Tag Archives: learning

Learning about Myself in a Pandemic

Tiffany Hsia 

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

2020 started off great. I was looking forward to having an amazing year at USC and was excited about my classes. However, just around the time when spring break was starting, a global pandemic hit. I was excited about going on a trip with my friends, but instead of going to Mexico I packed my bags to go home. Little did I know, that was the end of my time at USC. Now much time has passed by, I have come to learn some things about myself.

Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Initially when I went home, I still had hope that I would be able to finish the rest of my sophomore year on campus. I thought that I was just enjoying an extended vacation back home, spending time with my family. However, as summer drew closer, every day grew to become the same. Time seemed to drag on and I could see no end to quarantine. In May, I decided to make a list of things I have always wanted to do, but never got the chance to do. Here are some of the activities that I embarked on in an attempt to try things that I never had the opportunity to before:

  • Working out

Since I had so much time on my hands at the start of quarantine, I knew that this was the time to get into the best shape of my life. I have always put off working out, using my busy schedule as a convenient excuse not to do it. I figured that making an effort to work out during quarantine would be a good way to improve my daily schedule. Studies have shown that working out increases dopamine release, which in turn can help increase our feelings of optimism. I started off with a few times a week and kept to a routine, focusing on how I felt after to help motivate me to keep going.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash
  • Finding a new hobby

At the start of quarantine, I didn’t have much to do and I felt constantly bored. I decided to go on Amazon and bought a paint by numbers. With some practice, I was able to create my own masterpiece, even with my limited artistic talent. I enjoyed spending hours on end painting and felt a sense of accomplishment afterwards. I now proudly own art that I created myself, and it is hanging on my wall. 

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The Benefits of Bilingualism

By Nikhita Datar

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

The power of language is undebatable – it has the ability to break down barriers and connect people from different parts of the globe. Meeting someone who can speak the same language as you can be comforting as there is already an established level of familiarity with the person, and the more languages you know, the more common this experience is. Did you know that beyond communicating with more people, knowing multiple languages also has a lot of personal and scientific benefits as well? 

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

According to an opinion piece in The New York Times by Yudhijit Bhattacharjeee titled ‘Why Bilinguals Are Smarter,’ “Being bilingual, it turns out, makes you smarter. It can have a profound effect on your brain, improving cognitive skills not related to language and even shielding against dementia in old age.” So being bilingual doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re the next Albert Einstein (there are a lot of bilinguals in the world, but only one Einstein), but scientists and research have demonstrated that there is a connection between increased cognitive abilities and those who are able to speak more than one language. 

I was always aware that I was able to communicate with many people differently – I knew I would talk to my friends at school differently (in a different language) than I would my grandparents, but I never thought anything of it. I primarily speak English and Kannada (a language spoken predominantly by the people of Karnataka in the southwestern region of India), and I can also speak some Hindi, Marathi, Spanish, and Korean. The majority of the languages I know I picked up from my grandparents and parents from a young age, so I learned them much faster. Knowing multiple languages has been a benefit to me because it has allowed me the opportunity to connect with a greater number of people, especially extended family that live abroad who I would have otherwise had difficulty getting to know. I can understand a greater amount of people, and it allows me to see humanity in a different and more nuanced way. 

Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Bilingualism calls on capacities to learn the two languages, keep the sounds straight, switch deftly between them and so on.” Ideally as a bilingual you should be able to switch between the two languages you speak comfortably. For me, as much as I can switch back and forth as needed, the challenge lies in finding words that have a similar meaning in another language. Often times, my brain gets stuck on a niche word in one language that seems like it can’t be translated into the other language. The phrase, “I don’t know what the translation of that in English is,” is something I’m a little too familiar with. In these moments, I don’t exactly feel the improved cognitive function that is supposed to come with knowing multiple languages. 

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More than a Pre-Med student: My Introduction to Ballroom Dancing

By Richard Petrosyan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As a current senior at USC, I am nearing the end of a busy collegiate career as a pre-medical student in neuroscience. As such, I am beginning to reflect on what I’ve done throughout college not only to achieve my academic and extracurricular goals, but also to enjoy the journey. Even though much of my time has been devoted to my studies and extracurricular interests aligning with my intent to follow the pre-med track, I remember one of my most valuable experiences that allowed me to take a break from my routine. Recently, I took a class in Ballroom Dancing with the USC Kaufman School of Dance, an unforgettable semester-long experience that will stay with me beyond college. You might be wondering why this was such an impactful experience for me, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and delve into why I enjoyed this class so much and why you might want to consider taking this course.

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

When I came to my first ballroom class, I had absolutely no experience with dancing. Sure, I had danced at parties and at home before, but ballroom dancing? To me, this was movie material, with attractive Hollywood actors dressed like there’s no tomorrow, moving about with grace and elegance. So needless to say, the bar was high. But what made it more challenging was that boys and girls had to partner with each other. The prospect of close contact with one another made us all shy at first, as none of us knew each other and ballroom dancing was uncharted territory for us. Fortunately, we had a remarkably warm and welcoming teacher who put us at ease through his humor and many activities encouraging us to get to know each other. We’d gather in circles and would regularly switch partners so as to feel comfortable working with everyone. 

Teamwork was really important in this class. As we learned new dances, from the waltz to the tango, getting used to the moves demanded collaboration between students. The first step was to hear the teacher describe the moves, but it was easier to watch him perform them with the TA. It required a whole new level of understanding to repeat the moves on my own. Surprisingly, it felt particularly difficult to repeat my moves alone but easier to do it jointly with my partners. It was a bit like when math rules are easier to apply in calculations rather than to recite word for word. Mutual understanding between partners helped us make faster progress and, before we knew it, we were making each other spin, bend, dip, and jump at a head-spinning speed. Full choreographies were exhausting, but the endorphins and the mental satisfaction were worth it. As a group, upon attaining a certain level, we even acquired the taste of ballroom dancing so much that we’d organize to practice and have fun outside of class, which produced some memorable moments.

Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash
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