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Moving to Los Angeles — Part 1 >

by Guy

Housing and Transportation

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Very soon there will be many of you who will make the decision to come to USC to study occupational therapy or occupational science. Congratulations! For some of you this will not only be the start of a new career but will also be a major move to a new city. You may be like me and be moving from all the way across the country, or you might be coming from another part of California. Either way you will be dealing with the stress of moving to a place where you have never lived before. I don’t know about you, but I never spent any time in Los Angeles (LA). I had been to the airport a few times, and downtown once. I had gone to Disneyland, and I went to the Rose Bowl for a football game. Other than that, I had no clue about LA. I also had many preconceived ideas of Los Angeles. I knew that the public transportation system was nothing compared to NYC so I would probably need a car. I knew there was a lot of traffic and LA was quite large so getting around in the car could be rough. I heard living in LA was much cheaper than NYC. I heard that living on the beach or the Westside was the only way to go. Finally, everyone told me that as a city, LA offered just as many cool things to do as New York. Some of my ideas have turned out to be true and some have turned out to be very wrong. Before I came to LA there were a few questions I wish I had the answers to. Over the next few blogs, I will be answering those questions and talking about what the transition to living in LA has been like for me. Here are some of the questions I had:

Do I need a car?
It depends on where you live and what you like to do. If you end up living on or near the Health Science Campus or the Main Campus, and plan on studying most of the time and not needing or wanting to go outside of the LA metro area including the beach, where there is a will there is a way. You might be able to get away without your own car by using UBER or Lyft, university sponsored outings, the metro or bus, and the kindness of your fellow students who have cars.  I know students who live on the Health Campus and near the main campus who don’t have cars and have been able to have a great time exploring LA even during the pandemic. Not having a car is possible, especially if you live on campus but it depends on how much you need or want to get away from school. However, make no mistake about it, if you are coming from a city where the public transportation enabled you to go without a car (I’m looking at you Chicago, Boston, NYC, DC, any major international city) and you are used to being able to just jump on a train or bus quickly to get anywhere you want to go in minutes, then you might want to consider figuring out how to get yourself a car or at least watch one of the many amusing videos out there by people who live in LA without a car. Just google “how to live in LA without a car”.

If you live off campus it is also possible to live without a car but much more difficult. I live in a neighborhood that is not very far from the main campus or the Health Science campus. Even under the best conditions when I have used public transportation to get to school it takes me a minimum of 60 minutes for what usually takes me 15 – 30-minutes to drive myself. When we decided to buy a car we ended up getting a car with excellent gas milage (close to 38 miles/gallon) and are even now contemplating getting an electric car. LA gas prices are not cheap. If you are coming from the South or the Midwest you will be shocked by California gas prices. Don’t be surprised if you see gas that costs $4.50/gallon or more!

Can I live on the beach or the Westside? What is the Westside?
Well to give you a sense of Los Angeles, and my apology to native Angelenos reading this, the Westside of LA pretty much encompasses the beach areas of LA from Playa del Rey in the south and near the airport to Malibu in the north. It also includes areas like Brentwood (where VP Kamala Harris used to live), West Hollywood or WeHo, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Venice, Century City, and Westwood (where UCLA is located). It’s generally anything close to the highway/freeway called the 405. Before I got to LA, every Angeleno I met had very strong opinions about the Westside. They either thought it was the only place to live in LA or was too difficult to get to from other parts of the city.  I didn’t have a clue what all this controversy was about. Living where I live now, I get it and I don’t really go there much. Sometimes on the weekend I will go to the beach or to meet a friend, but rarely do I go there during the week because of traffic. It can take me an hour or more in traffic especially in the morning or night! However, I do know some great people there and it is a nice part of LA. If you have a strong desire to live on the beach or the Westside, when you start to look for a place just be prepared for two things: it can be much more expensive than other parts of the city, and you will need to consider the distance to school. It’s quite far from the Health Science Campus. Look it up on a map.

If I can’t live at the beach, where else would be nice?
If you are looking for something not too far away from the beach but kind of in the middle, there are students who live in Inglewood, Mid-City, Culver City, and Fairfax/Melrose. I also know some students that are big fans of living in Long Beach. All these neighborhoods for the exception of Long Beach are equal distance from the beach and the Health Science campus and are much more affordable than living at the beach. There are some great neighborhoods in the eastern and northern part of LA too. I know students who live in Echo Park, Silver Lake, Burbank, South Pasadena, Glendale, and even parts of the Valley. While I don’t know much about any of those other neighborhoods, I do know students who live in these neighborhoods, like it, and the seem to make the commute work. These areas are also relatively affordable. Check out this article in Thrillist if you want to know more: Where should I move in Los Angeles?

