Category Archives: New Experience

How Are You? Does it Matter?

By Samantha Wong

It’s always fascinating—illuminating even—to take a step back from the comfort of our daily interactions and to ask, why? Why do we do some of the things we do? 

During one of my first sessions leading as a Conversation Partner, an international student asked me, “How do you respond to how are you?” Immediately, I reacted with the oh-so-familiar reply, “Good; how are you?” Unconvinced, the student questioned why people respond that way even when they are not good. Like an automatic reflex, it seemed to her as though people ask and return this ostensibly benevolent greeting without any genuine interest at all. 

This inquiry into the utmost timeless greeting focused my attention on to the standard of politeness that Americans have become accustomed to. Why do we continue to blindly ask each other “how are you” when we simply expect a moderate variation of the same answer 99% of the time?

In America, I believe we come to ask each other “how are you” because, frankly, we are afraid to come across as impolite otherwise. It is due to our crippling fear of appearing “rude” or “crass” that we ask a question that does not seem to bear much weight anymore. Indeed, when we ask this question, we more often than not are returned by a one-word response and a dreadfully long, awkward pause… Consequently, we need to move beyond these greetings that yield one-word answers to unlock opportunities to stimulate dialogue we are sincerely interested in. It is only then may we bridge meaningful relationships.

Across all cultures, we hope to reciprocate both courtesy and respect during our interactions with new people. For, every day, we inevitably cross paths with dozens of new faces under distinct circumstances. Particularly as USC students, we have the unique ability to meet and learn from hundreds of different perspectives through a simple “hello” and informal introduction. With one of the largest international populations on campus, we truly are a melting pot of diverse and similar stories waiting to be told. Thus, why should we waste our perfect opportunities to engage in thought-provoking conversations by asking a question that leads to nowhere?

In reference to a Forbes article, there are countless questions to ask that can prompt dynamic and distinctive conversations. What has been the best part of your day so far? What are you looking forward to this week? What has inspired you recently? Truly, the possibilities for good questions are endless. 

With this untapped reserve of productive conversation starters, we can (and should) begin exchanges with positivity, purpose, and ultimately, genuine interest! After all, who wouldn’t want to make a great first impression?

Let’s do ourselves a favor and ask better questions. Who knows, perhaps we can gain something more valuable during our conversations!

Sam is an undergrad business student at Marshall School of Business. While raised in a small town in New Jersey, she loves to explore diverse cultures through travel and unique eats (particularly, desserts). Since flying 3,000 miles across the country, Sam has continued her passions for consulting, interacting with students across cultures, and helping others! Sam is greatly involved in the Marshall community (AIM Marketing Consulting, Marshall Business Network), and is an enthusiastic American pop culture follower.

10 Things I Learned in my First Semester at USC

By Esther Cha

Whether you’re here at USC as a freshman or Graduate student, your first year on campus is a time for exponential growth. In my first semester here, I learned a lot in my classes, but the real learning (about life and being on my own) came from outside the classroom. Here are some things I learned in my first semester that I know will help me survive college. Perhaps they can help you too!

  1. Don’t be afraid to say hi

Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you. College can be nerve wracking but a smile and a hello can go a long way. Who knows? The random stranger you say hi to in math class could potentially become your new best friend.

  1. Don’t buy your textbooks full price

Textbooks costs ADD UP. Be smart with textbooks and wait till the first week of classes to make sure you actually need to buy them. (Sometimes professors do not require them even though they are listed in the syllabus). Amazon and Chegg.com offer textbooks at significantly lower prices for rent and will save you a ton of money. Another option is to see if the libraries have the textbooks or required books you need and if they do you can borrow them for an entire semester at no cost!

  1. Be active and take advantage of your gym membership

Don’t forget to take care of your physical health by staying active! Not only will the endorphins make you feel better you will feel healthier and cleaner. Your tuition pays for a gym membership so take advantage of the great gyms we have on campus. The new village gym has great equipment and classes that you don’t wanna miss out on!

  1. Go to more events on campus

Join all of the facebook groups like your class page, USG, USC Events page to keep up to date with all of the exciting and cool events on campus! There are always so many cool speakers and guests on campus that you can meet if you take the initiative. Last semester I got to hear Danny Trejo speak and even see Brittany Snow (from Pitch Perfect) at Bovard for an Acapella concert.

  1. Be aware of the Freshman 15

Two Words: Unlimited Swipes. As a freshman with an unlimited meal plan, it can be very tempting to eat ice cream for dessert after every meal and indulge in the famous EVK chicken tenders. Make sure to keep a balance and eat vegetables and fuel your body with nutritious foods. You are what you eat after all.

  1. Google Calendar is your new best friend

College can get very hectic with so many events, classes, and appointments. Google Calendar helps to keep you organized and sane. Having a planner or calendar in college helps keep you organized and on top of your assignments and meetings. Don’t let that midterm or paper creep up on you; use Google Calendar to plan ahead!

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Adjusting to Campus Life

By Alexis Peters

As a transfer student and a spring admit, I understand what it’s like to feel out of place at USC. You can feel a bit like a fish out of water, unsure about SC life and the opportunities available to you. Many  students are from the LA area, or elsewhere in California, but some of us have homes that are thousands of miles away. I’m originally from Chicago, so I may not understand homesickness on an international scale, but I still miss home a lot. So here’s what you can do to combat homesickness and adjust to campus.

  1. Stay busy.

Besides just studying all the time and going to classes, you have to make time to do something fun that doesn’t involve sitting in your room watching HBO. Go to fun events and see what’s happening on campus. There’s almost always something to do, no matter what day it is. So keep an eye out and go ahead and have fun. You may even make a new friend! I went to Spoiler Alert’s comedy show at Tommy’s Place. Spoiler Alert is one of USC’s improv comedy groups and they perform a hilarious set!

2. Join clubs!

When I first got to USC, I knew exactly what kinds of clubs I wanted to join. Going in with a couple of student organizations that interest you in mind will be helpful so you don’t get too overwhelmed at the Involvement Fair. I usually pick 3: one that is an activity that I know I like and have done before; one that I have always wanted to try, but never got around to starting it; and one that never even crossed my mind, but hey, it might be fun! For me, this was theater, Science Outreach, and boxing!

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