Transportation

To many people transportation means different things but usually for college students wanting their independence that means having access to a car! And as I journey from Hawaii to the Puge for my last semester I’ve been thinking about the different journeys that have brought Loggers to Puget Sound.

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Some such as myself separated by an ocean must take a plane to travel to UPS, while others who are in the closer vicinity may drive or take a train the Tacoma. Those are on the opposite East Coast could decide to drive or take a train but that may be a longer arduous process than taking a flight to Washington. Some have to take multiple flights to reach Tacoma. Yet there are many, in my experience from California that choose to drive/road-trip a few days with some sights with friends to Tacoma. It’s interesting to imagine all the different modes of transportation that bring us together at UPS.

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Transportation can be expensive and a cost that some may not be able to afford which determines how long it takes them to get to our final destination. Some don’t have cars that they can bring to UPS while others do which means they have to drive up here with their car (at least at first). Nevertheless Puget Sound has people from many different backgrounds and communities that we are lucky enough to be able to come here and build friendships with others from somewhere else.

I have many close friends who I never would have guessed hailed from such far away places, my little in my sorority is from Australia, I have a close friend from Germany where her father is currently stationed at an American base, a friend who lived in England for a few years, a former crew teammate from South Africa, Chicago, Illinois, Rhode Island and even closer than I expected such as my friend and freshmen roommate Olivia who lives down the street from UPS! Despite where we come from and how we travel to UPS, we’re all on our way, or already back and I can’t wait to see everyone again! :)

Home

After four years at UPS and countless “homes” mentioned in Ron Thom’s Convocation speeches I think it’s safe to say I’ve found a home at UPS. A home with my friends, with my sorority, with my major/department, with my lab, with multiple communities.

But I can’t forget the first home I came from the one where my parents raised me, where I grew up and where I decided to make Puget Sound my home! I’m lucky enough to still live in the same house I grew up in for 18 years, that I have my parents, siblings and friends still around to celebrate the holiday season with over break. I know not everyone is so lucky and I’m always grateful for how lucky I am to call Hawaii home <3

I remember the feel of my bed and my pillow,

I remember the pressure of my shower spray and absence of shower shoes,

I remember the drive home and to high school,

I remember the neighborhood Korean restaurant and the owner remembers me,

I remember overheating in my high school classrooms

I remember seeing a day fly by without doing anything but chilling in bed

I remember accidentally stepping on my dog’s poop in the yard

I remember anytime I venture outside it’s likely I’ll run into someone I know

I remember those cringe-worthy moments from high school when I see an acquaintance

I remember my favorite channels on the TV

In the Land of Misfit Toys

In which vulgarity is used, kings are named, and much has been lost, but so much more has been gained.

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To my dear reader,

I would consider much of my life to have been wasted. If I were to point to two things that I am proud of, however, one would be my time in my a cappella group Underground Sound. The other would be my time in the Delta Epsilon colony of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Both are places full of unexpected individuals, unpredictably put together – lands of misfit toys, of which I am most certainly one.

When I first joined Underground Sound, it was a frail, unfocused group of poor musicians. Leadership was weak, rehearsals were ineffective and performances bland. For two semesters, I watched as the group floundered, losing members and failing to draw in audiences.

When I first joined Beta Theta Pi, there were no other members aside from the representative from the national fraternity there to recruit new members. Even as the chapter size slowly grew, the members were often apathetic and confused. For three semesters, I eyed the colony warily, and felt an emotional distance I was sure was insurmountable.

I became a musical co-director of Underground Sound in my sophomore year, and alongside my co-director Lisa Hawkins, I struggled, fought, cried and reshaped the group’s entire approach to a cappella across the past two years. In October of 2015, we were unexpectedly accepted to compete in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, making us the first Puget Sound group to do so.

Underground Sound A Cappella, Dec. 9, 2016

Underground Sound A Cappella, Dec. 9, 2016

I attended a Beta leadership program called the Wooden Institute in my junior year, and began to take on leadership within the colony. Alongside my brothers, I wrestled, wept, celebrated and formed a community across the past year. As of January 26th, 2016, after extending bids to the few students we connected with, we have acquired only two new members – an unexpected and disappointingly low number.

The Delta Epsilon Colony of Beta Theta Pi, Jan. 26, 2016

The Delta Epsilon Colony of Beta Theta Pi, Jan. 26, 2016

Some would call my time with Underground Sound a success. They would be correct. It has taught me how to inspire a group, organize rehearsals and communicate clearly and efficiently. It is because of my time there that I am confident as a musical director and leader.

