Tag Archives: stress

USC Student Voices on Senior Year

By Veronica Sundin, Brianneth Rocha, Lauren Anderson, Sara Ta and Jasmine Zahedi

[16 minute read]

Editor’s Note

This year has been full of unusual circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the academic and professional trajectories of many people’s lives, and has put all of us in a position where we are apt to feel loneliness, confusion, and impatience. Time indoors and to ourselves, something which we once looked forward to as respite from a bustling life, has become the norm. What makes these circumstances particularly hard is the isolating effect they can have on us. College students in particular, going through a time when they feel they should be experiencing life to the fullest, feel the isolating effects of the pandemic. However, sometimes as college students we forget that we are not alone in this situation, and sometimes hearing the experiences of others can make us feel a bit better about the reality we are still learning to come to terms with. Below, five USC seniors share their thoughts on what it is like to be a senior in this time, and share tips on how to adjust and find solace.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

My Unusual Senior Year Experience at USC

By Veronica Sundin

As a transfer student from a small community college in Texas, I was so excited to experience everything USC and Los Angeles had to offer. First of all, I would be moving from a small town in East Texas of about 15,000 people to a huge city of nearly 4 million. On top of that, I had been attending community college for 3 years and I was excited and ready for the challenge I knew I would be thrown into in classes at USC. I grew up in this same area in Texas for most of my life, and though I knew I loved being in big cities, I hadn’t had the chance to live in one just yet. I was excited to experience the culture and scenery of Los Angeles, and to really kickstart my academic career at USC.

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

I transferred in the fall of 2019 and, probably unlike most students, I was excited for school to start. I couldn’t wait to see where my huge intro to IR lecture was going to be held, or to begin completing hard assignments for my classes. Attending USC was the academic and personal challenge I had been craving for most of my life, and certainly for the 3 years prior to coming to LA. I got involved with organizations and events on campus, started making friends in my classes, and began exploring all the parts of LA I had dreamed of visiting my whole life. Between going to Salsa nights hosted by USC Break On 2, the Salsa dance team on campus, attending tailgates, football games, and concerts on campus, and hiking up to the Hollywood sign, I was living a life I was happy with and was so ecstatic that I would be able to do it for another four semesters as I finished my degree at USC.

Of course, everyone’s plans changed when COVID-19 hit in the Spring of 2020. I remember packing up my suitcase to go back home to Texas and just wishing and hoping that I would be back on campus and in Los Angeles soon. Having to adapt to taking classes on Zoom and not being able to interact with my peers in person was really hard, especially as I did it from my childhood home in East Texas, when all I wanted to do was to enjoy the big city life that I had been craving for so long. I missed the California beaches, discovering all of the delicious food and culture around Los Angeles, getting coffee in the USC Village, and hanging out with my friends after class. Finishing up my first year at USC when I had only experienced very little of it on campus was very strange, and I knew in my heart that would probably be the reality of the rest of the time I attended USC.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As I started my senior year at USC, I was more familiar with how remote classes would work on Zoom, so at least I had that out of the way. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset when I realized that my one semester that I got on campus in the fall of 2019 at USC would most likely be all I ever got to experience in-person. Despite this, I was determined to make the most of my senior year at USC. I was still studying at an incredible university, with all of the tools and resources that I needed to be successful at my disposal, and now I had professors who were willing and eager to help their students out in any way they needed. I found that my professors were a bit more understanding in knowing that their students were learning and doing their best under very strange circumstances. I joined more organizations on campus and around LA, such as CALPIRG (the California Public Interest Research Group), and got more involved at ALI (which I have loved and have been very thankful for!) Despite all odds, I still wanted to make my senior year as memorable and fun as possible. Although it’s not quite the year I wanted to have, I am so thankful for the opportunities that I did have while on campus at USC. This experience has taught me, above all else, to cherish every moment you have where you are. Don’t wish your time away or worry too much about the future, because you never know if you’re going to get to re-live what you’re experiencing right now!

