Tag Archives: exams

Have A Bowl of Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles Before Exams

By Qianhui Ni

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4.5 minute read]

What do you normally do before an important exam? In some cultures, people will pray to the god of wisdom, or avoid washing their hair because it is believed to wash the knowledge out of the brain. Some tend to wear clothes with lucky colors. For me, my pre-exam ritual is to have a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles.

Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles from Ludingji at San Gabriel

In Yunnan, China, the local people’s diet holds rice noodles to an equal status as rice. Different from rice noodles from other provinces, the traditional Yunnan rice noodles are made of fermented and milled rice. Thus, they have a very slightly sour taste due to the longer fermentation time in the production process. Crossing-the-bridge rice noodles are the most famous cooking method of these noodles. The soup base is stewed with pork ribs, fresh chicken, fresh duck, and Yunnan ham. After simple seasoning, the thick soup must stay boiling and be put into a large, insulated bowl. You can then add fresh fish slices, fresh tenderloin slices, mung bean sprouts, and mushroom slices to the soup individually. My favorite ingredient to add are fresh raw quail eggs. As the raw quail egg touches the soup, the color of the egg white and yolk changes even before they start changing shape in the broth. This is how we magically make a soft boiled egg in a fully intact shape. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to complete this part by myself but was stopped by my parents since the temperature of the soup was too high. 

You are probably wondering why this dish is named “crossing-the-bridge” and why it is connected to pre-exam rituals. One well-accepted version of its origin story goes like this: in the Qing Dynasty, a scholar living in southern Yunnan used to go study at a pavilion in the middle of a lake to prepare for the imperial examination. To support him, his wife often made his favorite rice noodles and brought them to the pavilion. Every time she got there, the rice noodles had already become cold. One day, she accidentally found out that the thick layer of chicken fat covering the soup helped it stay at a high temperature. The rice noodles, the meat, and the vegetables actually tasted more refreshing if they were put in right before eating. Since then, she always stewed the soup with chicken and other meat first, and waited until she arrived at the pavilion before putting in the extra thinly sliced ingredients and rice noodles. With her support, the scholar eventually got the highest exam score. Because every time the scholar’s wife needed to walk across a bridge to reach the pavilion, people named this cooking method “crossing-the-bridge rice noodles” in order to commemorate this talented woman. Since then, having a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles has become a popular pre-exam ritual for many local people. 

Spicy Rice Noodles from Ludingji at City of Industry

As part of the cultural heritage of Yunnan, China, crossing-the-bridge rice noodles have become a top cuisine that no visitor to the region should miss out on. Before I went to college, I used to take it for granted because there are so many restaurants that sell it in my hometown. I did not realize how hard it is to find authentic crossing-the-bridge rice noodles until I started my life in another country. However, after visiting almost all the Yunnan restaurants in LA, I found two good ones where you can get a taste of this traditional cuisine: 

Yunnan Restaurant:

You can find two Yunnan Restaurants in LA: one is located in San Gabriel, and the other one is in Monterey Park. Here, when ordering crossing-the-bridge rice noodles, you will have the chance to add all of the ingredients to the boiling soup yourself. Apart from the rice noodles, don’t miss the amazing Chinese Salad with different cold meats or vegetables in spicy sauce. 

Casserole Rice Noodles from Yunnan Garden in Hacienda Heights

Yunnan Garden:

Located in Hacienda Heights, Yunnan Garden has a more spacious dining area. The crossing-the-bridge rice noodles here are put in a big bowl in which the cook has already put in all the ingredients and rice noodles. The soup base is great and I’m sure you will love it. 

If you want to try a new pre-exam ritual before a major exam, try the crossing-the-bridge rice noodles and remember the story of the scholar and the talented wife, and hopefully it will bring you good luck.

Featured Image by Frank Zhang on Unsplash

Qianhui is a doctoral student majoring in Psychology. She received a B.S. in Psychology from East China Normal University in 2019. She is interested in how children learn about social agents and the social world. When she isn’t working in the lab, Qianhui enjoys traveling, reading novels, watching movies, and cooking.  

