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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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Student Blog


No phone for 24 hours? No problem ⟩
October 25, 2012, by Alisa

Life Hacks School/Life Balance

So, I went to my parents’ house for the weekend, and when I was on the freeway coming back to school, I realized I had forgotten my phone at home! I had to make a decision between driving back, which would take about 15 minutes or just go to class. I chose the latter. I knew I could live without a phone. I felt that I got a lot more free time because when I had my smart phone with me, I tend to check it quite often. It’s become a habit, but I do try to refrain from it. Those emails and notifications can wait. Go live your life now. Connect with the people around you. We are humans. We crave social interactions, or at least I do.

The positive side to leaving my phone at home was the fact that I would get to visit home again soon. I didn’t know that it was going to be the very next day! I went back the next day after fieldwork, and it was my dad’s birthday, too! So, we found an excuse to all go out and have dinner together. With the exception of my sister, no one else in my family had been to The Boiling Crab before. We had sweet potato fries, sausage, corn, shrimp, crawfish, and king crab. If you haven’t been to a restaurant like The Boiling Crab, it will get messy! You will be given a bib. It is a totally hands-on experience. You have to do everything yourself from taking off the peel to squeezing the lemon. I was stuffed, but, it was so good. A little on the salty side, but hey, you can for less salt on your orders. I got creative when I ate shrimp with a ball of rice. It reminded me of spam musubi. We’re not done yet. Afterwards, we went to BJ’s just to have pizooki (cookie with ice cream). It reminded me of my childhood since my dad used to get it for us when he got off work as a sheriff. The combination of cookie and ice cream is my guilty pleasure, indeed. The phone that I forgot at home was what brought me back home, and we all happen to be able to celebrate on his special day. Good times.


Jack of all trades ⟩
October 19, 2012, by Alisa

Fieldwork What are OS/OT?

Last week I had my full week of fieldwork. It was nice to take a break from class, but I do like being in class and seeing my fellow students! Oh, boy, I can’t believe we’ve been in the same cohort for a year now. Time quickly flies. I’m sure you can attest to this. So, fieldwork started slower at the beginning of the week, but gradually gained momentum by the end of the week. I feel that I’ve been fortunate to have liked all my fieldwork experiences so far, and I feel that it won’t make it easier for me to decide which area I want to specialize in. Maybe, I’ll specialize in being a jack of all trades. Imagine that on a business card.

By the end of the week, I had my own clients and was writing billable notes! I’m doing fieldwork at a forensic treatment agency, and I work hand-in-hand with the Employment/Education Specialist. I have helped clients with writing a resume, filling out an application, searching for jobs online, and advising them on transferring to a 4-year university. At the end of the day, I felt that I’ve helped my clients to progress toward their employment/education goals.

I also got to meet a lot of people during the full week. There were about a dozen Social Work interns, 4 OT interns, and 2 Homeboy Industries interns (imagine having to fight for the computers or how crowded the meetings would be!). My site really fosters students’ learning and growth. I really felt that everyone works together as a team here. It’s multidisciplinary, yet unifying since we work for the clients and have their best interests in mind. By the end of the week, the office had a pizza and pastry party, and my life was content. Some of the other highlights during the week were successfully coordinating a recreational activity for clients and alumni to go to a taping of The Price is Right as a fundraiser, participating in the Mindfulness group and Moral Reconation Group, and getting ramen during lunch in Little Toyko. I enjoyed the experiences.

I’m thankful for the opportunities given to me, all the people I’ve come across, all the support from my professors, family, and friends. Without them, there would be no me.  Until next time, have a great weekend!


Tik-Tok Tik-Tok ⟩
October 18, 2012, by Alisa

School/Life Balance

It is the end of the week, finally! This week has been a long week, and I’m surprised I don’t feel tired. As a college student, it is sometimes hard to manage your time. I guess it does not get easier when you get older, does it? I presented on two assessments today, one is the Worker Role Interview (WRI) and the other one is the Work Environment Impact Scale (WEIS). I had the desire to stay up late last night to finish my PowerPoint presentation. I truly cared about it and wanted to do my best. I even baked pumpkin cake (the mix is from Trader Joe’s) to share with my group members (see below). Considering I had two hours of sleep, I am functioning pretty well. I actually don’t feel tired. I haven’t had any coffee today. I guess I’m just excited about life while the adrenaline is keeping me awake all day. I usually only stay up that late once a semester, not bad for a college student, right? My goal is to manage my time better and not procrastinate. Do you have any tips for time management? I would love to hear it.

