Tag Archives: watch party

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

TV To Watch Over Winter Break

By Tanya Chen

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Quarantine has been extremely difficult. The days seem to pass by slowly and they each feel like an endless, repetitive loop. During quarantine, I have picked up a few hobbies out of boredom. Some of these new ventures include making Dalgona coffee, baking banana bread, and learning Photoshop. As these hobbies have come and go, there is one hobby that has stayed consistent throughout the past six months: watching Netflix. In this article, I will recommend three shows that I think international students will enjoy watching and learning from. We can all watch TV shows to relax during this time, and with winter break fast approaching, I highly recommend all of these!

Criminal Minds (Genre: Mystery/Suspense; Seasons: 15; Episode Length: 40 minutes)

Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash

Criminal Minds is an extremely addictive crime show. The show follows a team of FBI agents who work in the Behavioral Analysis Unit as profilers. FBI profilers are law enforcement agents who use psychology to study and investigate who the suspects behind crimes are and what motivates them. It is interesting to watch the team travel across all over the US and study a criminal’s behavior. The 40-minute episodes are always filled with twists and turns that keep the audience on their feet. However, many of these episodes are very heavy and intense, so it is good for those who get scared easily to watch this show with a friend. Criminal Minds is a great show for international students because it introduces them to many different parts of the US and teaches them about the cultures, customs, and dialects that are popular in all the different states and cities. From tracking a killer in Miami, Florida to following robbers in rural Montana, Criminal Minds is a great introduction to varying social climates of the many states in the US.

Emily in Paris (Genre: Romantic Comedy; Seasons: 1; Episode Length: 20 minutes)

Photo by Nil Castellví on Unsplash

After watching too many scary episodes of Criminal Minds, I was lucky enough to discover a show that’s a bit more light-hearted and fun: Emily in Paris. This newly released show follows the adventures of Emily, a young marketing agent from Chicago, as she travels to Europe for a new job. The audience is able to watch her learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and get acclimated to the people around her. The episodes are extremely funny and beautifully shot. I enjoyed being able to vicariously live through Emily as she explored the beautiful city of Paris. Since there are only 10 episodes, this show was extremely easy to binge and I was able to finish it in one sitting. I would recommend this show to any international student because the show does a great job of documenting how a young adult is adjusting to living in a new country, making friends, and learning a new language.

Continue reading TV To Watch Over Winter Break

8 Classic Halloween Movies to Watch to Celebrate Halloween in Quarantine

By Veronica Sundin

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4½ minute read]

Whether you like Halloween for the candy, the costumes, or the creepiness, it feels as though the entire month of October is appropriate for Halloween festivities. A great way to unwind from classes or midterms and to have fun while you’re at home is to watch movies! Here is a list of 8 classic Halloween movies to entertain you throughout the month of October. With scarier movies for those who like a thrill, and ones less scary for those who are just looking to enjoy the festive spirit of Halloween, there is sure to be a movie on the list that you enjoy! Watching any of these movies is also a great way to become familiar with American traditions surrounding Halloween.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
  • Casper

“Casper is a kind young ghost who peacefully haunts a mansion in Maine. When specialist James Harvey arrives to communicate with Casper and his fellow spirits, he brings along his teenage daughter, Kat. Casper quickly falls in love with Kat, but their budding relationship is complicated not only by his transparent state, but also by his troublemaking apparition uncles and their mischievous antics.” (Fandango: https://www.fandango.com/casper-2591/plot-summary)

This movie is a classic kid favorite for Halloween! It’s super silly and follows the misadventures of Casper and his ghost friends. Casper is such a popular and well-known movie that people reference the character all the time! If your friend looks scared, like they have just seen a ghost, you can jokingly ask them, “Did you just see Casper?” Alternatively, if something spooky happens to you and you want to make light of the situation, you can say, “There goes Casper playing tricks on me!”

