Externship + Spring Break >
March 26, 2014
It’s been a whirlwind in my life the past 3 weeks. I went on my externship to Ghana (alongside 35 other OT students and fellow ambassador Clarissa) and then I spent 3 days in Berlin, Germany with one of my good friends from the OT program. My jet lag has not gone away, I must admit, and I am still confused as to when I should be hungry and when I should be tired. All in all, it was an amazing time away from school and I wish I could do a video blog to tell you all about it and share pictures and videos. I will try my best to be succinct yet thorough!
In Ghana, we stayed at the Mephibosheth Training Center in Appam, about 2 hours outside of the capital city of Accra. MTC is a boarding school for children with disabilities that come from all across Ghana, some as far as 9 hours away. About 53 children, ranging from about 5-23 years old, with physical and mental challenges, live at MTC and go to school. It is a true honor for these children to attend school because Ghanaians have traditional beliefs that disabilities stem from a curse on the family or the individual. Although this mindset is changing in the country, it is an ongoing process. Our group of USC OT students came to MTC to play and love on the kids, as well as perform 3 sets of vocational activities with them to note their skill and interest level in sewing, woodworking and leatherworking. We made a game of cornhole with bean bags and leather bracelets. It was truly amazing to spend time with these children!
We also had the opportunity to meet with OT students from the University of Ghana. They will be graduating their first class of 19 students this year, and it was really neat to share our knowledge and love of OT with them. Our group was also assigned to pair up with students from the University of Winneba in the Community-Based Rehabilitation Worker program. These students go out into the communities, find individuals with disabilities and refer them to sources. Many of the students/CBR workers are placed in schools. I was able to shadow a student placed at a primary school in a classroom of 14-16 year-old girls. They loved me and I loved them. It was magical to be surrounded by such joy.
I had the chance to relax in Berlin, where I toured the city with my friend Mona. We got on one of the hop-on, hop-off, double-decker tour buses for two days. This was the perfect choice because we were able to see all of the sites, get the history and have someone else drive! We ate pretzels, schnitzel, spaetzel and yes, drank a lot of beer. It was fun to visit such a cosmopolitan city! I was pretty happy to come home, however, despite the crazy time difference and my loads of homework due this week!!
Speaking of homework, I think I’ll get back to it…. Stay tuned for more exciting developments as my fellow ambassadors and I wrap up our last 5 weeks of our grad school careers!!
Here’s a picture of one of the kiddos at MTC in Ghana and some pretzels in Germany. 😊
As more and more students are admitted for the upcoming school year (which begins in June), I am fortunate to be in contact with more and more of them. I feel so lucky to be in the position to connect with the newcomers in our program, the class of 2016, and share my experiences and knowledge with them. I’ve received many questions about housing. “Where should I live?” is a big question I get almost on a daily basis. I always reply with the same answer — it depends on what you’re looking for! That’s one of the best things about Los Angeles: there are many neighborhoods that offer a variety of different things. My classmates live all over the greater Los Angeles area, some as far as Orange County! Many people look for a shorter commute than that, and so Pasadena is a great option. Some people like to be closer to the beach areas, so they look into Brentwood or Santa Monica. It really all depends on what is important to you in a place to live; the best thing is that Los Angeles offers a lot.
Another question I have been receiving frequently is about student life. “What is student life really like?” people have asked. I mention my blogs and those of my fellow ambassadors and I hope prospective students have read our posts. We are 5 very different individuals whose interests and tastes differ. I hope that these blogs give readers a diverse perspective on what it is truly like to be a student in the program, and that the readers can identify with one or some of us. In my opinion, student life is great! I make sure that I have balance in my life, meaning equal time commitments to work/productivity, leisure, rest and self-care. I make time for friends and I make time for my studies. I make time for myself with an hour spent at the gym and an hour each night reading a book for fun. I stay updated on my favorite TV shows (Real Housewives on Bravo). I have two internships this spring and I work as an ambassador representing the Division. I love my life and I’m a really happy graduate student. Of course, there are stressors; but with preparation and dedication, I stick to my routine in how to combat them. There are things I wish I could make more time for (I’d love to cook more!!); but I know that will come. I take things week-by-week and try to not sweat the small stuff.