Pumpkin cake

Also, on a side note, yesterday my residents dropped by to give me flowers! Oh, life of a resident advisor. I think that really motivated me to finish my presentation. 😊



Tips on studying for the GRE ⟩
October 6, 2012, by Alisa

Classes Life Hacks

I just took the test on October 5th and survived it! Boy, that was one long test. Some of you are probably wondering why I’m taking the test when I’m already in the OT program, right? Well, I got admitted as an undergrad at USC, so I started the program as a senior. Therefore, I didn’t have to take GRE, but now, since I’m applying for the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, I have to submit my GRE scores. Walah! To all the undergrads out there, I would suggest taking it as an undergrad. When you’re in grad school already, you’ll be busier and to motivate myself to study was very tough.

Here are some tips for studying for the GRE:

  1. Get one of the books (I used Kaplan and ETS) and do a self-study.
  2. Attend one of the free GRE Strategy Sessions offered by Princeton Review. They raffled off vocabulary books and mathematics books! Wee! Free swag.
  3. Take a free practice test offered through Princeton Review, Kaplan, etc. and use the results as a guide for studying.
  4. Focus on studying what you’re good and master it.
  5. Find a study buddy (shoutout to my tutor, a fellow OT student who patiently taught me basic mathematics during lunch and after class!).
  6. Familiarize yourself with taking a computerized test. There are a total of 6 sections, one of which doesn’t count toward your score, so you should still try your hardest.
  7. All the prompts for the essays are posted online. It won’t hurt to take a look at them.

On test day:

  1. If you arrive early, you can take the test early, and get out earlier.
  2. Bring a jacket because it might be cold.
  3. You will be given a locker to put your belongings in. You can only bring your ID and the locker key in the testing room.
  4. There will be one 10-minute break after the 3rd section. Use it. I went to the restroom and ate carrots.
  5. There is a 1-minute break after every section. Stretch, stand up, breathe deeply, close your eyes, roll your neck or pray.
  6. Do not panic! If you’ve studied well, you won’t likely be blanking out. If you do, try your best with an educated guess. Remember, there’s no penalty for guessing. Yay!
  7. Remember that this is only one test. It does not define who you are. You can take it again. I believe that there are many factors that make up your application. Do not let the GRE scores deter you from applying. Regardless of the results, you are still a great person.
  8. Your estimated scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections will pop up at the end of the test. You can google “GRE Concordance Scale” if you’re unsure of how the new score is compared to the old score. For the USC OT Program, it is encouraged that you have at least a combined score of 1000 (old scale).

Good luck! You know more than you think you know. 😉


“That which you call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” ⟩
October 5, 2012, by Alisa

Community Getting Involved

The week started out pretty interesting as I made my first club presentation! Troy Camp, the oldest and most diverse student organization, puts on many programs for kids in the neighborhoods, including a week-long camp. Before I made my presentation, every member there had to do a roll call. It was interesting to hear everyone’s nick names such as “Maverick,” “Timber,” “Cracker Jack,” and “Chumbawamba.” I was involved in a few organizations when I was an undergrad, but I was never given a nickname. It’s clever that Troy Camp gives every member a nickname. It offers personalization and a sense of belonging in the organization. A few weeks ago when my friends and I celebrated a friend’s birthday at a Thai restaurant, Hae Ha Heng, we decided to give each other pseudonyms. My friends thought I look like a “Rose,” which I didn’t object to. A lot of my clothes have flowers in them, my flip flops have floral embellishments, and I wear flowers in my hair sometimes. It’s quite fitting, isn’t it? I actually have a nickname that was given to me by my mom. In the Thai culture, everyone that I know of has a nickname that is given by the parents. Nicknames can range from names of foods, colors, body parts, etc. My mom gave me the nickname “Joy,” but since no one really called me that, my younger cousin adopted that name, so my identity was stolen. Not really. Thai people just call me “Sa,” shortened from my full name “Alisa,” which can also be a Thai name! My mom is so witty when she named me. While she was shopping for her wedding dress, she came across this amazing dress that was worn by Alisa, a famous Thai actress-model, who had just worn the dress on the runway, featuring wedding gowns. So, readers, how about your names? Have you ever asked how your name came to be? Let’s hear it.

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