Halloweekend Preparations!

Finally! It’s almost time for my favorite holiday: HALLOWEEN!! So to prep for the weekend festivities, a few friends and I gathered for a pumpkin carvin’, hot buttered rum makin’, pumpkin seed roasting’, scary movie watchin’ extravaganza.

First stop: Safeway to go pumpkin pickin’!

My buddies Billy and Nate pickin out their pumpkins

My buddies Billy and Nate pickin out their pumpkins… what cute faces!

We brought our haul back to my house and began carving!Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Here’s how my pumpkin turned out, all lit up in the dark on my porch: The Hylian Pumpkin! (Based of course off the Hylian shield from Legend of Zelda)

Not bad, eh? Here’s my pals and our pumpkins: a spooky crow, the Hylian shield, and a skull from Heart of Darkness.


Following pumpkins we watched The Thing and baked the pumpkin seeds, the best part, in my opinion.


Can’t wait to show off my costume this Halloween! You bet there’ll be pictures of that too. Happy Halloweekend!


West Boundary Trail

You know what, I love nice people, and there are A LOT of nice people here. All of you first-year students (of which I am one) know what I mean. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, before even choosing the University, that the campus community was amazing, I would have a lot of dollars, or just fewer loans.

WBT (1 of 1)-3

On the trail

Anyway, what may have seemed slightly overdone or romanticized to me before arrival, has only proven to be true time and time again. Whether it’s study buddies, or lunch buddies, or soccer buddies, or high-five-you-before-class buddies, I’m pretty sure I have more buddies here than I’ve ever had anywhere in my whole life. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when a residence buddy of mine walked up to me in the SUB and spoke some of the sweetest words to ever grace my ears: “Hey man, want to go on a hike today with some friends? I’ll drive.”

Uh, duh?

WBT (1 of 1)-6

A little fall in the evergreens

In ten minutes I had ran home, thrown a bunch of hiking-related stuff into a backpack, filled up a water bottle, donned a hiking hat, and I was ready to go. We stopped off at Safeway in town to snag some lunch (Pop Tarts) and after having an interesting altercation with a self-service checkout that must’ve been lonely—it didn’t want us to leave—we were on the highway.

After being on the road for around a half an hour or so, I realized I had forgotten to ask, “Guys, where are we going?”

“Mt. Rainier, man!”

I fist-bumped myself.

It turned out Mt. Rainier just meant the National Park, and it was very cloudy, so we couldn’t see the mountain in the first place. But I didn’t care, I was going on a hike and I was happy. Very happy.

We eventually drove through Wilkeson, then Coronado, then crossed the breathtaking Fairfax Bridge where I had my first-ever conversation with an Alabaman, then passed the closed-for-the-season Carbon River Ranger Station, and finally pulled into our destination—a very small, mossy parking lot on the edge of the park.

The Fairfax Bridge

The Fairfax Bridge

We jumped out, stretched out, and headed out with no real clue as to where. There was a small sign marking a trailhead not far off from the lot that advertised a “0.3 mile forest loop”.

“How nice?” I thought. “0.3 miles? Sounds like a dream.”

We decided it seemed promising enough and we set off. The trail was nice, flat, and complete with informational signs about the flora and fauna of the area, essentially a walk in the park. At around the 0.25 mile mark, however, things changed. To our left, we noticed a small paper sign in a plastic folder that read:

West Boundary Trail

Waterfalls: 1.5 miles

Ridge: 3 miles

Waterfalls? Heck yes. We exchanged glances and up we went. And up and up and up… I don’t think we ever stopped going up. I actually don’t think I’ve ever experienced that many switchbacks before in my life. It was nuts.

WBT (1 of 1)-2

Waterfall from the bottom

WBT (1 of 1)

Waterfall from the top

After an hour or so, we came across the ‘waterfalls’ denoted by the sign. They were beautiful, to say the least, and the scenery provided an excellent locale for a Pop Tart break. We pushed on and eventually were greeted by a magnificent blanket of fog. It blocked the trees above us, inhibiting our ability to gauge our current altitude as well as guess how much more climbing we were going to need to do before we reached the fabled ridge that we were starting to doubt actually existed. Nevertheless, there was nothing quite like being surrounded by fog in the deep green woods, the chilled air stinging your nose and settling silently on your skin; it was wonderful.

WBT (1 of 1)-7

Fog lit up by the intermittent sun above the trees

Regardless of the beauty however, it was getting late, and we needed to head home, so we decided to turn around. What took us multiple hours to climb took around 30 minutes to descend. The fog disappeared, everything started to seem familiar, we passed the waterfall, and before we knew it we were back to the lot and our short-lived adventure was complete.

