USC is Your Oyster

By Hamza Mirza

As international students, we are always worried about not fitting in, not finding the right group of friends and all the other concerns that come with being far away from home. I’m from Pakistan –a country that is a 21 hour journey, and sometimes more, by plane. Many of you who live in Asia or South Asia would understand how difficult and expensive it is to make that journey. But one thing that has really helped me adjust to this new environment is trying to find interesting ways to find your place at the University of Southern California (USC).

I am going to use this blog to tell you what you can do to make yourself at home in this beautiful city. You should always know that you are never going to be alone. As per Fall 2018, there were 11,308 international students enrolled at USC and they’re all in the same boat as you and me. We all miss the food at home, we miss being with our families and celebrating exciting holidays like Thanksgiving or the Chinese New Year and we miss our friends that we have grown up with. So my first tip to you is to keep an open mind, put a brave face on and take this as a challenge. While doing this, it is important that you be yourself.

You will find people who will be in awe of your diversity and they’ll be curious about your culture and your life back home, you will find people who you gel with perfectly and also some who you won’t gel with at all. But you’ll only really find a close group of friends if you put yourself out there.

This brings me to my second tip, embrace any and every opportunity you will get during your college experience. There are hundreds of organizations on campus and I can guarantee that you will find your place at one of them. From academic organizations to cultural organizations to fraternities and sororities, USC has everything. Do you miss home? Then join your country’s organization at USC. For instance, I joined the Pakistani Students Association and going to their meetings makes me feel like I’m at home for that short while. Joining organizations on campus will not only help you meet new people but it will help mold your personality into one ready to tackle the outside world once you graduate.

My third tip is to explore Los Angeles. One thing I’ve realized is that the city doesn’t have one ‘vibe’ to it. There’s a different ‘vibe’ everywhere you go and in my opinion, that’s the beauty of Los Angeles. Some places I would advise you to go are the Arts District (there’s a Farmer’s Market on some days and free pop up exhibits that you can enjoy), the hike to the Culver City stairs is magnificent and a few of my friends have done that at dawn to see the sun rise, which I would highly recommend. My favorite place is the Santa Monica Pier and beach only because it is easily accessible and has everything you need. Lastly, explore the coffee shops around the area, which is my personal favorite – some of them are great study spots . I really hope these tips help you embark on your special and unique journey here at the University of Southern California. Fight On!

Featured image by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

Hamza graduated from USC with a degree in Economics from the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan and was an international student himself. He was experienced in finding ways to fit into the environment at USC (which could be overwhelming at times). He used a lot of his free time over winter break and his semesters to meet with students and pass on the skills he has learned. While as a student, Hamza loved watching television shows and exploring new parts of Los Angeles. His favorite thing to do was to discover new restaurants and cafes near USC and around LA, because who doesn’t?