Tag Archives: social life

USC Student voices on connecting in uncertain times

By Megan Tran, Sarah Ta, Sarah Selke, and Rachel Priebe

[13 minute read]

Editor’s Note

As the Covid-19 pandemic has continued through the spring semester, wrapping up a year at USC which no one could have foreseen, many of us are left feeling disconnected from our friends and peers who we socialized with regularly before the pandemic. This can be a very isolating feeling, despite the fact that most people are experiencing these exact circumstances at the present moment. Below, ALI leaders have shared their own advice and experiences on how to stay connected with your friends and make your online interactions a bit more entertaining!

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

FUN WAYS TO CONNECT WITH FRIENDS VIRTUALLY

By Megan Tran

The Covid-19 pandemic has really pushed all of us to think creatively when it comes to activities we can do safely with friends and family. Since we may not be able to see each other in person, it’s good to come up with alternative activities to do online to keep our friendships and relationships strong. These activities allow us to still stay in touch with our loved ones from the safety and comfort of our homes. Making the effort to connect with people is extremely crucial in a time like this in order to combat the feelings of loneliness that quarantine can bring about. I have listed some of my favorite activities for remaining connected virtually below!

Photo by sgcdesignco on Unsplash

Game Pigeon– These games on iMessage used to be all the hype when they first came out but have since been long forgotten. I’ve recently started playing them with my friends and realized I had forgotten how much fun they are! Game Pigeon has a wide variety of games to choose from so you can find the perfect one to play either against one opponent or with a group of friends. Anyone who has access to iMessage is able to play. Cup Pong, Crazy 8, and Sea Battle are just a few of my favorite games!

Virtual Movie Nights– One of the things that I miss the most about pre-Covid life is being able to go to the movie theater. But now there are ways to stream and watch movies with your friends without having to be in the same room! With websites like Netflix Party, you can have watch parties and long-distance movie nights where you’ll be able to synchronize video playback and utilize the chat rooms to share your reactions. I think a current must-see TV show is Queen’s Gambit.

Virtual Escape Rooms– This is something I haven’t personally tried yet, but I’ve been wanting to because it seems so fun! I used to love doing in-person escape rooms with my friends as a fun way to test our teamwork and problem-solving skills. This virtual activity would be best to do with a large group of people to maximize your chances of winning. They come in many different themed adventures, like Hogwarts or bank heist, so it’s easy to find one that everyone will be interested in.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

Zoom Happy Hour- This one is for those of us who are 21 and older only! With the majority of bars closed, most of us miss being able to go out and get drinks with friends on a Friday night. But who says you still can’t? You could host a Happy Hour on Zoom with friends and spice things up by playing a fun drinking game.

Collaborative Playlists– Music is something that always brings people together. Even though we can’t go to concerts or music festivals right now, we can still share our love of music with one another! Collaborative playlists on Spotify are a good way to keep in touch with others. My friends and I have a Spotify playlist where we each add our favorite song for that week, and after a couple of months, we already have such a long and diverse list of songs!

HOW TO STAY CONNECTED DURING QUARANTINE

By Sarah Ta

When self-isolation was first mandated back in March, no one expected that it would continue for the rest of the year. Other parts of the country started opening back up at various times, with varying degrees of success, but Los Angeles county has remained diligent in its efforts to not reopen sooner than necessary to prevent an outbreak. Like many others, I have stayed at home as much as possible to do my part in protecting those who are immunocompromised, and while we all know that it was the right thing to do, it doesn’t make missing our family and friends hurt any less. As the year went on, I found new ways to connect with my loved ones without jeopardizing anyone’s health. Reaching out to friends through social media is still by far the easiest and most straightforward method, but if you’re looking for some new ways, here are a few of my personal favorite methods I’ve been using for the past few months! 

Join an Organization on Campus– This may be a cliche suggestion, but from my personal experience, I can confidently say that joining a cultural organization completely transformed my USC experience. I’ve been a part of the Vietnamese Student Association for two years now, and the community it has given me is irreplaceable. I know that joining an organization virtually is not the same as attending events in-person, but most clubs are still hosting virtual events with their members and would love to have you join them. These events also give you a chance to interact with people outside of a virtual classroom setting. While it can sound exhausting to be in another Zoom call, it’s less like a class and more like a fun group video call. Also, the people who attend virtual club events are also there to meet new people, and once you find the right organization for you, it will feel like you’re hanging out with a large group of friends. 

Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

Teleparty (formerly known as Netflix Party)- Like most friend groups, my friends and I love watching movies and shows together as a way to bond or just to relax after a hard week. Quarantine may have prevented us from having physical get-togethers, but it hasn’t stopped us from having virtual ones. Teleparty is an extension that synchronizes video playback so we can easily watch a movie together. It’s completely free, and while it does lack a video call function, that can be solved simply using a separate video calling platform (such as Facetime or Zoom) to chat in real-time while watching the movie. It can support Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and HBO, so there’s plenty of options available no matter what streaming platform you prefer.

