Tag Archives: koreatown

A Guide to Self-Care

By Jackie Kim

Whether at USC or any other American university, many international students have a tough time adjusting to not only American culture but also college culture in general.  As an international student myself, I was able to experience firsthand how it felt to come to a completely new country without any prior exposure to the new culture that would soon engulf my life. Thankfully, I went through this change at a young age and had a strong support system to guide me through the difficulties. I hope to be able to provide this same support to other international students at USC, especially those who recently had to go through the big move.

One of the things I wish I had realized earlier when I moved to Singapore (and then to America) is the importance of self-care. I realize now that I was so caught up in making new friends, adapting to the challenging curriculum, and getting used to the change of scenery that I lost my motivation to take care of myself. I often skipped meals and didn’t get enough rest; I was left feeling lethargic and unable to extract the overseas experience to which I had previously looked forward. Being a firm believer in always showcasing the best version of myself, I constantly challenge myself to reach my full potential, and this denial of my basic needs was hindering my ability to achieve this goal. I needed to switch gears and really dedicate time to self-care. Here are some tips that I currently abide by in Southern California to make my USC experience as great as possible:

  • Equip yourself with a water bottle: I’m used to the warm weathers of Singapore and the changing seasons of Korea, but I never knew how parched I could get until I found myself walking around the vast USC campus on a daily basis. There are a lot of water fountain stations on campus at which you can fill your bottle, and being hydrated is the key to energy when studying, exercising, and socializing!
  • Exercise as much as you can: Although walking around USC is an exercise in itself, people who board or bike around campus don’t get nearly as much exercise as those who choose to walk. Taking full use of the exercise equipment and classes at the Lyon Center or joining a sports team (club, intramural, Varsity) on campus is encouraged for a fresh start to the day. Even a quick walk or jog can immediately lift your mood!

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We are Los Angeles

By Sarah Joh

Culture shock is an expected side effect that comes with being a newcomer in a new place. But as my move to Los Angeles has taught me, there is more to culture shock than simply being confronted by a barrage of unfamiliarity.

Take, for example, Koreatown – which, for me, is a welcome offcampus destination that hinges on the spontaneity of friends with with cars. Thanks to  its proximity and its food, Koreatown (or K-town) is a common outlet for USC students; a stroke of luck for your truly, as it provides me with the gratification of feasting on the closest thing to my mom’s home cooking. However, in addition to belly-splitting meals, the road to Koreatown also promises a much different form of cultural experience.

Driving down Hoover Street, you will pass a laundromat that informs passersby of its title in three different languages – English, Spanish, and Korean. Likewise, even as the title “Koreatown” points to the cultural composition of this particular region of LA, stores catering to Latin-American populations rest side-by-side with their Korean counterparts. As you drive down certain roads, you can observe the frequency of this cultural mixing increase until, suddenly, you are in an area peppered less with Korean barbeque restaurants and more with hole-in-the-wall taco joints. The way these two cultures seamlessly bleed into each other leads me to wonder how such culturally different communities came to coexist side-by-side.

This is the unique, patchwork beauty of Los Angeles. The rapid scenery changes, from gilded facades of affluence to ramshackle buildings with caged windows, from one ethnic enclave to the next, from tall concrete and glass jungles to one-storied plains, is both shocking and wonder-provoking. Los Angeles is anywhere and everywhere mixed together and spread out throughout the urban sprawl. Converging in this one city, different cultures come to exist side-by-side, as well as intermingle with each other.

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