USC: An Experience Like No Other

By Brianneth Rocha

My time at USC has been the most rewarding, challenging, and exciting period of my academic career. I have been a Trojan for three years now, and it feels like just yesterday I was moving onto campus for the Summer Bridge Program. My senior year experience is a bit unlike that of my peers, as my time at USC will not be ending this spring in the midst of the pandemic. I, like many students, didn’t start college with my current major. I was a pre-med student majoring in Health and Human Sciences, and I later added Environmental Studies as a second major to fuel my interest in the environment. Soon after, I realized that I wanted to leave my impact on the world by strengthening environmental conservation. During the fall semester of my sophomore year I began to research graduate programs, and learned that USC has progressive degree programs. I was accepted into the progressive degree program the next semester, and I am now extending my time at USC to pursue an MA in Environmental Studies. However, I still can’t believe how little time I have left, and I am unsure if an opportunity like this would have presented itself the way it did at another university.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This past year didn’t go as I expected. A cliché, I know, but there is no better way to describe it. Who would have foreseen that college students would go through multiple semesters of online courses? Navigating the world of Zoom was an initial challenge, but one which has allowed me to explore many new talents, projects, and reflect on my life, but I’ll be honest—while I have learned a lot by reflecting on everything that happened in 2020, it took me many months to reach that state. The first month of quarantine felt like a much-needed vacation, but that quickly changed. Being someone that enjoys the outdoors, I developed strong symptoms of cabin fever. I felt anxious, claustrophobic, unmotivated, and impatient. Since all my summer plans were canceled, I had nothing to keep my mind busy, making it hard for me to escape the feelings. I think my main problem was that I had the wrong mindset at the time. I kept seeing the situation as; “I am stuck at home” rather than “I have the opportunity to focus on myself”. But with changes to my daily routine, I found the right attitude to become a better homebody. It helped to take up hobbies and small projects. I believe it is important to openly discuss these challenges because I know I wasn’t alone.

The essential tool I’ve gained in adapting to online learning is keeping an organized schedule. While in some ways not having to get ready and walk to class is a blessing, not having that structure can make it difficult to find motivation. To get out of a rut, I created a routine to give my life a stronger sense of productivity. Most days I wake up around 7:30 AM and get ready for the day as if I had to go to morning classes (even though I only have afternoon and evening classes). Dressing up to “go to school” can simply mean switching into another set of sweatpants and a hoodie. Then, I have breakfast to start my day on a good note. For anyone dealing with a lack of energy, I recommend starting a realistic workout schedule. I do emphasize the “realistic” part of it. A workout schedule is something to build up to if you want to be successful. I turn on an audiobook to do something I enjoy (read) while getting some much-needed exercise. Another challenge of online courses is the exhaustion that comes with being on camera. This semester I have found it helpful taking brief breaks from being on video throughout lectures. It allows me to stretch and relax a bit. I also purchased a monitor to improve my study space. When people say once you get a monitor you don’t want to go back, they are right. This semester, I have a remote internship in addition to all my long online courses, and having a monitor has completely changed the game; back and neck pain are now problems of the past. While online classes make networking and getting to know peers feel less personal, having access to recorded meetings has made keeping up with info sessions and workshops better suited for any schedule. In the past, being someone that always scheduled classes from morning to afternoon, I had to miss many events that I wanted to attend, and now I don’t have to!

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Although the pandemic has made the college experience less enjoyable in some respects, it is only a small part of my experience at USC, and it doesn’t taint the many positive experiences I have had. USC prides itself on inclusivity and diversity; something I have experienced myself. I am a first-generation student of Mexican heritage with a visual impairment. There have been many obstacles throughout my education, but I have always been able to overcome them by remaining determined and true to myself. I have found great support at USC. In searching for the right university for me, I looked for a campus that acknowledged the diversity of their students, whether it was through their courses, programs, clubs, advisors, etc. I have always found faculty and peers to be respectful of the accommodations I receive. Professors that I have had have always been knowledgeable about the issues facing minority communities; something which I deeply value, and makes engaging in my education so much more rewarding. USC has prepared me to ask the difficult questions and take initiative to achieve the change I want to happen.