Discord– If you have a large group of friends and struggle to keep all of your group chats organized, this might be the platform for you. Each ‘server’ is organized into ‘channels,’ which allow different conversation topics to be separated. Anyone can create a server, and since a server can only be joined via invite, it can be as private or as public as you want it to be. There is a small learning curve if you’re not used to the layout, but it’s relatively intuitive once you get the hang of it. My favorite part about it is that texting, voice chatting, and video calling is all on one interface, allowing users to easily switch between them with just a few clicks.

Schedule Video Calls– While staying connected is easier than ever, it can also make it harder to actually keep in touch. Reaching out is only a few taps away, but because it’s so accessible, it can be easy to push it off. Before you know it, it’s been months since you’ve had a genuine conversation with the people you care about. Scheduling video calls as you would a regular outing helps carve out space in your busy schedules to sit down and take a minute to catch up. It might seem a little awkward to set up something as simple as a video call, but I can promise you, having it marked into your calendar makes a world of difference. 

Photo by Kate Macate on Unsplash

Send Some Snail Mail– Lastly, if you’re looking for a break from being connected to the internet all day, try writing a physical letter and mailing it to your friends. Receiving a package you ordered online is always something to look forward to, but receiving mail you weren’t expecting is an even better surprise. It’s a more old-fashioned method of staying in touch and definitely a lot slower than shooting someone a simple text, but that only adds to the charm of it, and I can guarantee it’ll brighten the rest of the recipient’s week. 

There are many other ways to stay connected while staying at home, but these five have been my favorite. Wherever you are in the world, I hope these tips can help you feel closer to your loved ones, or at the very least, remind you to reach out and reconnect with friends you might not have spoken to in a while. Best of luck, and let’s all do our part to get through this together. 

DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTIES

By Sarah Selke

When I was younger, I used to hate waking up early to go to school. When my alarm went off, I would try to stay under my covers for as long as I could, but eventually had to rise since every second I lingered in bed was another second wasted. When I wake up now, time is no longer measured in seconds but in weeks. The days fade into one another much the same way we drift into sleep at night. I’m simultaneously surprised by how much time has passed and how little it has in the scope of a season. Perhaps time has always been an erroneous concept, however — we don’t recall things systematically but as asynchronous scenes. We measure things in befores and afters, and perhaps this is the only way we can differentiate the important from the trivial. 

The pandemic is one of those divisive events that exacerbates the arbitrariness of the units we give time. And this is how I say farewell? I ask myself when contemplating the possibility of never returning to campus as a student. Except, to a certain extent, I never did feel as if I had found a home on the grounds that I walked on a near daily basis before. As someone who commuted to USC and therefore didn’t live near campus, it was the bus rides to campus that were the strongest familiarity to me – the only constant from semester to semester.

Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

In the face of the future’s uncertainty, I’m reminded of the concept of negative capability. According to the concept’s founder, the English writer John Keats, negative capability is when we are capable of living in doubt and uncertainty without reaching out to facts or reason to justify the actions we take. It’s a mode of thinking that can apply to every stage in one’s life, but especially in moments of transition. You may not be sure of exactly where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing in a few years, but it’s important not to let the unknown intimidate you into avoiding any exploration. After all, many students do not follow a linear path towards a specific career. I’ve had my fair share of doubts and switched plans and come to realize that cutting possibilities out before even trying them is never beneficial. At the same time, I’ve realized that it’s important not to do anything halfway, which can often happen when juggling too many goals at once.

Ultimately, there is no constancy in our lives because nothing ever happens exactly as we expect it to. While I often see every transition as a farewell to something I used to take for granted, I know that ruminating on the past does not lead me anywhere. If you have been struggling with doubts and lack of motivation, I encourage you to set small, tangible goals that may not be inherently useful but once completed will make you feel as if you have accomplished something. I also find channeling any anxieties I have into art – especially music and writing – to be somewhat consoling. If you find yourself fatigued from working too long at a specific task, I highly recommend taking a break to work on something creative to help prevent burnout.

ONLINE FUN DURING THE PANDEMIC

By Rachel Priebe

It goes without saying that the pandemic has been difficult for most of us. With events canceled, online school, and the future being unpredictable, loneliness and stress are feelings shared by most. Fortunately, online events can help give us an escape from boredom, a place to build community, and the opportunity to learn new skills. While USC has many great online events, I’ve also found some other sources that provide a variety of unique activities.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash
Continue reading USC Student voices on connecting in uncertain times

Goal Setting During a Virtual Semester

By Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When I first learned that the fall semester at USC would be largely conducted online, I was disappointed and confused. I couldn’t stop thinking about my future plans and goals, and how this would be a major obstacle in my life and happiness. But as time passed, I began to realize that my personal concerns, although valid, did not consider the fact that everyone is experiencing problems similar to mine, all around the world. Adapting to a new way of taking class and working in the fall will surely be a struggle for many, and I have compiled a couple of tips to help keep perspective and stay focused during this unusual semester.

