Tag Archives: hobby

Why I love Supernatural and How it Helped me Practice English

By Morgana Li

[3 minute read]

It has been 15 years since the first episode of Supernatural aired on The CW. Now the series has come to its final season and the finale aired on Nov. 19, 2020. I became a part of the Supernatural family in 2015 when I watched ten seasons in order to catch up to the current episodes. The story itself is about hunting supernatural monsters, ghosts, and demons that come from folklore and myths. While watching, however, I realized that Supernatural is also a show about family, friendship, sacrifice, and humanity. Though the plot may not always make sense, the show has created many multidimensional characters that the audience loves. 

The main characters are Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, and Castiel. Dean and Sam are brothers, and Castiel (Cas) is an angel. They go on adventures across the country saving people from supernatural monsters. What fascinated me most is the way they treated each other and how they showed their humanity despite significant challenges. At first, Sam and Dean were the only consistent characters in the show, but others soon joined the main storyline. Castiel became one of the most significant characters as he slowly became closer to Sam and Dean, who warmly welcomed him into their family. In their dysfunctional family, they were always willing to sacrifice everything for each other. As Sam said to Dean, “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” I think one must be incredibly lucky to have someone who loves you that much and to know that there are always people you can rely on.

Another interesting aspect of the show is watching the characters travel across the United States, living in motels, eating fast food, and passing through pretty much every state in the US. As an international student, I found it to be one of the best sources to learn about American culture and life, and I’d like to travel to many of the places I have seen them travel to on the show. Since Supernatural’s theme is about hunting monsters in America, many urban legends and different forms of folklore were introduced to me through the show, such as Bloody Mary, the Wendigo, the myth of the Hook Man, and more. The Bible also plays a role in the different legends discussed in the show. I learned many pop culture references based on these intriguing stories, which made it easier to communicate with native English speakers because I had more topics to explore and slang to use. One of the main characters, Dean, uses a lot of hilarious slang terms that are part of authentic American English, and these can be used in daily life by international students looking to blend more casual terms into their speaking. 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash
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How I went VIRAL on TikTok

By Michael Neufeld

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3½ minute read]

A little while back, I went viral on TikTok. At the time of writing this (October 2020), I have thirty-one thousand followers and over half a million likes collectively on my posts. While this isn’t necessarily equivalent to the amount of recognition creators, influencers, and the like have gotten on TikTok, but it’s certainly more recognition than I ever expected to see on the app.

A screenshot of Michael’s viral Tiktok video where he plays the Star Wars theme in a parking garage-almost a quarter million likes!

Since quarantine started, I have been creating short, seven-second to one-minute long videos and posting them on TikTok. Most of them involve me playing trombone in some sort of creative way, whether that is playing along to a popular song, “duetting” someone else’s popular video, or just finding different shenanigans to engage in with my primary instrument. I found a variety of topics on the app, such as musical humor, anime discussion, or other interests of mine, and used those to creatively approach the way I made content. Soon, I found a community of people with similar interests. I connected with jazz musicians across America, who studied at reputable music schools that I knew of. They were all on TikTok for the same reason as me: we had nothing better to do in quarantine.

Over the first few months of COVID-19 lockdown, I had a few successful videos. At first, the bland videos would average around 500 views, while the more popular ones would score a few thousand. The response wasn’t massive, but it was entertaining for me to see which videos gained more of a response than others. I then started a consistent posting schedule which set me up to gain traction. I started one video off by saying “Alright here’s Day 1 of me Rick Rolling your feed until I go viral,” and proceeded to play Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” For those of you unfamiliar with “Rick Rolling,” it is a prank that was popular around ten years ago, where one person would send a YouTube link to someone else, saying it was a link to something interesting. For example, one might have sent the link over a text accompanied by an explanation, “Hey, check out this video I worked hard on making!” The twist comes when the recipient opens the link and is sent to the music video for Rick Astley’s hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. After I played day one, I played a harmony to the first track and synced it up, so it sounded like I was playing a duet with myself. The audio at the beginning sounded, “Alright here’s Day 2 of me Rick Rolling your feed until I go viral.” This harmonization process went on for a little over a month, and each video netted me more and more views. I broke 500 followers, which at the time felt like a big achievement.

Michael’s early attempts to go viral

I kept making videos and nothing of note happened for a couple months, aside from a couple hits that broke thirty thousand views. Then I got an idea: “I need to practice, but I don’t have a practice room available because of COVID restrictions. Because I make too much noise in my apartment, I need to go to a parking structure to get some privacy and not disturb anyone. Maybe I’ll film myself in that resonant, echoey space and see what happens on TikTok.” Within the first five videos of me playing in a high-reverb parking garage, I jumped fifteen thousand followers over the course of two days. The culprit was a video of me playing the force theme from Star Wars (or “Binary Sunset” by it’s official name). That video currently is close to hitting one million views, with almost a quarter million likes.

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Zooming By: Taking Care of Your Health in a Virtual World

By Kaitlin Foo

[4 minute read]

Editor’s note:

If you are looking for things to keep you occupied during quarantine, look no further than this article! If you have your own perspective on how you cope with quarantine or any other topic you feel strongly about, you too can share these thoughts on our blog. We are opening the ALI Life and Times to any USC student who is interested in contributing. If you would like to submit a blog article for potential publication, please email hacco@usc.edu -Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

Right now, many of us are working and attending school virtually. During this time, the fatigue of being stationary all day can have a negative effect on both our bodies and our mental health. I’m here to show you how to switch up your routine, try something new, or even get back into a hobby you may have quit a long time ago!

Take a break from your screen
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

When we are on our laptops or phones for long hours at a time, our eyes make micro-movements, which put more strain on our eyes than necessary. To combat this, I do an eye exercise to “stretch” my eyeball. Make sure that your face is still; it is just your eyes that are moving! First, look up, look down, then left and right for 2 seconds each. Then I like to draw a circle with my eyes in a clockwise direction, then again counterclockwise. 

When I do this exercise, I find that my eyes feel less strained, and I can quickly jump back into my work. This is a simple, fast, and effective way to tend to your eye health.

Pick up a new hobby (or revisit an old one)
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

I know, I know. A hobby? That’s soooo first-two-months-of-quarantine! But hear me out: I, like many others, fell into the trap of wanting to do everything I’d never had the chance to do when we were just starting to quarantine. However, this ended up backfiring and I ended up half-learning a bunch of hobbies (sewing, sign language, baking). 

This time, I want you to commit to just one doable hobby that you will see to fruition. This could be an entirely new hobby, like learning how to make lattes at home, or an old hobby (I recently picked up piano again because I realized I had never gotten to the level of proficiency I’d wanted as a child).

The important part of fully completing a hobby is to choose something that is feasible and then set a goal. You want to learn how to make lattes at home? That’s doable. Now set a goal: you might want to learn specifically how to make a matcha latte and a caramel latte. This ensures that you have a tangible objective to fulfill and having that end goal will propel you to complete this task. 

Start Journaling
Photo by Mathilde LMD on Unsplash

It’s easy to push your mental health on the backburner while trying to keep yourself from burning out. During this pandemic, I found myself dragging up old memories, inspecting them closely and over-analyzing them. With no outlet, these new revelations and analyses constantly bounced around in my brain. 

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