I hope I have given you a glance into my life as a student and my thoughts about where to live in Los Angeles. Life isn’t shabby as a USC student.
I Love Dogs! >
February 24, 2014
There is no denying that I am a dog-lover. I grew up with a big Alaskan Malamute in Colorado. He was like a loveable wolf. When I was learning to read, I tried to teach him the alphabet, and later, I took him on my runs during high school lacrosse practice. Misha was a great dog, and the month after I left for college, he passed away from a heart attack. A couple of months later, my parents adopted a Golden Retriever and named her Ladri. I always joke that this dog replaced me as the “favorite blonde” in the family. My parents spoil Ladri like crazy! It’s so great to go home and visit my family with a great puppy who knows who I am even if I’m not always there. Recently, Ladri was diagnosed with cancer, and a couple of weeks later she had a stroke. Her facial muscles were greatly affected, so she has trouble closing her mouth completely. Her muscles above her eyes no longer work, rendering her effectively blind. However, Ladri is still loving life. My parents have “OT-ed her,” by raising her food dish off the floor and leading the way to certain areas with kibble. Ladri still loves to go for walks and play with her toys. She doesn’t love baths, but that’s to be expected for a canine. She is a member of my family through and through and I am so glad she’s still with us. When I graduate in May, I’ve discussed getting a dog because I’ve never owned one since becoming an adult. Since I live in a small apartment, I’d get a smaller dog. It is definitely something to think about and consider — what’s my lifestyle like and which breed would do best for me? I hope I’ve narrowed it down to a couple breeds that have rescue shelters locally.
This past weekend, I was able to dog-sit for one of my best friends. Izzy is a 4 year-old Yorkie who weighs 6 pounds. She is feisty and fierce; however, when no one is looking, if you rub her paws, she will melt. Izzy is a great companion and it was great to spend time with her this weekend. I’ve included a picture so that you can see us snuggling. Woof woof.
Gearing Up For Ghana! >
February 19, 2014
As I may have mentioned, I will be going to Ghana for my Leadership Externship, alongside about 30 of my classmates and 10 occupational therapists/professors. I’ve known since last November that I was going on this journey, but it is so crazy to me that I will be leaving exactly 2 weeks from today! There have been many items on our “TO DO” list that I have accomplished just in the nick of time; there are also many items on that list that I still need to conquer! Today I bought my insect repellent in order to fend off the mosquitoes, a couple bandannas to help with the dust, and all-important sunscreen. I still need to purchase materials for my activities with the students and get my school materials together for when I am there. I will be able to journal each day to reflect on my experiences, and I bought a camera for pictures and video. I’m so excited for this journey and to learn more about myself and my own capacities as a future clinician. I can’t wait to come back after my 3 week trip (Ghana in 2 weeks and then Spring Break for a week in Germany) and share all about my experiences. My fellow ambassador, Clarissa, will also be on the trip, so I’m sure between the two of us, we will have MANY pictures and stories. HOORAY!
The Olympics Are Here! >
February 5, 2014
As of tomorrow night, the 2014 Winter Olympics have begun and I am SO EXCITED!!! I love sports competitions, and I love everything the Olympics stands for. I feel as if people from so many different races, cultures and backgrounds come together with a common goal: to represent their country and do the best they can. The Opening Ceremonies are one of the most magical events to watch because you can see this pride on the faces of all the athletes who come to compete. The Winter Olympics mean so much to me too, since I grew up in Colorado! I always wanted to be an Olympic-level ski racer, and I watched U.S. skiing greats like Picabo Street and Johnny Mosely when they both won Olympic Gold. Furthermore, one of my favorite movies of all time is Cool Runnings, the classic tale of the Jamaican bobsled team that went to the Calgary Olympics. Well, good news for me — the Jamaican’s are once again sending a bobsled team to the Olympics!!
I’m planning to watch the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow night with some friends and show my pride for Team USA!