University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog | Japeth


A Whole New (Quarantine) World
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As occupational beings, we long for social interaction with family, peers, and even with unfamiliar people; we want to explore the world and be with nature; we want to establish our routines, plan for the coming weeks and months as we enjoy life day by day; and definitely, we all want to live life to the fullest! Can you imagine life when we can all do these things? Doesn’t it look perfect? Can you now imagine a life that does not allow us to do any of the said activities? Honestly, for me, I don’t need to imagine anymore – it is actually happening right here and right now.

The quarantine life has affected us in many, many ways: universities transitioned to online classes, companies decided to implement a work from home set up, restaurants and coffee shops are now only available for to-go orders, and so on. But what can we really do? As my wonderful professor Dr. Emily Ochi had told me before, this is something that nobody wanted, or this is nobody’s fault; but its effects and consequences are left for us to endure. And I think she is right – we are innocent victims of such circumstances and yet here we are still trying to keep things going! (Just a quick shout out to Dr Ochi, Dr. Danny Park and his Global Initiatives team, and the rest of the faculty and staff of USC Chan for checking in with us and for making sure that we are doing okay despite everything!!)

Just when I thought that my previous blog post was the most personal that I’ll be posting ever, I think this pandemic proved me wrong. Here are some tips (all based on my personal experience, so please don’t judge LOL), that you can do while being on quarantine:

1. Check in:
The power of checking in has never been this appreciated to some people, including myself. Who would ever thought that a simple “Hey, how are you?” would mean the world? In stressful times like this, we do not know who to contact or communicate with since everyone is actually going through the same battle. We don’t want to give additional emotional or psychological baggage to our friends and family, because surely, they are also going through a lot. But I think having a support group or being with certain people (virtually) around you and making them feel that you are there for them and vice versa, makes a huge difference!

2. Escape but always go back:
We are humans and humans as we are, the effects of stress can easily penetrate our mind and body. We should learn when to stop, when to take a break, and when to continue again. When you have so many things at hand and you feel overwhelmed, remember this saying: “Rest if you must but never quit!”

3. Enjoy today and always try look forward to better days:
I know that when times get rough, it is just not easy to have fun and enjoy every moment. I know that uncertainty always has a way to ruin our mood, but I also know that we are bigger than our uncertainties in life. If today does not feel okay, maybe tomorrow will, or the day after tomorrow, or maybe next week! Funny how this sounds like, but there is always something better that is coming our way. Maybe my plans for this week or next week are ruined, but who said I don’t have the next month to make another set of plans?

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” – a line that represents all of us right now. We are tough and we will continue to thrive, even in the darkest of times. Fight On!

A screenshot of an online hangout by the post-professional master's students

Here is a group zoom photo of some of the students from the post-professional master’s cohort. Fight on from our screens to yours!


Sometimes life gets in the way—and it’s ok!
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Spring semester is almost over and my blogging life is halfway through. This area of work as a student ambassador has been a privilege and has served as a good way for me to share a bit of my life to all. This post is, by far, the most personal that I am posting; I am not one to post my thoughts and emotions online, but I feel like this post could be inspiring to everyone who might be going through a lot, all at once.

2019 was a good year to me: I was able to come to LA and take my MA at my dream university; I met so many friends from my cohort and other cohorts, and even outside of the Chan Division; I got the ambassador position which I really wanted; I am now specializing in the areas of OT that I am most interested in, and etc! So, how can one think that 2020 would be not so nice, right? When 2020 started, I had the most positive of thoughts I could ever think. However, as days and weeks unfold, I feel as though bad news just keep coming.

January-February have been really tough, not just for me but for most of the people I know. When bad times occur, we need to trust our coping mechanisms to help us get through the obstacles. Mine happens to be doing a lot of stress eating, retail therapy, or something spiritual like hearing a mass. In addition to these well-established coping strategies, I explored a new one this semester: self-talking. I think that it has been really helpful to me, especially in shaping my thoughts from a negative standpoint to becoming more positive, or at least to see the positive side of every awful situation.