When I was searching for a place, I primarily used the website Zillow and RentCafe. Zillow is great because there is a walker score for every neighborhood, which basically tells you if you can get places around the neighborhood by walking and without needing a car. It also gives you a sense of how much greenI was also fortunate enough to make a trip out to LA and spend a couple of nights in an Airbnb in one of the neighborhoods that looked interesting to me (Los Feliz). Funny thing is now I live right down the street from where the Airbnb was!

I wish you the best of luck as you begin to think about and plan your move to Los Angeles because LA rent is not cheap. One bedrooms in LA on the low end are about $1800-$2,000/month! Renting a room is of course less expensive if you don’t mind roommates, and there is always on-campus housing. For more information about living on or near campus, check out this great blog from a Joyce, a former ambassador: Help! Where do I live?!. Also please feel free to reach out to me or any of the other ambassadors if you have any questions about where to live.

Next up: What’s it like after you move to LA?

Guy

How to go to OT graduate school after being out of school for a long time/Step 4 — Getting letters of recommendation >

by Guy

Admissions

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This will be my last blog about how to go to OT graduate school after being out of school for a long time. No matter where you apply, you will need to have letters of recommendation. Knowing how to get letters of recommendation is not only useful for the graduate application process but some of the tips mentioned below can also be applied to other aspects in life. I guarantee that later in life you will need people to serve as a reference for your personality, character, and professional abilities. This will never go away. Trust me on this. At some point, you will need to ask someone that is not your friend or family to vouch for you personally and professionally. Although I put this as the last step, I must emphasize — DO NOT DO THIS LAST. In fact, this is one of the easier things you can start to do once you have decided that you want to go back to OT graduate school after being out of school for a long time.

Like the other steps, what I have written is what worked for me. You may decide to do something different. Remember, do what works for you. You do you!

Whenever I see the words “please submit letters of recommendation” or “provide professional references”, I always get stuck trying to figure out who I should ask. You might feel this way too. For some of you, this might be based on thinking you have no one to ask. For others, you might have an idea of who to ask but are unsure of what they might say. For almost everyone, there is the problem that once you do have an idea who to ask, you don’t know how or when to ask. All are very important concerns that you will need to figure out on your own, or with a trusted friend or mentor prior to asking someone to write a recommendation for you.

For those of you who think you don’t have anyone that can write a recommendation for you because you don’t know anyone other than your family and friends, or are an introvert or feel that you don’t think anyone would want to vouch for you as a future occupational therapist, let me stop you right there. Remember, you’ve already done this process before. You wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t. You did it to get into college. You’ve done it to apply for jobs, perhaps to rent an apartment, or even to adopt an animal. All have required you to get someone that is not your family or friend to vouch for you as a person. Applying to graduate school is no different. In fact, some of those people you used for recommendations in the past might work for this situation too.  You may be thinking, “Ok, but I’ve never been an occupational therapist before, so what can they possibly say to vouch for me to be an OT grad student?”. Remember, admissions departments are trying to determine whether the program will benefit you and if you will benefit from the program. It’s important for them to find out why you are passionate about occupational therapy, what type of work ethic you have, and if you are an empathetic and caring person. Hearing from people who know you can help them answer these questions. What I did was I made a list of people who might be able to answer these questions. Remember we have been adulting for a while so there are probably a lot of people we know who would be happy to recommend you. People I thought of included a former supervisor, former colleagues, a pastor, a mentor, a fellow volunteer at a community service project I had done, and people in my prior career network. You are bound to come up with at least one or two people when you think back over the past 5/10/15 or even 20 years post-college.

If you still can’t think of anyone, you will be meeting a lot of people as you take classes and volunteer in preparation for meeting the graduate application requirements. In both areas, you will interact with people who will want to learn about your reasons for changing careers and wanting to be an occupational therapist. People will want to know you. If you haven’t already, allow these people to get to know you. Go out for a coffee with them, talk to them about your future, get their feedback on things you’re encountering or questions you have. As difficult as it might be, especially for us introverts, do all you can to make yourself known. I know this is hard. But don’t’ forget it is so much easier for people to write a recommendation for you if they know you. While I was initially reluctant to get to know new people, I got to know one of my community college instructors who showed genuine interest in me. I put myself out there by going to office hours and having meaningful conversations with them about my future professional goals. Even though I only knew them for about a year, when I thought about who I should get to write a recommendation they were one of the first people I felt confident would be able to speak to my character and abilities as it related to going to graduate school in occupational therapy.

