Category Archives: culture

8 Things You Need To Do in Los Angeles in Your First Year at USC

By Jordan Al-Rawi

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

With the fall semester fast approaching and many students planning their return (or first-time trip) to Los Angeles, many are eager to explore all of the great things the city has to offer. There are several places I highly recommend visiting in your first year at USC to get the true Los Angeles experience. Even if you have been to LA before, I recommend seeing these places before you graduate! I have listed eight of these destinations below, along with instructions on how to get there using public transportation if you are new to the city and don’t have a car.

  1. The Getty Center
Photo by Ludovic Charlet on Unsplash

The Getty Museum houses one of the most impressive collections of American and European art and sculptures in all of California.  It is celebrated not only for its art but also for its beautiful gardens and view overlooking downtown Los Angeles.  To get to the Getty from USC, one can take the Expo Line from USC to the Santa Monica Station and then board bus 234 to the Getty Center.

2. Griffith Park

Griffith Park hosts a variety of fun activities, most of which are free of charge.  The Griffith Observatory overlooks the entire city of Los Angeles, has live shows, one of the best public telescopes on the West Coast, views of the Hollywood sign, and much more. From USC, you can take Bus 204 to the DASH Observatory Bus to get there.

3. Santa Monica Pier

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

The Santa Monica Pier is the pinnacle of Southern California beach culture and a must-visit location as a USC student.  The pier has a small amusement park, a variety of shops and restaurants, and a strong street culture presence.  To get to Santa Monica Pier from USC, board the Expo Line and ride it to the end of the line.

4. Pink’s

Pink’s is an iconic hot dog restaurant near Melrose Avenue that has existed since 1939.  Pink’s has been featured in movies, TV shows, and books.  Pink’s is a Treasure of Los Angeles and serves over fifty-thousand pounds of hot dogs per year.  To get to Pink’s from USC, you can take Bus 200 to Bus 10.

Continue reading 8 Things You Need To Do in Los Angeles in Your First Year at USC

How to Write a Blog Article

By Natalie Grace Sipula

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[6 minute read]

Writing is hard. From a pretty young age, I have greatly enjoyed expressing myself through creative writing, and as I got older, I started to enjoy academic writing as well. I would write poetry about things I observed in my day-to-day life, short stories or fragments of prose, and even entered a few essay-writing competitions. Something I noticed pretty early on about writing is that writing the things that come to your mind without method or intent is a lot easier than writing for an audience. I prefer writing while keeping the reader in mind more because writing only for myself lets me pick up bad writing habits, such as not carefully considering my word choice, as the only person interpreting the writing would be me. But writing creatively for a reader is pretty difficult, and academic-style writing for a reader can be exhausting because most college students already have to do that so much for their classes. A form of writing that I had not previously considered before coming to college, however, was blog writing. When I started working at the USC American Language Institute, I tried out writing for a blog for the very first time. One blog that I wrote about rereading Harry Potter with an older perspective challenged me to consider the perspective of both myself and my audience.

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

Writing for a blog is a great way to open your creative energy and write to a wider audience while also being able to maintain a level of informality and free expression to your writing. A blog article could be about anything–your daily routine, a hobby you love doing, your journey writing other things, or aspects of your social life. It is a happy medium between writing creatively or academically for others and dabbling in creative writing or journaling for yourself. This can be good because it allows you to practice writing with a sense of accountability, while also having fun. I have written a few blog articles since coming to college, and I found that I had a great time writing them and was actually proud of my work after the fact. I also realized that I was less judgmental of my own writing when writing a blog article, which made it easier for me to actually finish a writing project I started on. For me, the most difficult part of writing a blog article is narrowing down exactly what it is you want to write about.

What can you write about?

Have you ever had that feeling where you are inspired to write something and then as soon as you sit down in front of your journal or computer screen, your mind goes blank? Or when you know of a lot of things you think you might be interested in writing about, but aren’t sure where to start? This is a very common problem writers encounter, but with some consideration and time, it can be overcome. Some common blog topics to inspire you are: life advice about a specific situation or circumstance, a recipe or instructions on how to do/make something, a list of recommendations, a funny or shocking story and a lesson learned from it, hobbies or goals and how to accomplish them, and so much more.

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Summer in Cancún, Mexico

By Jasmine Espindola

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

One of the most memorable places I have ever traveled to was Cancún, Mexico. It is really upsetting that many people only talk about the more negative aspects of traveling in Mexico and completely overlook the beautiful and amazing places it has to offer.  Cancún is a touristic city in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico known for its beaches, but it has so much more to offer than conventional tourist destinations, including a vibrant culture and amazing food.

Photo by Gerson Repreza on Unsplash

I took this trip the summer after high school and it was the first time I’d ever been on a plane. I was nervous, but upon landing I was amazed at the beautiful landscape and scenery in front of me. After we checked into our hotel we walked out to the beach and I couldn’t believe the color of the water. It was all different shades of blue and surprisingly warm, which was different from the usually cold Pacific Ocean water I was used to.

We eventually went on a cruise to an island off the coast called “Isla Mujeres” which was amazing. The middle of the ocean looked like a pool because you could see the ocean floor and all of the fish and marine life. It was definitely a unique experience to be able to jump into the middle of the ocean near the reefs and have a ton of fish swimming around your legs without the fear of sharks approaching since the water was so clear.

Photo by Mario La Pergola on Unsplash

After a few days exploring the different beaches, we decided to take a trip to Yucatán, a neighboring state to Quintana Roo, to visit the Mayan temples of Chichén Itzá. On our way there we stopped at a cenote. A cenote is (as defined by dictionary.com ), a “deep natural well or sinkhole, especially in Central America, formed by the collapse of surface limestone that exposes groundwater underneath, and sometimes used by the ancient Mayans for sacrificial offerings.” I hadn’t ever even heard of these rock formations, but apparently, they are all over Central America and southern Mexico, especially prevalent on the Yucatán peninsula. The rock and cave formations were jaw-dropping and it was fascinating to learn about all the things they found there during the excavations from the Mayan Period.

After a quick dip in the water, we were on our way again to the famous Chichén Itzá. Chichén Itzá is one of the 7 wonders of the world and was built by the Mayans around 600AD, a time where they didn’t even have wheels. It was one of the most amazing experiences being next to this wonder and having a small view into the past. I also got to see the place where they would put the decapitated heads of their enemies in the first century AD and their place of recreation. The Mayan ruins are one of the most beautiful things I have seen to this day.

Photo by Carlos Nakazato on Unsplash
Continue reading Summer in Cancún, Mexico