Tag Archives: culture

A Guide to Self-Care

By Jackie Kim

Whether at USC or any other American university, many international students have a tough time adjusting to not only American culture but also college culture in general.  As an international student myself, I was able to experience firsthand how it felt to come to a completely new country without any prior exposure to the new culture that would soon engulf my life. Thankfully, I went through this change at a young age and had a strong support system to guide me through the difficulties. I hope to be able to provide this same support to other international students at USC, especially those who recently had to go through the big move.

One of the things I wish I had realized earlier when I moved to Singapore (and then to America) is the importance of self-care. I realize now that I was so caught up in making new friends, adapting to the challenging curriculum, and getting used to the change of scenery that I lost my motivation to take care of myself. I often skipped meals and didn’t get enough rest; I was left feeling lethargic and unable to extract the overseas experience to which I had previously looked forward. Being a firm believer in always showcasing the best version of myself, I constantly challenge myself to reach my full potential, and this denial of my basic needs was hindering my ability to achieve this goal. I needed to switch gears and really dedicate time to self-care. Here are some tips that I currently abide by in Southern California to make my USC experience as great as possible:

  • Equip yourself with a water bottle: I’m used to the warm weathers of Singapore and the changing seasons of Korea, but I never knew how parched I could get until I found myself walking around the vast USC campus on a daily basis. There are a lot of water fountain stations on campus at which you can fill your bottle, and being hydrated is the key to energy when studying, exercising, and socializing!
  • Exercise as much as you can: Although walking around USC is an exercise in itself, people who board or bike around campus don’t get nearly as much exercise as those who choose to walk. Taking full use of the exercise equipment and classes at the Lyon Center or joining a sports team (club, intramural, Varsity) on campus is encouraged for a fresh start to the day. Even a quick walk or jog can immediately lift your mood!

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Embracing My Indian Culture

By Zaki Khan

As I was born and raised in Los Angeles, I am 100% American. But, my parents emigrated from India in the 70s, so that makes me an Indian-American. While I grew up around the language (Urdu), culture, and cuisine, I actually did my best to abstain from a lot of aspects of my Indian heritage. Although I loved the food, I refused to learn Urdu, I protested any Bollywood film viewing, and I begged my mom to let me wear western style suits (instead of the traditional shlwar-kamis) to important functions and parties.

I shunned all these aspects of my parents’ upbringing because my biggest objective growing up was to fit in. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and my greatest fear was for my peers to think my family’s customs were weird. My reluctance was so great that, on move-in day four years ago, I rolled my eyes and made a fuss when my parents said they met a nice couple from Bangladesh and that I should meet their son.

This wasn’t the first time my parents wanted me to meet and befriend a kid my own age just because he or his parents were from the Indian subcontinent. So I did what I usually do – I greeted the parents with respect, exchanged a few words with their son, Waiz, and told him we should definitely get lunch sometime (not really expecting either of us to follow through on the invitation).

But as it turns out, we actually had very similar interests. And after running into each other repeatedly at different events the first couple months of school and sharing the same dreadful CHEM 105a class, we became really great friends. Soon enough, we decided to room together for our sophomore year and continued to remain roommates and best friends throughout the rest of college.

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Life as a Foodie

By Jasmine Zahedi

A self-proclaimed foodie, I always look forward to tackling restaurants on my “must-eat” list. And living in Los Angeles, where the food culture is so widespread, makes this the easiest and the most fun activity to do on weekends. I make a concerted effort to go somewhere new with my friends at least once a week. This way not only do I get an excuse to do something that I love—eat—but I also get to share this passion with people that are close to me.

Currently, my list has 40 eateries, organized by location, that I have yet to visit and 64 places that I have already had the fortune of trying out. These numbers might seem crazily high, but I started this list my freshman year and it only continues to grow. I add restaurants to my list mainly after hearing about them from other foodie friends or after seeing them on Instagram. My personal favorite food Instagrams are eater_LA and dineLA. I love seeing their pictures on my feed because it inspires me to continue on my foodie adventure.

Recently, I visited Zinc Café and Market during a roomie brunch, and I highly recommend it as a place for a relaxing meal and maybe even as a place to study and get some work done. I am also a huge fan of the chashu hash skillet from JiST Café in Little Tokyo, anything from Daily Dose Café, and the ricotta toast from Sqirl. As you can see, I am extremely partial to brunch.

Being a foodie is not limited to living in Los Angeles. When I was an intern in Taipei last summer for eight weeks, I discovered a food culture that was almost greater than that in Los Angeles. Taiwanese people take pride in the various 小吃 (xiǎochī), which means snacks, that they have to offer, and nowhere is this more evident than in the crowded and bustling night markets found throughout the large cities. While in Taiwan, my friends and I visited night markets at least once a week and fawned over the shaved ice, the scallion pancake wraps, and all the fresh fruit. In addition, I religiously followed A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei, which not only categorized restaurants by price range but also by location in relation to subway stops.

Whenever I start talking about Taiwan with someone who has been before, the first thing that comes up is always (and inevitably) food. Have you tried the boba from that little street cart in Gongguan? Or the scallion pancake wrap with eggs and sausage from the vendor in Dongmen? The answer is always YES because Taiwan has such a big food culture that everyone knows about and participates in.

I’ve honestly noticed that a significant amount of conversations I have with friends revolve around food; that just shows how important food is to all of us. Food brings people together and connects people of various cultures and walks of life so, if you’re looking to connect with someone, try a food-related opener. The results might surprise you!

Featured image by Eaters Collective on Unsplash