Hidden gems on campus 

By Tiffany Hsia

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Many of us are preparing to return to USC for the upcoming school year with excitement and anticipation. However, attending class and studying for exams can become routine as the school year progresses, but there are places around campus that can help spice up your routine or become a new study spot. Studying day and night at Leavey Library can become boring, and after living on campus for a year, I have found a couple of different study spots to help change up your scenery while studying, especially during finals. 

  • LiteraTea

For all of the people who love boba but don’t like having to walk off campus to get it, there is actually a hidden boba place on campus! LiteraTea is located behind Doheny Library and is a little cafe where you can study. They serve a variety of healthy, quick items you can take on the go (and boba!). It is also the perfect place to study, as there is an outdoor courtyard to do work right across from the cafe. This courtyard allows you to enjoy the sunshine and take in the rays of Southern California while getting work done.  

  • Balcony of the School of Cinematic Arts 
Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

If you are looking for a quiet yet scenic place to study, the balconies in the School of Cinematic Arts are the perfect place. The balconies are not restricted to Cinematic Arts students and are open from 7-11 PM. You can access the balconies by entering in one of their buildings and taking the elevator to the second or third floor. Once you enter, the balconies overlook the beautiful courtyard of SCA and have outdoor patio seating. This is perfect for quiet studying with a view or hanging out with friends. I have had many late-night chats and group studying sessions here!

  • Café 84

Café 84 is conveniently located between Fluor Tower and Webb Tower. While the hours of Café 84 fluctuate (they close anytime from 11-2 AM on weekdays), this is the perfect place to get work done or have group meetings. Café 84 also has a Starbucks, which is convenient to help kick start studying. If you like doing work surrounded by some noise, this is the place to study. I especially enjoy doing group work here, as it is a very casual atmosphere.

Continue reading Hidden gems on campus 

Mental Health Exercises

By Eun Soo Jackie Kim

Happy finals season! As the fall semester approaches its endpoint, classes are in full swing, extracurricular activities are becoming more demanding, and the constant search for a career path is becoming more nebulous. These factors of school life, coupled with pressure from society, family obligations, and the desperate attempt to maintain a social life while squeezing in at least a handful of hours of sleep at night are enough to push a student overboard. An important aspect of maintaining a healthy school life comes to the spotlight particularly during the midterm season, as academic, social, and emotional pressures start to build up: mental health.

Although at a school like USC, physical health is frequently emphasized and encouraged, oftentimes, mental health is forgotten. As an intangible, invisible aspect of a person’s well-being, it is understandable why mental health is not at the forefront of health discussions. However, just like working out at the gym, or going for a quick jog around the neighborhood, your mental health needs consistent exercise too, especially during such a stressful time like now! Follow these tips listed below to take a step back, relax, and focus on why and where your mind is overworked, so that you can come back refreshed, ready to tackle the challenge of a balanced college lifestyle.

  1. When you’re feeling less confident, write out a list of accomplishments and achievements from the past year that you can reflect on and be proud of yourself for. You’ll start to realize how long the list will get.
  2. Build up a support group who will be there for you when times are tough. They don’t need to be physically present, but it’d be nice to reach out for a quick phone call, or a nice cup of coffee when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  3. During particularly tough days, begin the day with some stretching or a five-minute meditation. Some links to helpful resources can be found at Mindful USC’s website: http://mindful.usc.edu/
  4. Treat yourself to a mental break at least once a day by going out to your favorite ice cream place, going for quick run, watching a short TV show, with no distractions (e.g. homework) at hand.
  5. Set boundaries for yourself—USC is an amazing university so many resources and opportunities, but as one individual, it is impossible to do be involved in everything. Understand this, and allow yourself to breathe and focus on activities that matter the most to you.
  6. Write out a prioritization list for the week by listing out all the things you need to get done, and when you will get them done by. I found that a week long list is neither too short nor too long, and allows me to focus on the details but also the big picture very well!
  7. There’s always going to be someone better or someone worse than you in everything you do—come to peace with this fact, and allow yourself to excel in your own way.
  8. Realize when things are too challenging to a point when you need help—the USC health center is always available for therapy appointments, and they will be happy to direct you to additional resources near to campus as well.
  9. Keep in mind that mental and physical health go hand in hand. A little bit of exercise can be an immense mood booster, and a little mindfulness practice can do wonders for your physical activities. Try to remember the duality and balance.

Featured image from WallpaperSafari

Continue reading Mental Health Exercises