Some would call my time in Beta Theta Pi a failure. They could not be more incorrect. It has taught me how to trust others, give selflessly and uncover the unending depth of my own heart. It is because of my time there that I have ever felt a home at the University of Puget Sound.

Some people will look at Underground Sound and scoff at its earnest but musically imprecise performances. Some people will look at the Delta Epsilon colony and sneer at its small size and poor recruitment record. To those people, I have only one thing to say:

Fuck you.                                                             

Fuck your arrogance, fuck your derisiveness, and fuck your judgement. I have learned and loved more than you can possibly know. The land of misfit toys is my kingdom, and you’d better believe that I am the King.

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

Truth Behind “Gangnam Style”

By now, you must have already listened to (and perhaps got tired of) the hit song, “Gangnam Style” by Korean celebrity Psy. Despite its fame, most people are not even aware of what “Gangnam” really means, or the song’s true message. While being in Korea during this winter break, I decided to provide you with a little fun fact about this song.

Gangnam, South Korea (6PM)

As a Korean, I have lived in and visited Gangnam several times. Gangnam, or “강남” in Korean, is a metropolitan district in the heart of Seoul, South Korea. With its trendy shops, restaurants, bars, high-rise buildings and spectacular nightlife, Gangnam is not only one of the most crowded areas in Korea filled with young Korean folks through day and night, but a “must-go” place for the tourists.

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An Alleyway in Gangnam (Past Midnight)

However, “Gangnam Style”, in actuality, is an expression associated with the lavish, affluent lifestyles of the people living in Gangnam district. The song satirically mocks the culture of heavy capitalistic consumption and materialism which followed the rapid economic growth in South Korea. At first glance, Psy’s video does seem to be simply “ridiculous”. However, his work is in fact criticizing the fact that the country once built on hard work and aspirations by the earlier generations is starting to focus solely and excessively on wealth, status, and appearances. The seemingly lighthearted song portrays Psy doing crazy, silly things on the set to appeal to the viewers; but as he drops his clownish appearances in an interview, he admits that “each frame by frame (in his work) was hollow”, just like how he feels about the “current human society”.

What seems to be silly and cheery on the surface of the song actually serves to heavily satirize people’s blinded pursuit for prosperity and status, which is common among neighborhoods other than Gangnam, and countries outside of South Korea. Perhaps, when you listen to this overwhelming, “in-your-face” infectious song next time, you should try having this dark yet socioeconomically insightful perspective in your mind.

“Home is where the heart is.”

That’s the saying, right? Home is not a physical location, it is wherever you like. Once you choose your home, it’s hard to leave. It’s hard to go someplace else, someplace that isn’t home.

Thanksgiving Break is coming up, so most of the school is toughing out these last few days so they can finally head home to family, friends and free food. I know some people just decided to skip out and headed home early. Me, however, I’m sticking around this Thanksgiving.

My excuse to my family was that I couldn’t afford a plane ticket. That’s not entirely the truth. Between those huge purchases at the beginning of the year and what I get from work-study, I don’t have much. But I do have enough to get a plane ticket without going totally broke. So why aren’t I going home this Thanksgiving?

I’m already home. My heart is here.

It’s true that I spent my entire life in the same house. I have friends that I’ve known literally my whole life. My cat and dogs… well, I miss them like Homer can eat doughnuts, which is more than any human can possibly imagine. Then there’s In-n-Out. As a Californian through and through, I’m not sure if I can make it much longer without my regular dose of a double-double, animal fries and a milkshake.

Seriously, if anyone in California is reading this, please mail me In-n-Out. At least send me a picture with a detailed report of smell, taste and texture. I’ll give you my first, second and third-born children for it. …Yeah I have a problem. Anyway, back on topic.

I have all of these reasons to call that place home, but I can’t, not anymore.

I chose UPS for a number of reasons. Its size, people, culture and individualized attention to name a few. It’s just such an amazing place despite what some people may think. But one of the biggest is probably not one many people have. It’s how much this place has changed me.