1. Wake up at a consistent time in the morning
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Managing your own schedule at home can be challenging, especially for those (like me) who aren’t morning people. However, disciplining yourself by making a daily routine can make you a lot more productive throughout the day. If your earliest online class is at 10:00, for example, set your alarm for 9:00, and wake up at that time every day (even the days where you don’t have class until later). If you maintain a consistent morning routine, you can use that time in the morning to prepare yourself for your day or just work on assignments when you don’t have morning classes. Even though it can be hard to force yourself to keep a consistent sleep schedule, without on campus life and social activities, it should be easier to go to bed at a set time every night.

2. Take breaks from looking at a screen
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

With classes and activities being primarily virtual this semester, it can get exhausting staring at a screen for so many hours in the day, and the blue light exposure can interfere with your sleep. Block out time in your day where you are doing things that don’t involve looking at a screen, and when you do those things, leave your phone or laptop in another room. Some examples are taking a walk, spending time talking to family or friends you are quarantining with, cooking, or reading. If you have a lot of homework, try to find alternative ways to work, such as taking your work outside or printing out articles or materials you have to read instead of reading them on your computer. 

3. Make time to talk with friends 
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If you are quarantining in the fall semester and have little to no time to socialize in person with your friends, you may start to feel lonely and isolated. This can lead you to spend more time on social media or texting friends, which can make you stressed because it takes away from class and work time. The best way to curb those feelings of loneliness is to schedule a regular time to talk to your friends. You could schedule a weekly Zoom call with a group of friends, or plan to call a friend one-on-one at a certain time every week. 

It is understandable to feel stressed during this time, but keeping a positive outlook and working towards personal goals can greatly mitigate that stress. Adapting to change is never easy, but if you stay on track in your life and in your work you will feel a sense of accomplishment and, by the time quarantine is over, may have succeeded in finishing some important projects or fulfilling certain goals. 

If you are in search of a guide to maintain your wellness and personal well-being, Mindful USC offers classes and guided meditations which are now occurring through Zoom: http://mindfuluscstg.wpengine.com

If you are in need of professional help, USC counseling services are available to all students: https://studenthealth.usc.edu/counseling/

Featured Image by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

Natalie Grace Sipula is a rising sophomore studying Philosophy, Politics, and Law with a Spanish minor and plans to pursue a career in criminal or immigration law.  She is from Cleveland, OH and is a Presidential Scholar studying in Thematic Option. Natalie is an active member of Phi Alpha Delta (Director of Membership), QuestBridge Scholars (University Relations Chair), and Grupo Folklórico de USC. Growing up she was dedicated to theatre, including studying and performing at Cleveland Play House. She is a volunteer camp counselor with Mi Pueblo Culture Camp in Cleveland. Since arriving in Los Angeles she has enjoyed volunteering with Angel City Pit Bulls animal shelter and in her free time enjoys reading, writing, and going to the beach.

Fight ON!

By Jennifer Sung

The moment I stepped foot onto our campus, three things stood out in bright Cardinal and Gold colors: anticipation, ambition, and anxiety. From day one, freshmen students are dropped into a rabbit hole filled with many other competitive and goal-driven individuals who’ve come to college prepared and ready to foremost play hard and of course, study hard. However, amongst the crowd, I felt different about college. As a first generation Korean American, born and raised in Los Angeles, going to a prestige university was a privilege: a dream come true.

However, with no schooling experience in my familial background, I struggled a bit on knowing what I wanted from my college experience. My cultural background roots deeply within South Korean and Argentinian culture, for my parents were both born in South Korea but then immigrated to Argentina at elementary school age. As a lower-class family , my parents managed to support and care for me and my younger sister, pushing us to strive for more, even though we had so little. They always reminded us to FIGHT ON! Unlike the stereotypical Asian American household, where the motto is “To be a doctor or not to be a lawyer”, my parents were different. By giving us the freedom and the right amount of push a child needs to strive for her goals, my parents helped shape us into what we truly wanted to be.

So, college was the trial and error stage of my life– where I once was the puppet of the scene, I am now the puppeteer of my play. In freshmen year, the ambitious part of me wanted more friends, more attention, more academic success, and mostly more sleep. To live up to the motto to “FIGHT ON”, I strove to join many organizations and jobs to widen my options for the perfect community and lifestyle I yearned for. For example, I joined APASA PEER, CIRCLE, Asian American Tutorial Project, KCCC, AABA, Circle K International, and TAO, along with holding three jobs. By the mid point of my first semester, I had so many responsibilities, socials to attend, people to meet, and basically the “more” I was searching for. However, one evening, a depressing wave of realization swooped over me to acknowledge that I was still on base one. I sheepishly followed my peer group, joining organizations and becoming socially immersed in the people around me, without noticing my self, deteriorating and crippling in lack of self-love and respect. The anticipation of going to college heightened my need to be more ambitious and thus, pushed me to a state of discontent.

In my sophomore year, I cut out less important organizations and focused on organizations and jobs that I actually enjoy and are beneficial to my future aspirations. All my effort went into my academics, research for psychology, AATP (Asian American Tutorial Project), and CKI (Circle K International). Later that year, I was surrounded by the community that I was desperately in search for. Instead of actively and aimlessly searching for a community of friends, I strived to find what my passion lied in: education, community service, and psychology.

Featured image from Wikipedia

Continue reading Fight ON!