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 | Kevin


Making Peace with my Commute
Posted , by Kevin

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Growing up in a small town, the longest “commute” you have is around twenty minutes to go across town. Generally, people enjoyed driving and on Sunday I would go on a drive along the lake with my dad to relax and enjoy the open roads. Parking was plentiful and free. People used their car horns only for emergencies or to give friends a quick “hello” as they passed by. For much of my life, driving was a preferred occupation and something I looked forward to as part of my day. Soon after moving to Los Angeles, that all changed and driving quickly became one of my most stressful and unenjoyable occupations. My shortest commute is around twenty minutes, roads are rarely open, parking is sparse and expensive, and car horns are a little less friendly. What once was one of my most enjoyable thirty minute daily occupation was now my least enjoyable two hour daily inconvenience.

Quickly, I realized that I had taken on this pessimistic attitude toward driving and it was impacting me negatively. After coming to this realization, I chose to reframe my attitude toward my commute and find ways to make the time more enjoyable and relaxing. My first discovery on my quest to making my commute enjoyable was podcasts! Listening to podcasts and audiobooks brought back much of my enjoyment for the drive itself. Within a few weeks, I was hooked on several podcasts including Stuff You Should Know, Modern Love, and Ted Talks Daily. I now looked forward to a long drive because it gave me time to listen to a great story or learn something new.

Along with listening to podcasts, I made some other changes to my driving routine to create a more relaxing experience. First, I started using the app Waze to estimate my drive time for the next day and I would automatically add thirty minutes to all of my trips. This additional thirty minutes allowed me to relax when I encountered unexpected traffic, time to find parking, and take the slow lanes where I tend to find more friendly drivers. Next, I started walking or riding my longboard places that were close to my apartment and I found that I would usually get to my destination faster than if I had taken my car. Lastly, I began to pay more attention to the routes I took each day so I could take my eyes away from my phone’s GPS system. Knowing my daily route gave me the opportunity to relax because I was no longer concerned with missing a turn or getting lost. 

Making these changes has brought back my enjoyment of driving and reduced the stress in my life. Recently, I even started going on Sunday drives again down the coast and it feels just like when I would drive along the lake with my dad. Moving to a big city came with a lot of change, but I am happy to say that I have made peace with my commute.


Staying Active on Campus
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During my first year here at USC, I lost touch with my love for fitness and staying active. Over the course of the year, I tended to prioritize my studies and other extracurricular activities over my physical fitness. Soon after taking on this more sedentary lifestyle I noticed that my mood had decreased and my stress levels had increased so I decided to make a change. Over the summer, I took advantage of the extra time I had after fieldwork to make small changes to my diet and fitness. After several weeks of making small lifestyle adjustments, I was back in the swing of physical activity and nutritious eating. As the next academic year approached I began thinking about ways I can stay active even when on campus and here are some of my favorite ideas:

  • Take a walk during class breaks: many of my peers choose to take walks during breaks from class and there are many reasons to do so. Not only do you get some light physical activity, but the exposure to sunlight and the beautiful campus gardens allows me to recharge and focus when I come back to class.
  • Stop at the HSC Fitness Center: As long as you are a registered student with at least 1 unit, you will have free access to the HSC fitness center Monday-Friday 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. You can easily get a quick workout in before or after classes utilizing this close to campus gym!
  • Do something active at lunch: My favorite of these three options is to plan to do something active during our lunch breaks. About twice a month, I play a Frisbee game called KanJam with several of my friends from the Chan Division. The grassy area outside quench is the perfect spot to set-up a quick pick-up game and have some fun while getting some exercise.

MA-II student Rachel Kent scores 3 points while playing KanJam


MA-II student Ty Kim throwing a frisbee to his partner while playing KanJam

Since implementing these small changes in my daily routine, I have experienced many benefits far beyond improving my mood and stress levels. I found that after exercising I have more energy in class and throughout my day. Additionally, I have gained new friends on my daily walks during class breaks and through playing exciting games of KanJam!

If you have any other ideas I didn’t mention or would like to join–in on any of these activities, I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!



Posted , by Kevin

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While in graduate school it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and find something you love to do for relaxation or fun! Since I was 13 years old, that activity for me is making puzzles. Soon after discovering the Rubik’s Cube, I was hooked and wanted to make my own puzzles. While I started from humble beginnings sculpting each puzzle piece by hand, technological advances and support from the community of fellow puzzle enthusiasts brought me to 3D-printing my puzzle designs from home! Through this hobby, I made friends with people all over the world and collaborated on designs that have been brought to the mass market.

Puzzles give me the creative and stress-relieving outlet I need at the end of each day to calm my mind. While some people view Rubik’s Cube as headache inducing, for me there is nothing more peaceful than creating and solving puzzles. Along with providing a productive self-care activity, I have turned this hobby into a part-time job selling puzzles on Etsy and designing for puzzle manufactures. 

