Do You Know Your Professors?: Interview with Professor Nick Kontogeorgopoulos

Do you know your professors?

I mean – do you know your professors beyond their names, departments, classes, grading styles, etc.?
One of the most valuable aspects of liberal arts education, in my opinion, is the close connection you could establish with the professors.
Sure, they could seem intimidating with their crazy educational backgrounds and sophisticated word usage skills, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting to know them.
They are always there – willing to help, and get to know you.

In saying so, I’m presenting you with the first edition of the “Do You Know Your Professors?” Series: Interview with Professor Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, the Distinguished Professor of the International Political Economy (IPE) Department.


BeFunky DesignSo, to start off – Professor Konto, did you always want to be a professor since you were young?
Well, I knew I wanted to be a professor since my freshman year in college. Fun fact actually, I was originally going to study engineering at University of Toronto, because I was doing a lot of math and science in high school. But I got a four-year scholarship called the Morehead-Cain from North Carolina Chapel Hill, so I ended up going there from Toronto, Canada – where I was in High School. North Carolina Chapel Hill did not have engineering, so I started down another path – thought I’d do International Relations. I enjoyed it very much since First Year, so yea. I knew pretty early on – which was nice.

Wait, did you say you grew up in Canada?
Yes. I was born in Canada; I grew up in Vancouver until I was 6, then my family moved to Toronto. Oh, but my family is from Greece. My parents were immigrants from Greece, and they met in Canada, where I was born.

Wow; I did not know that! And your college experience – was North Carolina Chapel Hill different from/similar to UPS? How?
It was totally different, because North Carolina Chapel Hill is a huge research school with thousands and thousands of students. Classes are very large, especially in the first couple of years. So, it was a completely different experience. My first knowledge and exposure to liberal arts was when I got hired to come here.

Due to its nature of being a big university, would you say that the relationship dynamic between a student and a professor at North Carolina Chapel Hill was different compared to that of UPS?
Yes. It was more difficult to get to know the professor, but the professor to get to know you – it was definitely more difficult, and you had to be a lot more proactive. It was a lot easier to melt into the crowd and be anonymous, which is good and bad, but you had to really make sure you got good education. It was very up to you. You really had to make the choices to make the most out of it. Here at UPS, it is naturally set up in a way to ensure students get good education.

How would you define good teaching? What is your teaching philosophy?
When I think about good teaching, I think about the teachers that I enjoyed the most, and what those teachers had in common were high level of organization and genuine passion for the material, but also for teaching the material. So – professors who are excited about learning new things to teach, and being in the classroom in front of students. Professors who have good plan, and intensity… I think I responded to those the most – So I try to do that in my own teaching.

So, How long have you been teaching at UPS?
This is my 18th year.

Oh my gosh.
Yea, is it 18th? Yea. It is.

Has the school changed at all since you first came here?
I think this School has changed, and there are certain things that improved since I have came here, in terms of the reach of the school nationally – its profile – has improved since I got here.

You earlier said that you aspire to be a professor who is always excited about learning new things to teach; do you have current research interests?
The current research I’m doing is volunteer tourism, in which tourists travel and volunteer for short periods of time; and I’m interested in what motivates them, and what impact they have on the communities. In general, my research is related to alternative forms of tourism.

And Lastly, what piece of academic, or even life advice would you give to all of your students?
I would tell my students that it is never too early to think about what you want to do down the road. There are lots of options available to students, and it seems like a daunting task, but often students wait too long to think about what they want to do because they are afraid to make decisions. So, many end up very close to graduation without preparations or plans – it might seem early to think about your future, and of course, young people should keep their options open and explore their choices, but at some point, you should buckle down and make some decisions for career. Another – is to not put too much pressure on yourself to have something perfect when you graduate. People shouldn’t feel so pressured to get paralyzed by it.


~Fun Fact About Professor Konto~

Nick in studio

Professor Konto in KUPS Studio

Did you know that, for 10 YEARS, Professor Konto with Professor Jeff Matthews (from the Business department) hosted a KUPS show called “Back and Black” with seventies to nineties hard rock? YES – he is big on music.