For some final words of advice, I would say remember to stop and live in the moment. Undergrad, like high school, will fly by. While focusing on giving my classes maximum effort, sometimes I forgot that my life shouldn’t be all about school; it is about strengthening my relationships and exploring my interests. When it comes to having a difficult time with a course, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Professors make assignments challenging to make students think and open their minds to new perspectives, not to make you fail. USC has many resources to aid students through difficult classes and establish productive habits. I am thankful for my time at USC thus far and look forward to the time I have left. And remember once a student at USC, you are always part of the Trojan family. Fight on!

A Brief Guide to Combatting Senioritis

By Lauren Anderson

After working so hard for so long, it is only natural to be exhausted by the time senior year rolls around. Sometimes this exhaustion is reflected in lower levels of motivation and an overly relaxed mindset. Senioritis is a term used to describe this lack of motivation that occurs in your last year of college. After all, senior year is a time to relax and take a break, right? Well, there are still exams, essays, and assignments that must be completed before you are able to graduate. To combat these low levels of motivation, here is a guide to balancing your school life and personal life while suffering from some of the common symptoms of senioritis.

Take easy classes

Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash

It’s your last year of school; hopefully, you got all of those difficult courses out of the way earlier on so you could take it easy for your last semester. Even loading your schedule with a bunch of electives can turn out to be stressful, so try to take classes that do not require a lot of energy if you feel yourself losing motivation. Of course, everyone has a different idea of what an “easy” class is. If you are one to skip class, do not take courses that require attendance. If you are one to avoid studying for exams, try to pick classes that have fewer exams over the semester. If you hate essays, do not take courses that have multiple essays and writing assignments. If you do not like doing readings, pick a course that has lighter readings and does not require expensive textbooks. You know yourself as a student by now. Make your life easier by looking into syllabi before committing to classes.   

Keep yourself busy

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

When you give yourself an abundance of time to relax, this often makes it way more difficult to complete schoolwork. If after class you immediately turn on Netflix, you will find that the assignment you have looming over you is not going to finish itself by its deadline. The best way to combat this is to stay a little bit busy. If you have a part-time job, for instance, you may use the gap you have after class and before work to get that assignment done or study for an exam. Also, if you have to balance a schedule, you will likely check your schedule more often and stay on top of deadlines. This helps create healthy habits to keep powering through.

Change up your study setting

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

By the time senior year rolls around, endless nights studying in the same place can get old. A good way to feel more motivated to get work done is to try out a new study setting. There are plenty of cafes and coffee shops in Los Angeles that are quiet and peaceful to study in, and this could be a good way to explore the city more before graduating (while staying socially distanced, of course!). Studying outside is a great alternative during quarantine, especially because you can get some fresh air and remain distant from others.

Continue reading USC Student Voices on Senior Year

Managing Stress in College

By Cheryl Mota

College can get overwhelming at times with homework, exams, classes, work, and balancing a social life, which can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Stress in college is often overlooked as non-existent and unimportant but in reality stress affects most students during at least one point in their college studies. 

Although not all forms of stress are bad, it’s important to find ways to help manage and control it at a healthy level. Little changes you make in your life can help improve your mental health, it’s important to change your routine and not be stuck in the same negative mindset every day.

I always find it helpful when I plan out my day and write down every important task I need to complete that day, that way I am able complete it on time and not stress out about it in the future. I also try to stay off technology as much as I can, in order to focus on completing my work and not procrastinate, this has helped me tremendously in preventing unnecessary stress.

