A Letter to the Future International Students ⟩
April 5, 2022, by Marvyn
If you are reading this blog, you are either a current student (whom by no means I coerced to read LOL), you are aspiring to become a student of USC Chan, or you are already on your way to becoming one. Wherever you may be in your life, I encourage you to read on.
Allow me to tell you this: Being a part of the USC Chan community is genuinely a life-changing opportunity. I am not saying this just because I am a student ambassador, but I am genuine when I say that my experience at USC Chan has been so enriching and filled with countless, irreplaceable memories. If you have been following all my blog posts, I have nothing but love for the Post-Professional Master’s program and USC in general. No matter what your professional and/or life goals are, USC Chan is the best place to achieve them. I still cannot believe how lucky I am to belong in such a great community of professionals!
I actually didn’t think I could become a USC Trojan. I was already working as a pediatric occupational therapist back in the Philippines, and I was very happy. I was already touching people’s lives in a way that OTs uniquely do. With that said, I always felt like I needed to grow and expand my horizons. So, when I saw the opportunity to apply for USC in this program, I felt like I was about to battle a behemoth. It was so intimidating. I was asking myself, “Why would the university even consider someone like me to be part of their program? I’m so delusional to think that they would spend time looking at my profile!” The funny thing is, the only reason that motivated me to shoot for the stars, aka making and submitting my application, was because I was stuck in the middle of a pandemic lockdown. I guess you could say that circumstances work for you as long as you give it a shot.
I’ll affirm what you may feel: It is quite daunting to take on such an endeavor as this — being away from your family, being challenged to be on your own, and navigating through your life mostly by yourself. But what I can also say is that in pursuit of your goals in life, everything can be made possible with the exposure you get to people around you at USC Chan. I was so fortunate enough to be given the privilege of meeting such a diverse group of people from all over the world! I never felt like I was alone and I knew that we all have something in common: our passion to become the best occupational therapists we can be. So even if I knew that the road I am taking is very long and difficult, I also know that I have people right by me who can support me in my aspirations.
Breaking out of your comfort zone is definitely what you can expect from this experience. Based on my own experience, I felt like the past year has been such a year of growth for me in a way that’s not just about being an OT. As a dreamer and an aspirer, this past year really pushed my boundaries and shaped (and re-shaped) who I thought I was and who I want to become. I believe that being placed in such an uncomfortable situation can lead to the most growth in your life. Truly, I am a waaay better person than I was before, and I can never trade this evolution for anything.
Now that I’m at the home stretch of my program (ONE MONTH LEFT!), I feel like I need more time. I’m not ready to leave USC Chan yet. It feels like I just got here, and I am still getting used to all the growth I am having under the USC blanket. But that’s the thing, right? Putting yourself in situations that push you out of your comfort zone is a crucial part of the USC experience. Being part of the program is much more than just studying; it is about gaining experiences that will truly change your life. And now that I am almost done with the program, I feel like USC is thrusting me toward another set of challenges and opportunities for growth. I guess I’m liking the feeling of discomfort after all!
Alas, I am writing all this because I just want to tell you all how excited I am for you to experience what I have had during my time here at USC Chan and much more. It sounds bittersweet to think that I am about to graduate and that all of you will fall in love with USC Chan in your own unique way. I will forever be grateful to USC for giving me this chance of a lifetime, and I truly look forward to seeing what the future holds for not only myself but for you as well. You are truly in for a ride of your life.
Where Did the Time Go? ⟩
March 20, 2022, by Marvyn
And just like that Spring break is over. Have you ever wondered where the time went? It feels so elusive but also always so present. At one point you feel like you have had an abundance of it, but now it feels like I have so little time.
I remember back when I started in the Post-Professional Master’s program last August, my mind was comforted by the fact that I have a lot of time to spend in this program and that I will have so much to learn and experience. But while the latter remains to be true, I feel like I am now running out of time. It feels like I just landed in Los Angeles yesterday but here we are. The one year has already flown by and we are already in the last few stretches before commencement! What is this sorcery??
Can you find your time back?
All my life I knew time was precious. If you knew me, I have had a love-hate relationship with time. Every time someone asks me, “If you gain a superpower, what would it be?” My response will always be to be able to control time. I find that whenever I feel like I’m chasing after time and making the most out of my experience here at USC, I find myself creating the best memories. You have this sort of pressure to do the best and to feel the best. At least, that’s how I see it personally. Maybe, as you read this, you feel kind of the same way too! But there is also a part of me that wishes I had more time, that I can freeze/rewind and do more. Could I ever find more time?