His favorite band is Rush – the Canadian band, because he grew up with them in high school. He really enjoys classic rock from the seventies and New wave music from the eighties. He also likes some contemporary stuff from England – like the Artic Monkeys, and Brit pop from the nineties – like Oasis. Oh, and of course, disco as well – from the seventies.


*Thank you Professor Konto!*

Learning to Ace Rejection

So, rejection. It’s something everyone has to deal with at some point, your experiences probably include not getting picked first for teams at PE (unless you always were then wow) or not receiving an award at the end of your baseball\soccer\basketball\volleyball team banquet. And let’s not forget college “you had an amazing application but there were so many and we had to make some tough decisions to narrow down the pool” letters! But you’ve gone through life seemingly well and all those rejections from your youth seem like little things of the past, those temper tantrums afterwards small in your mind. And no one talks about or seems to think about how rejection is not a thing of the past, and it never will be.

In college, I feel like any type of rejection is more harsh, more real and more sad. Maybe it’s just me but how do you really deal with rejection? Our society has taught us that to succeed is everything, it’s the American Dream. What are you if you’re not succeeding? But the flipside to that is you can never succeed if you never try and along the way there will be rejection and failures and that will make you stronger, better and a humble person. There are so many things that you won’t know about rejection: maybe the other person had the perfect credentials to get the position, opportunity, job, or career. It’s probably nothing personal against you, and its a step in your path to figuring out your life and will allow another opportunity to come. At the same time, you need to be honest with yourself, did you give everything possible to put the best of yourself out there?

Recap: Spring Break 2016

As Spring Break 2016 comes to a close, I realized that it went by way faster that I thought it would. I stayed on campus for most of break and partly assumed that it would drag on. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As a way to preserve break and catalogued it, I decided to list most of what I did below.


  • Around 4PM my eleven year old cousin, Ting, FaceTimed me in the sub. She and I played M.A.S.H. and much to the disappointment of my roommate, her future career wasn’t “garbage man.”
  • Friends forgot the sub closed early and we all went to Memos. Surprised someone with carne asada fries and haven’t seen anyone that happy in a while.
  • Then got in a crowd of people and went to Safeway, where Ting called me again, to claim my friends were: seven, twenty-nine, and forty. (They are all twenty.)


  • Downloaded The Life of Pablo and have zero regrets.
  • Made brownies and had to substitute flaxseed eggs for actual eggs, but it was definitely worth it.
  • Dinner was pizza at Farrelli’s. And was delicious.


  • Toured the Museum of Glass and watched the visiting artist create an octopus. Advice: Go. Do it. It’s free on Sunday’s with a student ID. Also, if you don’t have a car, be sure to get an ORCA card from ASUPS.
  • Watched Groundhog Day for the first time, 10/10 recommend.


  • Oh, hey. Homework is still a thing over break. Did some of that.
  • Watched Fuller House and was disappointed.
  • Went to Krispy Kreme for the second time ever and had a donut. Immediately ate said donut.


  • Slept in for too many hours, but it was much needed and much enjoyed.
  • Video chatted with a friend who goes to school in Pennsylvania. (Nick, I miss you!)
  • Discovered a new sandwich: turkey, bacon, and havarti on whole wheat.


  • Convinced some friends to go on a walk down to the waterfront. We took our time and wandered around the Chinese Reconciliation Park. Then we walked up Puget Park, hung out at the playground, and spun around too much, before walking back to school.
  • Discovered that Wednesdays are bowling leagues and so you can’t go bowling in the evening.


  • Was very set on not doing anything. Met up with Nathan for breakfast, then we headed to the library for a new setting. Around three we headed back to the sub for food and ran into some friends. It was sunny and beautiful out and Gabe wanted to go take photos and so we went on a walk.
  • Down past the pedestrian bridge, if you follow the cobblestone driveway, there is a beautiful look-out point onto the water and the city.
  • I’d recommend wearing layers, because the wind can make you so so so cold after a while, but Gabe got some pretty good pictures out of the day. They can all be found here


  • Took the AmTrak down to Vancouver, where I met up with my friend Maddy. From there, we went to Portland, where we met up with Emily, who was driving up from Bend, OR.
  • Finished reading How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton, which was much better than expected. Definitely a book I would read again and recommend to other people.
  • We spent the day exploring the Pearl District and eating all of the good food.
  • Raided the men’s t-shirt section at Target. Purchased the same NASA shirt that Emily has. No regrets.
  • Breakfast for dinner with Not Sub eggs was fantastic.


