Tag Archives: english

TV To Watch Over Winter Break

By Tanya Chen

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Quarantine has been extremely difficult. The days seem to pass by slowly and they each feel like an endless, repetitive loop. During quarantine, I have picked up a few hobbies out of boredom. Some of these new ventures include making Dalgona coffee, baking banana bread, and learning Photoshop. As these hobbies have come and go, there is one hobby that has stayed consistent throughout the past six months: watching Netflix. In this article, I will recommend three shows that I think international students will enjoy watching and learning from. We can all watch TV shows to relax during this time, and with winter break fast approaching, I highly recommend all of these!

Criminal Minds (Genre: Mystery/Suspense; Seasons: 15; Episode Length: 40 minutes)

Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash

Criminal Minds is an extremely addictive crime show. The show follows a team of FBI agents who work in the Behavioral Analysis Unit as profilers. FBI profilers are law enforcement agents who use psychology to study and investigate who the suspects behind crimes are and what motivates them. It is interesting to watch the team travel across all over the US and study a criminal’s behavior. The 40-minute episodes are always filled with twists and turns that keep the audience on their feet. However, many of these episodes are very heavy and intense, so it is good for those who get scared easily to watch this show with a friend. Criminal Minds is a great show for international students because it introduces them to many different parts of the US and teaches them about the cultures, customs, and dialects that are popular in all the different states and cities. From tracking a killer in Miami, Florida to following robbers in rural Montana, Criminal Minds is a great introduction to varying social climates of the many states in the US.

Emily in Paris (Genre: Romantic Comedy; Seasons: 1; Episode Length: 20 minutes)

Photo by Nil Castellví on Unsplash

After watching too many scary episodes of Criminal Minds, I was lucky enough to discover a show that’s a bit more light-hearted and fun: Emily in Paris. This newly released show follows the adventures of Emily, a young marketing agent from Chicago, as she travels to Europe for a new job. The audience is able to watch her learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and get acclimated to the people around her. The episodes are extremely funny and beautifully shot. I enjoyed being able to vicariously live through Emily as she explored the beautiful city of Paris. Since there are only 10 episodes, this show was extremely easy to binge and I was able to finish it in one sitting. I would recommend this show to any international student because the show does a great job of documenting how a young adult is adjusting to living in a new country, making friends, and learning a new language.

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Californian Slang and Sayings

By Lauren Anderson

I am not a California native. I was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. However, after living in Southern California for close to five years, I have gotten used to one of the common words and phrases used here. Some of these are not California-specific, and can aid any non-native English speaker in communicating with or understanding others on the West Coast.

“Angeleno” is a noun, and represents a native or inhabitant of Los Angeles. This is sometimes used for those living outside of Los Angeles, if they are still in the Los Angeles region. Even city documents will mention implementing changes for Angelenos.

“Cali” is an abbreviation of “California” that only non-Californians use. Nearly every other U.S. state calls California “Cali,” but Californians hate this. Avoid using “Cali” if you want to seem like a native Californian.

“Rad” was used more frequently by Californians a few years ago, but you may still hear it today. This is used as an adjective to describe something that is cool. Northern Californians often say “hella rad”, meaning very cool.

“Gnarly” is used predominantly by surfers in California, but because I lived in Huntington Beach for a few years (also known as Surf City), I have heard it quite a bit. Gnarly is often used to describe good waves, and can also be used to describe something that is cool. Gnarly, rad, and “sick,” are interchangeable slang terms, that are generally used in a positive way.

If someone is excited for something, you may hear them say that they are “stoked.” But if they are not stoked, they may “bail,” meaning that they will skip something; not show up, or leave. This phrase is heard in California but can be heard in certain places around the United States.

While many states use the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” California generally does not get rain in the Spring. Instead, you will hear, “June gloom” in California. This refers to the sky being cloudy and overcast most of the day, especially in the mornings. By July, Southern California usually returns to its normal sunny self.

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The Beauty and Dissonance of Learning Another Language

By Cody Uyeda

As a fourth generation Japanese American, one of the most common questions I get from others is whether I can speak Japanese. However, aside from some basic vocabulary and simple phrases, I’m always forced to admit that I can’t. Growing up in a predominantly non-Asian neighborhood, this lack of linguistic ability rarely posed much of a problem. In fact, it wasn’t until college that I even thought about the fact that I couldn’t speak Japanese. 

As a native English speaker, natural-born fluency is both a blessing and a curse. Because English is the standard form of international communication across the world, fluency in it opens doors that no other language can. However, this advantage also lulls one into a false sense of complacency. When the world caters to your language, there is often little incentive to see the value in others.

In undergrad I began taking classes in Japanese to fulfill my major requirements. However, I never felt that I truly understood the language. Whenever I found myself confused or lost, I knew I could retreat to the safety of English, covering up my embarrassment with nervous laughter and offhand comments. In short, I wasn’t really learning; I was picking up words and phrases, sure, but I was relying too heavily on having the safety of English at arm’s reach, knowing that when the professor dismissed me, I could simply leave my foreign language learning anxiety behind.

I might have gone through college never knowing any other perspective, but what changed my understanding was when I decided to study abroad in Japan the summer of my junior year. As my plane touched down that gray, cloudy morning at Narita Airport, I walked out of the terminal full of expectations, the biggest of which was the expectation of being accepted. As someone who is ethnically Japanese, I expected to feel at home among the people of my ancestral country. However, it was not the homecoming I had imagined. 

Within minutes, I realized just how lost I was. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t read the signs around me. I couldn’t understand anyone on the street. I couldn’t even write down what I wanted to say. With barely a rudimentary understanding of Japanese, rather than feeling accepted, I felt like I didn’t belong. 

Throughout my time in Japan, there were many instances where I would walk out of a store and feel like crying because I felt so stupid; a faker with a Japanese face but no words to match. In the middle of Tokyo, I was surrounded by people, yet I had never felt more alone. There were nights where I would wander the neon-lit streets, wondering what I was doing here when I was so illiterate that I could barely get by on the subway, much less ask anyone for directions or figure out where the nearest bathroom was. 

This isn’t to say my time in Japan was unenjoyable. On the contrary, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my college career. Nevertheless, when I landed back in LA, I returned with a newfound respect for other languages. I realized that in order to fully appreciate Japanese, I needed to let go of my English language crutch, and feel the full discomfort in just how much I didn’t understand. I was forced to confront the weaknesses in my own learning, and appreciate the amount of privilege I had as a native English speaker attending a school where so many others lacked the fluency I took for granted. As I continue to explore Japanese, as well as other languages, I am reminded to be patient and humble; that the dissonance and discomfort of not understanding is not a detriment; and that appreciating the beauty and complexity of a language is only possible when you put aside your fears and step out of your comfort zone.

Featured image by Xuan Nguyen on Unsplash

Cody is a second year JD student at USC’s Gould School of Law. He is originally from Orange County, CA, and also completed his undergraduate degree in English and Communication at USC. On campus, Cody has been involved in a number of organizations, from Greek life to the Trojan Marching Band, and in his free time enjoys reading, writing, and exploring LA. As someone who has also studied foreign languages (Japanese & Korean), Cody understands the challenges of learning another language, and as such, has the patience and diligence to help others practice and improve their English skills.