By Anna Ngo
Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula
[3.5 minute read]
“Are you excited to graduate?” This is always the first question I get asked when I tell people I’m a senior. I never know how to answer this question because I am filled with so many different emotions, and it is hard to pinpoint one simple way to describe all the things I am feeling. On the one hand, of course I’m super excited to graduate! I will no longer have to take exams and I’ll have the freedom to do other things with my time. On the other hand, I’m sad to leave as well. Becoming an adult comes with more responsibilities, like paying bills and working constantly. But as I reflect back on my past four years at the best university in the world, the most resounding thought I have is this: I can confidently say that coming to USC has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I don’t regret a thing.
I remember the one piece of advice that all of the older students I’ve spoken to during my time at USC gave me: to enjoy college to the fullest and take advantage of everything before it’s too late. I feel that I have really taken that to heart and made sure to try and explore new things. One of those new things was studying abroad. Studying abroad was one of the biggest highlights of my undergraduate years. It allowed me to discover a part of myself that I didn’t know much about. I’ve always wanted to travel but I never knew I was capable of it, because it seemed too expensive and there were so many variables to consider. Fast forward four years and I am already planning a backpacking trip in Europe for the summer after I graduate. Traveling for two months will not be cheap, but there are so many ways to experience a new country while saving money. Instead of staying at nice hotels, there are many cheap hostels in all the big cities that allow you to sleep with other backpackers in a smaller accommodation. Couch surfing is another way to save, as this option is usually free. Locals host the people who come to their hometown from around the world by allowing them to sleep on their couch. I believe this is a great way to learn the culture while making lifelong friends.
Work Away is a program I recently discovered, where travelers are expected to contribute a predetermined amount of time per day in exchange for free lodging and food. It’s a great way to truly understand the culture of the city by volunteering there for an extended period of time. Instead of staying in a city for a few days and visiting all the main attractions, Work Away allows you to immerse into the daily life of a local and experience things you otherwise wouldn’t get a chance to. I will be volunteering in Croatia with my friend for the month of June. I am so excited, it’s still hard for me to believe that this is actually happening!
This backpacking trip is what makes me excited to graduate. Turning what was once a dream for me into a reality has made me realize that anything is truly possible. Therefore, if you want to travel the world and don’t think it’s feasible, I want you to know that it is. There are so many resources and options out there that will make your dreams achievable!
Anna is a recent graduate who studied Industrial Systems Engineering with a minor in Business Finance. She was born and raised in Houston, Texas. At USC, she was a part of the Women’s Club Basketball team and Break Through Hip Hop dance team. Last spring semester, she studied abroad in Hong Kong and was able to travel to 10 different countries. Being abroad has helped her discover her love for traveling and experiencing new cultures.