When I first moved into the dorms my sophomore year, I felt so adult. My schedule was up to my terms and availability. I didn’t have to ask or let anyone know what I was going to do. I was independent — or so I thought.
I moved into off-campus housing the summer before my junior year. I was responsible for paying my own rent, utilities and buying all the household needs.
I prepped my own meals and learned how to budget in order to afford rent. I thought to myself, ‘this is truly what it means to be independent.’
But it wasn’t.
A flat bike tire, 10 dollars in my bank account and the blazing Central Oregon heat. This was my summer.
In April of 2023, I found out that I had been accepted into the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism as a news reporting intern in Redmond, Oregon. I was ecstatic.
All of college I had been excited to start my career. Finding a passion for journalism strengthened my drive to do well and excel, and this internship was the first step in the right direction.
I was confident.
While I was initially nervous to move into a small town for a few months, I was overtaken by the excitement of reporting outside of the UP bubble. But the shift in location impacted me in ways that have shaped who I am today.
Redmond is small. Small enough where not having a car was fine. Small enough to not have public transportation. I probably biked every road I possibly could.
Things took a turn when I hadn’t received my housing stipend two months into my internship. At that point, I had been paying double rent in Portland and Redmond in May and June. While the internship was paid, the expenses of maintaining two households was getting to me.
I had 10 dollars in my bank account for a month.
My housing situation wasn’t ideal either. The rent was more expensive than what I was paying in Portland and this was my first time living with a non-family member or college student.
At one point, my bike tire popped. The eight-minute bike ride turned into a 40-minute walk to work. Add this on top of the fact that Redmond is located in the High Desert. It was hot.
In the moment, this was the end of the world. Overwhelmed by all these obstacles, it became hard to focus on the reason I was there — my internship. I took things day by day, counting down how long it would be until I could move back to Portland, but it felt endless.
The summer is now months behind me, and while I physically cringe at the thought of my experience in Redmond, everyday I see the ways I’ve grown.
I’ve grown as a leader, editor and reporter. More importantly, I’ve grown and matured emotionally. I’ve become more secure in myself.
I’ve become more independent. Not my dorm-life concept of independence, but knowing that I truly know how to take care of myself in a time of seclusion.
All alone in an uncharted territory, I embraced resourcefulness and creativity. Because work was the only thing consuming my life, I was left to reflect on myself. Left to realize that independence is not merely the absence of reliance on others; it is the ability to confront adversity head-on, to adapt and to emerge stronger on the other side.
Janea Melido is the News and Managing Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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