University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog

Jessica P

Get Involved

, by Jessica P

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Here at USC in addition to our amazing coursework and electives, we have so many opportunities to get involved. Many of our students are involved in professional and volunteer-based organizations. Figuring out what organizations may interest you can sometimes be overwhelming, so here is a summary of the organizations our OT students are so passionate about:

DiversOT is a student organization that is aimed at increasing cultural awareness of OT students, faculty and staff through sharing culture, traditions and experiences of diverse groups within the Chan Division.

Engage is the OT House’s community outreach program which fosters relationships between USC graduate students and our surrounding community. OT students volunteer by designing and participating in recreational activities for at-risk elementary school children.

Integrative Health Association (IHA) aims to provide opportunities for students to learn about methods and evidence in Integrative Health, the integration of complementary, alternative and conventional healing methods.

Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) consists of every student in the Chan Division and has an executive board of members who work diligently to represent all interests of the student body. They create opportunities for our students to engage in philanthropic learning opportunities, to attend talks surround practice areas of interest for professional development, as well as create a sense of community amongst the Chan Division.

This image shows members of OTSC volunteering.

Members of OTSC volunteering

OTs for OuTreach builds and strengthens the sense of community for LGBTQ students and allies by providing opportunities for social engagement and professional development. OTs for OuTreach members volunteer through developing programs and implementing engaging activities for diverse, marginalized and underserved populations. This organization has previously worked with the USC LGBT Resource Center, the Los Angeles LGBT Youth Center, and the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall.

Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE) is the national honor society for occupational therapy students and alumni. PTE at USC sponsors various events throughout the year to promote student scholarship, showcase student and faculty research and engage in interdisciplinary work.

The Pre-OT Club is open to all USC undergraduate students who are interested in learning more about the field of occupational therapy. The Pre-OT club hosts events such as visits to OT practice sites, opportunities to shadow practicing clinicians, networking opportunities, and advisement for the application process for the Entry-Level Master’s program.

This image shows members at a Pre-OT club meeting

Pre-OT Club members participating in a Q&A session with assistant director of admissions Amber Bennett

The USC Student-Run Clinic (SRC) delivers quality patient care to the underserved people of Los Angeles and enhances health professional education through an inter-professional, team-based approach to health care. Students from four professions (occupational therapy, medicine, pharmacy, and physician assistants) work together to assess, diagnose and optimize the patient’s health and lifestyle to suit their individualized needs.

Goeun

Time to be an International Student

, by Goeun

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I started the Post Professional Master’s program in August, but I came here in LA about one year ago (I was learning English in the USC International Academy). It’s been a while since I came here, but I remember how it was excited when you are admitted to USC, but at the same time, nervous and worried about leaving my own country, and become an international student. So, I’d like to give you some of my tips that can be helpful. Before I begin, I recommend you to be familiar with the USC Office of International Services and the USC Office of Graduate Admission websites as well as our Chan Division of Occupational Science an Occupational Therapy website as there are lots of information for international students.

1. Finding the best housing
First of all, we have OT house where our students can live together. Also, there are several options you can choose based on your preference, and the first thing you can think of is “University housing or not?” If you decide to live through university housing, check out the USC housing website to find appropriate housing for you. If you plan to live through non-university, you can find your housing with the USC Daily Trojan website or other outside resources. Also, there are options where you can live if you arrive earlier, the USC Office of International Services has some options for early arrivers.

In my own experience, I lived in university housing for 11 months, then I moved to non-university housing recently. What I liked about university housing most was accessibility to campus. I lived close to the International Academy, so I could walk to school. When it comes to non-university housing, I live in Korea town, so I need to take a metro and school shuttle to go to school, but I like living here because I can go to Korean restaurants or markets which I go often. Finding a housing is not an easy process, and it is slightly different depends on where you live.

2. What should I pack?
It is hard to say what to pack or not because it is totally up to you. But considering about living in LA, there are some things that you need to know. The weather in LA is mostly sunny and mild, so you may not wear winter clothes often although it’s quite cold at night (for me). Also, never forget to bring all your documents that are important (e.g. academic documents, I-20, health and immunization records).

3. Living in LA
Some of my classmates from the Post-Professional Master’s Program told me that one of the reasons they chose USC was the location, which I agree since there are so many things to explore. Yes, our school is located in LA, which means you can have a variety of experiences that you’ve never done in your own country. We have USC event calendar which you can see all the events. Also, you can simply find more information on other websites and explore what you want.

