By Stephanie Wicburg
As someone who has experienced instances of almost crippling anxiety in my life, I know that the avoidance of these issues in conversation is a fact. Stress and anxiety are just not things that society addresses. If someone wants to discuss them, it is often either with a professional, or not at all.
For me, the amount of preparation it takes to even do something as simple as making a phone call or socializing with people I don’t know is staggering. And yet, through my years, I have learned to cope with this part of my life. I have learned how to be able to function when I feel like I can’t breathe and how to push past it.
But imagine if I were put in a totally new environment. An environment in which I knew barely anyone. A place with a culture entirely different from my own, with a language that I do not natively speak. I have personally never been in this situation, but all the students I have worked with through ALI’s Conversation Groups are experiencing this as I type.
A new place can be incredibly hard to adjust to. I know that it took me several weeks to adjust to USC when I first moved here just last August, and during those weeks, there were several moments when my anxiety took over, and it felt like every little thing was just absolutely overwhelming. Fortunately, however, I had friends and family who I could talk to, as well as an incredibly supportive roommate, and all of the coping methods which I have developed through the years. These support systems are not something everyone has, however. Not everyone is taught or is able to figure out ways to help their anxiety, and so stressful situations, such as moving to an entirely new country, can just be beyond overwhelming.
Continue reading USC Resources for Stress and Anxiety
By Jackie Kim
Through my involvement with the American Language Institute’s Conversation Partner program, as well as the Undergraduate Student Consultant/ International Teaching Assistant program, I’ve relearned the merit of having face-to-face conversations. The connection you feel in having another person in front of you and giving you their full attention and thoughts is something that can’t be recreated through any media of technology, and I’m grateful to ALI for reinforcing the importance and necessity of having substantive conversations. Through my conversations, I am able to connect with my conversation partners and my international teaching assistants on a more personable level, making our meeting sessions much more enjoyable. My involvement in these programs has also had the unexpected result of getting to know the USC campus much better, as I often have to hunt for places to meet my ALI partners. Having to do this has been great for me but also productive for my meetings, as both my partners and I enjoy the change of the locations and the natural conversations the differing sceneries produce. Without further ado, here are the list of places I’d recommend for great conversations:
Continue reading Places on Campus for Great Conversations
By Colette Au
As the first round of midterms reaches its peak, I find myself overwhelmed by my commitments. Again. It seems that every semester begins smoothly, but time management only helps so much to balance a life that, frankly, is overbooked. As I learned in my gender studies class, Americans have the longest work week in the world. We can boast of our high GDP and standards of living compared to many other nations, but economic benefits come with hidden costs. This workaholic culture trickles down, and is especially concentrated at a university like USC. People who triple major, invest thirty hours a week e-boarding for several clubs, rushing and pledging in the Greek system, or work a full-time job alongside a full course load are our role models — the hard working ideal. Squeezing maximum productivity out of every day is the norm. Is this mindset of high-intensity social, academic, involvement helpful, or even sustainable in the long-term? Perhaps a dominant narrative negatively portrays a stereotypical American characteristic, rewarding effort without achievement, but I think there is an equally strong narrative that seeks to disrupt this view that Americans are lazy and entitled.
As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I grew up with Asian immigrant parents. Like many of their “tiger” counterparts, they stressed academic accomplishment, but unlike the tiger parent stereotypes, they told me I should also remember to take breaks and relax sometimes. However, in college, there is no one to remind me to put down my macroeconomics lecture slides and simply BE. As soon as I stop working, the guilt sets in. I don’t want to be a lazy and entitled American, I think. So I work harder and I overcommit. And when my laptop’s hard drive fails and I succumb to a bad cold that takes me out of class for a week, my self worth disappears along with my rigid work schedule. Lying in bed with used tissues and a glass of hot tea, I realized how easily my world was reduced to my Google Calendar’s events and task list in the semester’s first four weeks. I had become my commitments. My long-distance relationship was suffering because I was in club meetings, attending lectures, or working for most of my days. This is not what I envisioned for myself, but slipping into the “work hard, play hard” culture that permeates this campus is extremely tempting.
Continue reading This Midterm Season, Don’t Forget to Take a Break!