WBT (1 of 1)-4

A look into the low-altitude forest

Later that night, I was unloading my backpack and noticed a brochure/map type document that I had taken off of a message board at the lot that talked about all of the trails in that area of the National Park. The document listed all of the trails in order from easiest to most demanding, and sure enough, at the top, was the West Boundary Trail. I wasn’t surprised.

Nevertheless, the trail was beautiful, fun, and perfect for a day hike. More importantly however, it was the perfect trail to enjoy with some buddies.

WBT (1 of 1)-5

The forest loop trail

Happy trails,

Colton Born

Turning Knobs and Sliding Sliders

Mics. Mic stands. 3 quarters. Speakons. XLRs. Speakers. Speaker stands. Monitors. Switchboard. AUX thingy. That’s everything, right? No wait, power cables. Dammit me.

Okay sound check time. Turn knobs and move the sliders. Pretend to know what I’m doing. Make eye contact with the performer and nod. Continue to pretend to know what I’m doing.

Performance time! More knob turning. More slider sliding. Turn mics on and off as needed. Try not to fall asleep while boss sits next to me. Keyword is try. Get distracted by pretty girl in audience. Think about what I had for breakfast that morning. Miss my cue to switch a mic on. Fumble. Be told by boss to pay attention to the stage. Stay laser focused and awake for the rest of the performance. Tell myself to do better next time. Don’t.

IMG_4851 [2014213]

I totally know what all those knobs do.

For my work-study job, I’m one of two Sound/Lights Operators for ASUPS Student Programs. That means for any sort of performance that Student Programs puts on, like Mary Lambert, or other UPS functions that we’re asked to work, I’m involved in making them look and sound good. No pressure. Not like the performers put on very public shows or anything. Did I mention that the other Sound/Lights guy is a freshman as well? Recipe for success, right there.

Keep an eye out for me the next time you check out something put on by Student Programs (Which just so happens to be the Halftime Show at the homecoming game against PLU). You might catch me randomly turning knobs.

Like 90% sure these control sound.

Like 90% sure these control sound.

Literary Trivia Night

I won a tube of Macbeth lip balm today. I was going to spend the afternoon doing homework but then my professor announced that the English department was having a “Literary Trivia Night” and I decided to goof off there instead. It was a blast. We had pizza from the cellar and literature related prizes like an Edgar Allen Poe lunchbox and Shakespearean insult gum. We also had something called “Head Game” where you throw balls at each other’s heads—just because. They really should have gone ahead and called it “gathering of the English nerds” instead.

The questions were quite hard. Most teams only got about thirteen out of twenty-four correct. I never thought I’d get asked what bird Lewis Carroll drew himself into in the illustrations of Alice and Wonderland, but I did. For the record, the answer is a dodo bird. We were also asked what famous work besides The Waste Land was published in 1922. The answer was Ulysses. I knew this because I slogged my way through parts of it in freshman year. It said things like:

“Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy.”

If I was going to have to read a book that said things like that then it was about time I got something practical out of it. Even if that something was a tube of Macbeth lip balm and some Shakespearean insult gum. I never liked Joyce. When I was first reading Ulysses, I used to wish that Bloom (the protagonist) had gotten run over by the tram car in one of the early chapters so the book would be over faster. Obfuscation for the sake obfuscation doesn’t appeal to me. It’s funny; the one criterion we’re not supposed to use in defining literature is how much someone would actually enjoy reading the book.

The best thing about the trivia night though was the vibe. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. When I said I didn’t know who my team was going to be the group next to me immediately invited me to join theirs. It was fun for me to be around people who also thought that a good time was sitting around eating pizza and trying to figure out what the five canons of rhetoric were. It was definitely worth skipping the homework.

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.


Look at how many brochures we have!!


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.

My Core Memories

Inside Out is probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in recent memory. If you haven’t seen it, you really need to. Also, you should stop reading because spoilers!

One of my favorite parts from the movie is how the memories are stored and associated with one of the 5 core emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger. It got me thinking, what memories do I have that make me feel those emotions?


Anger – One time I punched a hole in a wall in my house.

Fear – My parents always made me park in the garage at night. They said that because it was a somewhat decent car (it was 10 years old and had dents and scratches from my sister and mom), it needed to be parked inside.

Like many teenagers, I snuck out. I left my house probably around 12:30 and didn’t get back until around 3ish. Pretty much the entire time, I was scared that I would be caught and have my keys taken away. As a Californian, having a car is crucial to life. Without one, well, good luck.

Looking back, I realize that there was nothing to be afraid of. My parents were heavy sleepers and their room and the garage were on opposite ends of the house. But in the moment, I was scared that my life would be pretty much over.

