Tag Archives: advice

The Power of Creating Our Spaces

By Jonah Vroegop

[3 ½ minute read]

Over the last few months, the world has been in a state of unpredictability – that’s no secret. International travel is shut down, stores and restaurants are only accessible online. Museums, public spaces, and universities are closed around the world. But, we’re all still here, aren’t we? Being pushed indoors or to distanced, outdoor spaces has been a challenge for myself and many others. Although we can still have picnics on the lawn and we can still get groceries, we can’t do a whole lot more. Even work and class, which are usually a nice excuse to get out and get your day moving in a productive way, are largely remote. This has caused an ongoing struggle for me of deciding what to do with my day and how to be creative. It is hard to motivate myself to be productive in both school/work and also the personal projects that I have had on my bucket list. So what can we do about it?

Photo by Ellen Auer on Unsplash

Be strict about where you spend your time. As humans, we are naturally inclined to interact with our environment and to respond to it through our behavior and attitudes. Therefore, by changing our environment and our attitude toward it, we can force ourselves to behave in ways that are conducive to productivity! Research shows that the places we spend our time are a critical part of our memories and the experiences we have at a biological level. So when we spend most of our time relaxing in bed or on our favorite chair, we associate these places with relaxation – just like how we may associate the classroom with focused attention or associate the kitchen with eating and cooking. So to be more productive, I always do work sitting at a table or at a place where I won’t be tempted to do other things. Avoid doing work or browsing the internet in bed at all costs and try to save getting in bed for when you actually want to sleep.

Try a new technique! Keeping a schedule is important so that we can get to bed at a reasonable time and avoid those moments of “Oh jeez, I messed up” when you see the sun rising before going to bed. For both keeping a schedule and for productivity, I recommend using the Miracle Morning technique. This technique states that if we get up early, feed our body and mind, and achieve some small things, then the rest of the day seems to just fall into place. Each morning is an opportunity to start the day with a new attitude and when I follow a routine like “Miracle Morning”, it’s easy to find myself doing work without even having to think about it because I like to keep up the “streak” of getting things done. Don’t want to start that project you’ve been putting off? Haven’t been able to start reading that book you bought? Start by giving yourself easy tasks at home like doing laundry, cleaning your room, or writing in a journal to kickstart your motivation. Making a daily To-Do list always helps me, in addition to incentivizing myself with something to get me out of bed (a cup of coffee or tea). Possibly the best advantage of this technique is being awake and productive while the world is calm. Early in the morning the streets are quiet, the weather is cool, and our mind is fresh.

Photo by Rémi Bertogliati on Unsplash
Continue reading The Power of Creating Our Spaces

Having Post Grad Pandemic Anxiety?

By Samantha Jungheim

[5 Minute Read]

Realizing that I would be graduating during a global pandemic was gut wrenching. The first time I graduated from college, earning a BFA in 2015, I faced so many fears and uncertainties. Now in 2020, I’ll be graduating with a masters degree in December. A few months ago, I began to worry about getting through these difficult times. Normal post grad anxiety became magnified and my heart goes out to Spring 2020 college graduates. Despite 2015 and 2020 being very different fiscal years, I believe some of the post grad lessons I learned can help current graduates. Part of getting rid of post grad nerves is coming up with a game plan. We all come from different backgrounds, yet we can all make the best choice in the moment, create a toolbox for the future, and market our skills to employers.  

Making the Best Possible Choice 

When I was a recent college graduate with a degree in Painting, I struggled to find a job in the arts that could pay for the cost of living in San Francisco. Through a college connection, I became an art teacher for a non-profit, but it was barely paying the bills. I started seeking other positions, and was contacted by a recruiter with an open contracted Customer Service Representative position for Square, Inc. At the time, I was torn about pursuing a job in tech when I was passionate about art. “How could I afford to pursue my dreams?” I wondered.