People always say to stay true to yourself, to not change. But for there to be progress, there must be change. I love who I’ve changed into. I’ve grown more social. I’ve started rock climbing. As of last Tuesday, I’ve started playing Rugby. I work for ASUPS, not really knowing what I’m doing half the time but having tons of fun. I write for the school blog. I’m still really aggressive, but I’m getting better- I hope. If you asked me 6 months ago that I would’ve changed this much, I would’ve probably just said “You’re funny” sarcastically and returned to my computer.

I don’t want to go back because I don’t want to return to being the person I was before. I don’t want to slip back into old habits and become the old me again. That’s why this is my home now. This is where the new and improved me lives. This is where my heart is.

So while everyone else is rushing to home and back for Thanksgiving, I’ll be relaxing, because I’m already home.

(But seriously though, I need In-n-Out like immediately)

Embrace the Detours

“Where are you from?”

 
As an international student, this seemingly straightforward question is in fact… not so easy to answer. Of course, I could simply say “I’m from Korea” and be done with it – but as any third culture kid like myself would attest to, “home” is not restricted to the country you were born in.

View of The Bund, Shanghai

View of the Bund in my second home, Shanghai, China.

Since I was 5 years old, I have traveled around and lived in multiple countries: Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, and now, the United States. My family, relatives and friends are spread out all across the globe, and due to long years of attending international schools and living in different countries, I thought that I had enough of applying for visas and packing suitcases. I got tired of being an international nomad. So, when I decided to attend college in the US, I thought that I should become more of a “settler”.

Well, at least until I started working at the international programs office here at the University of Puget Sound.

It all started when I walked right into the office and saw the stacks of study abroad brochures. Everyday, students came into office with their individual excitements distinct purposes to travel to different countries. These countries ranged from Chile, Ireland, Turkey, and India to New Zealand. And for the first time in forever, I felt like I was not so “international” after all. The photos looked unfamiliar, the languages sounded foreign, and the program destinations looked exotic and fun. I felt an urge that I haven’t felt for a long time – I wanted to travel again.

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Look at how many brochures we have!!

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Ireland, Turkey, China… You name it.

When talking to third-culture kids or international students like myself, I often realize a consensus among them: of not wanting to travel so much anymore. All the nights spent learning new languages and experiencing culture shocks after another makes the international nomads want to settle down. We slowly forget that the kinds of life we lived were full of privileges… privileges to be able to travel.

To anyone who has such privileges, I would advise them to take advantage of it, and to go embrace the detours. After all, it would never hurt to have more than one “home” – somewhere half way across the globe.

Defining Home

I used to see home as a stationary object — a house situated between the ocean and the bay in rural Northern California. Where redwood trees grew in saltwater clogged air and I knew everything, I grew up with it traced on the back of my hand. There was an ode of familiarity: our old parlor stove that spit up flames as we tossed in wood; the drawing I made in kindergarten that my mother refused to take down; my cat, who would be content sitting next to you until you tried to pet her; and the treadle sewing machine my dad brought home when I was eight.

I always knew college marked a time of limbo. We are in-between the stages of angsty rebellious teens and adults who know where their lives will take them. Everything is suspended in the current unknown, wherein we’re convinced that anything could happen. (Because anything can.)

I expected that for nine months out of the year we’d branch out. Explore a new place, learn things, gather all of these experiences which we’re told will define our life and then we go back home. Back to our roots, back to everything we knew from before. I forgot that our perspectives would shift.

On a cork-board in my childhood house, there is a pinned up flyer with a picture of campus that says, “HOME.” My mom put it there when it first came in the mail nearly two years ago and it has stayed there since then. When I went to Orientation and sat in the stands along with everyone else, students were counting how many times Ron Thom repeated the word. (I think it was 67, if memory serves correctly.)

Although I could tell you countless numbers of facts that I learned in my first year here, none of them are the most valuable thing I could say. Instead it’s that I’ve discovered home isn’t a stationary object: it is the way people make you feel. It’s the way I feel here.

It’s falling asleep at three a.m. with your friends talking and laughing around you. The morning the fountain froze, when we all gathered around it, taking pictures of the icicles hanging down. Making cookies on Pi Day and setting an alarm so you are eating them right at 3/14/15 9:26:53. Running in the rain. Being sung to by a barber shop quartet on a friendaversry.  Racing to the bus stop and managing to get there right as it pulls up. Going to Oppenheimer Cafe in the rain, right before closing, when the lights shine just so. Spending hours helping a friend with an essay, for a class that you’re not even in. Tight hugs, long, slow smiles. Playing Justin Bieber’s acoustic album and Nickelback, just because we could. Sitting and starring at the stars. Grabbing a cardboard box filled with packing peanuts and commandeering it. Bringing it into your room. Convincing people to come and sit in The Box. Seeing someone on campus and taking a “SPOTTED” picture. Walking to the Met late at night for The Cookie, just for them all to be gone. Curling up in a blanket, drinking tea, while watching a movie. Hanging a stray sock on a command hook, to see how long it’ll take people to notice. (Sixteen hours.)  Waking up early to meet people for breakfast, hours before your first class. And staying up with your friends, even though it’s three a.m. and laughing.

