Tag Archives: pandemic

Op-ed: Hybrid Classes at USC: yay or nay?

By Tiffany Hsia

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, USC moved classes to an online format. Online classes have been a bit of a debated topic as some people love online classes and others feel strongly against them. Online classes allowed for flexibility during the pandemic and for students in different time zones to watch recorded lectures. However, on the other side of the coin, students faced Zoom fatigue as well due to little to no peer interaction, which is an integral part of being in school. I personally had mixed feelings about Zoom classes; it was nice to be able to go to school in my pajamas and to be with my family during the pandemic. However, I felt that I did not learn as well and I did not meet anyone new in my classes, and participation in classes was low. 

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Now that USC has moved towards in-person classes with hybrid options, I still have mixed feelings. Some professors have provided flexible options, allowing for students to choose online or in-person, while other professors did not. Personally, I love the idea of hybrid classes being a permanent fixture at USC. This allows for me to have both the peer-to-peer social interaction that I craved during the pandemic as well as the flexibility that I have grown to appreciate. 

One study from the University of Massachusetts showed that hybrid learning increased knowledge retention and that students perform better compared to online and in-person learning models. While hybrid classes have been a blessing, I am surprised USC did not enforce a hybrid option for all the classes during the fall 2021 semester. While it is understandable that some classes need to be in-person such as ceramics or music, I think that classes that are not as hands-on should have the flexibility of a hybrid model. A few of my professors do not even record lectures and require mandatory in-person attendance; however, I feel that this is not feasible as we are still in a pandemic. I was feeling a little under the weather one day and I was unable to pass my Trojan check questionnaire to get on campus, and as a result, I had to miss class. 

Photo by Philippe Bout on Unsplash

Overall, I believe that USC has pushed for in-person classes despite the ongoing pandemic. While USC does a good job of monitoring and requiring students to have their vaccine as well as testing weekly, there are still things USC can improve on. Hybrid options make the most sense to me as a student, as transitioning from a year of online zoom classes back to in-person was extremely difficult. I struggled with losing the independence that I had with online classes as well as waking up earlier to get ready to go to school due to my 20-minute commute to class. While I see the benefits of hybrid learning, I understand it is not for everyone, as it requires strong organizational and time management skills and technological limits. If USC is able to better support students, I think for the most part students would be amenable to a hybrid learning model.  It is truly the best of both worlds as students can go on campus when they want and enjoy in-person interactions but also attend class online if they are busy or unable to physically be in school at the time. 

Featured Image by Dom Fou on Unsplash

Tiffany is a senior studying Health and Human Sciences with a minor in Economics on the pre-physical therapy track. She is originally from San Jose, California, but has lived overseas in Shanghai and Taiwan. She speaks Mandarin and conversational Spanish. On campus, she is a member of Science Outreach and a research assistant at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Tiffany loves traveling, going to the movies, trying new foods, and spending time with friends.

Staying comfortable with your own pace in a Reopening world

by Alyssa Delarossa

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As the United States and more of our world reopens, the societal pressure to keep up with the quickening pace of life and activities is strong. Many people are no longer wearing a mask if they are fully vaccinated and have started attending crowded clubs and events. Personally, despite this social pressure and despite the fact that I am fully vaccinated, I am remaining cautious and will continue wearing a mask and socially distancing, as both actions have worked so effectively this past year and also due to the Delta variant of Covid-19 that is spreading rapidly around the world and in the United States.

Do I feel a bit weird running around in a mask while lots of residents in my home of Ventura County ( a one hour drive North of LA) have ditched theirs? Yes, absolutely! Peer pressure and the pressure to conform to the current social environment is real. However, the thought of potentially contracting the virus or other viruses helps me keep the mask on and thankfully, I haven’t yet had any problems with staying six feet apart from strangers.

Selfie of me double-masked once I learned about the rapidly spreading delta variant

With that being said, I have started to spend more time with my family. We are not all living together but with the reopening, I have made this exception for them. I also have close friends that I’ll hang out with in my hometown, Santa Clarita (where Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park is). I’m still very hesitant to attend crowded events and places but I will spend one-on-one time with these groups of people I call “my inner circle.”

While I do want and tend to spend time with my “inner circle” of friends and family, I spend even more time absorbed in self-care practices such as meditation, journaling, and exercise. Some of the physical activities I have been engaging in are swimming, skating, and kayaking. I tend to engage in these activities either alone or with my inner circle and the fulfillment they bring is like no other.