In the moment, I made what appeared to be the best decision. It felt like none of the options were going to help pursue my dreams and I needed to pay the bills. Little did I know at the time that working in tech gave me invaluable skills I’d continue to use for years. After taking the job, I found aspects of it that aligned with my passion for helping others, examining language, and creating content. I also didn’t fully realize until working at Square that some of the skills I learned at art school lent a hand to working with technology. Even though I only stayed in tech for a year, I don’t regret making the best financial choice for that period of my life because it ultimately improved my skillset for working in the area I was passionate about, and you can do the same. 

Creating a Toolbox 

As future employees, we need to demonstrate what is in our metaphorical toolbox. Lessons you learned at USC will help you, but as recent graduates now you can look for other avenues to gain additional skills for your toolbox. When I took the contracted position for Square, I looked at it as a post grad learning opportunity. Instead of paying for a university, I was taking on a new role of getting paid to learn in an entry level position. Not only did I improve the skills I had from my undergrad experience, but I also gained new technical skills and experience adapting to a new work environment. While the job market isn’t what we expected for 2020, I recommend taking this time to strategize. Ask yourself, what skills am I lacking? Can this position make me a better candidate for my dream job? Even with limited options you can always add to your toolbox.

Continue reading Having Post Grad Pandemic Anxiety?

Advice from an International Student to International Students

By Erik He

When I first arrived in America, I was hit with a tremendous wave of anxiety. It’s finally happening, I thought to myself, I’m finally here. I still remember waiting in line in LAX, making sure I had all the proper forms and visas. Will I make friends? What if I don’t fit in because I was a Spring Admit? What if the classes are extremely difficult? These thoughts swirled around my head. I was lucky to have my parents come with me, and the first thing we went to see was the university (fun fact: I’ve never even been in California before studying at USC). 

Now, in my senior year, whenever I meet another international student I know exactly how they feel. The uncertainty mixed with giddy excitement can be overwhelming, especially the first couple of months here. International students are placed in a sticky situation, because sometimes their accents or mannerisms may hinder their ability to make friends (I was in this situation, and I know how intimidating it can be to talk to an “American”). However, I realized that most of this was all in my head. My friends didn’t mind helping me with small grammar errors or teaching me the social norms here, and soon my fears dissipated. It’s easiest to find shelter in communities we are familiar with, but I’d like to encourage anyone in college to find people or activities that push them out of their comfort zone. 

Before coming here, I had the privilege of living in many different countries. From the United Arab Emirates to Sweden, home has become more of an abstract concept than a physical place. Initially, I hated the constant moving, and I never made close friends because we always moved after a couple years. But as I grew older I found solace in traveling, and in place of having close consistent friends were fresh new perspectives from different people. I constantly had my opinions and values challenged, and I loved every second of it. This helped me adjust to the way Los Angeles was, as to me it seemed like a battleground rife with clashing opinions, especially in today’s sociopolitical climate. But I believe that’s what college is for, for people to voluntarily confront ideas they aren’t necessarily comfortable with in order to see things from a different perspective. Whether you end up agreeing or not is irrelevant, but communicating, listening, and understanding helps one to grow as a person. As a filmmaker, I dig deep into my experiences to find ways to tell compelling stories, and the mantra I chose to embed in all my works is: “we are more similar than we are different”. This helped me stay civil and objective in my quest to learn, and from the ignorant to the wise, I find that any conversation can be fruitful if you go in it with the correct mindset. Good luck! As one international student to another, challenge yourself and grow!

Featured image from GotCredit.com

Erik is a senior studying film and television production. He grew up in various countries around the world, having lived in Beijing, Guangzhou, Montreal, Malmo, New Jersey, and Dubai. He spent most of his childhood in the United Arab Emirates, where he and many other expats studied in an IB high school. As Erik is also an international student, he knows how difficult it is to adapt to a new culture and language. Erik loves foreign movies, and directors such as Jia Zhangke, Wong Kar Wai, Asghar Farhadi, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Gaspar Noe are some of his favorites. In his spare time Erik likes to practice playing guitar, hanging out with friends or drawing. Erik can speak moderately fluent mandarin and a little bit of Arabic and Swedish.