Now, for those of you who have a list of people to ask but are unsure of what they might say about you. Here are some questions I used to determine if they were the right person to ask for a recommendation:

  1. How do I know them?
  2. Have they known me a long time? Do they know me well?
  3. When was the last time I spoke to them? What was the conversation? Did it end on a positive note?
  4. Have they ever shown any interest in my professional goals, interests, or life pursuits?
  5. Have they privately and/or publicly given me positive or negative feedback about my character, or professional skills?
  6. Have I ever read anything they have written? Was the writing clear?
  7. What do they think about my change in career? Are they supportive or shocked?
  8. Will their recommendation/perspective complement the other recommendations?

Once you have decided who to ask, do not wait. People need a lot of time to write a recommendation. If you can give them at least a month that would be great. Start by calling them or meeting with them in person. If you can’t speak to them directly leave a message and then follow up with an email. My conversations were easy because I had already been speaking to many people about going back to school. But if you haven’t talked to the person for a long time, start your discussion by catching up with them, and then once you start talking about what you are currently up to just say: “Hey, you know how I used to talk about going back to graduate school in occupational therapy, well I actually am starting to apply to schools now and I was wondering if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me?”

To this day whenever I have asked for a reference or letter of recommendation, no one has refused. However, if someone does tell you they can’t write a recommendation, accept it and move on to the next person. Most likely the reason will be due to time. (This often happens when you ask professors who are maybe already writing a lot of recommendations while also trying to grade midterms or finals.)  If they do agree to write a letter, make sure to send a follow-up email with simple instructions on what they need to do as well as a clearly indicated deadline. One week prior to the deadline check in with them if they have not submitted the recommendation. Once they have submitted the recommendation, make sure to send them a very sincere thank you email or better yet a card via snail mail! Finally, regardless of whether you get into graduate school or not, don’t forget to contact them after you find out. If you get into the school of your choice thank them again for their help and let them know your next steps. Also, if you didn’t get into graduate school, thank them again for their help and let them know your next steps. People like to know what happened!

Oh, one other response you might encounter when asking people to write a recommendation is the person you ask might ask you to write the recommendation for them. I always find this to be odd. While it cuts out the mystery of what they will say, it also means they really don’t know you or have very little to write about you. Either way they are not really recommending you but are signing off on you recommending yourself. Which is strange. I don’t do this but know people who have…

FYI — For my application, I ended up asking three very important people in my life. I asked a former pastor of mine who I had known for many years and helped him to do volunteer projects. I asked a former supervisor, who I had known for years. It’s funny because I just had a long phone call with her the other day. I also asked a person I met during my journey going back to school, the amazing occupational therapist I spent many hours observing while volunteering at an inpatient rehab. However, I had a list of about 6 people who I felt comfortable asking to give me recommendations or references. I keep in touch with them and am so grateful for their support.

I hope you have cultivated similar relationships with sincere and kind people who are supportive of your professional development and willing to say how amazing you would be as a graduate student and an occupational therapist. If this hasn’t happened get started today by reaching out to people from your past or starting new relationships if you can. As you continue to figure out how to go to OT graduate school, I hope that this blog entry as well as the ones I wrote before were helpful. I wish you the best of luck getting back into school after a long time. Remember it’s never too late to start something new!

Guy

11 out of 12 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living >

by Guy

Life Hacks

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With 11 days until the New Year, I have chosen to write about 11 of the 12 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living that have influenced my life. In the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (4th ed.; AOTA, 2020), Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are defined as activities to support daily life within the home and community that often require more complex interactions than those used in ADLs. While those of us interested in occupational therapy often focus on ADLs, I have come to realize how essential the following 11 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are to me. These activities not only help to give my life meaning, but they give me an interesting way to look at some of the things I have accomplished this past year and what I want or need to do in the upcoming year.

1. Care of others: Caring for others helps me to gain a realistic perspective on my own life, gets me out of my head, and gives me some humility. This past year I have spent a lot of time helping my 98-year-old father. This past week I have been helping him to move. While stressful, I am getting to spend more time with him which I recognize is such a precious thing. I am grateful for his love and have been reminded how lucky I am to have him in my life. Hopefully I can continue to care for him in the same way he has always cared for me.