My two takeaways in this entire two-month emotional and psychological rollercoaster ride would be:

  1. There will always be things and situations that will come our way and are definitely out of our control; but what we do have control in is how we react to them. One example I can share would be the cancellation of our international externship. I am sure that everyone is frustrated and sad about this. But when I thoroughly reflect on the situation, I realized that nobody wanted this to happen and we are all victims of such circumstance. Maybe the healthiest way to deal with this is to accept that we cannot change it; rather, we can find a solution.
  2. It is all about perspective. This is really difficult to practice because when we are under high levels of stress and tension, our perspective gets blurry. For me, it took me a long while to be able to really do this by heart. One time, Dr. Milman, one of USC Chan’s best professors, greeted me while we came across each other in the hallway. She asked me if I was having a good day since I was really smiling at her. All I said was, “You will have a good day if you think that it is a good day… perspective is everything!”

I have been using “Fight On” many, many times when I end a blog post, so now I want to end this one with the line that I have been telling my friends lately: “When you hit rock bottom, there is no way to go but UP!!!”


The Building Blocks of the Pre-Master’s Program
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Coming from a country where English language is not the official language may be difficult for some students who intend to go abroad for continuing education. This is what I also felt when I was still applying to the program. Questions such as “Will I be able to speak confidently?” or “Can I express myself and my thoughts properly?” were always on my mind. International students also need to take an English Proficiency Exam (IELTS or TOEFL) and must reach a score that is accepted by the department. This requirement is difficult, to be honest! Aside from this, students who are planning to enter graduate school must also take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), which includes questions about analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. This exam is just equally difficult, if not more, as the IELTS or TOEFL.

For interested international students who might be worried on their performance on these tests, don’t fret! I am happy to share about USC’s Pre-Master’s Program, which aims to help students improve their performance and scores!

Below is a video featuring Yen Ting Ni and Yi Fan Lin, both went through the Pre-Master’s program before joining this year’s Post-Professional MA in OT cohort.

I hope this video is helpful to future applicants and students! Also, I would like to share with you about what changes the admissions team has been doing! The admissions team headed by Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh, together with Dr. Kristin Nxumalo and Dr. Amber Bennett, has changed how admissions look like! USC Chan has moved towards what we call the “new admission holistic process”, where all components of the admission criteria are given equal importance and value. To read more of this, here is the link!

Fight On!


Lifestyle Redesign®: From Theory to Reality
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One of the many reasons why I came to USC is because of the Lifestyle Redesign® course elective. As an occupational therapy practitioner in my home country, I felt as though my role in targeting health and wellness promotion is still quite unclear. I knew that OTs have a huge role in such area, but to me, I just did not know where, when, and how I can advocate for myself in this field.

I learned about Lifestyle Redesign® – an approach in occupational therapy that allows clients to achieve health, behavior, or lifestyle changes – through a friend who also took this course years ago. Finally, this semester, I am taking this elective course and all I can say is it is just amazing! Dr. Dieterle teaches with so much passion and she makes sure that the class is interactive. The class flows this way:

1. On the first day of this class, we started with a little introduction about ourselves and our reason for taking this course; during the second session and onwards, we start the class with a recap of last week’s session.

2. Dr. Camille Dieterle will discuss the topic for the day. It could be about how to use different assessment tools or how to utilize specific strategies and intervention.

3. We also get to practice this approach with our classmates. We are grouped into a triad and let’s name the students as A, B, and C. So, student A will be the therapist of student B; student B will be the therapist of student C; and student C will be the therapist of student A.

My therapist and I are now on our third week of session. During the first session, she interviewed me to create an occupational profile that was very holistic. During that session, I informed her about my adjustment with the new semester. I find this semester quite overwhelming, but still very manageable. We are working on a goal about rest and sleep, which includes creating a night routine.

I appreciate how my therapist gives so much attention to me and to my goal. She makes sure that every session that we have is interactive and client-led. She gives me worksheets about rest, sleep, and even drafting a routine. Last session, she gave a sleep checklist that I can fill up at night before I sleep and the morning after – this is to keep me in check!

Here’s to achieving a healthier mind and body this 2020!! Fight on!


