Category Archives: Food

Navigating American Service Culture: to tip or not to tip?

By Tara Khan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[2.5 minute read]

When you walk into a store in the United States, you are usually met with a friendly greeting such as, “Welcome!” or “Hi, how are you today?”. Typically, these greetings tend to be followed by a question such as “How can I help you?” or “What would you like?”. Employees will ask these questions to give you a more positive shopping or dining experience. In exchange for their friendly service, service industry workers usually receive some type of extra compensation in addition to their standard pay. This compensation either comes directly from you, the consumer, in the form of a tip, or from the business in the form of commission. It can be confusing to know when and where you’re expected to tip in the U.S., so here are some helpful examples of when tipping is recommended or not recommended.

clear glass jar
Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

Add a tip! The following are situations where tipping is strongly recommended or encouraged:

  1. Restaurants: When dining in at full-service restaurants, tipping is customary. The amount you tip your waiter/waitress is usually proportional to how much your check is and how good the service was. If you thought the service was good, the general rule is to tip 15-20% of your check, pre-tax. A tip of 10% or below usually indicates that the service was poor, while a tip of 25% or more indicates the service was excellent. You can leave your tip in cash, but if you want to pay with a card, there is usually a place to add a tip on the receipt that you sign. Not tipping at a dine-in restaurant is typically considered to be rude, so always factor in the tip into your eating out budget!
  2. Counter service/fast food: Unlike at dine-in restaurants, counter service establishments, such as fast-food restaurants or coffee shops, typically make tipping optional. Usually, you can find a tip jar next to the cashier for cash tips. There might also be an option to add a tip on the credit card machine if you pay by card. If you are getting a $5-$10 item, a tip of $1-2 is usually acceptable, and is by no means required. Tipping at counter service establishments is an added bonus for the employees, and just something nice to do if you really enjoyed the service!
  3. Hair salons/nail salons: Tipping at beauty salons, such as hair and nail salons, is also optional. However, it is highly encouraged if you like the final product. The tip is usually 18-20%, but it can vary depending on how much time was taken to do the service as well as the number of services performed.
  4. Rideshare: Depending on the length of your ride, tipping on rideshare services, such as Uber or Lyft, may be appropriate. Generally, tipping about 10% of your ride price is acceptable, but not something you have to do all the time.
green coupe scale model
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
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Useful Apps and Tools to navigate life

By Liane Chu

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As students, we are all looking for ways to make our lives at USC more streamlined and convenient. Once the semester begins, time usually gets away from me, no matter how organized I am. However, I have started incorporating some apps and tools into my daily life to stay on top of things and generally help me navigate life on campus better. Below are a couple of these apps and tools that help me accomplish that goal!

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

1. USC Schedule Helper

This is a chrome extension developed by a USC student that is a life saver when going through USC course registration. This extension will let you view how many spots are left in a class before registering and shows if the class conflicts with another class already added to your calendar. If a section is full, you can sign up for email alerts to notify you when a spot opens up, which is particularly helpful if you want to get into a popular class but don’t want to spend time continuously checking Web Registration to see if a spot has opened up.

2. Coursicle

Similar to the USC Schedule Helper, Coursicle is an app that helps with the course registration process. You are able to search for a class, view recent professors who taught the course, the times the sections are offered, the average class size, and more! Download the app or checkout the browser version here.

Photo by Levi Elizaga on Unsplash

3. USC Campus Dining App

Tired of waiting in line for food? Well now you can place an order, pay ahead of time, and pick up your food whenever it’s ready! The app works for 18 USC Campus Dining locations including Fertitta Café, Burger Crush and Seeds Marketplace. You can pay with credit card, USCard, Dining Dollars, or meal swipes. Once your order is placed, you will be notified when the order is ready for pick up! This is particularly helpful if you only have a short break between classes and want to maximize your time spent studying. Learn more on how to download the app here.

4. LiveSafe

LiveSafe is a mobile safety app managed by USC DPS that allows users to contact emergency responders with a click of a button. The app works for both the University Park and Health Science Campus. Once you make an account, the app will allow you to contact DPS or 911 instantly, anonymously report suspicious activity, and have your friends and family virtually escort you with the SafeWalk feature. You can check out some fo the features of the app and download it here.

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Three Best Eats at the USC Village

By Connor Brown

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

The USC Village is home to many restaurants and retail stores, and offers enough variety to suit anyone’s taste. The Village is an incredibly convenient location for USC students given its proximity to campus, and is one of the best spots to grab lunch in the immediate area. It isn’t just the dining hall, dorms, and Target, but a bunch of good eats too! Here are my top three favorite eateries in the Village:

  1. Cava
Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Cava has been my most frequented Village location (besides Trader Joe’s) since I arrived on campus three years ago. It offers big bowls of Mediterranean food at a relatively decent price in a build-it-yourself style that offers complete customization. You can think of it as Chipotle for Mediterranean food, though I think this chain is much better than Chipotle.  I usually go for a rice bowl with some lettuce, then load it up with hummus, kalamata olives, pickled onions, and cucumbers. There are many different protein options, and I tend to go with either the harissa honey chicken or the falafel. Suitable for a wide variety of diets, Cava is a great place to grab a meal between classes or meet with friends and chow down. It’s always fun to meet a friend there, order your bowl, and head on over to the Great Lawn to chat and eat on the grass, enjoying the California sun and afternoon vibes. 

  1. Il Giardino
Photo by Nerfee Mirandilla on Unsplash

Hungry for pasta? This is the place for you! Il Giardino is the home of Italian food at the Village, and offers a number of different types of pasta and sandwiches. Whether you like to keep it simple and roll with spaghetti with tomato sauce, prefer a hearty bolognese, or want a pasta and fish dish, Il Giardino has got you covered. I’ve yet to try their sandwiches, given my affinity for pasta, but I have heard nothing but good things. They have fun Italian sodas as well, their fridge always holding a number of different flavors of San Pellegrino, which pair well with whatever entree you get. If you’re craving Italian food and don’t want to have to go far to find something good, Il Giardino is a solid spot. 

  1. City Tacos
Photo by Krisztian Tabori on Unsplash

When I heard Trejo’s Tacos in the Village was closing, I thought it would be missed. While there are an abundance of tacos spots around LA and near USC, having a tasty taco joint in the Village was wonderfully convenient. City Tacos opened a couple months ago in the same storefront where Trejo’s used to be, and I’ve been impressed with my first couple of visits there. They have a lot of tacos. I mean — a lot. Whether you’re looking for breakfast tacos, fish tacos, carne asada, chicken, al pastor, or something else, City Tacos will probably have what you’re looking for. They even do California-style burritos that come with french fries inside, which as a native Californian, my definitely totally completely unbiased opinion strongly approves of. I’m looking forward to trying more from City Tacos, and recommend you give it a try as well!

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