Tag Archives: train

A Scenic View from The Train

By Chirsten Vanderbilt

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Prior to Covid, I had the wonderful experience of taking a train ride from Los Angeles to Dallas. Although my train ride only took two days, it was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. On my journey, I traveled through the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. As it turns out, train rides are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the views of the countryside and I had an amazing time.

While the train ride was great, the reasoning behind taking it wasn’t quite as fun. During the last week of spring finals, I suffered a collapsed lung. I was hospitalized for three days and unable to travel by airplane for six months. When it came time to head back to Texas for the summer break, my only possible mode of transportation was by train. Needless to say, it was a difficult and emotional time for me and my family, and I am so grateful to have had a healthy recovery. I also know that if it had not for this injury, I wouldn’t have taken this incredible two-day sightseeing adventure.

My mom and I began our trip at the very busy Union Station in Los Angeles. It is the main railway station in the city and is about twenty minutes away from the USC campus. USC even provides transportation to and from Union Station! My mom and I traveled on an Amtrak train, and some of the amenities included sleep cars, three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and a sight decka window-filled area where passengers can sit comfortably while taking in the view. 

chirsten-texas
One of the sites I observed while sitting on the sight deck traveling through Texas

Passengers also had the opportunity to stretch their legs and explore the destination stops as they came up. One of my favorite stops was Tucson, Arizona. It might have even been my favorite travel destination of the entire trip. Like Los Angeles, Tucson has a laid-back, youthful vibe and has an array of shops and restaurants. The climate is also very hot and dry. On this particular day, we were unexpectedly interrupted by a thunderstorm.

After Tucson, Arizona, the train passed through New Mexico to El Paso, Texas. Texas is a huge state and it took a whole day to travel through it. The various train stops in the state included: El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth. One of the most interesting things that we came across was the U.S- Mexico border. The city of El Paso is located on the border with Mexico, and because of this, I was able to see the actual border between U.S and Mexico, something which I had never seen before. I found it so interesting that most gas stations and car shops in this area had signs translated into Spanish.

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Exploring Los Angeles on a Budget

By Caroline Donat

As a Trojan who is not an LA native, I have a desire to make Los Angeles “my city,” one that I love, inhabit, and know like the back of my hand. I find that I need to travel outside of the University Park area in order to really understand the dynamics of the city. It is challenging to get the feel of LA without your own car, and a longboard can only take you so far. Often, it is hard to justify exploring as it can seem like the only thing you can do is buy food or go shopping, required money that you don’t have. However, with planning, it is actually viable to get out and about while having a cheap or free adventure, no car required.

Santa Monica

Photo from Pixabay

One of the most popular Trojan weekend getaways, Santa Monica beach, pier, and Third Street Promenade can be reached in 45 minutes by the Expo Metro Line, which conveniently has a station right outside of campus. Swim and chill on the beach, take a walk down the pier to watch the sea and ride ferris wheel, and go window shopping or coffee-drinking around the Promenade. You might even get to catch a show from street performers. Better yet, if you venture out on Sundays between 4pm to 9pm., you can salsa dance in the middle of 3rd Street (between Wilshire Bl. and Arizona to dance)!

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Travel (both ways): Metro, 1.5h

Total Cost: $3.50

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The Triumph of Navigating a New Bus System

By Rachel Essel

When I studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia, the only way for me to get around besides walking was public transportation. If you’re not familiar with St. Petersburg’s geography, the city consists mostly of two main islands and sections of mainland and I lived on one of the islands with my host family. Due to the nearest metro stop to me being closed for remodeling, I had to take mostly buses and trams everywhere which made things a lot more complicated.

The first day of school my host mom actually took me there, and we left while it was still dark out to get on a tram, to go to the next closest metro stop to meet my fellow students where a bus would take us the rest of the way to school. It was so confusing and took so long and then my host mom drops this bomb on me: I won’t actually be taking that route to school, that was just to meet at the correct metro stop the first day. So at the end of the day my host mom takes me out to where I will catch a bus that will take me all the way to school the next morning.

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