This year, I challenged myself to create a new puzzle each week and so far I have met my goal and I am currently making my 40th design. Pictured below are some of my favorite designs from my puzzle-a-week challenge along with a picture of a 3D-design.

Within occupational therapy, I have used my puzzles to build rapport with clients and let them into my occupational world as they let me into theirs. Additionally, several of my less complex puzzles have been great for practicing fine motor and visual perception skills with kids!

As my puzzle-a-week challenge year comes to an end, I am shifting my focus to applying my love for 3D design and creation of complex mechanisms to the Mark and Semira Moshayedi Innovation Award competition. I am hoping to combine my love for creation with my passion for occupational therapy to create new ergonomic equipment! Look out for a blog in the future about the Moshayedi Innovation Award competition and the new Innovation Bootcamp! 


Craving Crafts?
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It’s no secret that OT 406 Foundations: Creativity, Craft and Activity is one of the most fun courses during your first summer session for the Entry-Level Professional Master’s. Unfortunately, the summer is over and the crafts have been put away, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop crafting and letting that creativity flow! Here is one my favorite crafts to help satisfy your crafting craving:

Memory Coasters:
Have some pictures laying around that you would like to display creatively in your home? These memory coasters are the perfect way to show-off all those “instagramable” locations and start a conversation at dinner.

Materials needed:

  • Scissors
  • Self-sealing lamination sheets or laminator
  • Pictures
  • One-Piece Mason Jar Lids, Wide Mouth
  • EastCast Clear Epoxy
  • Plastic Cups
  • Stirring Sticks
  • Gloves
  • Wax Paper
  • Double-sided Tape
  • Marker


  • Trace a circle around the portion of your photo you want to place in your coaster using the bottom of the mason jar lid.
  • Cut out the circle you just traced, then laminate your photo using either a lamination machine or self-sealing lamination sheets. Laminating the photo is an important step, as sunlight and the clear resin will pull the color out of the photo if not protected.
  • Cut the laminated photo out a second time and secure the photo in the bottom of the mason jar lid using adhesive or double-sided tape.
  • Place mason jar lids on a double layer of wax paper to protect the surface you are working on.
  • Mix the clear epoxy resin using the directions provided with your resin and be sure to wear gloves and an apron to protect your skin and clothes. Pour epoxy resin into the mason jar lids until the lid is about halfway full.
  • Allow the epoxy resin to dry indoors where the coasters will not be disturbed for about 72 hours. Finally, pour yourself a drink and enjoy your beautiful memory coaster.


Let’s Eat!
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For many of us living in LA or new to the area eating is one of our most cherished occupations. Last year on campus, I spent some quality time “researching” the best food on the HSC campus…so loosen up a notch on that belt and let’s eat.

Food Trucks:

While they may not always be the healthiest option, the food trucks around campus offer some of the best local cuisine your money can buy! With a wide variety of options from gyros to burgers, there is something delicious for everyone’s taste. Personally, I visited the La Estrella truck every Tuesday to get some of the best pastor tacos and burritos I’ve ever had. If you plan to go to any of the food trucks during lunch, budget at least fifteen to thirty minutes of time because the lines grow quick. Additionally, some of the trucks have an extra card charge, so plan to bring cash.

Farmer’s Markets:

There are two amazing farmer’s markets on/near campus every week that have some awesome food options that are both affordable and healthy! Every Tuesday, the Keck Farmers Market comes to the Health Science Campus and quickly became popular within our cohort. It’s a little bit of a walk, so grab a friend or two and plan for about a five minute walk each way. Despite the walk, the food is well worth the trek! If you miss this farmers market, don’t worry, several of the vendors also come to the Pappas Quad located near the Norris Medical Library on Wednesday or Thursday. Some of my favorites from the Farmer’s Market include giant spicy tuna sushi burritos, pita with hummus, and pupusas. Not only are the hot meals tasty, the farmers market offers a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t sold on the farmers market already…then you are about to be! The market offers a healthy community eating program called the Veggie Buck program that allows you to purchase a token to double your purchases of the fresh produce. Furthermore, any produce that does not sell by the end of the week is donated and distributed to families in the community.

On-Campus Dining:

If those first two options aren’t your taste, then there are great options for eating on campus. If you are looking for a quick pick-me-up before class or during breaks, check out the Quench Juice Bar. Quench has great drinks and sandwiches if you are like me and forget to pack lunch. If you are looking for more options, then take a quick walk over to the Plaza Marketplace which has some more recognizable favorites such as Starbucks and Panda Express.
Want to take your campus dining up a notch? Then reserve a table at the only full-service restaurant on campus, The Edmondson, for a special occasion.

Off-Campus Dining:

There are so many great food options in Los Angeles so explore!

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