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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


Being in Graduate School as an International Student ⟩
November 1, 2018, by Goeun


Time flies and it’s already halfway through the first semester. 10 weeks has been already passed and I’ll introduce what I did by month.


This month was the time that I finally set up everything for graduate school as an international student and started my new journey in the Post-Professional Master’s Program. I had orientation from USC and our division, registered courses, had PPV (passport verification), got my student ID, etc.

Fall semester started on August 20, then we had the white coat ceremony on the same week, which let us feel that we really started. At the end of this month, Dr. Blanche, our program director and professor of clinical occupational therapy, invited all post-professional students, Dr. Park, Dr. Cermak, and Dr. Gray to her house, which is near a beautiful beach and we had BBQ party and had a wonderful time.

The White Coat Ceremony made us feel that we really started the Master's program

The White Coat Ceremony made us feel that we really started the Master’s program

The Post-Professional students went to Dr. Blanche's house and had a BBQ party together

The Post-Professional students went to Dr. Blanche’s house and had a BBQ party together


While August was kind of like a warm-up month, September was the month that we really started academics, getting used to all the readings, exams, and assignments. Because English is not my first language, it was tough for me to understand and keep up with the lectures at the beginning, but thanks to Global Initiatives, we have a study hall that provides academic support to international students. More than that, we had dinner with Dr. Cermak at a Chinese restaurant which was awesome and fun.

We took a picture when we had dinner with Dr. Cermak in the Chinese restaurant

We took a picture when we had dinner with Dr. Cermak in the Chinese restaurant


Since we’re getting more into the semester, it was time to think about the next semester. We’re taking 5 required courses and 1 elective course. However, unlike this semester, we’ll mostly take elective courses in the Spring semester, so we had to think about what to take. Also, we had a wonderful dinner with Dr. Cermak in an Indian restaurant, this time with Dr. Blanche, Dr. Ochi, and Dr. Vigen. In addition, on October 25-28, OTAC was held in Pasadena. It was a great opportunity to attend the conference as an OT student and learn more about it.

We took a picture when we had dinner with Dr. Cermak at an Indian restaurant after finishing one of our big projects

We took a picture when we had dinner with Dr. Cermak at an Indian restaurant after finishing one of our big projects

This was my journey as a post-professional student so far. It was not easy but so great that I could learn and have those experiences. I’m excited about the rest of this semester as well as the next semester and hope everything goes well!


Pre-Master’s Program for International Students ⟩
October 29, 2018, by Goeun

Admissions International Life Hacks

Many international students think that they should be prepared all before they apply for a Master’s Program and before they come to study abroad. However, there is one other way which I did and I want to introduce to you. I learned English in the USC International Academy before I start my Post-Professional Master’s program in our division. The program was called Pre-Master’s Program and I’ll tell you more detail.

  1. How to apply
    The process of application is basically the same: we need a personal statement, letter of recommendation, GPA, but one major difference is that we don’t need GRE score yet to get into Pre-Master’s Program. Actually, this program helps us prepare GRE and meet the score. Also, there is no specific deadline but be sure to think about the start date of your Master’s Program.
  2. What to learn
    Once you apply for the program and get admitted, that means you’re conditionally accepted to Master’s Program!  In the Pre-Master’s Program, you’ll learn three core courses which are writing & grammar, reading & vocabulary, and communication skills, and two elective courses depending on your choice (e.g., GRE, public speaking, job-ready, American cultures, academic integrity, etc.).
  3. How to transfer to Master’s Program
    To transfer to Master’s Program, you need to get an average B score in core courses and C on your elective courses. Also, depending on your Master’s Program, you need to meet your GRE score during the Pre-Master’s Program.

For me, it was a great experience to not only learn English and different teaching styles from my country but also meet many students from different countries and different majors. If you want to apply to school but worried about your English proficiency, think about this way!

Ending ceremony is held each semester to celebrate students who graduate from USC International Academy.


How to Get Information about the Master’s Program in Abroad ⟩
October 8, 2018, by Goeun

Admissions International

It is not easy to get information about a school especially when the location is far from your country. For me, after I decided to go to school in the US for master’s program in occupational therapy, I tried to gather all information, but it was quite hard to find and confusing what and where to ask. So, I’d like to share what I did, and what I should’ve done better for more information.

1. Things I did

Search the internet: This is the first and most frequent work that I did. First I searched with terms such as “occupational therapy in the US,” “occupational therapy master’s program,” “occupational therapy school,” etc. Then, I decided to surf each university’s website, especially on the USC Chan Division website (I almost decided to go to USC then). It was good to find information on the websites, but there was too much information sometimes that I couldn’t distinguish which one might be useful for me.

Ask professors from my undergraduate school: They were all supportive and helpful but it wasn’t enough since I was the first student who was applying for Master’s Program abroad at my university.

2. Things I should’ve known and done

Contact! As you may know, we have our contact information on our admission page. There are not only contact information to the admission team but also about request information and virtual information session which you can attend even if you’re not in here. I thought if I had contacted before I apply, I could know more and be sure that I’m applying properly.

Lastly, As a previous prospective international student, I was always thinking that it would be great if I could find information more efficiently, and have someone to ask questions, which is one reason why I wanted to be a student ambassador.


Time to be an International Student ⟩
September 7, 2018, by Goeun

International Life Hacks Living in LA

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 and Occupational Therapy website as there is 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.


Why Did I Choose Occupational Therapy? ⟩
August 30, 2018, by Goeun

What are OS/OT?

Whenever I say to people that my major is occupational therapy, they ask me, “What is occupational therapy?” then other questions that follow are “How did you know occupational therapy?” and “Why did you choose occupational therapy as your major?” So, I’d like to share my story about why I wanted to study occupational therapy and came to USC for further studying.

I can say whenever I get questions about the reason I chose occupational therapy, I say the word “participation.” I first heard about occupational therapy when I was in senior year of high school. I was searching a major for a university, and I could find occupational therapy on the list that might fit me. I searched for it, then I could find the definition which was helping people with physical or mental illness to “participate” in the meaningful activities that they used to do before the injuries. I thought this is interesting and rewarding as I thought by helping them participate in their daily lives, they can live happier despite their illness.

After graduation, I worked as an occupational therapist for one year in Korea, and I kept thinking that I need to study more about it because I wanted to be a better professional and learn more about some parts which I was interested in but I haven’t experienced much (e.g., out-patients’ environmental modifications, since I was working with acute patients). So, I decided to apply for the Post-Professional Master’s Program here at USC since it is one of the best schools for occupational therapy. These are the reasons why I chose occupational therapy as my major and came here to USC to study more about occupational therapy. I’m looking forward to learning and exploring more about it!

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