Disgust – One time I ate broccoli.

Sadness – One of my dogs, Maxwell, died this past summer. When he didn’t respond when I called his name, I went to look for him in my backyard. Then I found him.

Maxwell was an 11 year old black Chihuahua mutt. I got Maxwell when I was in kindergarten and he left just after I graduated high school. I never really found out what else he was, but it didn’t matter. He was my dog. He was family. And I never got to say goodbye.

Joy – My high school puts on a event every Spring called F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.S. (Fun at Night Through Activities and Skits to Increase Class Spirit). It’s essentially battle of the classes with skits, dances and games. Traditionally, Seniors take first, Juniors takes second and so on. However, my class was…. a bit non traditional. We never got better than 3rd place our first 3 years. It was really upsetting for many of the participants, myself included. We knew it didn’t matter in the end, but it still sucked knowing that our class wasn’t as unified or dedicated as other classes.

We went all out for Senior year. We worked harder. We practiced more. We pulled not one but two all nighters working on props. And it paid off. We finally won first place! You can’t imagine how loud we were when ASB declared us as winners.

But the memory that brings me joy isn’t when we were declared winners. It’s the whole day that happened before it. Driving a pick-up truck for the first time to move our props. All of the rehearsals we had to do. Cheering on my classmates at the games between each class’ performance. Our actual, final performance. That day, that whole day, is one of my favorite memories.

What makes a City

For fall break my friends I decided to go up to Seattle to do some window-shopping, snacking and walking around the neighborhoods. We didn’t want to do any of the generic tourist-y Seattle things, we were all pro’s at that already and wanted to get to know native Seattle-lite perspective and lesser known areas to explore. I wouldn’t say hipster or hippy are the right words to describe Seattle per say but its very much a city of the individual, or hand-crafter, locally sourced produce, goods and activity. And it was all over the city, in the boutiques we went to, the multiple of food options around and hubs of activity. We jumped from Melrose Market in Capital Hill to Fremont Square and then Ballard all in one day. Smaller pockets of what makes up the large city of Seattle. And as someone from Hawaii, I don’t know if  understand what makes a city, just that; a city. Are these areas merely neighborhoods, parts of the larger definition of a city..

How to Clean Your Suite

This year is my first year living in a suite, before this I lived in an on campus house (Langlow). One of the main differences is that my suitemates and I have to clean the inside of our suite ourselves. In Langlow, we had maintenance come once a week. This was nice. It meant that we didn’t have to clear all the toothpaste out of the sink ourselves. However, since moving into Trimble, I have been learning to take care of household chores on my own. Or, failing that, to at least thank my suitemates for taking care of them. Some chores you can get away with not doing for a while. For example, I haven’t swept or vacuumed my room since I moved in. Others you need to do regularly. Anything involving the bathroom needs to be done regularly. Below, I have written out a tip list for cleaning a suite. It’s fairly simple but I hope it will help.

1) Create a chore schedule. Otherwise everyone assumes someone else will take care of it and no one does anything. Either that, or the person with the least tolerance for filth does everything, becomes resentful, and begins plotting ways to kill their suitemates.

2) Get all your hair out of the shower when you leave. This applies even if you are not living in a suite. No one wants to see someone else’s hair in the shower.

3) Don’t let the trash pile get too high. If you see that it is higher than the actual trash can, remove it. You don’t want it to turn into a trash mountain.

4) Don’t feel bad about reminding your suitemates to do their assigned chores if it has been awhile. If it’s a choice between silence and a clean shower, go with the clean shower. A hot shower is one of the best parts of the day. You don’t want to feel like you should be wearing a hazmat suit.

5) When you ask a suitemate to clean up, ask nicely first. A casual reminder is usually all that’s needed.

6) If there is something malfunctioning in your suite, ask your RA for a work order sooner rather than later. Our drain malfunctioned and we let it get to the point where it didn’t matter if it was in or out. We removed the drain and the water still wouldn’t go down the pipe. It wasn’t pretty.

Cleaning is like any other part of suitemate leaving, as long as everyone is reasonably courteous it will go fine. If not, there is likely to be the kind of drama that makes you wonder if you are in college or middle school. But that is a story for another blog.