  • Explored the Saturday Market and waited in a long, but fast-paced line for Voodoo donuts. Whose donuts were far superior to Krispy Kreme.
  • Met up with Emily’s friend who goes to Reed at Reed, where we were given a tour of the research reactor.
  • On the quest for dinner, we ended up going to the Met, then to Memos, then to Safeway. Food was found!


  • Spent most of the afternoon in the sub talking to friends who had been gone over break. Discovered Chili only took wavy panoramic pictures in Paris.
  • Did that homework that I didn’t bother finishing on Monday.


Oh crap. I’m starting to have doubts about going here. This isn’t good.

Don’t get me wrong, UPS is a great place. I love the small liberal arts environment. The professors and people here are amazing. The small size is just small enough for me to know a lot of people but large enough so that I’m always meeting new people. It’s also pretty awesome that my room is like a 2 minute walk from the SUB.

But, I realized something recently. I want to pursue a career in the digital arts. I want to do Graphic Design. And UPS doesn’t offer anything remotely close to either of those. Maybe I should have gone somewhere else.

What caused this revelation? A little while ago, I started designing a Geofilter for Snapchat for my fraternity. I finished a draft and sent it to a friend of mine who’s a sophomore at the University of Southern California studying Graphic Design. She gave me a ton of really good suggestions, most of which I ended up implementing in the final design.

Then we got to catching up, because we hadn’t spoken in months. She asked me what I was majoring in and I said Geology. She was surprised because of the circumstances that we met in. We met last summer at a technology summer camp that we both taught at. I taught Game Design and Engineering while she taught Digital Photography and Photoshop (Don’t be too impressed, it was a lot less glamorous than it sounds).

She told me to just keep my mind open. Majors, classes, activities, interests, they could all change in an instant. Life will never go as planned and I shouldn’t just limit myself so early on.

And I couldn’t agree with her more. I mean, this year alone, I decided to switch from Environmental Policy and Decision Making to Geology and joined Rugby, my first team sport ever alongside dozens of other changes. Who’s to say there won’t be more change in my future? As the saying goes, “The only thing that is constant is change”.

So maybe Geology isn’t for me. I mean, it’s an interesting topic that I’d love to learn more about, but my real passion lies in technology and media. But I can’t study that here.

Thankfully, there is a bit of a silver lining. I can apply to be the Director of Marketing and Outreach or a Graphic Designer for ASUPS. Both will allow me to pursue my interests in graphic design while still studying Geology. So maybe things aren’t as bad as I made them out to be at first.

What’s your team?

Loggers are from all over the nation, and world actually. And sometimes we forget where our friends are from, EXCEPT during sports seasons, and there’s always a sport in season, and that can identify where someone is from as well! In the fall, baseball is all abuzz, with many sweatshirts flashing SF Giants especially. And I know based on my Facebook feed and the plethora of students from the Bay Area, that 2016 is an EVEN YEAR, that black and orange are great colors and this year could be the year again. The Giants fans are most definitely the loudest and proudest on our campus. Basketball has a small but tight loyal following, guys mostly watch in their dorm lounges on weeknights instead of wearing jerseys or team swag out, but I know they’re out there especially Golden State fans.

Hockey is a lesser recognized sport, but popular anyway with the proud Chicagoans showing up with their jerseys and Blackhawks knowledge, especially with last year’s Stanley Cup in hand. There’s one guy in particular who always comes into the Cellar durin season to watch the games on our TV! Another less popular sport is football, I mean soccer. While soccer is not that big in the States, men and women; the international draw is definitely there. I’ve seen many Real Madrid fans sporting Ronaldo jerseys, or Brazil fans with Neymar jerseys, and I know of one friend who’s a die-hard Mexico and FC Barcelona fan. And as a huge soccer fan myself (alas I don’t own any jerseys but ask any of my friends or I about USWNT we’ll talk your ear off!) I know soccer fans are some of the craziest in the world and I am constantly amazed by the game, I can’t wait until the rest of America is just as captivated (which let me tell you, we’re just about. More people watching our US Women’s National Team win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup than any other televised soccer or national sporting competition!)