  • The Night Before Christmas

“The film follows the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s beloved pumpkin king, who has become bored with the same annual routine of frightening people in the “real world.” When Jack accidentally stumbles on Christmastown, all bright colors and warm spirits, he gets a new lease on life — he plots to bring Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and taking over the role. But Jack soon discovers even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go seriously awry.” (https://www.fandango.com/tim-burtons-the-nightmare-before-christmas-1993-99500/plot-summary)

This is another classic Halloween movie. Perhaps you already know who Jack Skellington is and have seen him on T-shirts or on the Internet. This movie is so popular that people also tend to watch it outside of the month of October, and it has even become somewhat of a more classic Christmas movie in recent years!

Photo by Zach Kadolph on Unsplash
  • Hocus Pocus

“After moving to Salem, Massachusetts, teenager Max Dennison explores an abandoned house with his sister Dani and their new friend, Allison. After dismissing a story Allison tells as superstitious, Max accidentally frees a coven of evil witches who used to live in the house. Now, with the help of a magical cat, the kids must steal the witches’ book of spells to stop them from becoming immortal.” (https://www.fandango.com/hocus-pocus-100603/plot-summary)

Almost every child who grew up watching Disney Channel has seen this movie. It was one of my favorite movies to watch on Halloween as a kid, and it still is today! It has songs, jokes, and adventure all packed into one movie. There are a few classic Halloween symbols in the movie, one of which is a black cat (thought to bring bad luck). Can you find other Halloween symbols as you watch it?

  • Halloweentown

“Marnie and her siblings get a big shock when they follow their grandma home to Halloweentown – and find out they come from a family of witches. The town is the only place where supernatural beings can lead a ‘normal’ life, but trouble is looming, and on her 13th birthday Marnie not only finds she is a witch, but that she and her family are involved in a fight against the evil that is threatening to take over the world.” (https://calendar.gwu.edu/films-field-halloweentown)

This movie is another Halloween Disney Channel classic. It is more on the silly side, but that doesn’t keep it from being a enjoyable for all audience members! Witches are said to possess powers and abilities that they are unable to explain in their childhood until they find out that they are witches, and this is exactly what happens to Marnie in the movie. A great, heartwarming watch that is sure to keep you entertained.

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash
  • The Craft

“After transferring to a Los Angeles high school, Sarah finds that her telekinetic gift appeals to a group of three wannabe witches, who happen to be seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Bonnie, Rochelle and Nancy, like Sarah herself, all have troubled backgrounds, which combined with their nascent powers lead to dangerous consequences. When a minor spell causes a fellow student to lose her hair, the girls grow power-mad.” (https://www.fandango.com/the-craft-2494/plot-summary)

While most of these movies take place on the East Coast, The Craft is a movie that takes place in Los Angeles, so there isn’t a more perfect movie to watch if you are on or near campus on Halloween! This movie explores more witchcraft and magic than the others, but it’s still funny and follows the lives of teenage girls in high school. Don’t let the spells spook you – this movie also has a great message! 

  • Ghostbusters (1984 version)

“After the members of a team of scientists lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they decide to become “ghostbusters” to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for money. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, a doorway that will release evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters must now save New York from complete destruction.” (https://www.scadshow.com/content/scad-cinema-circle-ghostbusters)

What’s more iconic than Ghostbusters? This movie is definitely a classic in American culture and will appeal to all sci-fi lovers. One of the scenes features a Twinkie, a classic American snack cake that is referenced in pop culture and movies all the time!

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  • Edward Scissorhands

“A scientist builds an animated human being — the gentle Edward. The scientist dies before he can finish assembling Edward, though, leaving the young man with a freakish appearance accentuated by the scissor blades he has instead of hands. Loving suburban saleswoman Peg discovers Edward and takes him home, where he falls for Peg’s teen daughter. However, despite his kindness and artistic talent, Edward’s hands make him an outcast.” (https://www.fandango.com/edward-scissorhands-2668/plot-summary)

If you love Johnny Depp, chances are you might have already seen this movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you are in for a treat! Much like the famous Halloween monster Frankenstein, Edward Scissorhands is built in a laboratory, but he experiences human emotions and forms relationships with people around him. This movie is great for those who want a romantic movie with a Halloween twist!

Continue reading 8 Classic Halloween Movies to Watch to Celebrate Halloween in Quarantine