Zumba. If you want to get started but are not sure how, there are also educational classes like lifting and rock climbing for all skill levels. Exercise is so good for our well-being. It has been shown to improve sleep, build confidence, tone muscle, and help with anxiety and depression.

Do you also like getting exercise outdoors? Spending time in nature reduces anxiety and depression and it can be fun to go on an adventure. Our Outdoor Program offers guided hikes throughout the state with a 50% discount for students.

Talk with friends and family back home.

This is an important step. Talking with your loved ones can help you feel more connected and loved. They will want to hear all about your new adventure here. And this is a great time  to ask for a care package including anything from home that would make you feel more comfortable, like photos or blankets, or even a stuffed animal (hey, no judgement here). 

However, just keep in mind that it’s important to not over-rely on your family and avoid your new world. If you notice that you’re spending more of your time talking with people back home than exploring your new environment, you will only prolong these bad feelings. You should set up a weekly time to call or FaceTime back home. This will help you create the space you need during the rest of the week to connect with your life at PSU and gives you something to look forward to.

BONUS tip: Talk to a Professor or Staff Member.

PSU faculty and staff are sympathetic and they want to see you do well here! Do you feel particularly fond of one of your professors, or another staff member like a Resident Assistant? These people are good to reach out to and are here to help you. For so many things, the stress that comes with big changes can be managed by simply talking to someone about what is on your mind. There is a good chance they have also experienced some kind of homesickness at one point and can give you some tips to get adjusted, or even just an open ear to hear you out.

Remember that it’s normal and common to feel homesick during your college experience and that it’s okay to miss home. These feelings normally pass on their own over time, but if they don’t pass or even get worse, there are resources here for when you need the help. Who knows, maybe when you return home you’ll be homesick for Portland! 

Four Essential Autumn Hikes Near Portland



As the days get shorter and temperatures get colder, it might seem like it’s not worth getting motivated to explore the outdoors. One of the best things about attending Portland State is the easy access to nature — any time of year. We’re 90 miles to the coast and 90 miles to Mt. Hood and there’s plenty to explore in between. Here are some nearby hikes that are especially amazing during the fall and cannot be missed out on:


Forest Park – Lower Macleay Trail

Difficulty level: Beginner
Distance: 1.7 miles
Distance from PSU: 11 minute drive, 1 hour on public transportation

Spanning 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States. This lush forest stretches eight miles along the northeast slope of the Tualatin Mountains. The Lower Macleay Trail follows Balch Creek, and hikers can expect to cross several wooden bridges. This trail passes the famous “Stone House”, otherwise known as the “Witch’s Castle,” a 1936 building that has since been abandoned and covered in lichen. Forest Park is a wonderful hike for visitors to experience the beauty of Oregon forests without leaving the Portland city limits.

Trillium Lake

Difficulty level: Beginner
Distance: 2 miles
Distance from PSU: 90 minute drive

There’s a reason this hike is popular. Views of Mt. Hood across a serene mountain lake make it worth the trek. And it’s beautiful year-round; in the fall the beauty is in the leaves and the reflections off the glassy water. It features gorgeous views of Mt. Hood and a wooden boardwalk that winds through the forest. It’s only two miles with a minimal incline, making this hike great for first-timers. Ducks and geese live near the lake, and you might get lucky and see deer grazing among the trees. In the winter, it’s a great beginner snowshoeing trail. Don’t own snowshoes? Rent them from the Outdoor Program!

Silver Falls – Trail of 10 Waterfalls

Difficulty level: Moderate, with lots of stairs (can be icy in cold temps)
Distance: 8.6 miles
Distance from PSU: 90 minute drive

Have you ever walked behind a waterfall? This is one of the most stunning hikes in Oregon and one of the most photographed waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. 50 miles south of Downtown Portland, this hike ambles through lush forest, and takes you past waterfalls that are up to 200 feet tall! This is a long, winding hike, but it’s well maintained and the elevation gain is moderate. You can park at one of the many entrances and take the shorter two or four mile loops.

PSU Outdoor Program is leading a group hike at Silver Falls on November 23! Check out their schedule to view the full list of events.

Cape Horn Trail

Difficulty level: Strenuous
Distance: 6 mile loop
Distance from PSU: 45 minute drive

While this hike is in Washington, just across the Columbia River, it’s only a stone’s throw away from the Portland State campus. If you are up to the challenge of scaling steep inclines and braving muddy trails, you will be able to experience the breathtaking panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge. This hike also takes you past tumbling waterfalls and gives an epic display of the changing autumn foliage.

