When I first stepped onto the USC campus, I wasn’t excited, I wasn’t optimistic, I was scared. I worried about how I was going to make friends in this big campus full of people I didn’t know. I worried how I would survive without my childhood friends that had been by my side since I was five years old. I was nervous about living on my own and leaving my comfort zone and the town where I had built my identity.
In hindsight, all these fears were unfounded because I soon found out that USC is a family. I don’t know if it is our incredible support from our alumni, our mutual dislike for UCLA, our undying support our football team, or in a common suffering in our academic studies, but there is an undeniable bond that unites us all together as USC students. No matter what club or organization you belong to, you are apart of something bigger here at USC, it’s just something in the air.
“What a shot, yaar! SHABASH!” The batting team roars with excitement, cheering on the teammate who just successfully smashed our taped tennis ball outside of Cromwell and into Brittingham Field. Another six runs are added to the score. Immediately, I check my camera and scroll through the photos to make sure I got a good shot of the small white ball whirling past the bleachers; content, I kneel back down in the dugout and poise myself for another set of cricketing clicks. This is the focus of my life for the next six hours: it’s Friday Night Lights, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
In fact, this is my life every Friday night. From 6:00pm until midnight, I trek from my nearby apartment to the Cromwell Track and Field Stadium to manage our Trojan Cricket Club’s Cromwell Premier League (CPL) tournament and photograph our players. Now as the acting club President, it’s amazing to believe that just over a year ago I couldn’t even describe the rules of cricket, let alone partake in this fun, competitive pastime.
I owe that to USC.
Given that USC has the highest percentage of international students enrolled in the world, it’s no surprise that some of the first friends I met here came from countries far outside the U.S. In my freshman year, the International Residential College toured me around Chinatown for the Mid-Autumn Festival, where I tried my first moon cake (red bean is definitely the best!) and ogled over traditional dragon dances. My Kenyan choir friend taught me how to play the congas after a rehearsal session at the Caruso Catholic Center. And the Indian graduate students who worked in our dining hall introduced me to cricket.
There were a couple murmurs, but no one raised their voice. It was a warm August night, way too warm for the 50 or so of us to be learning a hip hop dance on the third floor of a parking structure and yet, there we were. With sweat dripping down everyone’s faces, everyone seemed focused on learning the audition piece, but no one seemed particularly frustrated. Everyone except for me, that is.
Brows furrowed and lips pursed in irritation, I probably did not look approachable by any means. I had danced all throughout high school, even performing at pep rallies in front of hundreds of students, but, at the time of this audition, I hadn’t danced for two years and it was hitting me pretty hard that my skills had turned rusty. Even though it was the first of three audition days for USC’s competitive dance team, Chaotic 3, and we had two more days to practice the dance before the actual audition, my heart sank as unflagging doubt seized and took over my initial hopes of making the team.
I contemplated not going through with the final audition. I discussed it with multiple people, complaining about how hard the piece was, and voicing my doubts. However, something told me not to give up that easily. I was a transfer student who fought for my admission to USC and I was determined to make the most of my two years as a Trojan. In my head, I imagined myself being on a USC dance team and I knew that I would hate myself forever if I didn’t at least try. So for the next two days, I practiced the dance feverishly, watched the video of the choreographer a million times, and performed it in front of any and every mirror that I came upon. I wanted to impress the team more than ever. Continue reading “And 1, 2, 3, and 4. Any questions?”→
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