Look back. Reflecting on your experiences in the past is your own trophy. Whatever you have done and haven’t done, these are the points that you can live by in the present. Personally, I have had the best year of my life being here at USC. I made so many new friends and lifelong connections, and I had the best experiences and memories that I will never trade anything for the world. When I look back at what I have done so far in my time here at USC, I have never been prouder with what I was able to do, and I look forward to what I will be doing in the future.
Living in the present. While it is okay to feel like you’re chasing after time and that you have so much more things you want to do, I’ll use this opportunity to remind myself that I should live in the present experiences and bask in its warmth and joy. I have been so worried about the time I have left and the things I want to do that I forget sometimes to enjoy the things that I currently have! Like everyone says, time is something you never get back. So, while you have it, enjoy it.
Look forward to what’s to come. Now, this might contradict what I have already said but having something to look forward to is a great thing to think about as well. Maybe, in a sense, creating an objective to work towards is beneficial for your time as well! If you think about it, if you have a goal you want to achieve with the “limited” time you have left, it allows you to seize each day with the best memories.
But also, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to pressure anybody to always do something. Sometimes doing nothing and really taking your time is completely fine as well! There is a fine line between healthily pressuring yourself while keeping your sanity in the midst of every choice you have.
This blog post has been, in a way, cathartic for me because of the current pressure I am feeling with the limited amount of time I have left here in my program. I am comforted by the fact that I have reflected upon my experiences and came up with the three points I mentioned. If you are feeling almost the same way as I have, I hope this helps you too.
Taking That Leap of Faith ⟩
February 11, 2022, by Marvyn
This time last year, I took a leap of faith. I was contemplating for such a long time if I were to apply for the Post-Professional Master’s program or not. It took me a couple of factors before I could hit the submit button. Allow me to elaborate.
A Master’s program is so daunting! Can I even do it??
If you have read my previous blog about my undergrad experience, I am not a perfect student. If anything, I’m faaaar from being perfect. Not that imperfection is unacceptable, but taking a program that is a Master’s level is A BIG DEAL. It’s a huge step further than a bachelor’s degree. My mind, when I was thinking about applying, was spinning in circles. I was asking over and over “Do you think you can handle the challenges?” “Are you capable to take on this huge step in your life??” AND A BUNCH MORE.
What helped me go through it is to reflect on my “WHY”. I knew that I wanted to learn more about occupational therapy, most specifically at the best university for the program. So, instead of thinking of the intimidation of a big dream like this coming to a reality, I focused on the goal. Eyes on the prize. I wanted to become more than what I am now, and that I am willing to go through all hoops and hurdles to get there. So ultimately, learning how “to let go and to believe in myself” is the best way to go. Trust me, you CAN do it.
What would my family and peers think of me just abandoning them for so long??
It varies from person to person, right? It’s true, I am privileged to say that my family is my best support system ever. Even though I knew that this is a very big dream for me to achieve, I am lucky enough to have a family that supports me in any of my dreams. The same can be said about my friends too! As much as I thought they would be disappointed in me, they all ended up being my biggest cheerleaders.
Believing in yourself is one thing but having someone else believe in you too helps a lot. Trust me when I say that support system doesn’t have to be high maintenance. You can have relationships in life that can propel you to do great things without holding you back. Stick with them and you’ll feel confident in taking such a huge endeavor such as this.
I’ve never lived outside my home country for this long, HOW CAN I SURVIVE?!
Living in a foreign country for a long period of time really is a game of survival. There’s really no way to sugarcoat it. But, I will let you in on a not-so-secret secret: It’s definitely do-able. I have had many anxiety-driven nights back at home thinking about things to prepare, anticipate, and worry about living in LA for so long. But once you find out where you will be staying and mapping out notable places to do essential stuff, you are pretty much set! If there’s any advice I can give you on this problem, it’s that: Once you set your feet on the ground, find as many people as possible, especially in the Chan community. You’ll find quickly that there are a bunch of people who can help you survive the LA grind. I mean, look at the last blog I wrote about things to do in LA! I wouldn’t have been able to do all that had I not have the friends I newly found throughout this journey!
Circling back, I definitely think these factors have been major themes that worry me before I hit the SUBMIT button in my application. But like I said, I took that leap of faith. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, whispered a little prayer, and let my finger go heavy on my laptop’s trackpad. I feel the vibration on my finger signifying a click and the rest is history!
At the end of all this, I’m so glad I took that leap. I cannot express how thankful I am to myself for grasping the courage and going for it. It really takes some nerve to be able to trust the process and let Destiny do their work. It’s only a matter of time.
So You’re in LA. What To Do? ⟩
January 17, 2022, by Marvyn
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!
#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!)
#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.
#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!
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 ⟩
December 31, 2021, by Marvyn
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!
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.