Oregon is known for its beautiful scenery and there is no shortage of adventure in the area. If you need a little extra motivation to get out and explore this season, head on over to the Portland State Outdoor Program where you can find affordable gear rentals and sign up for guided trips year-round. Have fun out there, and be sure to tag @go2psu on your adventure.

Meet The Unipiper

The Unipiper near the Portland sign

This Icon Keeps Portland Weird

A man in a Darth Vader costume riding a unicycle and playing flaming bagpipes can only mean one thing: you’re in Portland. “Keep Portland Weird” is the city’s unofficial motto for good reason. It’s a town that attracts people of all kinds. The mixture of historic and new buildings, along with its proximity to Oregon’s natural beauty, make it a hotbed of inspiration. This reputation for weirdness is what drew Brian Kidd—that unicycling, bagpipe-playing, costume-wearing man known as the “Unipiper”—to Portland. 

“Portland’s weird spirit comes from its culture of freedom and acceptance,” says Kidd. “People here are more likely to express themselves in their own ways and not judge others for their expression. That creates a vibrant art scene.”

Finding Portland

When Kidd moved here twelve years ago, he never expected to become an icon for Portland. He learned to unicycle and play bagpipes while going to college at the University of Virginia. While interning after graduation in North Carolina, Kidd started combining those two creative outlets. 

A couple of Kidd’s college friends, who were from Portland, kept talking about how great it was. They told him he would fit right in. “I became sick of hearing about it! But when I decided I wanted a change of scenery, it was on my shortlist of places to check out.” Kidd moved sight unseen. He had no intention of staying long term, but the city and its people changed his mind.

Kidd started showing off his Unipiper act at the Portland Saturday Market. He was quickly embraced by locals, and it wasn’t long until he went viral after posting a video of his performance online. “I think the reason I was embraced was because, in one image, you could see what Portland is all about,” says Kidd. “I was just in the right place at the right time to become the symbol of a much larger movement.”

Since that video blew up, Kidd has appeared on America’s Got Talent, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live! But those appearances were nothing compared to the support he found in the City of Rose. “Getting to perform live on TV is cool and all, but the best thing I’ve experienced as the Unipiper is just being accepted by the community here.”

It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Portland weird. “You can ask a hundred different people, you’ll get 100 different answers. Really, keeping Portland weird means preserving the things that the city built its reputation on in the first place,” says Kidd.

Finding those little things that make it unique can be hard for first-time visitors and new residents. Because of Kidd’s local-celebrity status, he gets messages on Facebook all the time from people who are planning a visit and want to know what they should do. Kidd can never answer that question because it depends on the person—and PDX has a little something for everyone. 

“The true beauty of Portland reveals itself over time,” says Kidd. “It shines best when you have time to let it wash over you, when you can take time to get to know the different neighborhoods and subcultures.” 

Portland Picks

Something everyone likes is food, and there are options for every palate. There are little food trucks all around the city, serving food from all cultures. 

But if Kidd had to pinpoint one thing someone visiting the area should see, it’s Multnomah Falls, about 45 minutes east of downtown. “When you travel to the Falls, you get to see that transition from the city into the natural landscape of the Columbia River Gorge. The scenery changes so drastically, and that helps you understand how nature affects the culture in Portland.”

Like all cities, Portland has been changing. The metro area has seen an influx of businesses, including many high-tech companies, earning it the nickname “Silicon Forest”. According to Kidd, this growth means many people are coming to the city for their jobs, not necessarily for that spirit of creativity. Although the new development brings with it fresh energy, it also makes it harder for new folks to realize what makes Portland great in the first place—all the weird little places fostered by its community of creatives. 

Kidd thought for a long time that there should be an organization to help introduce all these newcomers, in addition to long-time residents, to the city’s weirdness and inspire them to share their creative side. He thought someone else would start one. Then he realized he would have to make it happen himself. 

“I’ve built a reputation and have an audience, so I want to use that visibility to do good. I want to help foster that next Unipiper.” Kidd set out to start Weird Portland United, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting creatives. 

Weird Portland United

Weird Portland United hosts a monthly lecture and networking series and free community events around various PDX locales. It will also kick off the Weird Portland Hall of Fame with a gala. The non-profit will be providing Weird Community Betterment Grants for people who need a bit of money to make their creative ideas come to life. As an example, Kidd says the grant could go to purchasing billboard space for strictly weird use. 