How have you cared for others this past year? How can you be of service in 2022?

2. Care of pets: Every other month this past year one of my dogs was sick. Last week my dog Jack refused to eat and had some sort of doggie norovirus. Yuck! My other dog Sharon seems to have some sort of problem with her paws every other month. It’s all good because they provide me with so much love and attention. Although they are not official emotional support animals, they take care of me more than I care for them.

Do you have a pet? If you haven’t but have always wanted one, maybe 2022 is the year!

3. Communications management: With Covid, keeping connected with others has been so important to maintaining my emotional health. I have even resorted to writing letters this past year. While I don’t do the holiday card thing, this time of year reminds me to reach out to my friends and family to let them know how much they mean to me, and to tell them how honored I am to have them in my life.

Is there someone you have wanted to speak to for a long time but just haven’t got around to it? Trust me, get in touch while you can!

4. Driving and community mobility: New York City has great public transportation, so you don’t really need a car. LA, the public transportation can be challenging.  I feel lucky that my wife and I, having lived in NYC for so long, have no problems navigating the city using public transportation or by walking. But I am also extremely fortunate to have a car. Especially when we need to get out of the city to see nature. I hope that this upcoming year I can see more of California like Yosemite, Death Valley, and maybe the Redwoods.

Where have you gone? Where are you going?

5. Financial management: With one semester left to go before graduation, I know many of my classmates have been talking about paying back loans, potential benefits and salaries, and other money matters. While daunting, it has opened my eyes to how helpful it is to talk to others who share my worries about money. So many of us try to figure all this money stuff out on our own. We don’t need to suffer in silence.

Do you have someone you can talk to about your finances? Is there someone you know and trust that can support you with money matters as you get ready to start graduate school or graduate?

6. Health management and maintenance: This past year I got back into running. I’m now up to running 4 days a week in the morning. Next year I want to run a half marathon. It isn’t always easy to get up and run. Some days I just don’t want to do it even though I know I always feel better when I run. On days when I don’t want to run, I remind myself of a phrase I learned in my pediatric immersion class, “When in doubt prope (proprioception) it out”.

Do you have any health maintenance routines? What will you do to support your health and wellness in 2022?

7. Home establishment and management: Recently my wife and I have been going back and forth about getting a new bed. After putting a lot of effort into creating a nice place to live, this is the one thing in our house that still needs to be addressed. However, the cost of a new mattress/bed is expensive! We both know we need to be comfortable sleeping – Am I right?

How have you made your home comfortable? Are there any changes that you would like to do to make it better?

8. Meal preparation and cleanup: Food, glorious food. I sure have been cooking a lot. One major change this year was unforeseen. My wife decided to become gluten free, so I also became gluten free. This has added a whole new dimension to preparing meals and dining out. I became that Guy who knows all about gluten free pizza and cookies. The benefit of this change is I have healthier eating habits and am much more mindful of what is going into my body. I also have been thinking about what it could be like to cut out meat or at least limit my consumption of meat.

What types of new foods have you discovered? What types of food or meals to you think you might want to prepare in 2022?

9. Religious and spiritual activities and expression: I feel like I have neglected this aspect of my life and as a result can tell a difference in my day-to-day outlook. I lost someone very close to me this past year which awakened this otherwise dormant part of me. So many questions after experiencing the death of a loved one…so many questions.

10. Safety and emergency maintenance: There was one earthquake this last year that was rockin’. Yuck. I forgot about how earthquakes felt while living in New York. We had hurricanes and snowstorms, but they didn’t compare to the feeling I had with this earthquake. I thought what if the “big one” comes? As a result, we put together an emergency kit and started getting together some nonperishables just in case the big one happens or if there happens to be a Zombie apocalypse.

All kidding aside, how can you keep up your safety and emergency maintenance?

11. Shopping: Shopping has been a challenge as this year. Especially as a student with a limited income. However, I have mastered the art of making food shopping lists that are always within budget. Also, as an OT student I fortunately am not needing to keep up with wearing the latest fashion…but I do like me some clothes so maybe next year I’ll try to set aside some money for some new threads…

Have you noticed inflation? How are you dealing with rising costs going into 2022?

And about that 12th IADL — Child Rearing . . . Well, I don’t have any children right now, but maybe in 2022? We will see?!

As you reflect on your 11 or maybe 12 IADLs, I hope they are as enlightening to you as they have been for me. Have a Happy New Year.

