Tag Archives: adventure

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

Pictures? A thousand words. Experiences? Immeasurable.

By Iric Hong

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4-minute read]

Growing up in a working-class family, long-distance travel was more often than not a luxury that was far out of my family’s reach. With the cost of providing kids a fruitful and fun childhood increasing by the day, it becomes exponentially harder to allow children to experience all that the world has to offer. Without a doubt, however, I will have to admit that those of us that had the opportunity to call Southern California our home for most of our life had it a fair bit better than others, as this home is also home to many other cultures hailing from different places around the globe. As a child, I was able to experience a variety of cultures that, in some shape or form, shaped Southern California in ways that I could only imagine.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Despite this fact, I was not really prepared for what I was about to witness during my first long-distance flight (that I can actually remember) during the summer of 2016. My family and I were on our way to Japan and Hong Kong and to say my current state of emotions at that time was simply excited would be an extreme understatement. I was unsure of what to expect when I got to Japan. Therefore, I landed preparing myself to be amazed by the culture and the people. And, to be frank, I was not disappointed.

Although I did not have many interactions with Japanese people outside of asking for help finding directions, they were all very helpful in trying to help us find our way despite the language barrier. But the most impressive thing I encountered on my trip existed elsewhere in Japanese society. The integration of man and nature in the design of the cities was absolutely awe-inspiring. You could be traversing Tokyo’s or Kyoto’s main streets during one moment and the next, you are exploring a vast forest leading to one of many shrines that populate the Japanese landscape. It felt so surreal that society could establish such a fluid connection between man and nature in the middle of such a well-developed city. I, for one, have never seen anything like it in cities across America, including the likes of LA, Seattle, New York, Atlanta, and Orlando. It was especially exciting to witness such a feat as I have always been quite the environmentalist myself. At the end of the Japan leg of my trip, I felt that my experiences were well above and beyond my initial expectations.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

As for Hong Kong, I knew in some sense what to expect and what to look forward to as my great-uncle lives there with his family. Additionally, I have always loved Hong Kong despite the fact that I had not been there in a long time, because Hong Kong is one of the few places where nearly everyone speaks my first language, Cantonese (although I am not great at it myself). Coming from beautiful and innovative Japan to Hong Kong, the bar for awesomeness was not low, but I felt that Hong Kong, in many ways, replicated the same elements of awe in their society. With the geographical location and terrain of Hong Kong, it is no simple task to establish a vibrant community, much less a metropolis, and yet it was done. It was done in a way that didn’t seem intrusive of the natural landscape, with many large patches of woods still persisting around the city itself.

After leaving Hong Kong, I was left thinking about how different the lifestyles are between that of America and that of Hong Kong and Japan. To say the least, it was very different in many aspects; saying it in such simplified terms still feels like an understatement. At the end of the day, to truly understand what others put into words and what they have experienced, you must experience the real thing for yourself!

Featured Image by Tianshu Liu on Unsplash

Iric is a recent USC graduate that majored in Electrical Engineering. His career inspiration from a very young age was on-screen robotics like Iron-Man and Gundam. He hopes to work in the aerospace industry, as that industry resembles what he wants to strive for the most. He likes to play tennis, play video games, and watch movies in his spare time.

Nature Outings Around LA

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Every once in a while, a brief trip away from the bustle of metropolitan LA can be a much-needed respite for a USC student. While there are plenty of things to do in the city, there are just as many day trips one can take in the surrounding areas. Going for a hike or bike ride in some different scenery can be a refreshing and inexpensive option for weekends when you would like to spend some time away from campus. I have listed below some of my favorite hikes and nature expeditions you can take in the LA area that will make it feel like you are visiting a place far from the city!

Photo by Praveen Thotagamuwa on Unsplash

One of the more popular places to hike in the LA area is the Sturtevant Falls trail. Located in the Santa Anita Canyon, this approximately 3.5-mile hike is frequently crowded with Angelinos, and follows a steep descent into a lush valley that ends in a spectacular waterfall. There are several other side trails that branch off from the sometimes overly busy path, such as the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which leads into a very dense, green forest that hardly feels as if it were only half an hour from downtown LA. 

Another slightly further destination is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which hosts large fields of the state’s flower each spring. This reserve is located about an hour and half away from USC, a few miles outside of Lancaster. Often crowded during peak season, it is highly advisable to visit the poppies early in the morning before parking gets too full. Another tip: bring an extra layer even when the temperature is high, as it gets particularly windy at this spot.

Photo by Pamela Heckel on Unsplash

Perhaps my favorite outdoor destination to visit in the area around LA is the Malibu Creek State Park, which is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. This park is filled with miles of beautiful trails, and was also the sight for various feature films, including the MASH series. The Yearling Trail, which starts from Reagan Ranch and leads to Century Lake, is a gentle 4-mile hike that leads through green fields, a Redwood forest, and ends with a glimpse of the Century Lake dam. It is a personal favorite of mine that can be accessed all-year round. 

Continue reading Nature Outings Around LA