A Tribute to Open Mic BBQs, Swiftie Listening Parties, & Mid-Class G.I. Snack Runs ⟩
May 1, 2023, by Mika
It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog and I can’t believe it’s my last one! Bittersweet as it is, I want to dedicate this post to my classmates in the Post-Professional Master’s program — the wildest, most spontaneous, and the most generous set of people who I’m proud to have gotten to know the past 9 months.
To MA-1 Batch 2023,
Looking back at our first week of orientation, we were all a bunch of new faces filled with excitement and hints of anxiety for a new adventure in a new country. I remember how it was a struggle to remember all 50 names despite the x number of times we had to introduce ourselves in each class. I love that now I can recall everyone’s name and associate a special memory with each one of you!
One of my favorite memories was welcoming the school year with our summer barbeque party in the OT house. I loved getting to know all of you and I really appreciate the energy you all brought in with the activities and games prepared for us. I will definitely not forget when we turned the party into an open-mic night where everyone sang songs from their country and even tried to get our program director to sing with us. I think we love singing so much as a class that some of us even spent 6 hours of non-stop karaoke together!
As the Fall and Spring semesters progressed, I loved getting the opportunity to work with all of you and learn more about the OT practice in your respective countries. I loved how we all resonated with many common issues we as OTs faced (check my past blog: 10 Things I Hate About Occupational Therapy) and it somehow felt like I was in the same boat with people who understood and validated what I was feeling and going through. As how we say it in Filipino, I had a “kakampi” (teammate) to go through and navigate these issues in practice. I felt this not only with the similar concerns we had about the OT practice, but also with all the requirements and exams we have gone through as a class. I will miss looking back at anyone during class when I hear sounds of crumpled plastic since I know someone is opening food to share with everyone. I will also definitely miss having someone ask me, “Let’s go to Global Initiatives” to say hi to the staff there while we search for snacks.
Aside from learning each of your practice in your respective countries, I also loved learning each of you as individual persons! I love how some of us made a Taylor Swift cult and had a listening party at midnight for her latest album. Remember when we teamed up together to battle the rest of America to successfully get tickets for her concert? That was one of my favorite memories from that semester. I also love how I was able to share my love for Korean drama and Korean oppas with some of you, sharing when they have their recent posts up or trying to help each other find them when they visit LA.
I also appreciate everyone for being so down to help each other get through life in LA, whether by offering a ride or by offering their place to host some hangouts (shoutout to the MA1 House)! I really appreciate your generosity and I am so grateful I got a lot of weekend memories to remember — baking, going to Dockweiler beach, searching for good coffee in Silverlake, traveling to the Grand Canyon, celebrating Lunar New Year, or simply just hanging out.
Soon we’ll all be separated again and we will all be in our different paths but wherever you guys go, I hope you all remember that there will always be this loud and enthusiastic Filipina always cheering you on!
I want to end my blog with a quote I found online in Pinterest that encompasses what you guys mean to me:
“One day all of us will get separated from each other; we will miss our conversations of everything and nothing; the dreams that we had. Days will pass by, months, years until this contact becomes rare. One day our children will see our pictures and ask: ‘Who are these people?’ And we will smile with invisible tears because a heart is touched with a strong word and you will say ‘It was them that I had the best days of my life with.’”
मुझे तुमसे प्यार है
Mahal ko kayo!
Until we meet again!
These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things ⟩
January 21, 2023, by Mika
Hello again and Happy New Year, my friends!
I wanted to start off the year with a blogpost about one my favorite childhood songs from the movie, The Sound of Music. If you have watched the movie, you might have remembered the scene where Fräulein Maria comforts the children amidst a storm. She tells them (or rather, sings to them) that whenever she feels scared or sad, she remembers her favorite things to help herself cheer up. Now, as a material girl, I kind of used this coping strategy as well to help me adapt to life here in Los Angeles. With that, I present to you some of my favorite things or must-have’s that helped me the past months.
1. Water Filter Pitcher
Moving to a new country requires you to find ways on how locals get their basics, like food or water. Based on the suggestions of some friends and family living in the States, they recommended me to get the Brita water filter pitcher. So far, I don’t have any problems with this brand that I bought; however, you can also opt to buy cheaper brands. These water filters also come in different sizes (even in a dispenser) and are available in local supermarkets like Target and Walmart.
2. Tide Pods
This has been a game changer for me doing laundry since it makes everything more efficient and quicker. This was not a common product back at home so when I discovered this, I really felt like a caveman discovering new technology.
