Faculty/Staff Resources Student Resources
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
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube

Student Blog


So You’re in LA. What To Do? >

by Marvyn

Life Hacks Living in LA

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

Here we go, my first blog of the year! If you read my last blog (which was the last blog of 2021), I said that one of my new year’s resolutions is to take more photos around Los Angeles and to explore new places. I would like to preface this blog by saying that I am an international student and by no means am I a pro at being an LA person. You may be reading this because you’re also an international student, or maybe not even an LA native, but I hope this list can help build your experience here in LA. Personally, as an international student, this is my first time staying in LA for as long as I have. Now while I am still trying to navigate the logistics for 2022 (being sensitive that there is still very much a pandemic going on), I am privileged to have been able to experience LA, even just a tiny bit. Allow me to show you some of my favorite experiences that I have had so far, and how YOU can do it too!

#1: Having a yummy meal in Downtown LA
In LA, there’s a bunch of food spots that you can go try. All I did was hit Google with the keywords, “top places to eat in LA”. From there, you can find a ton of places to eat with food that can be both inexpensive and delicious! Food blogs and YouTube videos have helped me find out cool spots too!

Delicious tacos and a bunch more food at Grand Central Market!

#2: Watching a USC football game with friends
Nothing screams America more than American Football. And don’t worry if you don’t understand the sport. You’ll be surprised to find that there are a bunch of people who watch and yet do not understand what’s going on. I do encourage you to just go in the stadium and feel the school spirit looming around. It’s one of the best feelings to experience as a Trojan! I will say, it’s been quite helpful to watch with someone who actually knows the sport so they can explain things as they happen. (I did my homework prior, and it has been helpful too!)

Go Trojans! With my friends Dustin, Vanessa and Gill at the iconic LA Coliseum!

#3, Experience the social activities (safely, of course)
As an international student, it is also crucial to create good relationships with your fellow students here in Chan. I am so lucky to be working with such a fun, diverse group of people who share the same passion as I have in occupational therapy. Attend events organized by amazing offices such as Global Initiatives. Just put yourself out there, and you’ll quickly realize that there are a bunch of similar-minded people in LA that’s for sure will make you have the best time.

Bonding with my fellow ambassadors, Seth, Teresa, Silvia, and Alyssa!

#4, Hike with your friends
You may or may not like physical activity, but I highly recommend you do at least one hike in LA. Wherever you hike, there are fantastic views and sights to see. You can easily look up fantastic places to hike up and you will be rewarded (almost always) with a breathtaking view of either California or even Los Angeles!

Looking over at the fantastic view in Angeles National Forest with my friends Vivien, Florence, and Josh!

I can go on and on about the things I did so far in Los Angeles and things I recommend doing. And even for me, as I write this, I still have an abundance of activities I have yet to do! My mantra throughout this experience is that: “You are responsible for your own memories. Craft them, and let your stories paint the colors of your life.” You’ll thank yourself down the road with all the stories and memories you have made.

Let me know what you think! If you need more recommendations, keep in touch with me and the rest of the ambassadors at our social media @USCChanOSOT on Instagram. Looking forward to hearing from you! Until then, Fight On!


TwentyTwenty-ONE: The Ambassador Year Round-Up >

by Marvyn

Diversity Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

Happy DAY ONE (and sadly last) day of Blog-mas! It has been such a blast reading everyone’s blog entries over the past 2 weeks. I hope that this Blog-mas helped you in any shape or form during the holidays! But if you come across this blog at a random point in time in the future, welcome!

For the last blog post of 2021, I decided to round up all the current ambassadors to create this collaboration blog! Call it “The Avengers” of blogs if you will. Crossover blog of the year! While I don’t get carried away, I asked each ambassador the following questions: “What have you learned in life from 2021?” and “What is your TOP GOAL for 2022?” Let’s see everyone’s responses!

SETH: “As I look back on 2021 what I’ve learned is that no matter how much you grow and transplant yourself, you always have your roots. Up until this past year, I couldn’t wait to get out of my hometown and escape to the big LA city, but after a couple of months of quarantine, I really began to discover a newfound and indescribable appreciation for the place and people that raised me. When we slowly began to transition back to in-person classes I realized how much I missed the peace and quiet, the dinners with my family, and the pace of life. After five years, I felt like, for the first time, I had feet firmly planted in both places. At a point in my life where I am figuring out the next steps, it is nice to know that I have it in me to be adaptable, but also that I have a place that fits the stereotype of a home is where the heart is.