By far, and I mean by far, football of course has the loudest fans, and these fans really know their stuff! Of course being in Washington the Seahawks fans are everywhere in the staff, faculty, and students too! #BlueFriday is definitely a thing with Seahawks jerseys abounding everywhere in season. And I’m definitely sure there were a few bandwagoners when the Seahawks won their first SuperBowl and were stoked about the second, but f anything these Washingtonians are die-hards and the 12s are still loud and proud. Broncos fans are the next most popular and visible with orange and blue jerseys were out and about every game day. Despite the pounding they received two years, they were always positive going into this year, and with the win were overjoyed (I saw many happy crying snapchats, that I wish I had saved but alas I don’t). And there are a few daring Patriots fans who dared show their faces and swag around campus last year after they won!

The professional teams people tells me a lot about where that person is from, or about their family to be raised as a fan. And how your friends without teams (like myself) can still get sucked into the fandoms and watching sports.

4AM in the sub

I had a self-imposed bedtime as a child. More often than not, as the night progressed, I would inform my mother that I was going to sleep, before brushing my teeth and crawling in bed.

Despite this, one of my most distinct memories from childhood was the first time I stayed up all night. I was seven and spending the night at my grandma’s house with two of my cousins, Eli and Ethan, who were seven and five, respectively. We played out the normal night-time routine, an attempt to convince Grandma that nothing was up. Both of them dozed off as Annie lit up the dark room, but they both woke up as the yellow credits flash across the black screen. We crept downstairs, pushing together coffee tables and chairs to make a fort in the low-light of the living room. Huddled under blankets, propped up on pillows, we spent the rest of the evening watching Spongebob Squarepants and applauding ourselves for staying awake. When picking me up the next day, Mom mentioned that I was rather crabby and in a tired haze I refused to tell her we hadn’t gone to sleep.

Other than that singularity, my sleep schedule has been routine. It has adjusted itself slightly for pre-teen yes I’m going to sleep in on the weekends for a little too long and occasional late-night homework sessions; yet, even in college, I purposefully make an effort to be asleep before midnight. In a parallel structure to that childhood memory, some of my most distinct memories at Puget Sound have been when I’ve broken that quota.

Standing under an overhang, dreading the late-night rain, and talking with Nick, a group of girls wandering to the Cellar looked at us and said, “You guys are such a cute couple. Just kidding, you’re probably brother and sister.” Sitting in the piano lounge, listening to Carley play, a group walking past began dancing and gave her a round of applause. Curling up on a couch and helping Emily sketch out a poem on a crumpled napkin. Priorities seem to shift as night progresses and personalities reflect that.

I’m more open, more honest, late at night. Willing to talk for hours, because at first we were in the Cellar and then it closed and it’s four a.m. and we’re still awake, sitting in an upstairs booth at the sub. Bright lights reflect off the white-washed wooden ceiling and the only other people present were downstairs cleaning. In the faint background noise of vacuums, I could see the reflection of my face in the dark of the window. I slumped down further in my seat while the clock ticked, but I didn’t leave, didn’t want to. And I don’t even remember what we talked about. It could have been nothing, but I’m inclined to think it was everything.

Les chateaux de la loire; or, my other cribs

One of the best, if not the best, things about the UPS Dijon study abroad program are the vacations, organized by the program, specifically the wonderful Nathalie, to other cities in France.  For free.

Okay, actually, they’re paid for by the tuition we spent to get here, but I’m not shelling out euros for every bistro and degustation (there should be an accent on the e, but I’m not feeling the struggle to edit that) de vin and tour of a chateau, so I am calling it free.

This past weekend, we went to the Loire valley.  The Loire is a river (un fleuve) in the west of France where multiple kings built what were essentially summer homes (chateaux) to live in when they weren’t feeling la Louvre (originally the main palace of the kings, until Louis XIV built Versailles).