Guy

How to go to OT graduate school after being out of school for a long time — Step 3: Getting volunteer hours with an occupational therapist* >

by Guy

Admissions

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One of the things I struggled with doing in my attempt to apply to graduate school was figuring out how to observe or gain direct experience in an occupational therapy setting in order to meet those mandatory volunteer hours so many OT graduate schools list as an application requirement. Right now with the pandemic, the ability to do this is even more daunting. Unfortunately, some graduate schools are still making this an application requirement. Depending on the graduate school, the volunteer requirement might be a minimum amount of hours shadowing an occupational therapist or the requirement might be stated more generally during the application process where the school tells applicants that admissions preference will be given to those that have volunteer experience in a clinical setting related to occupational therapy. To me, the latter statement was the worst because I interpreted it to be saying you better get a gazillion volunteer hours if you even want to be considered…and I had no clue what a gazillion hours could possibly mean. You also have places like USC that don’t require any hours at all because there is a recognition that volunteer experiences can sometimes be good, sometimes be bad, and that getting a volunteer experience is not always possible (especially in these times of Covid). So for those of us folks that are working and maybe have kids, or are caring for older family members, etc., how do we even consider trying to fit in observation or volunteering before applying. I mean come on…I work, I got bills to pay, I have to take my mother to her doctor’s appointment, and I’ve got to drop off and pick up my kid from school. Do I really need to do this? How can I do this? Well the answer for me was yes, you do need to do this, and you can do this. I came to the realization that this was not just a performative step I had to take for graduate school admission, but more importantly, it could be a way for me to get a better understanding of occupational therapy and help me feel more confident in my decision to make this career change.

But how would I do this? Just a reminder before I describe what I did, don’t forget to do what works for you. You do you! To start I had to sit down with my partner and discuss how and why I needed to do this, and how it could impact my ability to work and maintain family commitments. We needed to determine how much time I could dedicate to volunteering/observing on a weekly basis. That was the easy part. I decided I could do 2 hours or 3 hours one day a week. Then I needed to figure out where I would volunteer. That was the hard part. Well, I started by making cold calls to a few places where occupational therapists work: skilled nursing facilities, rehab facilities, and outpatient clinics. If I was able to get someone, those conversations usually were a dead-end, either because they didn’t allow for volunteers (usually because of HIPAA), or they had OT grad students doing fieldwork. One occupational therapist at a skilled nursing facility actually seemed excited to have me come in for an interview only to then call back to tell me her boss said “Nope!”. After making calls to around 30 places, I decided I would start to visit places in person (this was during pre-Covid, and in New York City, which is really easy to get around on public transportation and there are many many facilities with occupational therapy).

While these visits didn’t necessarily land me a volunteer opportunity, with each encounter I picked up invaluable information about the settings and got a better feel for my future career. I saw privately operated hand clinics, outpatient neuro rehab clinics, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehab facilities, long-term care, sensory gyms, group homes, and even hippo-therapy. The process of looking for a place to observe/volunteer became an education in and of itself. I not only became better acquainted with the various occupational therapy practice areas, but I started to hear about places that actually take volunteers on a regular basis, and I just became better acquainted with the practice areas of occupational therapy. This led me to a teaching hospital with a structured volunteer program for people interested in occupational therapy in their outpatient clinic. I was all set to go when I found out that the commitment was a 4-hour shift on a day that conflicted with when I needed to go to work. I asked if I could come in for only two hours instead of 4. But they said they just didn’t want to commit to a person who could only give a couple of hours a week…The good part of all of this was it made me realize I needed to revisit the amount of time I would need to set aside for volunteering. I just didn’t know that most places don’t want someone to come in for just a couple of hours. If I was going to make this happen I needed to be able to recognize I might need to commit up to 4 hours or more for a shift. I found that it’s just how things seem to work.

In the end, I was able to volunteer at the VA thanks to that occupational therapist who walked into the bar. I also had the chance to volunteer at an inpatient rehab facility after getting a tip during another conversation with someone who knew someone who volunteered at that facility. While it took a while to find these experiences, both experiences were invaluable in helping me to feel secure in my decision to change careers.

If you are looking for volunteer opportunities, and don’t know where to start, just start asking around and visiting places. Also, USC has this handy list.

*With the pandemic, I know securing an experience with an occupational therapist can be very hard to do right now. Hopefully, this will change soon.

