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The Greatest Experiences are Born from Fear

By Anahi Terrazas

Terror was all I felt in the days leading up to my flight to Paris. I started to get racing, anxious thoughts questioning what my life abroad would look like—what if I didn’t like my host family? Since I knew nothing about the Paris metro, how would I survive getting around the city? What was I going to do by myself in a foreign country? As embarrassing as it is to admit, the fear paralyzed me. I started to doubt whether studying abroad was the right choice. Despite my angst, I boarded my flight to Paris. 

The day after landing in Paris, I started to feel at ease. I got along well with the people in my study abroad program, and the metro was easy to use. But, the aspect that terrified me the most—living with a host family—had yet to be resolved. We learned who our host family would be our second day in Paris, and we didn’t move in with our host family until our fourth day in the city (we stayed in a hotel together our first 3 nights). All I knew before getting into the taxi that would take me to my host family was that I would live in the 13th arrondissement with a lady who worked for the Paris museums and had a 17 year-old daughter and a 15 year-old son. 

Photo by J C on Unsplash

The taxi driver dropped me off with my two large suitcases and backpack on the wrong street corner. I looked down at the address I had written down on my phone, and looked at the Haussmanian buildings in front of me. They all looked the same, I wasn’t sure where to go, and my bags were incredibly difficult to move around. I crossed the street, in hopes of getting closer to where I needed to be, when suddenly I heard “Anahi!”. I looked up and a very French woman approached me, introducing herself and signaling to the apartment complex opposite of me. She grabbed one of my bags and started to guide me. 

 Her apartment was up the stairs on the first floor, with a beautiful living room that looked out into the busy Parisian street. Colorful art decorated the walls, and the old wooden floors creaked constantly. Her daughter and son greeted me excitedly, giving me a tour of the quaint and traditional Parisian apartment. I was left to unpack while my host family set the table and finished preparing our dinner. At dinner, they were patient with my stuttering around in French, and they did everything in their power to help me feel included. I went to bed that first night with a feeling of warmth, recognizing that I would enjoy my time with my host family. 

Photo by Resi Kling on Unsplash

I had dinner with them four to five times a week, had movie nights with them, attended their birthday parties, went to the movie theater and park with them, and spent a weekend at their vacation home in Normandy. We went from complete and utter strangers to an integral part of each other’s lives. I felt at ease with them, chatting with them while I helped prep dinner, sharing stories about the trips I had taken the previous weekend (I believe I spent a total of five weekends in Paris out of the four months I was there). What once was the most frightening aspect of my study abroad experience quickly became one of my favorite parts. As the end of my program approached, the more I realized it would not only be difficult to leave Paris and all my experiences behind, but also leaving the family that had so warmly welcomed me into their home would prove to be a very difficult challenge. 

I stayed a few extra days in Paris after my program ended with a friend from back home who came to visit me. We stayed in an Airbnb in the 5th arrondissement, and the night before I left Paris my host family invited me and my friend for dinner. At the end of dinner, I gave them all a hug and I fought tears back as my friend and I walked to the bus station. As soon as I sat on the bus, I started to cry uncontrollably—I would miss them, I would miss Paris, I would miss the freedom of living in a walkable city, I would miss who I became while living abroad. 

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

The scariest experiences are often the most valuable ones. I am thankful that I was forced to live with a host family and step out of my comfort zone while living abroad. As cheesy at it sounds, I returned from Paris a completely different person and I recognize that all the terror I felt was actually a sign that I was about to embark on a journey that was good for me. Great life experiences, relationships and cherished memories come from discomfort. 

Featured Image by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

Anahi is a Political Science major and a French minor. She is a sophomore and is from El Paso, Texas. She is currently involved with Trojan Herstory as a Content Creator and is an active member of Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law organization. Anahi is a transfer student and prior to attending USC she attended Florida Atlantic University. Anahi is dedicated to political organizing and has been a part of various organizations such as Students for Bernie and the Florida Immigrant Coalition. In her free time Anahi enjoys yoga, reading, and musical theatre.

My Comfort Language

By Chloe Ahn

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Language plays an incredibly important role in forming connections with other people. This may seem like an obvious statement. To communicate with someone else, you need to have a shared language. However, not all languages hold the same weight in a conversation.

A person’s first language is not always the one they may prefer to use when creating a bond with a new person. This is especially true for bilingual speakers who grew up speaking more than one language. Although these types of speakers may have a dominant language that they tend to use in more day to day interactions, this does not mean that it is the language that they like to speak the most when it comes to socializing. In addition, they may have a certain language that they associate with certain people or places.

Photo by Sava Bobov on Unsplash

Growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods, I never really had the opportunity to use Korean outside of my home and as one of the few Korean students in my high school, I didn’t have any reason to use it with my friends either. Though I spoke mostly Korean with my parents, I had developed a habit of using English with them when we left the house because I had had negative experiences with speaking Korean in public. I would constantly get weird stares or the occasional dirty look from people who did not speak Korean. Eventually, I started to feel embarrassed using Korean with my mom or dad and stopped doing so.