My friend and I masked up and ice skating in Santa Clarita, California

Some other fulfilling activities I do alone to fill up my time are cooking and writing poetry. These activities allow me to express creativity which is very fulfilling – not to mention delicious! The poetry I write does tend to be more emotional because for me personally, it’s a great way to release any emotional pain/feelings I may be experiencing at the time.

Continue reading Staying comfortable with your own pace in a Reopening world

Travel Through Television

By Connor Brown

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

Over the past year, I’ve spent almost all of my time at home (as most people have), doing my part to flatten the curve and stop the spread of Covid-19 by doing absolutely nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, as I’ve filled the time with a number of TV shows and films I’d been meaning to watch but had previously not had time for. The pandemic certainly freed some time up for me to catch up on these shows. Watching a show or movie can be more than just mindless entertainment; it can be an informative or even educational experience, especially if you watch the right things. By watching American classics and international standouts, I believe my quarantine binge-watching habits have been more productive than one might expect.

With travel being impossible, I’ve scratched the itch to go abroad by watching shows and movies that take place in Mexico and Italy. I speak Spanish, but I know that in order to maintain fluency in a language, practice is essential. As such, I began watching Netflix’s Club de Cuervos, a show about a soccer team in a small town outside of Mexico City. It was not only highly entertaining (I enjoyed it so much I watched the spinoff series it produced), but it also helped me maintain my ear for the language. The show even improved my understanding of the Central Mexican dialect and a variety of accents which are quite prevalent in Los Angeles.

Photo by Ruben Leija on Unsplash

I’ve also been learning Italian at USC for the past couple of years, and by watching a number of classic Italian films on Kanopy, a streaming service for classic and indie films (which all USC students have access to), I’ve bettered my understanding of the language while watching some of the most artistic films ever made. Here’s a tip: if you’re watching a show in a foreign language you’re trying to learn, turn on the subtitles in the foreign language. For me, Spanish and Italian are much easier to understand when I have subtitles on and can read along. If you’re working on your English, try using English subtitles and the dialogue should be easier to understand.

Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash

Travel needn’t take place abroad as traveling through time may arguably be even more exciting. I was quite young when AMC’s Mad Men and HBO’s The Wire first began airing, and having heard nothing but good things about the shows, I’ve always wanted to watch them. Quarantine provided the time for that. Mad Men is set in 1960s Manhattan. The title is derived from the show’s main focus, which is the advertising industry along Madison Avenue. It’s an excellent period piece, and I enjoyed all seven seasons. It helped pass the time in the early days of lockdown. It also provides fascinating insight into 1960s America and the professional and business world. The show includes important examinations of misogyny and sexism through the story arc of Peggy Olson, one of the main characters and a fan favorite, as well as the social and racial justice movements of the 1960s. It also provides revealing vignettes of American culture. It’s not only an excellent show, with great shots and suave styles, but an interesting look into American history.

Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash

The Wire, a Baltimore-based crime drama, is also quite insightful. I just wrapped up the first season and it very deftly handles controversial subjects such as the criminal justice system, drug trade, racial tensions, and corruption. It shows the perspectives of all parties involved, giving the audience the space to receive the information and interpret it on their own. It also has some of the best scene transitions I’ve ever seen, and I eagerly look forward to watching the remaining four seasons. While the show was made in the early and mid-2000s, the topics it covers are still wholly relevant today.

These shows are worth watching, especially if you are an international student that wants to gain a better understanding of American culture, language, and history, just as I learned by watching shows from Mexico and Italy. These shows also help pass the time, because even though schoolwork is a large load on all of our plates, there still isn’t much to do besides staying home, staying safe, and watching shows.

Featured Image by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash

Connor is a junior majoring in History and Italian at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. Born and raised in California, in Los Angeles and the SF Bay Area, he has long been interested in experiencing diverse cultures and learning new languages. He is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Italian, drawn to both by his love of history and cuisine. He enjoys adventuring in both the urban and natural landscapes of California, as well as playing and listening to music, and is always happy to recommend the best taco spot to eat at, beach to walk along, or album to listen to. He is a huge sports fan and loves to chat about everything from the Lakers to soccer.