4. English
What I felt when I got my IELTS score was that I got enough score, so no need to study harder! However, if you are living in a non-English speaking country, and not used to using English, I do highly recommend you to keep using and practicing English because when it comes to language, even if you got a very high score on exam, when you stop using it, it will become harder to use it as before. Also, you need to adapt to school, lectures as well as new cultures, environments, and if you are comfortable using English, you’ll adapt faster.

Melissa

New School Year, New Home

, by Melissa

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I’ve recently made the move from Redondo Beach to Downtown LA in order to be closer to campus, and I couldn’t be happier. I never thought of myself as someone who could thrive in a bustling city, yet I find myself falling in love with the city more and more every day.  Aside from being closer to campus, I get to do a lot more walking, which has been great for both my physical and mental health, especially since life has become more sedentary sitting in class for most of the day. Whether I’m going to the grocery store, checking out a new restaurant, or visiting a museum, I try to get there on foot as often as I can. Not only am I burning some extra calories and releasing some much-needed endorphins (to counteract the stress from grad school), I’m also avoiding the notoriously awful LA traffic. No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win! 

Downtown LA has grown tremendously in the last decade, and I feel like I’m hearing about a hot new restaurant or bar that’s just opened up every week! I’m subscribed to Thrillist in Los Angeles, which sends me updates on all the new stuff going on in LA, including downtown. I highly recommend subscribing if you’re looking for fun new things to do!

Kaitlyn, who was one of the student ambassadors last year, made a terrific list of some of her favorite places to eat in all of LA and some were here in downtown! I wanted to go a bit more in depth and share some of my favorite places to eat, as well as some other great places to check out here in downtown and the surrounding area.

Restaurants
- Perch: this restaurant has some of the best views in downtown LA, the food is great, and the cocktails are amazing! An added perk is that the space itself is beautifully decorated and totally Insta-worthy. I love to go for brunch on a sunny weekend in LA.
- Preux & Proper: I just went to this place last weekend after having it on my list of places to check out for months, and I’ve got to say it didn’t disappoint. The dishes are family-style, so going with a group of friends is perfect! Like Perch, the décor is awesome and unique, which adds to the experience.
- Bar Ama: This is one of my favorite places to go to for delicious Mexican food. Being Mexican myself, I love their twist on traditional plates. Tip: they have a “Super Nacho Hour” from 5:30pm-7pm on weekdays, which is their version of a happy hour. You can get discounted food and drinks, including their super nachos!
- Zinc Café in Arts District: For all of my vegetarians out there, this is a great place to go for delicious food and a ridiculously cozy atmosphere (see my picture below!) It’s a little hidden gem in the Arts District that has delicious food like wood fired pizzas and veggie pastas. Grab a table outside under the lights on a warm LA evening and you’re set.

Additional things to do
- The Last Bookstore: I personally love a good book. This was one of the spots I was dying to go to when I first moved to Los Angeles and it did not disappoint! Not only does it have an extensive collection of books on sale, it also has so much character and is uniquely decorated. There are plenty of fun photo opportunities as well, and for my music lovers, they also sell records!
- The Broad Museum: This museum is a must-see. It has one of the largest collections of post-war and contemporary art in the world, and they constantly have different exhibitions on show.  One of the most memorable for me was the infinity room! Another great thing about this museum is that admission is free, which is always appreciated as a student.

- The Griffith Observatory/Griffith Park: I’m an avid hiker, so going to Griffith Park allows me to engage in that meaningful occupation and swing by the Griffith Observatory if I want to. The park offers an abundance of trails to go on (ranging from easy to hard) and the observatory offers some amazing views of LA and fun shows to watch!

Extra
- Street Food Cinema: STF offers a variety of different movies at the park and it is one of my favorite things to do here in LA! The parks are all over Los Angeles, so if you don’t live near downtown, don’t fret! In addition to the movie, there’s a band that plays while the sun goes down, and there are a variety of food trucks parked nearby that offer delicious food! However you can always bring your own food and beverages and have a nice picnic.

I’m awful at taking pictures but I’m making a conscious effort to take more from now on so that I can share them with all of you! This is just the tip of the iceberg, so feel free to reach out for more recommendations! Happy exploring!

Serena

Lovely Day Spent on UPC

, by Serena

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USC has a few campuses. As an OT student I find myself at both the University Park Campus (UPC) and Health Science Campus (HSC).

University Park Campus, more commonly known as Main Campus, is most likely the campus you think of when you envision USC. It is where the undergraduate programs are located. Doheny Library, Tommy Trojan, and the main bookstore (which has 4 levels!!!) are all located on UPC.