Winter Break with the cohort!
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After the stressful finals week, some of my classmates organized an out-of-state trip to Utah to visit two national parks: Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Driving to Utah takes about 8 to 9 hours, depending on the traffic, speed, and of course the rest breaks! So, we decided to do a stop over in Las Vegas and to eat lunch there, since Las Vegas is also known for its sumptuous buffets everywhere. By the way, driving from LA to Vegas takes about 4 to 5 hours.

Everyone smiling after eating a sumptuous meal!

A groufie after eating so much!

After having lunch, we all decided to go back on the road and head to Utah. From Las Vegas to Utah, it took us almost five hours to get there. On the way to Utah from Vegas, we passed by Arizona – and the view is very relaxing! I am sharing some snaps of the view but my apologies if they are unclear, since the car was moving when I took them. 

The photo shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

We didn’t mind the long drive from Las Vegas to Utah since the view while passing by Arizona was really beautiful.

Another photo that shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

Naturesque indeed!

We rented an Airbnb and surprisingly, the house was big enough to accommodate us all. One thing that made the house extra special was the hot tub that was available for use!

Just a group photo of those who are enjoying the hot tub.

My friends living the life! What better way to enjoy the hot tub than by pairing the experience with some juice and chips?

First day: Off to Zion National Park

In this national park, you can choose as many trails a you want to enjoy; but given our time shortage, we chose one of the easiest but beautiful trails there was: The Watchman Trail. This trail typically takes about less than 3 hours going back and forth. However, it took us more than four hours because we enjoyed so much on taking pictures almost in every good spot we find along the way.

The author's photo after finishingthe trail with the trail's name on the sign.

This is just my happy face after we finished trailing!

A group photo with the mountain on the background.

This is one of the group photos that we took while trailing. We don’t look tired here… yet!

Another group photo with the mountain on the background but with more snow on the ground.

Another group photo! This time, it was colder since we encountered more snow while trailing. We had to wear our snow chains because there were some areas that were covered with ice, and it is so easy to slip when you don’t have the chains on. The cold bothered me, as seen on the picture I can’t even concentrate and look at the camera. LOL

When we finally reached the top, of course, we took more photos! We stayed on top for 30 minutes, enjoying the view while eating our snacks. The snow covering the mountains made the view extra beautiful. The sun being extra sunny that day, helped so much in braving the cold weather.

A group photo as we reached the top of the trail.

We are finally at the top! Tip: according to the locals, the best time to visit is winter since not a lot of people visit because of the very cold weather.

To end the day, we looked for a local coffee shop to warm ourselves up; and even the coffee shop did not fail to surprise us! The place was so beautiful, and they have a balcony area where you can sit outside, have your coffee, while looking at the lake and mountains.

The author's picture at the coffee shop's balcony. The background shows the beautiful scenery.

Good view + good coffee = good mood!

Day 2: Bryce Canyon National Park – Sunrise Trail

This trail was amazingly beautiful as well! We started from the top and we trailed down. Just when I thought that in order to see the beautiful view, we need to reach the top first, this trail proved me otherwise. Going down from the top made me appreciate the scenic view too! It goes to show that sometimes, we shouldn’t just focus on the beginning or the end; rather, we can also focus on the journey and enjoy every moment with the people we are with.

The author with two of his friends while they go down the trail.

A groufie with my classmates Elijah and Maggie. Everyone went ahead of us at this point.

Here are photos of us before and after the hike!

Group photo before going down.

This is our group photo before we started trailing down. The amazing people made the view extra beautiful!

Group photo after going down.

Mixed emotions after finishing the trail. LOL

From the visitor center near the starting point of the Sunrise Trail, we drove a few miles from there going to Sunset Point – another point at the national park where the sunset is really gorgeous.

Group photo at sunset point.

Although the sunset may not be clearly seen in this picture, I can still vividly see it in my memory. Everyone was just busy enjoying the view, and of course, each other’s company.

This trip will always have a special place in my heart and memory. Being with my classmates outside the classroom was a different kind of experience. It was a joy to be with them for several days and I certainly wish for more trips with them. Also in this trip, two other Trojan friends joined us: Nana Lin who is a Masters in Microbiology and Immunology student, and Eden Lin who is also doing her Masters in Computer Science.

Until our next adventure, Fight On!

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