A Few Things I learned from Studying Abroad

By Lian Eytinge

When I was a junior at USC, I spent the entire academic year abroad in Tokyo, Japan. I went because I wanted to learn more about what life is like in a different culture, as well as immerse myself in a language other than my own. While abroad, I realized three major ideas that helped me navigate my time in Japan, thus enriching my experiences. Now that I’m back in my home country, I’d like to pass these ideas on to any international student who is studying here at USC and struggling with the language.

1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! I know it can be scary to speak in a different language; you don’t want to mess up or look stupid in front of people. I learned that from speaking with lots of different people in Japanese that it is okay to make mistakes and that native speakers won’t think badly of you for messing up. I know it is hard to believe but if you just push forward and try to communicate your idea, you can learn more and develop your speaking skills better than not speaking up at all. To get in the mindset of speaking freely, I thought to myself: “This is a great chance to get to learn a language through talking to native speakers. I won’t get a chance like this for a long time. I have to seize this opportunity!”

2. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. If the native speaker is talking too fast or you cannot understand the words they are saying, try asking them to repeat themselves slowly or ask them to say it in a different way. Native speakers understand you are learning and will try to accommodate you as best they can! After all, it is harder for you to translate what they say and speak your opinion than it is for them as a fluent speaker to repeat their sentence slower. You might initially think it is rude to ask someone to repeat themselves but, I can assure you, it is not. Asking someone to repeat themselves means that you care about what they have to say and that what they are talking about is important for you to fully understand.

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Uncover LA: Echo Park

By Tracy Castillo

When foreigners, or even non Southern Californianers, hear someone mouth the word “Los Angeles”, their immediate thoughts are probably overtaken with images of palm trees and the Hollywood Hills, but there is actually much more to Los Angeles than the  popular tourist attractions. Over the last decade, Los Angeles has created a large cultural hub that spans from countries and cities all over the world. There’s Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, and the list keeps going on and on. All of these hubs are filled with great cultural vibrancies consisting of great restaurants with native dishes, and stores stocked with the country’s native products. I am lucky enough to live in one of these cultural hubs just five miles north of campus, Echo Park.


Being in a situation in which I had to a find a home that did not require a one year lease, I ended having to look for housing outside the USC area and in the Echo Area area. Though I miss the convenience of living just a couple blocks from school, I enjoy living in this colorful neighborhood more. Echo Park is filled with taco trucks, coffee shops, and health food restaurants (seemingly on almost every corner). You may wonder what cultural category Echo Park falls into, but it doesn’t quite fir into any one box. I would say that it has a culture of its own, a Los Angeles culture where all walks of life have come together to respect and coexist within each other’s customs. For example, is it not uncommon to see a young artistic crowd patiently waiting to order authentic Mexican food from the taco truck camped out in front of the Ralphs’s, or a native Latino family walking into a vegan donut shop. These are instances that show how two very different sets of people are embracing each other’s customs.

So if you ever find yourself stumbling into Echo Park, here are some suggestions. If you want great inexpensive Mexican food, you must try the taco stand off of Alvarado St and Scott St. This stand is set up every evening in a vacant parking lot next to the Autozone. Here you will find a simple yet refined menu that can whip out anything from tacos to mulitas. If you’re curious to try an ever-popular vegan restaurant, Sage is the  perfect one. Sage is an all vegan restaurant that serves everything from Biscuits & Gravy to a Cauliflower Steak Dinner and a Brownie Sundae, but don’t let the word, “vegan” scare you, trust me, it is all very tasty!

And after dining at Sage, you can walk down to Echo Park Lake and rent a peddling boat and float around the lake or you can hang out by the grassy patches and read a book, listen to music, or simply gaze at the lake.

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Lessons Learned Through R&B Lyrics

By Rio Jackson

As the American artist SZA once said, “God bless these 20 somethings – good luck on them 20 somethings.” Your twenty’s can be an interesting ride. High school is over and you’re journeying into adulthood. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, adulthood is defined as maturity and “being fully developed”. In other words, you’re a grown-up now and should have this thing called life figured out. But we all know, life is not simple, and our goals do not always go according to plan. With finals here and everyone starting to feel exhausted from studying, I hope I can provide some wisdom to get you through this period. I personally love music, so, I am going to provide a few life tips hidden in the music genres known as R&B and Hip-Hop.

1.Count On Your Friends

“I’ll be there for you
When you’re going through
Times that you may think that you need a friend
You can count on me
Call me when you need”

-Song: Best Friend – Brandy

Life comes with a lot of hiccups and unexpected turns. Friends and supportive colleagues make life challenges a lot less painful. Empathetic friends remind you that the bad times are not permanent. Feeling isolated? Dreading graduating? Undecided about talking to your family? Having work related issues? Identify a friend. You do not need many friends, one good friend will make a difference in your experience in college, and adulthood. Quality friendships are vital in your twenty-somethings. Friends reduce your stress and friends give you a sense of belonging.

  1. Identify Your Problems

“I tried to drink it away
I tried to put one in the air
I tried to dance it away
I tried to change it with my hair
I ran my credit card bill up
Thought a new dress would make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder”

-Song: Cranes In The Sky – Solange

Solange ,who is now a 31 year old Grammy recipient, explained the origin of her “Cranes In The Sky” track in an interview with her sister, Beyonce.  She said that he wrote it in her 20’s when she had self-doubt. This notorious track was able to “put into perspective all of those ugly things” we experience in our twenty-somethings. Like Solange, it is important to identify your pain in order to find inner peace.

You can read more about her interview here: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/solange/#page2

  1. It’s Time To Let It Go…

“Just let go
Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow
Everything’s gonna work out right, you know
Just let go, let it flow, let it flow, let it flow
Just let it go, baby”

-Song: Let It Flow – Toni Braxton

Toni’s voice is soothing and calming and in “Let It Go,” her lyrics speak to letting go of a relationship. However, this song can be relatable to numerous areas in our life outside of relationships. When “things” fail, which sometimes in life they do, let it flow… I’m not saying let it entirely go, but don’t let it weigh you down. When you’re feeling anxious and sad – remember to self care. Keep pushing and move forward! You have your thirties and a long life to look forward to.

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