Kidd already has many “weirdos” on board, including Moshow, the internet-famous cat rapper. The mission of Weird Portland United: provide a platform where creative weirdos can share their stories and inspire others to do their part to keep Portland weird.

“I always say, be the weird you want to see in the world,” says Kidd. “Starting Weird Portland United is a culmination of my journey as the Unipiper.”

According to Kidd, Portland is that perfect environment to foster this creative expression. “The city has a reputation for letting everyone be themselves. It has everything you need to figure out who you are. Chances are, you are going to find your crowd here. I want to make sure it stays that place.”

This article originally appears in the Portland State Visitor Guide. See the full guide here or look for a copy around the city of Portland.

Top 12 Questions We Get About Orientation

So, you’ve been admitted to Portland State University and decided it’s the right college for you. Now what?

Attend New Student Orientation! All undergraduate students must attend Orientation before they can start their journey as a PSU student. But attending Orientation isn’t a chore—it’s a celebration of you joining our community and taking the next step in your academic journey! Orientation will help get you familiar with everything PSU has to offer and start connecting with fellow students.

We’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and the answers, so you know what to expect. If you have more questions, email us at orientation@pdx.edu.


When can I sign up?

Students who are starting in fall term can sign up for orientation starting May 8. You must confirm your enrollment prior to signing up for orientation.

Do I have to go to Orientation?

You sure do! You will not be able to register for classes until you complete an Orientation program. Besides, there’s no better way to start off your PSU experience. You’ll meet academic advisors, who are ready to support you towards graduation, and current and incoming students. You’ll also learn about PSU’s many resource centers and student groups.

How do I sign up?

Sign up online. Before you can sign up for Orientation, you must confirm your enrollment. There are many Orientation sessions to choose from, so sign up early to get the session that works best for you.

What if I’m an out-of-state student and can’t make it to an Orientation session in Portland?

If you’re from Hawaii or California, we are hosting sessions in your state! Sign up online as soon as possible, because these sessions are quickly approaching. If you are coming from another state besides Hawaii or California, or from outside of the US, contact us at orientation@pdx.edu. International students are required to attend the International Student Orientation.

What if I can’t attend any Orientation sessions?

Contact orientation@pdx.edu as soon as possible to make arrangements.

How long is Orientation?

Freshman Orientation sessions taking place on campus are full day programs. Transfer sessions are half day programs, with morning and afternoon sessions available. Out-of-State Orientations are also full day programs. You will not be able to register for classes if you do not attend the entire session. You must arrive and check in at the beginning of the session. If you miss check-in, you will have to attend another session, otherwise you will not be allowed to register for classes.

What do I need to do to attend Orientation?

After you sign up, make sure you’re ready for Orientation. Check our list of things to do to prepare for Orientation.

Do I need to bring anything?

Yes! Bring a government-issued ID, as you use this to get your PSU ID card at orientation, if you should choose to do so. We strongly suggest you bring a laptop or tablet for course registration (smartphones are not recommended). We’ve made a list of everything you’ll need to attend orientation including how to get to campus, where to park, what you’ll be doing at Orientation, answers to many of your questions and sample agendas!

Can I bring someone with me to Orientation, like a parent or guardian?

Of course! While not required, you may certainly bring a guest or two. Beginning this new chapter in your life is exciting, and we want you to share that experience.

Does it cost anything?

Incoming students attending on-campus sessions do not pay a fee to attend Orientation. However, there is a $20 fee for each guest, which helps to cover the cost of the provided meal and materials. This can be paid in advance during the session sign-up process. Incoming freshman and transfers students (and their guests) attending out-of-state sessions in Hawaii and California are each required to pay a $50 fee. These fees support the cost of hosting orientation in your area.

Will I register for classes at Orientation?

Yes! This is why attending Orientation is required. You’ll meet with advisors in your academic area of interest who will give you direction on what courses you should take. You will walk away from Orientation with a completed first-term schedule!

Will I get to tour campus?

Absolutely! We offer campus tours to our incoming students and guests at all on-campus sessions. PSU is about to be your new home, and we want you get a feel for campus!

Will I get to tour the dorms?

Yes. We offer optional housing tours at all our on-campus sessions. Tour times will be on the agenda you receive at check-in.

I’m worried because I don’t know anyone else. Am I going to meet anyone?

Since it’s Orientation, no one knows anyone else yet! You’ll meet tons of other students who will start at the same time as you. You’ll even get to spend time with others who share your major. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with peers you’ll see again on campus in September!

Who should I contact if my question hasn’t been answered here?

