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!

  • Don’t forget to eat: USC is located in the heart of LA, which means there are a lot of restaurants to explore. I love eating out in Koreatown and, as a Korean local, I can say that a lot of the food is really good and as close to authentic as you can get. Grabbing a few friends and exploring downtown LA while visiting cool restaurants is the best way to recharge after a busy week.
  • Set a shower schedule: I like to have a set shower pattern so that I shower at the same time each day. I normally shower before bed, but depending on whether I decide to exercise at night (I’m on the hockey team at USC and we have night practices) or morning, I’ll alter my schedule so that I always take a shower after exercising. This is undoubtedly the cleanest, classiest way of enhancing your mood immediately.

I hope you found this article informative! These tips sound so simple, but keeping up with classes and meetings while doing all these things is actually pretty challenging! But no matter how busy you are in these last few weeks of the semester, self-care should come before anything else. Self-care leads to loving yourself, and self love leads to the ability to showcase your “best you.”

Featured image by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Jackie is a freshman majoring in Business Administration, with potential minors in Computer Science or East Asian Studies. She has lived all over the world, from Korea to Singapore, to various parts of America. She is fascinated by cultural diversity, and her goal in life is to become a diplomat for the United Nations. She is a big fan of learning languages, and she is hoping to learn her sixth one soon. Jackie is involved in various international campus organizations such Model United Nations, as well as community service groups, and the residential government. She loves playing ice hockey, playing traditional Korean music and socializing with people in her free time!