Category Archives: USC

The Start to an Adventure

By Michael Neufeld

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

On Sunday, August 13, 2017,  a great new adventure for me began. It was exciting, it was scary, and I couldn’t wait. I was about to begin my freshman year of college. My family and I drove down from Fresno, California the night before my move-in and stayed in a hotel. I was part of the Trojan Marching Band, and with the early move-in schedule, the time we would spend setting up my dorm, and the long four-to-five hour drive down, we were not willing to get up at 3:00 in the morning to finish packing and travel. My younger brother, Daniel, would have especially disliked that.

When we got to campus, my family helped me set up my room. Soon after, they went off to attend the first marching band parent meeting. We met up later, and after a meal, we said our goodbyes. It seemed my family was only there for a few minutes before it was time for them to leave.

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I spent the next week at band camp, getting up early each morning to walk to Cromwell Field to learn how to march. I noticed that marching in the University of Southern California band was much different than in my high school band; in high school we shuffled our straight-legged feet across the grass, whereas here we have to pick our feet up off the ground and plant them in steps in front of us at USC. Along with other physical, performance-related differences, I also noticed that this band had way more spirit than any high school band I had seen. Here, we played for the football team; if we weren’t spirited, how could the crowd be?

Along with my marching band experiences, I had so many new things to do, think about, and see as a freshman majoring in Jazz Studies. Traversing across campus from class to class felt a little bit intimidating at first. It was challenging to find all of my classes the first couple of days in territory with which I was unfamiliar. Additionally, there were so many people surrounding me; bikes, skateboards, and DPS cars flew around me as I traveled to and from buildings.

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On this bizarre campus, I found so much to like. I enjoyed eating with my friends at the Parkside Dining Hall. I loved my music classes, and marching band rehearsals always gave me a rush of energy. I picked up a new pastime of zooming around the uncrowded campus late at night with my trusty scooter, something I wasn’t able to do much of in Fresno.

Along with these new, fun experiences, there were some not-so-positive “adventures” that I had to deal with as well. I dealt with some people that for the first time in my life I did not enjoy being around. My roommates and I occasionally rubbed shoulders, something bound to happen when you live with seven other people in a Parkside “suite-style” dorm. I got lost on the Metro once and had to run over a mile from one station to a concert hall.

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The Ultimate Guide to UPC Study Spots

By Jonah Vroegop

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

It’s that time of the semester again! We are approaching finals week, and everyone is beginning to scramble to find a place where they can study and concentrate amidst all of the end of year chaos. As my final semester at USC is coming to a close, it seems only right that I pass on my accumulated knowledge of the best places on the USC main campus to work and study.

Doheny Bookstacks

The “bookstacks”, as they’re rightfully called, are where most of the books are located within Doheny Library. There are 3-4 underground levels of books on shelves, row after row. The ceiling is low, the smell of old books hangs in the air, and the silence is dominant. Scattered within these rows of books are small cubicles with a single chair and electrical outlet, as well as some tables where 2-3 people can work together quietly. For anyone like me who has trouble focusing in a noisy or stimulating environment, the bookstacks offer a quiet, air conditioned place to really get work done. You can enter the bookstacks from the Doheny Library front desk, just up the stairs from the main entrance.

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Asa V Call Law Library

The law library is another great place for people who have trouble focusing to catch up on work or who want to get ahead on upcoming assignments. It offers a mixture of seating – some squishy booths for larger groups of 4-6, some wooden tables for singles or groups, and even some standing workspaces with high tables. There are 3 floors of silent workspaces with outlets and overall, the law library is one of the most newly renovated study spaces on campus. There is even a cafe in the basement that sells food and drinks (boba!!). There are very few people in the law library and it is close to great food and coffee options on Figueroa/Exposition for your study fuel. Disclaimer: the law library is open to law students only for a few select weeks of the semester during law exams.

Watt and Harris Hall Courtyards

At the architecture school, there are two main buildings – Watt Hall and Harris Hall. Each of these buildings has a large outdoor courtyard where students can sit and work, have a meal, or just relax and enjoy the day. On sunny days when I don’t want to be cooped up in the library or if I bring food and drinks with me to study, these courtyard spaces are my preferred place to be. There are tables outdoors as well as lots of grass and landscaped spaces to work behind the school (toward Exposition). The architecture library is also a great place to study (Watt hall basement). It has a design-forward atmosphere that is pleasant to work in, but it is currently under renovation.

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Old Annenberg

Around the outside of the older Annenberg building, there are lots of individual and group study spaces to enjoy. Their are tables situated on on balconies and lining the walkways, and many of these tables have umbrellas to block the sun on bright days as well. With close proximity to the center of campus, these are usually very convenient places to stop and take care of a quick email or get some work done between classes. These spots are also not very well known and oftentimes entirely empty. There is also a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the cinema school nearby to this area for your snack and drink convenience.

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On Being An International Student During The Lunar New Year

By Hannah Teoh

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Recently, the Lunar New Year passed and celebrations were happening everywhere. If you aren’t familiar with the holiday, the Lunar New Year is celebrated every year to mark the beginning of the Lunar calendar. It originates from China and is celebrated widely by Asian diasporas all around the world. As an ethnic Chinese person from Malaysia, Lunar New Year has always been an important event to my family. On the eve of Lunar New Year, everyone gathers at the ancestral home to have a big traditional feast, followed by a grand ritual at midnight to commemorate the new year. The festivities typically last for a week. We usually clear our schedules for the week for visiting relatives and for going to temples to pray for the upcoming year. The Lunar New Year was always my favorite time of the year, purely because it is a time of unity, reflection, connection, and remembrance. 

The Lunar New Year has looked very different the past few years. For me, the Lunar New Year lost its usual vibrant vitality and character during the pandemic, as lockdowns and social gathering restrictions discouraged visits to temples and seeing relatives and friends— but with good reason, I must add. Many of my relatives are quite a bit older and were part of the population that was highly vulnerable to the air-borne infection. We also did not have a vaccine roll-out at that time, so it was a more precarious situation to navigate. While I understood why such restrictions were put in place, it also made our Lunar New Year celebrations humbler. Streets were quiet when they normally would have abounded with cars and people on their way to different celebrations. The night sky remained calm when it would have been painted in splatters of fireworks.

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2020 was the last year I had a Lunar New Year celebration with my family back home in Malaysia. I left for the U.S. the following year in 2021, right before the New Year. I stayed with my sister in Boston and we had a small Lunar New Year’s eve dinner with Korean take-out food. We called our parents and our grandmother to give well wishes, and they in turn gave us virtual red packets (packets of money traditionally given out by elders during Lunar New Year). A grand celebration that usually takes place over the course of a week was relegated to a modest dinner. 

For the first time, I spent the Lunar New Year alone this year. Between finishing schoolwork, attending class, and going to work, I never really prioritized celebrating the holiday. Plans to have a dinner for Lunar New Year were mentioned in passing but never brought up again as people got busy (myself included). The dumplings that I usually make were stored for an extra day because it was time-consuming to make them. I called my parents late, with the 15-hour time difference throwing off my frame of time. My Lunar New Year celebration started and ended with a bowl of glutinous rice sesame balls in Alhambra.

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