As I look forward to 2022 my top goal is to spend more time doing the things that mean the most to me and to find more small moments of joy throughout my day. It is easy to fall into a slump or get busy or to focus on what might not be going as planned, but being able to feel those things, quickly shift perspective, and take action is a philosophy that I’d like to more seriously put into practice. I always come around eventually, but by being more mindful, more present, and more intentional I believe I could enrich my 2022 experience. Big things are on the horizon and I want to give them, and myself, the love and attention they deserve! Here’s to the new year and new habits, roles, and routines!”

KAYLA: “While this year has taught me a lot, more than anything I learned how to enjoy the journey. When faced with difficult situations I am always anticipating something going wrong, and pre-stressing about fixing problems. This year I really tried to change my thinking from “what if it goes wrong” to embrace the ideology of “what if it goes right”. This subtle change has helped me be more present for the huge changes happening in my life, allowed me to be more mindful, and have the capacity to enjoy my experiences in the moment rather than having to reflect on them later down the line.

During this next year I want to be really intentional with what I do and how I spend my time. I am a self-proclaimed “sleepy girl” and will choose sleep over anything 9 times out of 10. In 2022, I want to take advantage of more opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. I want to go new places, try new things, and have new experiences all 2022!”

TERESA: “Looking back, I accomplished each goal I set for myself in 2021, which is not something I’ve been able to say in a while. I think this was due in part to my primary goal for the year, which was to accept that so many things in life are out of my control and to learn to be okay with that. However, I can be in control of the way I act and react to situations. With this approach, it allowed me to tackle goals which were internally motivated but contingent on an external source and completely out of my control.

In 2022, my only resolution is to show more self-compassion and for some reason, that seems more daunting a task than prior years. I am my own worst critic because I always thought if you’re self-aware of every single one of your flaws, then no one else can use them against you… right? Except in 2021, I realized that I tend to use them against myself. As a student and future OT, I’m always reminding myself that I can’t pour from an empty cup but I also need to remember that outside of those roles, I am also human. As a human, I’m inevitably going to mess up but despite these mistakes, the person I need forgiveness and validation from most is myself. Also, the members of BTS said to “Love Yourself” so, in 2022, I will be. I’m going to accept love from the world, from those I love, from myself, and return that love tenfold.”

SILVIA: There’s more to life than ___.
For a long time, my life has revolved around school and family, two very important things to me. From wanting to perform at the top of my class to trying to mediate family tensions, these two aspects of my life have also brought the most stress and anxiety. This year, I have found myself sitting in the ugly and telling myself, “There has got to be more to life than this.” “This” stands for the feelings, the worries, the distress—everything that is making me unhappy at that given moment. This reminder has allowed me to sit, feel, and embrace my emotions… and then let them go so that I too can keep going.

Top Goal for 2022: Learn to Adult.
Some may say that I entered adulthood a couple years ago, but that is fake news. Truth is, I am turning 26 this year (next month actually) and that means going through the rite of passage that marks my transition into adulthood: getting kicked off my parents’ health insurance. In light of this, I have made a list of “important things I must learn to do as an adult.”
1. Learn to budget. Shoutout to Kimberly Kho for sharing some of her tips and tricks with me—the Mint App will be my best friend in 2022.
2. Learn to do my own taxes. I’ve heard TurboTax can help me get the job done, but I have a feeling that my father will sit me down for a 3-hour explanation instead.
3. Figure out my health insurance situation. Bless the student health insurance, for now. After graduation, I have a feeling I will be listening to another 3-hour explanation from my father on how to do this.”

ALYSSA: “In the spirit of blogmas lists, here’s my list of what I learned in 2021: (1) I’m a podcast person now. (2) There’s more to life than the coasts! I’ve flown between NJ and CA so many times and this summer I had the opportunity to explore in between via road trip from Chicago back to LA. 10/10 recommend. (3) Living with your best friends is the best way to live.

My goal for 2022 is to enjoy exercising at home. I felt like I missed my window to get #fit with at-home workouts in 2020 but who’s to say where the pandemic is headed in 2022, so… time to sweat!”

GUY: “This past year I learned to cherish those close relationships I hold dear in my life. Life is short! My top goal for 2022 is to continue to spend more time with my lifelong friends celebrating and enjoying life like I did on my birthday this past year.”