If you have any remaining questions after this list, get in touch with us at orientation@pdx.edu. Keep an eye out for Orientation emails. We will send you details about your Orientation session via email, so check your @pdx.edu email account.


Sign up for New Student Orientation!

Portland: A Comics Hub

Comics in Portland

Portland is a city full of creative people. It should be no surprise, then, that it’s a hub for comics lovers. Portland is home to some of the best indie comics publishers, numerous comic book shops and endless events. And Portland State helps foster this vibrant community, offering one of the only programs in the nation where students can learn about and make comics.

We’ve compiled a list of all the things PSU and Portland have to offer for folks interested in the comics scene.


At PSU
Comics Studies Program

PSU students can earn a Comics Studies Certificate. This program takes an interdisciplinary approach, getting students hands-on practice to create comics, learn theory and make connections with the publishing industry. This is a 24-credit undergraduate certificate that can be fulfilled in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree. Students studying related topics, like English or Graphic Design, would be a great match for this program. The Comics Studies program helps students get internships with local companies, like Dark Horse and Oni Press.

The Comics Studies program has professors who are accomplished professionals in the comics industry. You can learn writing from Brian Michael Bendis, who has won five Eisner Awards and is the primary architect of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. He is the co-creator of Miles Morales, the character who was recently adapted into the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie. You can also take a class from Shannon Wheeler, acclaimed cartoonist for The New York Times and creator of the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man.

Portland State is inspired by the creativity and innovation coming out of the comic-book scene in Portland. PSU’s mission is to connect students to the local comics community. Comics Studies students are taking what they learned at PSU and getting jobs doing what they love in Portland and beyond, as comics artists, writers and scholars.

PSU Comics Club

PSU has an active community of comics makers and enthusiasts. Many of these students are members of the PSU Comics Club, a student organization dedicated to connecting people interested in comics through reading discussion groups and other events.

Library Collection

PSU’s Millar Library has an extensive Dark Horse Comics Collection—so extensive that they have a copy of EVERY Dark Horse comic book, graphic novel, poster, figure, etc. the press has ever produced. PSU takes care to collect, document and make the collection available because of Dark Horse’s value in Oregon history. But it’s also important because Mike Richardson, founder and creative mastermind behind Dark Horse, graduated with a degree in art from PSU in 1977.

The Dark Horse Comics Collection includes a research collection and browsing collection. The browsing collection is on the third, fourth and fifth floors facing the curved windows. These books are easy to find and pursue, and you can read them in the library or check them out. If you want to look at the research collection for scholarly reasons, you’ll have to make an appointment in Special Collections.


In Portland
Comics Publishers

The comics produced in Portland run the gamut from zines printed in garages by small artists to the most popular comic series and graphic novels in the nation by local publishers.

  • Dark Horse Comics: We’d be surprised if a comic book reader hadn’t heard of Dark Horse. They’re the publisher behind many critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful comics, like Sin City, Hellboy, Aliens and Star Wars, just to name a few. We love that PSU alumnus, Mike Richardson, is the founder of Dark Horse! Their headquarters are just South of Portland in Milwaukie.
  • Oni Press: Located just across the Hawthorne Bridge from PSU, Oni Press publishes a different kind of comic—they avoid publishing anything superhero. Instead, you’ll find comics like Rick and Morty, Invader Zim and Scott Pilgrim.
  • Image Comics: One of the biggest comics publishers with numerous imprints, Image Comics recently moved their headquarters to Northwest Portland. Since their imprints feature so many genres, it’s hard to sum up their titles, but The Walking Dead, Saga and Unnatural are some of their most popular.
  • Microcosm Publishing: Granted, Microcosm publishes more than comics, but they do have an impressive number of totally unique zines and graphic novels. They’re known for their punk approach to publishing, featuring titles about art, radical politics and odd humor. They also boast way more women authors than the industry standard. Their headquarters are in Northeast Portland.
Comic Book Stores

We’d need a pretty long list to feature ALL the comic book stores in Portland, so we’ve compiled just a few of our favorites.

  • Books with Pictures: Their mission is to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, race or disability status. They stock everything from indie to LGBTQ to all-age comics. You can find them near the famous Ladd’s Addition neighborhood on Division Street.
  • Bridge City Comics: In North Portland, you’ll find Bridge City Comics, which offers both new and used comics and a large Portland-based creators section.
  • Cosmic Monkey Comics: Everyone from new comics fans to avid collectors can find something in Cosmic Monkey Comics’ huge selection of comics and collectibles. They’re located in Northeast Portland.
  • Floating World Comics: Located in Chinatown, Floating World Comics carries more than comics, offering records, original artwork and kids titles. Their online shop is also impressive and gives you an idea about what you’ll find in store.
Events

Author signings and comic book releases happen frequently, so follow comic book shops and publishers online to see what’s coming up.

