Category Archives: exercise

Learning about Myself in a Pandemic

Tiffany Hsia 

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

2020 started off great. I was looking forward to having an amazing year at USC and was excited about my classes. However, just around the time when spring break was starting, a global pandemic hit. I was excited about going on a trip with my friends, but instead of going to Mexico I packed my bags to go home. Little did I know, that was the end of my time at USC. Now much time has passed by, I have come to learn some things about myself.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Initially when I went home, I still had hope that I would be able to finish the rest of my sophomore year on campus. I thought that I was just enjoying an extended vacation back home, spending time with my family. However, as summer drew closer, every day grew to become the same. Time seemed to drag on and I could see no end to quarantine. In May, I decided to make a list of things I have always wanted to do, but never got the chance to do. Here are some of the activities that I embarked on in an attempt to try things that I never had the opportunity to before:

  • Working out

Since I had so much time on my hands at the start of quarantine, I knew that this was the time to get into the best shape of my life. I have always put off working out, using my busy schedule as a convenient excuse not to do it. I figured that making an effort to work out during quarantine would be a good way to improve my daily schedule. Studies have shown that working out increases dopamine release, which in turn can help increase our feelings of optimism. I started off with a few times a week and kept to a routine, focusing on how I felt after to help motivate me to keep going.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
  • Finding a new hobby

At the start of quarantine, I didn’t have much to do and I felt constantly bored. I decided to go on Amazon and bought a paint by numbers. With some practice, I was able to create my own masterpiece, even with my limited artistic talent. I enjoyed spending hours on end painting and felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards. I now proudly own art that I created myself, and it is hanging on my wall. 

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More than a Pre-Med student: My Introduction to Ballroom Dancing

By Richard Petrosyan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As a current senior at USC, I am nearing the end of a busy collegiate career as a pre-medical student in neuroscience. As such, I am beginning to reflect on what I’ve done throughout college not only to achieve my academic and extracurricular goals, but also to enjoy the journey. Even though much of my time has been devoted to my studies and extracurricular interests aligning with my intent to follow the pre-med track, I remember one of my most valuable experiences that allowed me to take a break from my routine. Recently, I took a class in Ballroom Dancing with the USC Kaufman School of Dance, an unforgettable semester-long experience that will stay with me beyond college. You might be wondering why this was such an impactful experience for me, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and delve into why I enjoyed this class so much and why you might want to consider taking this course.

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

When I came to my first ballroom class, I had absolutely no experience with dancing. Sure, I had danced at parties and at home before, but ballroom dancing? To me, this was movie material, with attractive Hollywood actors dressed like there’s no tomorrow, moving about with grace and elegance. So needless to say, the bar was high. But what made it more challenging was that boys and girls had to partner with each other. The prospect of close contact with one another made us all shy at first, as none of us knew each other and ballroom dancing was uncharted territory for us. Fortunately, we had a remarkably warm and welcoming teacher who put us at ease through his humor and many activities encouraging us to get to know each other. We’d gather in circles and would regularly switch partners so as to feel comfortable working with everyone. 

Teamwork was really important in this class. As we learned new dances, from the waltz to the tango, getting used to the moves demanded collaboration between students. The first step was to hear the teacher describe the moves, but it was easier to watch him perform them with the TA. It required a whole new level of understanding to repeat the moves on my own. Surprisingly, it felt particularly difficult to repeat my moves alone but easier to do it jointly with my partners. It was a bit like when math rules are easier to apply in calculations rather than to recite word for word. Mutual understanding between partners helped us make faster progress and, before we knew it, we were making each other spin, bend, dip, and jump at a head-spinning speed. Full choreographies were exhausting, but the endorphins and the mental satisfaction were worth it. As a group, upon attaining a certain level, we even acquired the taste of ballroom dancing so much that we’d organize to practice and have fun outside of class, which produced some memorable moments.

Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash
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Nature Outings Around LA

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Every once in a while, a brief trip away from the bustle of metropolitan LA can be a much-needed respite for a USC student. While there are plenty of things to do in the city, there are just as many day trips one can take in the surrounding areas. Going for a hike or bike ride in some different scenery can be a refreshing and inexpensive option for weekends when you would like to spend some time away from campus. I have listed below some of my favorite hikes and nature expeditions you can take in the LA area that will make it feel like you are visiting a place far from the city!

Photo by Praveen Thotagamuwa on Unsplash

One of the more popular places to hike in the LA area is the Sturtevant Falls trail. Located in the Santa Anita Canyon, this approximately 3.5-mile hike is frequently crowded with Angelinos, and follows a steep descent into a lush valley that ends in a spectacular waterfall. There are several other side trails that branch off from the sometimes overly busy path, such as the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which leads into a very dense, green forest that hardly feels as if it were only half an hour from downtown LA. 

Another slightly further destination is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which hosts large fields of the state’s flower each spring. This reserve is located about an hour and half away from USC, a few miles outside of Lancaster. Often crowded during peak season, it is highly advisable to visit the poppies early in the morning before parking gets too full. Another tip: bring an extra layer even when the temperature is high, as it gets particularly windy at this spot.

Photo by Pamela Heckel on Unsplash

Perhaps my favorite outdoor destination to visit in the area around LA is the Malibu Creek State Park, which is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. This park is filled with miles of beautiful trails, and was also the sight for various feature films, including the MASH series. The Yearling Trail, which starts from Reagan Ranch and leads to Century Lake, is a gentle 4-mile hike that leads through green fields, a Redwood forest, and ends with a glimpse of the Century Lake dam. It is a personal favorite of mine that can be accessed all-year round. 

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