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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


Congratulations on graduation! And What’s next? ⟩
May 1, 2019, by Goeun

Beginnings and Endings Getting Involved International

Classes are done and I cannot believe that I’m almost done with the program! This is going to be my last blog and I’d love to tell you all the things that I’ve gone through this semester as well as my next steps!

This semester has been busier (I think) and more interesting semester. I had externship, electives, a career fair, and more!

On January, I came back from South Korea after winter break and started my new semester. The biggest difference between the Fall semester and the Spring semester is that students take mostly elective courses and a few required courses during Spring. I was excited to take classes what I’ve wanted to take and during the semester, I could have individual Lifestyle Redesign practice sessions with a partner as a therapist and as a client. Also, I could learn hands-on motor control techniques and treat a real client after practicing with classmates.

On February, for the first few weeks, I searched externship site and did externship from the last week of February for two weeks. Finding the site was not an easy process, but it was a great experience to actually think about my interests, possible resources, and build leadership skills. Also, I was working on an OPT visa process which I need after finishing the program. Thanks to Global Initiatives team, I could get general information about the process of applying for OPT visa.

On March, I had the externship until the first full week of March (March 8), and then, I had Spring break! After coming back from Spring break, we had a career fair from our Division. You can find more information about the career fair from one of our Student Ambassador, Jessica’s blog. Also, Global Initiatives held an Alumni Panel for international students which they invited recent international alumni from our Division to talk about what life is like after leaving the USC such as studying the NBCOT exam, job searching, job interviewing, figuring out fair salary, and adapting to a new work environment, etc. It was really helpful as I could get a lot of resources from both the career fair and the alumni panel. After attending them, I felt less pressured and worried as I could get some sense of planning after graduation.

On April, the semester has been going pretty well, and I tried to keep a balance between the schoolwork and my well-being.

On May, I’ll work on my final papers, exams, and the comprehensive exam. After that, I’ll graduate!!!

What’s next? For me, I will work for SOTI program from Global Initiatives from June to July, so I’ll be in school until July, after that, I will study for the NBCOT, and searching for a job. This will be my next steps and a new journey as a new graduate.

It has been really amazing studying in the USC Chan Division and I appreciate all who have been supporting me. Good luck with everyone and FIGHT ON!

We took a group picture after the very last class!

We took a group picture after the very last class!

It was really awesome working in admission team with these amazing people!

It was really awesome working in admission team with these amazing people!


Externship: Opportunity to Explore What I’ve been Interested ⟩
April 1, 2019, by Goeun


In the Leadership Capstone Course, I had a chance to participate in a two-week externship to learn communication and leadership skills. I went my leadership externship in the USC Davis School of Gerontology, National Resource Center on Supportive Housing & Home Modification, and Fall Prevention Center of Excellence. I chose the site as I’ve been interested in home modifications since I was in my country, Korea. I was working in a hospital as an occupational therapist and after patients were about to be discharged, they naturally planned to move to other hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, or rehabilitation centers. However, after their stay at other facilities, they need to go back to their homes anyway and I could not help patients to go through the process and build a bridge for them. That brought me interests in home modifications but since there hasn’t been any research or resources about it, I had less chance to explore.

Thankfully, now I’m here, and the USC Davis School of Gerontology, they are well-known for home modifications and fall prevention which is a key factor in home modifications. Moreover, from January, I’ve been taking the Executive Certificate in Home Modification Program from the USC Davis School of Gerontology, so I wanted to learn more from them.

During the externship, I did a lot of research regarding home modifications in general, assessment tools in home environments and fall prevention, health-related issues about Asian-Americans and home modifications related specifically. Also, I had an opportunity to attend a class, Housing, and Community Policies and Program. In that course, I visited an assisted living facility for older adults with dementia or other physical problems. The other thing that I did was interviewing and meeting various professions. I was able to interview gerontologists from different settings, an occupational therapist and a building contractor. By talking with them, I was able to listen to different perspectives and advocate what occupational therapy is especially for students who are not familiar with it. The good thing was that people that I interviewed already knew about occupational therapy and our roles as well. Lastly, I combined and synthesized what I have done and set goals in short-term and long-term.

It was a precious experience to learn more about what I’ve been wanting to know and I hope I can expand later in the future!

With Dr. Pynoos, who is a pioneer in home modifications.

I took a picture with Dr. Pynoos who is a pioneer in home modifications.


When you need supports: Ask for Help! ⟩
February 11, 2019, by Goeun

International Life Hacks

Everyone needs support when having a hard time. Especially as international students, it could be harder to find supports since we are far away from home. Before I came here, one concern that I had was where and how to get support as I don’t know anyone here and it was my first time coming to the US. I was worried about my English and I wasn’t confident whether I could do it well or not. However, since I started the Post-Professional Master’s program in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, I’ve been supported by so many people and groups in school which I really appreciate.

Here are some resources where you can get help and supports when you need as an international student in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

1. Global Initiatives
When I think of supports as an international student, the first thing that came up in my mind is Global Initiatives. As its title represents, the Global Initiatives team supports international students in our Division to adapt to a new country as well as to help us academically. They’ve held Global Corner which we can join and have fun. Also, they have Academic Peer Mentors, International Student Mentorship Program and Study Hall which supports our academics and hear from previous students as well. In terms of Study Hall, Julianne, who is an Entry-Level Master’s student, help us with English when we’re having a hard time doing assignments or studying exams. I think it really helps us and makes us feel that we are being cared for.

We had dinner to celebrate Lunar New Year altogether.

We had dinner to celebrate Lunar New Year altogether.