  • Wizard World: This comic con is coming up—February 22-24. Wizard World boasts impressive celebrity guests and outstanding vendors.
  • Rose City Comic Con: In September, you can go to this annual comic book and pop culture convention. Tens of thousands of people attend each year, many of whom dress up in comic-inspired cosplay.
  • Kumoricon: If anime and Japanese pop culture is more your speed, check out this convention in November. Attendees dress up as their favorite anime characters, play games, watch panels and more.
  • Meetups: Portland hosts an impressive number of comics-related meetups, boasting hundreds of members.

So, go read a comic, preferably one made by a Portland publisher, found in the PSU Library or purchased from an independent shop. Make connections and be a part of the thriving comics scene.

Learn how you can apply to PSU and enter the Comics Studies program.

Dark Horse Comics Collections
Memorabilia and comics in the PSU Library Dark Horse Collections.

New Student Guide to Portland Transit

The beauty of Portland State’s location in the center of one of the best cities for public transportation in the U.S. is that students have easy and affordable access to all that Portland has to offer. And Portland’s public transit system (TriMet) is not limited to downtown, but stretches far and wide—from Forest Park to the Portland International Airport to the many towns surrounding Portland. With all of the buses, the trains and even a bike sharing system, PSU students can get around without the hassle or expense of a car.

TriMet is an easy system to use, but it can be confusing at first. That’s why we’ve compiled everything PSU students should know about TriMet and the transportation options in the Portland metro area.

Transportation Options

PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services is an excellent source of information. Check out their outline of all the ways new students can get to campus.

By Car

Commuting by car can be the most expensive transportation option—since PSU is located in downtown Portland, parking is extremely limited. PSU has a variety of parking permit options.

  • Carpooling: Students can reduce costs and emissions by carpooling, signing up for a Carpool Permit or sharing rides with Drive Less Connect (a free service offered by the State of Oregon that helps coordinate carpooling).
  • Carsharing: Students can use car-sharing services rather than own their own cars. Zipcar has nearly 30 cars, trucks and vans available for rent by the hour, day or weekend. PSU students are eligible for discounted membership. Car2Go and ReachNow also provide on-demand carshare vehicles in Portland.

TriMet

TriMet provides bus, light rail and commuter rail service in the Portland metro region. TriMet’s transportation options connect people with their community, while easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution—making the region a better place to live.

  • Buses: TriMet offers almost 80 bus lines, with many buses running every 15 minutes or less during most of the day. There are multiple bus lines with stops at PSU.
  • MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail: Like the buses and streetcar, the MAX lines run frequently throughout the day. The five color-coded MAX lines connect the far corners of Portland and surrounding suburbs. There are even convenient park and ride locations that make it easy to drive part way and hop on the MAX, enabling commuters to avoid the struggle of limited downtown parking. The Orange Milwaukie line, Yellow Expo Center line and Green Clackamas Town Center line make stops at the South end of campus and at Urban Center. Riders can connect to the Blue Hillsboro/Gresham line and Red Beaverton/Airport line just North of campus.

Streetcar

Portland Streetcar: This streetcar system offers two loop routes around downtown Portland, with streetcars running both clockwise and counterclockwise. The Portland Streetcar runs through the center of PSU campus, including stops in the Urban Center Plaza and Park Blocks. The Portland Streetcar is FREE to all PSU students—the PSU ID card is valid fare.

Other Transportation

BIKETOWN: This bike-sharing program has 1,000 bikes at over 100 stations around Portland available for rent. PSU students get 90 minutes of ride time on BIKETOWN bikes per day FREE. To take advantage of this, students must sign up for a PSU Student Plan.

Portland Aerial Tram: This tram is as much a tourist destination as it is practical transportation, carrying riders 500 feet above the city with breathtaking views. It connects the South Waterfront district to the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus.

LIFT Paratransit Service: TriMet offers shared-ride public transportation services for people with a disability or disabling health condition that makes them unable to use regular buses or trains. Rides are arranged in advance by reservation.

WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail: Unlike the MAX, this rail line only serves commuters West of the Willamette (Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville), running during morning and afternoon rush hours every 30 minutes.