Aside from planning and staying off technology, a great way to help create a healthier routine in your life is to go outside and explore nature. I always find it relaxing when I go out for walks or runs every morning especially when I go out on hikes and focus on the beauty and peacefulness of nature rather than on my stressors. Exercising is also a great way to help alleviate stress, even exercising for just 10 minutes every day can help bring your stress levels down. 

Take advantage of on campus workshops and support groups that USC offers to its students. For example, USC’s Engemann Student Health Center offers various workshops and support groups led by counseling service staff that are tailored towards student’s specific needs. Ranging from calming anxiety, mindful well-being, social confidence, and of course stress management. The workshops are made to help USC students learn new skills and approaches to improve or manage their stress and adversities. I can personally say that the workshops and counseling that the Engemann Student Health Center offers has helped me better manage and my stress and problems. 

Most importantly, you are not alone! Don’t ever feel that you are the only one going through stress. It’s important to remember that there are various forms of resources and support available to you, whether it is through USC, your family, or even nature, you should always take advantage of the options available to you in order to help manage and prevent stress.

Featured image by JESHOOTS on Unsplash

Cheryl is a senior studying Political Economy with a minor in Forensics and Criminality. She is a Mexican American from Oxnard, California, in addition to being fluent in English and Spanish she loves to learn new languages and experience different cultures. Cheryl enjoys baking, spending time with her dogs, and meeting new people.

How to De-Stress During Midterm Season

By Hannah Hunt

Now that the first few weeks of school are behind us, we’re headed into everybody’s (least) favorite time of the year: midterm season. When exams and projects start building up, it can be hard not to wallow in stress. However, working yourself up too much over midterms is detrimental to your mental and physical health (and often doesn’t help your performance, either). Here are some of my best tips on how to de-stress around exam time and to keep you feeling your best!

  1. Go outside

A little bit of sunshine and fresh air can really do wonders for your stress levels, and there are some amazing spots around the USC campus where you can relax and forget about your exams. For example, the Exposition Park Rose Garden is a hidden gem just right across the street from campus– all the colorful roses and sparkling fountains make it a perfect place to stroll or read a book

2.   Get some food

When you feel the work piling on, comfort food is what you need. No matter what your favorite cuisine is or what you’re craving, you’re bound to have plenty of options in Los Angeles! There are some really yummy restaurants on campus, like Seeds in campus center or CAVA in the Village, but don’t be afraid to go off campus for a special treat either– Salt and Straw ice cream in Santa Monica is a favorite!

3.  Go on an adventure

If you’re worried about exams, sometimes getting off campus is the best thing to do. Think about the places that make you happy or get you excited: maybe it’s the beach, a museum, or a theater. If you don’t know where you want to go, just turn to the Internet to see if you can find something interesting going on that you want to try out (in Los Angeles, you can always find something!). Spontaneous “field trips” are great to take your mind off your stress, and giving yourself some time off campus gives you a fresh perspective when you do return back to school.

4. Talk to people

Even though sometimes all you want to do is be by yourself, when you start to feel stressed that’s actually a great time to hang out with friends. Surrounding yourself with friends will remind you that you’re not alone, and is guaranteed to leave you feeling better than you would if you just holed yourself up in your room. Ask a friend to grab coffee, or to do a fun activity with you– chances are they’ll be just as grateful for the opportunity to take a break from studying!

5. Make a schedule

It’s important to take your mind off your studies occasionally, but sometimes (especially as ambitious USC students) stress just won’t go away until your work is finished. To help speed up that process, try making “to-do” lists or schedules where you prioritize assignments and space out blocks of time to work on them throughout the day. The schedule will keep you organized, as it’s harder to procrastinate when you’ve already blocked out what you want to work on — this intentional use of time will help you feel productive, so at least you can end each day feeling a little more accomplished. Of course, be sure to schedule in breaks and time to decompress, so you keep your mind fresh!

Featured image by Espacio Mas Instante on Unsplash

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