MARVYN: “And as for me, 2021 has been a roller coaster of a ride. Looking back, I realized that I have achieved a lot of the goals I set for myself. I was able to pause my life as a practicing occupational therapist back at home to pursue my Master’s degree here at USC. I was able to step out of the box (mainly because of quarantine and lockdowns back in 2020), and I pushed the boundaries of my comfort zones coming here as an international student. I have become more independent than I ever was, and I became more confident in myself and my capabilities as a person and as a professional. 2021 has been such a teacher for me, in such a way that even though you are miles away from your family, I am in such a great, and importantly very safe, environment to achieve my goals in life. I am overwhelmed with pride and humility at the same time because I didn’t expect to be who I have become today. If “2020 Marvyn” saw me today as he starts his 2021, he would be in disbelief at the sheer amount of growth he has had over one year.

2022 is a promising, yet daunting year for my life. I am slated to graduate with my Master’s degree this year and that my professional life will be catapulted swiftly into the real world. If there’s anything I want to look back on by the end of 2022, it is that I want to become a licensed and practicing occupational therapist here in the USA. No matter what hurdles may come my way, I do hope Destiny and Fate agree with my goals and guide me through the right paths. I am so excited at the same time nervous for what’s to come, but I hope 2022 would be my best friend much like how 2021 was to me.
SIDENOTE: I want to take more pictures around LA too (and that’s just a side quest I’m also looking forward to doing very soon)!”

And that’s a wrap! Thank you all for a wonderful 2021 and for reading our fun series of blogs over the past few days. New Years is tomorrow, and we here at the student ambassador team are so excited to greet 2022 with you.


7 BEST Photos from my PP-MA Classmates >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

In light of the 7th day of Blog-mas, I decided to show off 7 of my wonderful classmates who make our class as unique as it could be. I am so honored to be part of their class, and I figured they needed to be highlighted as well. I asked them what their BEST photo is here in LA so far, and why they think they chose that photo. Check it out!

Cindy Teow: “I really enjoy nature, so hiking at Eaton Canyon with my classmates was the highlight of this season for me! They made hiking enjoyable though the hike was tougher than expected. The same could be said for this semester, their cheerful and helpful disposition made this semester manageable.”

Nandita Raman: “This picture was taken at a place I recently visited place called ‘The Last Bookstore’. It is truly a paradise for book lovers like me. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy, and it brings out the magic of books. This is one of the best places I have been to in LA!”

Tristenne Ocampo: “This photo captures what life has been as an international student in LA — so much life, art, and color! this applies to the food, places, and people I have encountered.”

Florence Yang: “Exploring nature, practicing yoga, and taking photos are all things that bring me joy and energy, and this photo encapsulated my most joyful moment. I took this photo while I was hiking through Switzer falls trail with my friends. I love how this trunk was lying beside the trail, which created the perfect spot for a split!”

Godfrey Lok: “This photo is my personal best in MA-1. It was taken when we had an Halloween celebration event. All of our class dressed up and we were having so much fun in the patio! Could you tell what characters are we mimicking?”

Vanessa Mesa: “This is my best photo because it reminds me of the good days that spontaneity can bring about. Saying yes to last minute events can sometimes turn out to be one of the bests I can look back to!”

Jean Chen: “My new life in LA has become brighter because of getting to know new friends at USC. We could freely share our ups and downs together. Here we are enjoying a meal at my house.”

I would like to thank my classmates for participating in my blog! Living in LA has been a blast for us, international students, and I believe there will be much more adventures to be found along our journey.


Things I Learned from Falling Down >

by Marvyn

Life Hacks

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

Remember my very first blog post when I said my OT journey wasn’t cookie cutter? Click here if you haven’t read it yet. I had a lot of setbacks before I became an occupational therapist back in my home country, the Philippines. But as many people would say, nothing worth having comes easy. It is really those setbacks, that led me to be who I am today. Here are just a couple of things I learned from these setbacks.

#1, Everything happens for a reason.
Setbacks suck. You planned to achieve your goal and worked so hard, only to have it crash down and fail. So now, you feel disappointed in yourself for letting this happen. You feel like you failed a lot of people’s expectations. You then go down a slippery slope that sets you up on a dangerous snowball of hurt. I remember being in that snowball many times, and the crash landing hurt the most.