Guy

How to go to OT graduate school after being out of school for a long time — Step 2 >

by Guy

Admissions

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Step 2 — Managing your time and money as you prepare to apply to graduate school

If you read my last blog, you know the classes you need to take and are starting to get some idea of some of the other requirements you need to complete to apply to graduate school. (Oh, if you don’t know about those other requirements like finding volunteer/observation hours with an occupational therapist, or finding people to write your recommendations, I’ll touch on those in my upcoming blogs.) So, now what?  You need to come to terms with how this change will impact your time and money. Below is what I did, but you may decide to do something different. Remember to do what works for you. You do you!

Before I even took classes and while I was working full-time, I mapped out a timeline for how long it would take me to complete all the requirements to apply to OT graduate school. I looked at all the schools where I was going to apply and found the one with the earliest deadline and worked backwards to make sure I would complete everything by that deadline. (Side note — I failed to make that deadline — whoops, life happens. However, in retrospect, no big deal because that mistake led me to be here!) Next, I thought about what I would be doing while I was waiting to find out if I got into grad school (usually about 3-4 months of waiting), and I thought about what I would do in between getting into graduate school and going to graduate school making sure to factor in moving. I also made a contingency plan for if I didn’t get into graduate school the first time. (I didn’t make plans for applying more than two times. That was me and you might feel differently.)

In the end it took me approximately 22 months to complete all the requirements to apply to graduate school, and then an additional 6 months until I started school. During the first year, I worked full time and took one class each semester. Financially this was manageable because my classes were very inexpensive, and I still had a good income. In terms of time, it had very little impact on my work week. Once a week I went to class for 3 hours at night right after work. While the class time was manageable, it was an adjustment to my weekends. Now Saturdays and Sundays meant studying or doing assignments. I hadn’t been to school in so long; my studying skills were rusty. Also, getting used to Blackboard and submitting work online was a bit strange. My first written assignment I printed it out and tried to turn it into the teacher — whoops.

During my second year, I got a part-time job, and started taking two classes a semester while also volunteering/observing at least 8 hours per week. Six months or so before leaving full-time work for part-time work my partner and I examined our expenses then and came up with a household budget that could be sustained not only once I went part-time but also when I went to graduate school. We basically came to an agreement about what my piece of the pie had to be while going back to school. While my income would be less, working part-time in the service industry gave me so much more time to study and more importantly gave me the chance to see occupational therapy in action so that I could get a better understanding of the profession. Once I finished the application process, over the next 6 months I continued to volunteer, and I also worked as much as possible to save, save, and save more. Fortunately, I did not have to factor in moving because I moved prior to applying to graduate school where there were schools that I had been considering applying to anyway. (My partner and I decided to move before I even started the application process because we wanted to be closer to family.) However, after talking to many of my classmates who had to move across country once they found out they got in and during a pandemic, I will say this, DO NOT underestimate the amount of time, money, and mental head space that goes into a move. Not that moving is ever easy but moving to a city like Los Angeles and figuring out the housing situation can be very hard to navigate. FYI — Reach out to me or another ambassador if you are from out of town and thinking about going to USC. We can give you some ideas about where students live and how much it costs to get a place in LA.

I never imagined going back to school let alone getting myself together to apply to graduate school because it seemed almost insurmountable. I didn’t have the time or the money. Also going from working adult to student with no money seemed like a far stretch of the imagination. After one year into going back to school, I recall sitting in one of my community college classes after working a night shift at the restaurant and thinking here I am in my forties, I said to myself, “What am I doing?” Well, I’ll tell you what I’m doing, and what you might be starting to do too. Learning and changing! Has it been hard? Yes! Has it been worth it? Absolutely! As we occupational therapy students have learned, don’t forget to break it down into manageable steps, chunk it up! Give yourself the time and space to make the insurmountable doable. Then get it done!

Quick note if you have a partner —

Although I had the full support of my partner during this time, I needed to redouble my efforts to consistently consult with them about what I was thinking about doing. I also needed to actively listen to their ideas and feedback, and to remain steadfast in collaborating with them to do things that would work for the both of us. Despite my best efforts, I didn’t do this so well. Like the time I came back from my first day of community college and said, “I think it would be best if I stopped working and just took classes.” At which point my partner said, “Best for who?” Fortunately, I have a very understanding partner who gives me numerous opportunities to work on things together…So, before you make any plans about your time or money as you prepare to apply to occupational therapy graduate school, listen to your partner, make sure you and your partner are on the same page, and above all else remember this is a big change for them too.

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