The Loire Valley is two train rides away from Dijon, equally a total of about six hours gazing at the peaceful French countryside.  Once we were there, though, we went to town on the chateaux.

The first chateau we visited was the Chateau de Blois, which is smack-dab in the middle of the town of Blois, where we stayed.  The Chateau de Blois was the most used by the French royal court; throughout the centuries, French kings built additions to the original fortress (making it fancier each time, naturally).

One side of the chateau; note the dope staircase built by Francois I.

One side of the chateau; note the dope staircase built by Francois I.

Also, the Chateau de Blois played an integral role in the Wars of Religion in France; it is where Henri III had the Duc de Guise straight up murdered.

That afternoon, we visited Chambord.  Chambord is the second largest chateau in France, after Versailles; unlike Versailles, it is not decked out.  From what I understand, Francois I built the chateau and then stayed there for about a grand total of 15 days.  It is basically just too big: impossible to heat in the winter, attacked with mosquitos in the summer (not that that is related to it’s size), and not the favorite landing spot of any king, ever.  The outside, however, is very beautiful.  It was built to be perfectly symmetrical.

I don’t have a picture that encapsulates how big and grand Chambord is; google it.

The next day, in the morning, we visited Chaumont-sur-Loire.  It’s a little chateau on a hill overlooking the Loire River.  The outside is appropriately medieval/Renaissance, but the inside is a little bit jarring; it was pretty much lived in up until the early 1900s, by a handful of royal people and then various rich people, so the inside decor reflects more of the Gilded Age aesthetic (I actually don’t know if the Gilded Age happened in France concurrently with America, but it’s more of a look than historical accuracy).

Ignore the aesthetically displeasing "Slippery When Wet" sign.

Ignore the aesthetically displeasing “Slippery When Wet” sign.

Our final chateau was Chenonceau, which is absolutely perfect and #lifegoals.  Chenonceau is small and romantic and built in the middle of a river.  Additionally, it was owned at times by two of the most badass woman in France: Diane de Portiers, who had Henry II wrapped around her toe, basically, and Catherine de Medicis, who I’m pretty sure single-handedly ruled France while her whiny sons kept dying (and was married to Henry II, which is admittedly a little awkward).  Anyway, they both connived to make Chenonceau the prettiest chateau in the Loire Valley, and they succeeded.

Someday, I am going to convince a king to be madly in love with me for his entire life and give me castles.

Someday, I am going to convince a king to be madly in love with me for his entire life and give me castles.

Have I mentioned that this weekend was included in the price of the program? The chateaux, the delicious meals, the hotel with a pool: I personally did not spend any of my own euro for this weekend.

Dijon: Welcome to My Crib

I have currently been living in Dijon, France, for a little over a month; long enough to get moderately well established in this city, to work out my favorite boulangeries, bars, and so on, and figure out how late I can sleep before I miss my tram and therefore class.

But I am mostly here today to talk about the city.  Dijon, of course, is mostly known stateside for mustard (in fact, my host family eats it literally every night with dinner, much like salt or pepper.  It’s much hotter mustard than normal, actually, and it reminds me quite a lot of the fresh-ground horseradish that my grandmother makes).  However, Dijon does boast some attractions other than condiments.

Wine, for example.

I would like the record to reflect that a) no one drank these because they are much too valuable and only worth collecting dust and b) I am 21 and a half.

I would like the record to reflect that a) no one drank these because they are much too valuable and only worth collecting dust and b) I am 21 and a half.

And other more classic French attractions: like most French cities, the centre-ville of Dijon is the oldest part of town, made of layers of buildings dating from the Gallo-Roman era, the early medieval periods, and the Renaissance.

The little tower in the middle of the photo is from the Romans: literally thousands of years old.  It is in my courtyard.

The little tower in the middle of the photo is from the Romans: literally thousands of years old. It is in my courtyard.

This is either a tiny(er) Arc de Triomphe or one of the last remains of the medieval wall that surrounded Dijon; it is possible that I misunderstood the tour guide.

This is either one of the last remains of the medieval wall that surrounded Dijon or a tiny Arc de Triomphe; it is possible that I misunderstood the tour guide.

