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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Mika

Chika with Mika: Life as a Post-Professional Master’s Student 2022 Edition ⟩
November 18, 2022, by Mika

Classes Community Diversity International Living in LA School/Life Balance Videos

Hello everyone!

So in Tagalog, chika means “chit-chat”. For this month’s blog post (or rather vlog post), I wanted to chika with you what’s it like to be a post-professional master’s student here in USC Chan! Get to see the Health Science Campus where we have most of our classes and meet some of my friends here in the program. I also shared some clips of my adventures here in LA, particularly in the Grand Central Market, Griffith Park, and Venice Beach!

Happy watching!

Yoojin

A Week in the Life! ⟩
November 17, 2022, by Yoojin

Classes Community Living in LA School/Life Balance

As a student ambassador, one of the questions I get the most is how my weekly schedule looks like. Do I have time for a part-time job? What about hobbies? Hanging out with friends and family? Basically, when I enroll in this program, will I have a life outside of school? The short answer is yes. I have a great balance of academics and engaging in my favorite occupations.

With that being said, here’s a little glance into a typical week:

Monday: aside from class from 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM, I go to the gym, go grocery shopping, or just sleep in. In the evening, I try to catch the sunset (at least I did before Daylight Savings ended) on one of my favorite short hikes near HSC, Ascot Hills. All USC students have a free membership for the three gyms on UPC and one at HSC.

Tuesday: Level I Fieldwork, a once-a-week hands-on experience at a site in the community (ex. hospital, private clinic, community center, permanent supportive housing, school). I’m here from 10 AM – 4 PM, but your hours will depend on your specific site.

Wednesday: class from 9 AM – 4:30 PM, with a 1.5-hour lunch break to eat lunch and work on a drawing in the craft restorative classroom with my friends. Throughout the semester, there are events led by various student organizations. This week, I attended an open forum with students and Chan leadership to discuss the recent administrative changes in Chan admissions leadership regarding holistic admissions and diversity.

Thursday: class from 9 AM – 4:30 PM, with a 1.5-hour lunch break where I usually work and grab Dunkin’ Donuts from on campus and attend a meeting. Global Initiatives (GI), USC Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC), and Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) are hosting a Friendsgiving dinner.

Friday: I have no class or fieldwork, so I run errands. In the evening, I go out with friends. LA has so many things to do. Here’s a previous student blog about some activities.

I’ve also picked up a handful of occupations over the summer that I mentioned in my previous blog. Work-life balance needs active effort to achieve, but it’s definitely doable in OT school.

Aisha

Hidden Gems and Resources ⟩
November 8, 2022, by Aisha

Life Hacks Living in LA School/Life Balance

Several resources and perks that come with being a USC student aren’t widely advertised. Here is a list of things I accidentally stumbled upon or heard by word of mouth that all students on the health sciences campus (HSC) should know about.

1. One Stop at HSC: Here, you can find discounted movie tickets, theme park tickets, and more! I love going to the movies with my friends and family, but as many of you know, movie tickets can be expensive in LA. At One Stop at HSC, you can purchase discounted movie tickets that don’t expire at Regal Cinemas, AMC Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, etc. My favorite is getting AMC tickets for $10.75 and going to the theater near Universal Studios, with comfy reclining seats!

2. Free HBO Max Subscription: If you love watching movies and TV, I recommend utilizing this free resource for all USC students to help de-stress or when you need a study break! Here are some step-by-step instructions on accessing your HBO max subscription through USC.

3. Cheap food at the Keck Cafeteria: On the days you didn’t eat breakfast or pack a lunch, you can find affordable food at the Keck Cafeteria. You will need to show your student ID to enter the building. You can find the cafeteria on San Pablo St. near the Eric Cohen Student Health Center.

4. Farmers Market: Every Thursday, from around 10 am until 2 pm, there is a mini farmers market on the corner of Alcazar and San Pablo. Several vendors are selling fresh fruit, delicious food, and drinks such as pupusa, shawarma sandwiches, popcorn, and Aguas Frescas! I look forward to being on campus on Thursdays to get a tasty treat from the farmers market.

Leah

Tips for Your Personal Statement ⟩
November 4, 2022, by Leah

Admissions Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

Here are some tips and tricks on what helped me write my personal statement 😊

1. Reflect on what matters to you and see how it aligns with the school’s mission

I thought, why do I want to be an OT? I read through the division’s mission and most resonated with its commitment to inclusion. I then jotted down experiences and parts of my life that I most valued and thought related to this theme of inclusion.

2. Try finding a theme between your experiences to create a cohesive story.

This was a piece of advice I received from a previous mentor. I knew I had valuable experiences volunteering at an oncology camp, working in permanent supportive housing, and then working at a multiple sclerosis clinic. Still, these all felt like such different populations, so I needed to figure out how to share my story without feeling like I was jumping all over the place.

My mentor asked me questions such as:

How did one experience influence or lead to another?
What did you value in each of these experiences?
How did you continue to grow throughout these experiences?
Is there a commonality in how these experiences made you want to be an OT?

3. Get other eyes on your writing!

I know it can feel uncomfortable or even embarrassing to have other people look at what you have written. Still, I found it helpful to overcome that fear and get other people’s input. I wanted to see if my writing was conveying the message I wanted to share. For my statement, I had willing co-workers, mentors, and even roommates read through my essay. I received input such as: “this section is confusing” and “wow, I loved this story, focus more on that!” The most helpful thing I did was read my statement out loud with my roommate. I could identify awkward phrases, grammatical errors, and unnecessary words. Reading out loud was the most helpful in cutting my statement down to the required character count.

For all those applying this cycle, you got this!!

Leah Mary

Practice What You Preach (Seriously) ⟩
November 1, 2022, by Leah Mary

Life Hacks Living in LA School/Life Balance

In school, we are told that participating in meaningful occupations, such as playing music, dancing, hanging out with our friends, or eating, is critical for people’s physical, emotional, and mental health. However, as OTs and students, we SUCK at this! I don’t know about you, but my OT balance wheel was always filled with productive hours rather than leisure or play, and I was often burnt out by the middle of the semester.

So last year, I picked up a meaningful hobby . . . hiking! Growing up, I was always big into the outdoors. I would go camping, biking, and cannoning around the Midwest. But, in high school and college, I lost touch with that side because “I didn’t have time.” I often was studying or working and had to prioritize those occupations.

However, when COVID-19 happened, I prioritized my meaningful occupations for my well-being. During my second year in the Master’s Program, I overheard a couple of classmates talking about hiking in Santa Monica. I gravitated toward that conversation and said, “could I possibly join????” During that hike, we shared our love for the outdoors and how much hiking there is in California. We prioritized a hike every weekend and came up with the name “Trailmixers” for our hiking group. And that’s what we did. With intentional planning, we could hike almost every week and still finish our schoolwork. Because of this, I had some of the most meaningful experiences of my life with my best friends. We’ve hiked Mt Baldy, Cucamonga, San Fran, Santa Barbara, Sedona, Pinnacles National Park, Zion, camped in Big Sur, and backpacked in Catalina Island.

My “productive work” has gotten a bit busier now that I’m balancing courses, residency, and campus jobs. However, no matter what, I always make sure I have a hike planned for the weekend. I hope each and every one of you prioritize your meaningful occupations throughout this semester and in life. Because for us to be great OTs, we must practice what we preach and lead by example.

There are excellent resources to start your hiking journey. The AllTrails app can help you plan trips, Airbnb or Recreation.gov to book housing/campsites, the REI store to buy gear, and “Peaks and Professors,” an outdoors club at USC to find a community.

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