I never thought that I would be so far from home. As a New York native, California was far from my future plans—both geographically and idealistically. Little did I know, USC would win me over and become my home, 3000 miles away from home.
Admittedly, my first few months were challenging. I came from a small town and went to school with classmates I had known for the past 12 years. But then, slowly but surely, I found myself enveloped in and invigorated by the Trojan Family. I joined a sorority, I participated in student organizations, I buried my nose in the book stacks of Doheny, and I cheered on the football team.
But New York is always my home base. My parents lend their ears when I need to vent. My brother offers advice to guide my way. My friends make me laugh even in the midst of midterms. A simple text message can traverse the vastness of the country, making distance virtually nonexistent.
And the holidays provide the perfect reason to physically traverse the country, enduring the bus-plane-car trio to finally land back in my twin size bed. Though my trips home have become less frequent each successive year, they have not become any less meaningful. It is now my first time home in a year, since I was in Utah for fieldwork over summer break. During these three weeks, I will soak up as much winter cheer as I can.
One of my favorite New York winter sights!
Though leaving home may be difficult at times (as is graduate school), I have no regrets about my decision. With friends that feel like family and an education to prepare me for my future, USC has truly become my home away from home. That being said, of course there is no place like home!
If you have any questions about moving out of state for OT school, please do not hesitate to reach out
One of my favorite occupations is holiday shopping, but so is crafting! A homemade present shows loved ones you really care and may even lead to a flow state for you. Not to mention, OT has its roots in the Arts and Crafts movement. In the coming weeks, embrace your inner Mary Reilly and use your hands to create Santa’s little workshop in your own living room to deliver the ultimate dose of holiday cheer
Here are some of my favorite crafts to get you in the spirit:
• Tie blankets will keep you warm and you can use for favorite holiday-themed fabric
• Stress balls & heat packs are the perfect stressbusters to relax after finals week. Give them to your friends and family to help them stay calm all year, too!
• These peppermint candles will engage all your senses in the holiday spirit
• Ornaments can be made with materials as easy as an old light bulb and leftover glitter. Or make these mini snowmen using tea lights
• Reindeer cookies & Santa hat brownies can sweeten up any holiday party
• A photo wreath is the perfect decoration to commemorate all the good times as the year comes to a close
For even more holiday fun, try crafting with friends and family. After all, spending the holidays together is the greatest and easiest do-it-yourself present!
With finals week quickly approaching, stress levels have been running a little higher than usual. But as OTs, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to stay relaxed. Here’s a list of some of my stress-free strategies:
- Make a schedule. Fit in time for your work and play and rest and sleep, in the words of Adolf Meyer.
- Study with friends. As long as you stay focused most of the time, collaborating with classmates is a great way to review for finals. Explaining the material to someone else will help you remember it more than simply reading the facts by yourself. A few momentary distractions make the process more fun anyway.
- Don’t forget about exercise! Taking a study break to fit in a workout video or a quick jog can. You can even stay in shape without leaving your desk.
- Light a scented candle to create the perfect study environment. Or splurge for some essential oils for the ultimate aromatherapy experience.
- Treat yourself with a hot cup of tea (or coffee, if you need that caffeine fix). It will get you excited about the cozy relaxation awaiting you over winter break.
- Change up your study spot. Escape the walls of your room and try out a hidden café or tranquil library or delightful park.
- Call home. Sometimes, I just need to talk to Mom or Dad. Talk to that person who helps you stay calm, gives you a reason to laugh, and boosts your confidence no matter what chaos you may be facing.
I love this time of year because it reminds people to reflect on everything to be thankful for, no matter how small a source of happiness may seem. Being part of a profession as rewarding as occupational therapy continuously inspires me to consider celebrating all of life’s joys. This year, USC has given me plenty of reasons to be thankful, including:
· Graduation – I earned dual undergraduate degrees in occupational therapy and psychology. USC allowed me to double major, as well as pursue a minor, in my preferred areas of study.
· Grad School – The Bachelor’s to Master’s program allowed me to transition seamlessly into graduate school during my undergraduate senior year, saving me time and tuition while pursuing my career.
· Festival of Books – I always look forward to this weekend in April when my favorite college campus is taken over by my favorite occupation. In addition to basking in the endless supply of literary love, I was star struck when I walked right by astronaut Buzz Aldrin this past year!
OT students host a booth at the Festival of Books!
· Olympics – Watching the Olympics becomes even more exciting when the Trojan Family is represented—and the Trojans sure represented by bringing home 21 medals
· Football – The Trojan men have been fighting on to win seven consecutive games!
Ambassadors take on gameday!
· HSC – I moved to the health sciences campus, making my commute extremely convenient and broadening my exposure to a new LA neighborhood
· Ambassadors – Serving as an ambassador has quickly proven to be a truly meaningful and enjoyable occupation. From helping others learn about OT to growing closer with my co-workers, I have loved every moment.
This crew makes work feel like play!
· OTD – I will be pursuing the doctorate of occupational therapy next year, which gives me advanced clinical education to become the best therapist I can be and an excuse to stay at USC for one more year!
I hope you also take the time to consider everything that has made you smile this year. Happy holidays, everyone!
This past weekend was the 40th annual Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) conference, which also marked my 1st conference experience! The conference brought together practitioners and students from all over the state to celebrate OT. Throughout the day, presentations discussed new innovations, ongoing research, and developing programs—including USC’s own Global Initiatives!
After learning about and watching demonstrations of canine-facilitated intervention, I walked over to the exhibition hall. Along the perimeter, researchers presented posters on their latest studies. Trojans definitely represented! In addition to research, many schools were publicizing degree programs and companies were recruiting future therapists. The expo hall was buzzing with OT spirit!
Getting comfy at the USC conference booth
In the spirit of work-life balance, the conference also involved some great parties! After all, celebrating is one of OTs’ favorite occupations! On Friday night, the USC Chan Division hosted a spectacular alumni reception with the fitting Halloween theme of “Fright On!” On Saturday, conference attendees came together to celebrate 40 years of OTAC at the President’s Reception. Before hitting the dance floor, we heard from a long line of past presidents and current board members.
I had a great weekend with my classmates and future colleagues. After my first conference experience, I can’t wait for the AOTA Centennial Celebration!