Tag Archives: hobby

To have a car or not to have a car… that is the question

By Lily Tam

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Not having a car in LA makes life hard. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Despite the strong and ever-improving public transportation system in LA, taking the Metro or another form of public transport just isn’t the same as having the luxury of driving. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken the Metro to Santa Monica quite a few times, and I definitely recommend it since the stop right outside of campus is so convenient. The best part? Not having to worry about parking and traffic-an absolute dream come true.

The story’s a bit different if you want to explore a little outside the city, however. My roommate and I are from the farthest ends of the United States, the East Coast and Hawaii, so it wasn’t really feasible for us to bring or drive a car all the way to California for use during school. Fortunately, we both have our driver’s’ licenses, which is why when we got the chance to rent a car with the school’s new partnership with Maven, we did.

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

My roommate had just finished one of her most dreaded midterms and was looking to celebrate that accomplishment with a meal out. We decided to head down to East LA for some great Mexican cuisine. However, we were so excited that we forgot to take into account something LA is notorious for: rush hour traffic. Yes, we decided to head out exactly at 5 PM. On a Friday. About to go on the 110 Freeway. Not a brilliant idea, I’ll tell you that much. In fact, the traffic flow was so bad that the Waze app directed us to square around (like a circle around, but we went in a box shape) two blocks just to come back to Figueroa. The lanes were insane though, and the maneuvers I saw some drivers making really took some skill. A drive that was supposed to take 15 minutes took 40 instead, and we arrived at the restaurant disgruntled and very hungry. It ended up being alright though because in our eyes a good meal is worth anything.

It was starting to get dark on our way back, but the traffic didn’t stop. In fact, the headlights from the oncoming lanes and the rear-end lights of the cars in front of us made it seem like a stream of Christmas lights. I guess no matter the time of the year, LA will have the festive feel of a city lit up at night. Despite our frustration at the endless traffic, we took away one important lesson: appreciate the relaxation of public transportation.

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Nature Outings Around LA

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Every once in a while, a brief trip away from the bustle of metropolitan LA can be a much-needed respite for a USC student. While there are plenty of things to do in the city, there are just as many day trips one can take in the surrounding areas. Going for a hike or bike ride in some different scenery can be a refreshing and inexpensive option for weekends when you would like to spend some time away from campus. I have listed below some of my favorite hikes and nature expeditions you can take in the LA area that will make it feel like you are visiting a place far from the city!

Photo by Praveen Thotagamuwa on Unsplash

One of the more popular places to hike in the LA area is the Sturtevant Falls trail. Located in the Santa Anita Canyon, this approximately 3.5-mile hike is frequently crowded with Angelinos, and follows a steep descent into a lush valley that ends in a spectacular waterfall. There are several other side trails that branch off from the sometimes overly busy path, such as the Upper Winter Creek Trail, which leads into a very dense, green forest that hardly feels as if it were only half an hour from downtown LA. 

Another slightly further destination is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which hosts large fields of the state’s flower each spring. This reserve is located about an hour and half away from USC, a few miles outside of Lancaster. Often crowded during peak season, it is highly advisable to visit the poppies early in the morning before parking gets too full. Another tip: bring an extra layer even when the temperature is high, as it gets particularly windy at this spot.

Photo by Pamela Heckel on Unsplash

Perhaps my favorite outdoor destination to visit in the area around LA is the Malibu Creek State Park, which is nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. This park is filled with miles of beautiful trails, and was also the sight for various feature films, including the MASH series. The Yearling Trail, which starts from Reagan Ranch and leads to Century Lake, is a gentle 4-mile hike that leads through green fields, a Redwood forest, and ends with a glimpse of the Century Lake dam. It is a personal favorite of mine that can be accessed all-year round. 

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How to Write a Blog Article

By Natalie Grace Sipula

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[6 minute read]

Writing is hard. From a pretty young age, I have greatly enjoyed expressing myself through creative writing, and as I got older, I started to enjoy academic writing as well. I would write poetry about things I observed in my day-to-day life, short stories or fragments of prose, and even entered a few essay-writing competitions. Something I noticed pretty early on about writing is that writing the things that come to your mind without method or intent is a lot easier than writing for an audience. I prefer writing while keeping the reader in mind more because writing only for myself lets me pick up bad writing habits, such as not carefully considering my word choice, as the only person interpreting the writing would be me. But writing creatively for a reader is pretty difficult, and academic-style writing for a reader can be exhausting because most college students already have to do that so much for their classes. A form of writing that I had not previously considered before coming to college, however, was blog writing. When I started working at the USC American Language Institute, I tried out writing for a blog for the very first time. One blog that I wrote about rereading Harry Potter with an older perspective challenged me to consider the perspective of both myself and my audience.

Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash

Writing for a blog is a great way to open your creative energy and write to a wider audience while also being able to maintain a level of informality and free expression to your writing. A blog article could be about anything–your daily routine, a hobby you love doing, your journey writing other things, or aspects of your social life. It is a happy medium between writing creatively or academically for others and dabbling in creative writing or journaling for yourself. This can be good because it allows you to practice writing with a sense of accountability, while also having fun. I have written a few blog articles since coming to college, and I found that I had a great time writing them and was actually proud of my work after the fact. I also realized that I was less judgmental of my own writing when writing a blog article, which made it easier for me to actually finish a writing project I started on. For me, the most difficult part of writing a blog article is narrowing down exactly what it is you want to write about.

What can you write about?

Have you ever had that feeling where you are inspired to write something and then as soon as you sit down in front of your journal or computer screen, your mind goes blank? Or when you know of a lot of things you think you might be interested in writing about, but aren’t sure where to start? This is a very common problem writers encounter, but with some consideration and time, it can be overcome. Some common blog topics to inspire you are: life advice about a specific situation or circumstance, a recipe or instructions on how to do/make something, a list of recommendations, a funny or shocking story and a lesson learned from it, hobbies or goals and how to accomplish them, and so much more.

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