Cost

The TriMet system allows people to ride all buses, Streetcar, MAX and WES with a single valid TriMet fare. Individual adult tickets can be purchased at $2.50 for 2.5 hours or $5.00 for all day.

The TriMet Hop card allows riders to tap their card on the green Hop reader when they get on. The Hop card charges riders and keeps track of their fares—Hop card users never pay more than a day pass in a day or month pass in a month ($100 per month). A monthly pass is also valid on the Aerial Tram. The Honored Citizen Hop card gives reduced fare to low-income riders, seniors and riders with disabilities. Honored Citizens pay up to 50% less than standard adult fare.

The Hop card can be purchased and reloaded at hundreds of local stores, including supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. They can also be reloaded online or by app, making them convenient and easy to use. Android users can also download a virtual Hop card, so they can tap their phone on the Hop reader to purchase fare. The TriMet Tickets app allows users to purchase single day tickets on their phone.

PSU students can also get the Student FlexPass, a reduced-rate, quarterly transit pass valid on all TriMet buses, MAX trains, Streetcars, WES train, Aerial Tram and C-Tran local bus services (buses running in Clark County, Washington, and into Portland). The 3-month FlexPass costs $174, compared to $100 per month for public TriMet rate. The pass is a sticker applied directly to the PSU ID. The FlexPass, unlike the Hop card, is not scanned when riders enter transit, it just needs to be displayed to show valid fare.

Navigating

The PSU Campus Map is a good place to start to get a sense for the transit options and where they stop on campus.

Google Maps is an excellent app to use in determining your the best route to campus. It has fairly up-to-date arrival times and allows for trip customization, like prioritizing shortest walking distance or fewest transfers.

TriMet has an extensive list of third-party apps that can help show real-time arrivals and plan trips.

The BIKETOWN app allows users to find bike stations and pay as they ride—remember PSU students get 90 minutes per day free.

Tips and Tricks

TriMet buses often have many small stops along their routes, so they do not announce every stop. Riders unfamiliar with the area may find it helpful to watch their movement and track stops on a map app or tell the bus driver where they want to get off.

Bus drivers check fares as riders get on, but there is no consistent system for checking fares on MAX and Portland Streetcars. Transit police officers periodically check fares and issue warnings, citations and exclusions for riders without a valid fare, so riders should remember to always have valid fare on them.

Most of Portland’s public transit does not run between midnight and 5 a.m., so riders should make sure to understand the schedules and know how they will get to their destination ahead of time.  

TriMet periodically offers free transit rides and extended late-night hours on holidays to keep Portlanders safe, so stay informed about these offers by following TriMet on Twitter.

Check out PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services to learn more.

Four Years Free

Earning a college degree is one of the best ways to access a fulfilling career path, and graduating with as little debt as possible gives you even more freedom to pursue your passions.

Let us introduce you to Four Years Free, a new program with a bold commitment: If you are an eligible Oregon resident, PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for all four years of your bachelor’s degree, plain and simple.

At PSU, we are committed to your success and we want you to join the ranks of PSU graduates who are making a difference, whether that means you’re designing at Nike, innovating at Intel, or winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Current Oregon residents are eligible for Four Years Free if they are:

    • Current residents of Oregon and graduate from an Oregon high school
    • Admissible to PSU as a first-year freshman for fall term
    • Have a 3.2+ cumulative unweighted high school GPA
  • Enrolled, full-time at PSU (12 to 15 credits per term)

National data shows that students who start at a four-year college are more likely to graduate in four years. This is why we’ve made the commitment to help Oregon students earn a bachelor’s degree and set them on the right track for their careers.

There is no age limit, as long as you can be admitted as a first time freshman, you could be eligible for Four Years Free.

Your next steps:

    • Submit your FAFSA by May 1 (don’t forget to add PSU: school code 003216)
  • Submit your final high school transcripts to PSU by August 1

Four Years Free means not having to worry about paying for tuition. Instead, you can focus on getting an internship, joining a club, attending events and getting to know downtown Portland.

Learn more about FYF

Ready to Transfer to PSU? Attend a Transfer Workshop

Ready to transfer to PSU? Meet Admissions Counselors and Academic Advisers during Transfer Workshops at local community colleges.

You can:

  • Apply during the Transfer Workshop and defer your $50 PSU admission fee
  • Speak with an academic adviser. All popular majors will be represented!
  • Ask financial aid and scholarship questions
  • Learn how your credits will transfer to PSU
  • Gather information about on-campus housing options

Learn more about Transfer Events.