I think there is a sense of calm in understanding that some things, whether good or bad, MUST happen for your personal growth. I mean, who wants to watch a movie without conflict? I remember when I was struggling and eventually failed to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I did nothing but blame myself for it. But later when I realized that this needed to happen, I understood that had there been no setback, there was no room for growth and improvement. Now that I know the feeling of disappointment, I did everything I could to not experience it again.

#2, It’s useless worrying about things you cannot control.
“Oh no, my plans failed! My life is over!” You start worrying about what comes next. You think relentlessly about the problems you will face. You start panicking because you have no backup plans and have no idea what to do. To some extent, you even start to contemplate giving up on your goal.

I am the type of person that plans out what I want to do in my life. But when life plans do not go the way as planned, I used to panic and worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s like dodging a rock without anything being thrown at you. I just ended up being very tired. Instead, I found that learning the art of “letting go” lifts the weight off my chest. Now while I reflect on my mistakes, I learned that in failing to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I am unable to influence what others will think of me. I am also unable to change what I did because what’s done is done! So instead of worrying about anything and everything, I started thinking about the small things I need to do to improve, like tweaking my schedule to fit the demands, calculating small steps to take to get back up.

#3, Revenge is so sweet.
And by revenge, I meant I developed a strong internal motivation to become stronger, more resilient. I always tell my friends that a small setback is only setting you up for a major comeback. When I found out my life didn’t go the way as planned, I took that as an opportunity to grow. Like in any movie, the protagonist fails and experiences hardships, but they always find ways to come back stronger. The internal flame that burned inside was my motivator to stand back up and to keep fighting for my goals. I took all the necessary steps to be better than I was, and I was determined to not repeat the same mistakes. I made sure I prioritized self-love and focused on strengthening my personal relationships as well.

Overcoming these setbacks is the best type of revenge you can make. The feeling of “Nothing is going to stop me now!” is exhilarating, most especially if you start succeeding in achieving your goals! It’s like winning an arcade boss fight after losing over and over again. After your self-reflection, growth, and improvements, you can see yourself fighting back much stronger than you had before.

Every superhero has an origin story. And it seems like failure must be a major prerequisite to become one. After countless setbacks and continuous life tweaks, you would think I would gain a sense of tolerance, but quite frankly life doesn’t work that way. I’m not here to say, “There there. It’s okay.” Instead, I’m here to remind you that although things could and will get rough, never lose sight of your goals in life. Had I not experienced what I have had in my past, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today: achieving my dreams here at USC. My OT journey is definitely not a linear path, but I learned to be grateful for every experience I am getting, all the good and bad. After some time when you look back at where you have been and gone through, you’d be proud of how far you’ve gone and what you have accomplished. Keep at it, you superhero, and always Fight On!


From Manila to Los Angeles and Beyond! >

by Marvyn

International Living in LA

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

When I was younger, I always dreamt of experiencing life beyond the borders of my country, the Philippines. This isn’t because I hate my country, but it is because I always felt like I knew there was more I have yet to explore and learn from around the world. And frankly, when I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy, I didn’t think I could.

So, before I became a student at USC Chan, I have been already a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 2 years. But because of the lockdown situation from COVID-19 in Manila, I was forced to be in my own thoughts: to reflect and contemplate about my life beyond the four walls of my bedroom. After some time, and most importantly with the help and support of my family and friends, I realized that USC Chan was my next big step. And the rest was history!

I have always had experience traveling with either my friends or family, but this was my first time traveling to a very long distance all by myself. After a couple of months of preparation and goodbyes, I boarded the plane from Manila and moved to Los Angeles. It is from that moment I knew that my life will be much different from what it was.

Student sitting on airplane

On my first ever long haul flight all by myself!

If there’s anything anyone needs to know when they arrive in a new, foreign environment, it is to find people you can connect with. I took every opportunity I can get to meet new people and to dig my feet deep in Los Angeles. I was able to meet a couple of familiar faces from the Philippines, which is amazing, and I was fortunate to be in such a diverse class at PP-MA (I made a blog about them last time here).

friends sitting outdoors for ramen

Filipino PP-MA students represent! Had great ramen at Koreatown with great company.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be in USC because I get to do what I have always been looking for. It is crazy to think that a couple of months back I was stuck in my bedroom back in Manila, and now I am (safely, of course) exploring life in LA and taking that chance to experience life that is beyond the boundaries of the Philippines. And while I’m still in the thick of it all, I am most certainly relishing every single moment I can get.

friends hanging out on beach

PP-MA hangout in Santa Monica beach!

Page 1 of 2 |  1 2 >