The fountain, the morning after it froze.

The fountain, the morning after it froze.

Gaea sitting in The Box, before she brought it back to our room.

Gaea sitting in The Box, before she brought it back to our room.

Going out to dinner for our last meal together before summer. From front to back, left to right: Maddy, Me, Gaea, Maggie, Emily, and Claire.

Home is all of the memories I’ve made here and all the memories to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s in the Box?

This semester, I’m taking my first ever oil painting class. As an art major, I’m required to take several classes outside my emphasis (printmaking), so I decided to try my hand at painting! It’s been a rough process, but I finally finished a painting that I’m pretty proud of. The assignment was called the “box project.” We were tasked with filling a box with a few objects and a 2D image that would create a composition we wanted to paint. I went with a beachy theme and borrowed a few things from my suitemate. Here’s what my box looked like!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

I took a few photos through my painting process and I thought I’d share them with you guys. Here’s how this piece all went down. Continue reading

From Home to Home

Spring semester 2015 has started! Winter break was a blast. The coolest part? Road trip!!

My buddy Nick Lyon’16 needed to drive his car home to San Diego, CA, so he requested some company on his journey. Thus, my other friend Zeman Nathoo’16 and I decided to join him on the 20 hour drive…Despite the length of the drive, we had a pretty great time!

We stopped at some interesting places… Like the Denny’s in the probable cousin of Silent Hill, Rice Hill. It was a gas station parking lot with a Denny’s, and bunch of trucks…. and a 24-hour adult shop. The essentials, obviously.

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Hooray for breakfast for every meal!

Continue reading

Introduction

Hello! My name is Casey O’Brien. I’m a freshman here at Puget Sound. I am a part of the Humanities program. I love theater, creative writing, and the outdoors, among lots of other interests! At this point, I am thinking that I will be a Sociology and Anthropology (SOAN) 1796685_10152717894357521_5398993623880789982_nmajor with a double minor in Theater and Latin American Studies.  I come from the Bay Area in California, so the lovely fog and rain in Tacoma is home to me. I grew up within ten minutes of the SF bay, so I also love being on the coast.

I am learning so much here on campus! There’s always something happening here, so there is never an opportunity to feel bored. This weekend was a special one for me, because I was a director for the Town Crier Speaks Festival, our student theater festival, which went up this weekend. Town Crier is a one act festival written, produced and directed by students—it is such a unique and wonderful venue for Puget Sound creativity. My own show, Game of Life, was a truly incredible process. My cast helped me to grow as a person and an artist, and I feel so lucky to have met them. What is so very interesting and dynamic about our campus is that people from so many different areas—ages, majors, etc—can interact and learn from one another. One of my actors is graduating this semester as a Biology major; with my interests, we might never have even met, let alone gotten to know one another, at a different school.   At a larger university, or a university that didn’t encourage students to try new things the way UPS does, a first semester freshman would never have directed a one act at all.

Town Crier opened on Thursday night and closed on Saturday, which meant that today was definitely bittersweet for me.  My parents, here visiting for Family Weekend, went home to California today, but my sadness at watching them go was matched by the contentedness of knowing that I have two homes now, one in Washington and one in NorCal. Our president, Ronald Thomas, aka RonThom, famously opens his speech at orientation by saying “Welcome Home”—and truly, we are. Puget has stolen my heart—from the moment I stepped on campus, doors have been opened for me.

This been a weekend of beginnings, endings and special moments. When my cast handed me the big bouquet of red roses they had bought for me, a handwritten card on top, I felt like crying for joy and sadness all at once—which is a good sign. Puget is a place where students will make connections, will feel deeply. Loggers are genuine, and they throw themselves in. In the spirit of the Northwest, we’ll always go on an adventure. We show up—as Town Crier’s full house and standing ovation testifies. This has been a weekend to remember…. Just as so many here are.