This mindset changed with the onset of the pandemic. Since I was home all of the time, I began to use Korean more often than English. During winter break of my freshman year, I visited my grandparents in South Korea and was able to spend a lot of time with them. My negative associations with using Korean in public disappeared and I started to connect more positive ideas with the language. Korean is the language of my culture. It is the language that I use with the people I love the most. It is the language that allows me to spend quality time with my grandparents and other relatives who I do not get to see often because of the distance between us.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

With this new perspective, I came to campus at USC for the first time this past fall semester. For the first time I had the chance to interact with and meet people who had the same cultural background as I did. I joined the Korean American Student Association (KASA) with the hopes of making new friends and was successful. Many of the close friends that I have today are people that I met through KASA.

That being said, not all of my friends are Korean and I do not think that you have to be the same ethnicity in order to form close connections with people. Rather, being able to speak Korean with the friends that I made in KASA helped me to open up to them sooner because of the associations I have with the language and my family. Having come from the East Coast, I was worried about feeling homesick and missing my parents and sister, but making these friends and being able to use Korean more in my daily conversations with them gave me a sense of comfort and was a reminder of home. Sometimes, you find comfort in a language other than the one that you speak most often, and it becomes a great way to form deeper bonds with others.

Featured Image by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

 Chloe is a rising junior studying Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the Keck School of Medicine with a minor in Business. She was born in South Korea but grew up in New Jersey. Aside from English, Chloe is conversationally fluent in Korean and is learning Spanish. Her involvements on campus include Dear Asian Youth, International Student Assembly, Innovative Design, and the Korean American Student Association. In her free time, Chloe enjoys watching movies, going shopping, hiking, and listening to music.

Tips on USC Housing

By Lianne Chu

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Finding off campus housing around USC is a common struggle amongst many students. With so many different options and factors to take into consideration, the whole process can be overwhelming, especially for students who aren’t familiar with the area. Here, I detail some resources that can help with this search!

When should you start looking for next school year’s housing?

Some students start looking for off campus housing as early as October/November and have their lease signed by December. This is usually necessary for popular places around campus, especially houses on the North side of campus where a lot of people want to live. However, there will still be many vacancies at the start of the calendar year, so do not worry if you start the housing search process late. A good place to look for housing in the spring is apartments near campus who are looking to fill their buildings and may be running special deals in the springtime.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

Where to look for housing?

1. Walk around the neighborhood. Many apartments/houses will have their phone numbers posted in front of the residence. Note the name of the property management and phone number to do further research!

2. This Reddit link features links to many different popular housing management companies around campus and the websites for various apartments. I found it to be especially helpful in checking out the different types of apartments around campus, and determining the different locations of all of the housing options.

3. Facebook Groups: There are a few Facebook groups where students post available listings, usually subleases. If you search for USC housing groups, you will find people looking for potential roommates or looking for people to take over their subleases. This is a good place to turn to if you are looking for a semester lease or a summer lease, as opposed to a year long lease. However, sometimes scams are posted on these groups so use your best judgement when contacting those writing the posts.  

Photo by Parker Gibbons on Unsplash

Where is it safe to live?

Many students live within a one-mile radius of USC. This ensures that the house/apartment will be within the Fryft (free Lyft) Zone. Around this area will also have DPS Yellow Jackets patrolling around the blocks at night. North side of campus near Frat Row is a popular option for students. West side of campus is also popular for engineering students who have classes near that side of campus.

Living in DTLA or commuting to campus?

Some students may choose to live farther away from campus and commute to classes by car or public transportation. Living farther away gives you more housing options, but USC does not provide transportation from DTLA to campus, so having a car will be beneficial if living far away. However, if you do choose to live a little further away, you can take advantage of LA’s public transportation system to get to campus. The Metro and F dash bus are both options to get from Downtown LA to USC fairly quickly.

Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

Price range

The price range of housing varies depending on the type of room (single, double, etc.) and location (proximity to campus). Houses and apartments on the North side of campus are typically pricier as they are closer to the Village and it is a livelier area of the neighborhood. Prices can range from $800 for a shared room on the West side to $1400 and up for a single on the North side. 

On Campus Housing

USC offers on-campus housing for both undergraduate and graduate students. Check out the USC housing to look at the different options offered! The most popular USC housing option for undergraduates is in the USC Village, but there are off campus options as well. Many of these housing options come with some sort of dining plan and close proximity to campus, which is always a plus, but some of them can be quite pricey.

Finding Roommates

Most college students live in an apartment or house with roommates. Some people share a room with others, while others have their own rooms and share a living space. Usually shared rooms have lower rent than private rooms. When finding roommates, the first step should be to see if any of your friends are also looking for housing since living with friends is usually easier to adapt to than living with random roommates. However, living with randomly paired roommates can be a great option as well. Many people search for roommates on housing Facebook pages and express what they want in a potential roommate, and end up finding someone who is very compatible with their living style and turns out to be a great friend!

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