HSC, Health Science Campus, is where most of the healthcare graduate programs are located, like the medical school, physical therapy department, and OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY department! It is also where Keck Medical Hospital and La County Hospital are located. As an OT student, you have all of your classes on HSC.

A few times a week, I take the free intershuttle tram or drive to study on UPC which takes about 20-30 minutes. I travel to UPC for MANY reasons but below I have listed three of my favorite places on UPC.

1. Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC)

Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC) is an academic support center for USC students. As graduate students, we can receive their services during walk in hours. KCLC holds individual academic guidance sessions, workshops, academic support groups, and quiet study spaces with yoga mats, ear plugs, and highlighters. They even have fidget toys that you can borrow when you are studying in the center! Academic coaches’ focus is on but is not limited to enhancing time management skills, goal-setting tips, and self care strategies to promote optimal academic success. Their website has many useful resources that you can access on their Tools and Resources page. The academic coaches are in the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs, Marriage and Family Therapy, Education in Educational Counseling, and of course Occupational Therapy program. I will be completing my Level I Fieldwork at KCLC this semester so I am looking forward to blogging and sharing my experience as an OT student at the center.

2. The Writing Center
The Writing Center is another great resource for USC students wishing to enhance their writing abilities. Their lovely writing consultants help you understand and problem solve using strategies that will allow you to be more self-efficient writers in the future. The Writing Center offers services in the form of both individual consultations and small-group workshops. As an OT student, you may find The Writing Center to be helpful with your in class papers, projects, and scholarships. In addition, if becoming a writing consultant is of interest to you while you are in the OT program, you can even apply to work part-time at the center and help other students excel!

3. USC Village
The USC Village opened in 2017 as a huge relief to many students who were missing their everyday shops like Trader Joe’s and Target. At the Village you can shop, dine, and exercise. You can even get your nails, hair, and eyebrows done because we all know the importance of self-care! smile For me, the relaxing and peaceful environment is the most attractive aspect of the newly built complex. Sitting under the umbrella tables next to the beautiful water fountain is one of my favorite places to study on UPC. It is also a nice area to meet other students pursuing other professional degrees.

Here I have highlighted just a few of my favorite places on UPC. As an OT student at USC, the number of resources are endless, which is one of the many reasons why I decided to complete my Master’s in Occupational Therapy at this wonderful institution. What a beautiful experience it is to be a part of a community that is always providing the best support and resources to their students. The USC community is always developing new ways to enhance their students’ ability to learn! If you have any questions, like always, please feel free to reach out to me!


USC Village on University Park Campus (UPC)

 

Joyce

3 Reasons to Level 2 Out of State!!

, by Joyce

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For current and prospective students alike, I would urge you to consider an opportunity to complete your level 2 fieldwork outside of sunny state California. Here’s why:

-Experience a New City: this is the perfect time to travel and put yourself out there. I know it can be a scary thought (I’ve moved to two new cities already!). However, if the time isn’t now, then when? I truly believe that as students, we have the flexibility to travel without worrying about taking absence from work or using your paid time off’s. Go eat new foods, explore new restaurants, and meet great people! 

-Experience a New Culture: hey, even if you’re still travelling domestically, culture varies by state and even by city. Growing up in NYC, we were always taught to grind and work hard. When I moved to Boston for my undergraduate career, the adjustment was difficult. The culture is slower paced and a lot more preppy, as if you stepped right into a J. Crew Magazine.The city is small and old yet rich with history. Now when I moved to Los Angeles, boy are the vibes different. People brunch at the weirdest times here, obsess over their dogs, and drink an unending amount of kale smoothies. I believe by working in settings outside of LA, especially if you never left LA, you get to experience various cultures and meet people from different walks of life. The more diverse your student experiences are, the more enhanced your clinical reasoning becomes and more refined your therapeutic use of self becomes.

-Experience a Different OT: Having gone through two Level 1 Fieldworks and 1 Level 2, there is a difference between therapists who received their education on the west coast vs the east coast. Because my level 2 was in NYC, I had the opportunity to work with OTs and PTs who completed their degrees in New York. We bonded over deep conversations as we shared the major differences and similarities between programs. In this way, I got to understand their clinical reasoning and their experiences while at the same time sharing what I learned here at USC. Expanding your professional network within the rehabilitation field is another amazing perk of completing your fieldwork out of state!

All in all, I recommend to fill out the out-of-state application HERE and explore the pathways that USC has to offer across the nation LOL

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