Experiential Learning

After spending nine months travelling and studying in Asia during the past academic year on the Pacific Rim / Asia Study-Travel Program (PacRim), I’ve grown accustomed to experiential learning. Courses on PacRim were almost exclusively experiential in nature. In the morning, we would meet for lecture and in the afternoon we were brought to the very sites we had learned about earlier in the day. There is nothing that makes a lecture on the Taj Mahal or Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum more engaging than knowing you will be marveling at it in just a few hours.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

This summer, as I prepared myself to start my final academic year on campus in Tacoma, I knew that the element of experiential learning was something that I was going to miss. The ability to draw direct connections between my coursework and the observations I was making outside of the classroom proved to be such an intellectually stimulating aspect of PacRim. While I yearned to recreate my experiences from my time in Asia back on campus, I doubted that it would be possible; that is until I took a trip to the Seattle Asian Art Museum this past weekend with Professor Zaixin Hong’s Japanese art students.


Colored Vases, Ai Weiwei (Seattle Asian Art Museum)

Professor Hong welcomed me as an addition on the field trip along with a handful of other students who were also attending despite not being enrolled in the course. As Professor Hong guided his students around the different exhibitions he made comments connecting each piece to some concept or theme he had discussed in lecture. Looking at the group meander through the galleries, I knew that each of the students in Professor Hong’s class were being given the amazing opportunity to immerse themselves in experiential learning the same way that I had while on PacRim.

Professor Hong isn’t the only professor making these connections for students at Puget Sound; in fact, the majority professors are drawing relevant, real-world connections for students on a daily basis. Although I had spent the summer lamenting my loss of experiential learning, it turns out that I had simply forgotten that that’s the norm at Puget Sound. Our excellent faculty and location in the Pacific Northwest allow for students of all disciplines to not only learn material, but engage with it firsthand in meaningful and tangible ways.

Mt. Rainier

On the third floor of Wyatt Hall, if you stand right next to the windows, and if it is a clear day, you can see, straight ahead, Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier is, of course, the largest mountain in the lower 48 and one of the most topographically huge mountains in the entire word—it dominates the skyline.

This is from Wyatt 304, at maybe 5:45pm.

This is from Wyatt 304, at maybe 5:45pm.

You can merely admire the view; I myself did that for a very long time. But you can also make the drive out and actually see (or, at least, theoretically see—this is highly weather dependant) the mountain up close and in person.

The day we decided to go for a hike on Mt. Rainier was, quite frankly, the wettest day of the school year thus far. I woke up in the morning to the sound of rain pounding on my window and on the pathways outside my room—and, like a proper Northwestern citizen, I said, “This isn’t that bad,” and then packed an extra raincoat and a towel.

We had chosen to hike up to Crystal Lake; to get there, you drive four miles past the Mt. Rainier National Park sign, and then slam on the breaks because there isn’t really a proper trailhead or anything else that would suggest that your destination is upon you.

The trail itself starts just off the road, and then winds up the mountainside. You hike through forests upon forests; forests that bear the marks of fires, with pines only at the top of the trees and the trunks themselves sooty and bleak; forests with trees covered in moss and ferns, green on green on green. And eventually, you cross the timberline, where the trees downsize and the wind constantly roars.

We continued hiking up, towards the lake. We just crested the hill and there it was.

Pictured: the wind chill.  Not pictured: me drowning in the wind and rain.

Pictured: the wind chill. Not pictured: me drowning in the wind and rain.

On any other day, I would have sat down on a convenient rock, maybe found an appropriate place to wade into the water, felt the lake (ice melt, from one of the 28 glaciers on Mt. Rainier) with my bare toes, probably had a snack. I would have definitely hiked the circumference of the lake, admiring its pale blue color and the icy mountain views from all angles.

On this day, however, we crested the hill and the first thing we registered was not the lake, but the wind and the rain. The forests below had protected us from the weather; here, the rain crashed into us with the force of a power hose. It was almost all I could do to stand up straight, and then break for cover to take some photos.

We headed back down the mountain instead, rain dripping from our hair and hoods (as proper Northwestern people, we had worn our rain coats; we just hadn’t actually put the hoods up). Every step was damp and, for lack of a better word, squelchy.

I have some advice for aspiring hikers, if they’re interested:

  • Just go hiking. Who cares about the weather?
  • The only excuse you are allowed to have is mountains (hahah…) of homework.
  • Pack extra socks and extra shirts and maybe a change of shoes and a towel. Leave all of this in the car, to stay nice and dry.
  • Bring food. Snacks, sandwiches, whatever.
  • Bring about twice as much water as you think you will need.
  • Also, bring a swiss army knife. At some point, you will need it. This is basically guaranteed.

Mt. Rainier is an active volcano, and on the Decade Volcano List, which I believe means it would suck for everyone if it erupted (as far as I can tell, it does not mean that the mountain will erupt within the decade). Point being, you should go up to the mountain, and experience before it turns into an ash pile.

It’s well worth it.

The very pale squiggle down the hill is a stream/river that runs along side the road.

The very pale squiggle down the hill is a stream/river that runs along side the road.