2. Faculty members
The Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has more than a hundred faculty members. You’ll not have a chance to meet all of them, but during your program, you can get a lot of support from the faculty members. They help us not only academically, but also with other things. Dr. Blanche and Dr. Ochi, who are the program directors of the Post-Professional Master’s program, have been supporting in so many ways. We were invited to Dr. Blanche’s house for BBQ party in the first month of the program and Dr. Blanche and Dr. Ochi have been asking how have we been doing all the time. Also, Dr. Cermak, who was a professor from our program in the Fall semester, was supportive not only during the class but during the whole semester. I was surprised by how supportive they are and their willingness to help us. Also, when you have interests in some specific part, I’m sure that you can find experts and ask for advice in the Division.

This is a picture from last semester when we went to Dr. Blanche's house for BBQ Party.

This is a picture from last semester when we went to Dr. Blanche’s house for BBQ Party.

3. Classmates
When you’re struggling with something, you may think that you’re the only person who has the problem. However, since all of your classmates from the Post-Professional Master’s program are mostly international students, they could have the same or similar problems that you have or you have been through. I was really nervous before I start the program, but once I met them in the orientation day, I could feel much better as all of my classmates were so kind and supportive. We had some group works in the Fall semester, and all of us were cooperative, helping each other. We also meet sometimes, hang out together. You can also learn so many things from different cultures to their clinical experiences as an occupational therapist in their countries. It has been really nice having them as my classmates and I’m sure if you come and start the program, your classmates will be too.

We went to Koreatown for dinner together.

We went to Koreatown for dinner together.

4. Office of International Services (OIS)
OIS is one other support that you’ll need during your study in the U.S. Some things that you need to complete when you first come such as passport verification is done by OIS. Also, while studying, when you travel out of the States, you need OIS for a travel signature. When you’re about to graduate, you’ll need help to apply for OPT visa. Like I mentioned, OIS help us process our visa and stuff, and they have some events too like International Coffee Hour, Movie Night, and Intellectual Writing Session. You can also find some useful information on the website from broadly studying abroad to living in LA specifically.

I really appreciate their help and supports. This is one reason why I chose USC and I think it would have been more difficult studying and living in another country. Lastly, I’m also thankful for the Student Ambassadors and Admission Team since they’ve been supporting me adjust to this position.


Spring Semester: Second and the last semester ⟩
January 28, 2019, by Goeun


Since the Post-Professional Master’s program is a one-year program, the second semester which I’m taking now is my last semester! Although it was one of the reasons why I chose the USC Chan Division, it feels so fast since I started the program.

The first semester was pretty tough, getting used to school as well as adapting to new environments. However, I think the Post-Professional Master’s Program is well-structured with curriculum and the Division has been really supportive for international students.

In the fall semester, I mostly took required courses with one elective course, OT 500: Clinical Problems in Occupational Therapy, which helps international students to be eligible to take NBCOT exam. In the spring semester, on the other hand, I mostly take elective courses and two required courses. Speaking of electives, it was really nice as I could choose what I want and interested in, but at the same time, it was really confusing as I wanted to take more than I can.

It was hard to choose, but among all the electives, I decided to take four of them:

OT 574: Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation,
OT 578: Therapeutic Communication: Facilitating Changes in Clients,
OT 583: Current Application of Lifestyle Redesign, and
OT 575: Dysphagia across the Lifespan: Pediatrics through Geriatrics (for the first six weeks).

I chose those courses because some are very new to me, especially the Lifestyle Redesign which is developed in here. I also chose some courses that are a little bit familiar to me as I wanted to learn some perspectives from the US. So far, I’m enjoying the courses. I love that I can have hands-on practices with classmates as well as real patients and I’m looking forward to learning more!

This is my spring semester schedule.

This is my spring semester schedule.


Presentation in South Korea ⟩
January 14, 2019, by Goeun

Getting Involved International

The new year has begun so as the new semester! Winter break has gone fast. During the winter break, I was back in my home country, Korea. I had a wonderful time back in there and I’d like to share some of my memories.

I was in Korea for three weeks and I visited a lot of places. I’m originally from Gwangju which is in the southern part of Korea. However, I went to a university in Daejeon, the middle part, so I went there to visit a professor and give a presentation about the Post-Professional Master’s Program for students at the university. Also, I worked in Jeonju before I came here, so I went there to visit the hospital where I worked and see my previous co-workers. I also went to Seoul and Daegu to visit my friends and went to Jeju Island with my family.

I went so many places and I’d love to introduce every places, but this time, I’ll tell you more about the presentation that I did. I planned for this while I was in here during the Fall semester. I was contacting with the professor from the university that I went, and got a chance to present about the Post-Professional Master’s Program in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science, which I’m currently studying as well as Pre-Master’s Program from the USC International Academy which I did before the Post-Professional Master’s Program and SOTI Program from the Global Initiatives. It was a great opportunity for me to present about the program in my country as a student ambassador in the USC Chan Division and a senior from the university in Korea.

In the presentation, there were about 50 students mostly freshmen and sophomore who are interested in studying abroad. Like I mentioned earlier, I presented about the Post-Professional Master’s Program, Premaster’s Program, and SOTI Program. Also, I told them my experiences what I prepared to study in here from learning English to applying and adjusting to a new country.

It was so great to meet the students, introduce the programs, and tell my story. Lastly, since I’m the first student from my university who study abroad, I hope more students would come later as Post-Professional Master’s students or a SOTI program participants.

A picture of presentation about the Post-Professional Master's Program

A picture of presentation about the Post-Professional Master’s Program

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