In ye oldene times, Dijon was the capital of the Duchy of Bourgogne (Burgundy); now, Dijon is still the capital of Burgundy, but the government is socialist instead of monarchist.

The palace of the Dukes of Burgundy aka my backyard.

The palace of the Dukes of Burgundy aka my backyard.

The further you go out from the centre-ville, the most similar to blocks of concrete the buildings look.

I live smack dab in the centre-ville, on a road that runs a block parallel to the main shopping and walking road of Dijon.  This is highly convenient for my ability to access shops and restaurants and so on; this is much less convenient for my wallet.  (Everyone in France looks so stylish all the time, which is a far cry from UPS’s brand of hipster grunge.  And they always wear little booties, regardless of the rain or snow levels.)

I’m gonna sign off now, otherwise I’ll continue talking about how the French are just too stylish and beautiful.  Join me next time for more unorganized talks about my days.


I Know What I’m Doing

In which Daniel provides his five best tips for being a successful college student, musician, writer and human being.


To my dear reader,

How do you balance it all, Daniel? How do you manage to write and compose so much all the time? How do you maintain your flawless physical appearance and/or air of effortless ease and approachability?

In the rare few times I’ve ever received these questions, they have been accompanied by an accusatory look and passive-aggressive tone clearly meant to imply, “You’re just screwing it all up, aren’t you.” Well, the short answer to that one is “yes,” BUT the long answer is that’s been a difficult and perilous road towards becoming the responsible, stunningly attractive, well-adjusted quasi-adult that I am today. It’s been fraught with trials, from my passionately lackluster romance with weight training to taking my pants off publicly more times than I care to admit.

But how did I transform from this stunning, bow-tied child prodigy…


…to this dazzling specimen of maturity…


…while looking like this on a daily basis?


Well, dear reader, here are my top five tips for success that have led me on such a progression across my twenty one years of life:

  1. PERSERVERE: In my first semester of college, I decided to begin watching the TV show Lost, and became immediately hooked. I decided to forsake most social activity in order to make it through all six seasons in four months, and in the face of adversity/anxiety-inducing socializing, I trudged on through the show and made it out victorious/still socially inept in the end.
  2. BE ADVENTUROUS: I once read that green tea can be used as a natural deodorant, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and put tea bags in all my dresser drawers to test this theory out. True, it made all of my wardrobe smell like seaweed for about a month, so… yeah. It’s so clear to me that these things are related.
  3. ALWAYS BE LEARNING: One time, I was preparing to dress for a vocal studio performance by ironing a vest of mine that, unbeknownst to me, had small metal components on a certain section. After about 20 seconds of ironing, the vest promptly burst into flames, which in turn caught onto the papers in the nearby vicinity, and I was forced to sprawl myself on top of the table to simultaneously put out the vest and the other burning debris. That day, I learned that ironing is not my strong suit.
  4. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF: At the end of my very stressful sophomore year, I received word that I had been turned down for a job to which I’d applied. Trying not feel discouraged, I went to the bathroom to poop. Upon sitting down on the toilet, I proceeded to defecate, urinate and burst into tears simultaneously. It was the most physically liberating experience of my life. Don’t worry; it all ended up in the toilet bowl.
  5. DON’T GIVE A FUCK: Goodness, do you believe that anyone is ACTUALLY paying attention to your life? The likelihood of this is much lower than you think. Go do your life; if people don’t like it, maybe they should go write their own blogs about it.

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert


  • Deadline: March 23rd.
  • What you can submit: 4 ART, 3 POETRY, 2 PROSE, 1 OTHER.

As you may know, Crosscurrents is Puget Sound’s student-run literary magazine. All of the submissions are made by and voted on by students. All submissions are viewed anonymously; therefore, a completely honest critique is made. If you are submitting artwork, there are photoshoots to have the work professionally photographed Monday (3/7) from 4-6PM and/or Thursday (3/10) from 5-7PM. Anyone can submit, by sending their writing/art to Members of Crosscurrents meet every week and share opinions on the week’s submissions. After all of the submissions are decided upon, the magazine is complied and distributed.

Crosscurrents is an amazing and easy way to have published work. The more work submitted, the better the magazine will be. So, please, submit to Crosscurrentssubmit crosscurrents poster