Category Archives: lifestyle

To have a car or not to have a car… that is the question

By Lily Tam

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Not having a car in LA makes life hard. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Despite the strong and ever-improving public transportation system in LA, taking the Metro or another form of public transport just isn’t the same as having the luxury of driving. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken the Metro to Santa Monica quite a few times, and I definitely recommend it since the stop right outside of campus is so convenient. The best part? Not having to worry about parking and traffic-an absolute dream come true.

The story’s a bit different if you want to explore a little outside the city, however. My roommate and I are from the farthest ends of the United States, the East Coast and Hawaii, so it wasn’t really feasible for us to bring or drive a car all the way to California for use during school. Fortunately, we both have our driver’s’ licenses, which is why when we got the chance to rent a car with the school’s new partnership with Maven, we did.

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

My roommate had just finished one of her most dreaded midterms and was looking to celebrate that accomplishment with a meal out. We decided to head down to East LA for some great Mexican cuisine. However, we were so excited that we forgot to take into account something LA is notorious for: rush hour traffic. Yes, we decided to head out exactly at 5 PM. On a Friday. About to go on the 110 Freeway. Not a brilliant idea, I’ll tell you that much. In fact, the traffic flow was so bad that the Waze app directed us to square around (like a circle around, but we went in a box shape) two blocks just to come back to Figueroa. The lanes were insane though, and the maneuvers I saw some drivers making really took some skill. A drive that was supposed to take 15 minutes took 40 instead, and we arrived at the restaurant disgruntled and very hungry. It ended up being alright though because in our eyes a good meal is worth anything.

It was starting to get dark on our way back, but the traffic didn’t stop. In fact, the headlights from the oncoming lanes and the rear-end lights of the cars in front of us made it seem like a stream of Christmas lights. I guess no matter the time of the year, LA will have the festive feel of a city lit up at night. Despite our frustration at the endless traffic, we took away one important lesson: appreciate the relaxation of public transportation.

Continue reading To have a car or not to have a car… that is the question

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.

Continue reading Useful Apps and Tools to navigate life

Op-ed: Hybrid Classes at USC: yay or nay?

By Tiffany Hsia

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, USC moved classes to an online format. Online classes have been a bit of a debated topic as some people love online classes and others feel strongly against them. Online classes allowed for flexibility during the pandemic and for students in different time zones to watch recorded lectures. However, on the other side of the coin, students faced Zoom fatigue as well due to little to no peer interaction, which is an integral part of being in school. I personally had mixed feelings about Zoom classes; it was nice to be able to go to school in my pajamas and to be with my family during the pandemic. However, I felt that I did not learn as well and I did not meet anyone new in my classes, and participation in classes was low. 

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Now that USC has moved towards in-person classes with hybrid options, I still have mixed feelings. Some professors have provided flexible options, allowing for students to choose online or in-person, while other professors did not. Personally, I love the idea of hybrid classes being a permanent fixture at USC. This allows for me to have both the peer-to-peer social interaction that I craved during the pandemic as well as the flexibility that I have grown to appreciate. 

One study from the University of Massachusetts showed that hybrid learning increased knowledge retention and that students perform better compared to online and in-person learning models. While hybrid classes have been a blessing, I am surprised USC did not enforce a hybrid option for all the classes during the fall 2021 semester. While it is understandable that some classes need to be in-person such as ceramics or music, I think that classes that are not as hands-on should have the flexibility of a hybrid model. A few of my professors do not even record lectures and require mandatory in-person attendance; however, I feel that this is not feasible as we are still in a pandemic. I was feeling a little under the weather one day and I was unable to pass my Trojan check questionnaire to get on campus, and as a result, I had to miss class. 

Photo by Philippe Bout on Unsplash

Overall, I believe that USC has pushed for in-person classes despite the ongoing pandemic. While USC does a good job of monitoring and requiring students to have their vaccine as well as testing weekly, there are still things USC can improve on. Hybrid options make the most sense to me as a student, as transitioning from a year of online zoom classes back to in-person was extremely difficult. I struggled with losing the independence that I had with online classes as well as waking up earlier to get ready to go to school due to my 20-minute commute to class. While I see the benefits of hybrid learning, I understand it is not for everyone, as it requires strong organizational and time management skills and technological limits. If USC is able to better support students, I think for the most part students would be amenable to a hybrid learning model.  It is truly the best of both worlds as students can go on campus when they want and enjoy in-person interactions but also attend class online if they are busy or unable to physically be in school at the time. 

Featured Image by Dom Fou on Unsplash

Tiffany is a senior studying Health and Human Sciences with a minor in Economics on the pre-physical therapy track. She is originally from San Jose, California, but has lived overseas in Shanghai and Taiwan. She speaks Mandarin and conversational Spanish. On campus, she is a member of Science Outreach and a research assistant at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Tiffany loves traveling, going to the movies, trying new foods, and spending time with friends.