3. Sink Garbage Disposal Unit
Okay, this device got me shouting U.S.A., U.S.A.! to my friends back at home LOL. Again, we don’t have this technology so I was happy to discover this in most American households since it made washing the dishes more convenient.
4. Air Fryer
This is not new technology for me but it definitely helped me save time in cooking meals in between studying. Shoutout to my lovely roommate for sharing this with all of us in the apartment!
5. Tabo (Dipper)
The Filipino in me is definitely showing with this one. I definitely cannot do my self-care occupations or other household chores without my beloved tabo or dipper. Although you can purchase these through Amazon or in Filipino supermarkets, I was able to buy a portable one (it was made of a rubber-like material so I could fold it to fit in my luggage) back home in the Philippines.
From what I understand, most locals use vacuum cleaners to clean their floors. However, I like to go Filipino old school and use a broom and a dustpan to clean some of my floors. For those who prefer cleaning this way like me, I wanted to share that I bought a detachable dustpan back at home and brought it here since most of the dustpans here were hand-held and quite-small, which often triggered my back pain when cleaning.
7. Mobile Applications
I found several mobile applications that had made my stay here in L.A. more convenient. Here are a few I found helpful:
- Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft
- Public transportation apps like Transit and Tap
- Online shopping apps like Amazon (As a student, you can get Amazon Prime for free for 6 months!)
- Food and grocery delivery apps like Door Dash, Uber Eats, Amazon Fresh and Wee! (an Asian grocery delivery application)
- Yelp to find recommendations of places to eat around the area
- USC Gateway mobile app to help you know everything that’s happening in campus and to navigate your university life
8. Gifts (and snacks!) from home
Moving out of your comfort zone to a new country will bring about bouts of homesickness and loneliness from time to time. That is normal — it’s okay not to feel okay sometimes! To help me get through those moments, I’m blessed to have a good set of family and friends who sent some gifts and snacks to help me remember home. It definitely also helped that social media made keeping in touch with them possible!
And that’s the end of my list! What about you, what are your favorite things that get you by?
Chika with Mika: Life as a Post-Professional Master’s Student 2022 Edition ⟩
November 18, 2022, by Mika
So in Tagalog, chika means “chit-chat”. For this month’s blog post (or rather vlog post), I wanted to chika with you what’s it like to be a post-professional master’s student here in USC Chan! Get to see the Health Science Campus where we have most of our classes and meet some of my friends here in the program. I also shared some clips of my adventures here in LA, particularly in the Grand Central Market, Griffith Park, and Venice Beach!
10 Things I Hate About Occupational Therapy ⟩
October 19, 2022, by Mika
The other night I was watching the classic romantic comedy, 10 Things I Hate About You, featuring the spunky Julia Stiles and the ever-so-charming Heath Ledger. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the scene of Patrick (Heath) dancing to Can’t Take My Eyes off You to swoon Kat (Julia), I think my favorite scene would still be the one where a tearful Kat lists down the 10 things she hates about Patrick in front of their whole class.
This scene got me thinking of a new idea for a blog post; and since World OT Day is coming, why not write a blog about 10 things I hate about OT?! Ironic, I know, but bear with me in this one.
So, without further ado, here are 10 things I hate about occupational therapy:
1. I hate that there is a lack of OTs.
2. I hate how OT services are viewed as a “privilege,” creating a lack of accessibility, especially for clients living in rural areas.
Back home in the Philippines, occupational therapy is deemed to be a profession in demand as there are more patients compared to the number of OTs. Although this may be a good thing for us in terms of job security, it is not quite ideal since a lot of patients who need our services are not receiving them immediately due to long waitlists and financial constraints. Most especially in rural areas, a lot of clients are usually left at home without proper care due to these issues. It is definitely not the best feeling to know how to help these clients but unable to do so due to lack of resources, time, and energy.
3. I hate how most OT principles are mostly based on Western perspectives.
Currently, I am taking a class in Occupational Science where my classmates and I are divided into small groups to discuss common issues in the practice of OT. One issue we discussed was that OT principles, frameworks, and models were mostly based on Western perspectives, making it difficult at times to adapt to non-Western cultures. With this, I think OTs, especially those who come from non-Western countries, should strive to adapt and promote their own culture and expertise to make the current knowledge more global.
4. I hate when some patients think OT is “magic” like a prescribed drug.
I say this not with the intention to put blame or shame on anyone, but rather, to put to light how a medical perspective is still favored over a more holistic one. Because of this, I strive to educate the caregivers of my pediatric clients to trust the process, to be patient with themselves and their children, and to always be mindful of the little wins they have in therapy.
5. I hate it when the profession is not known and often confused with Physical Therapy or with “Over Time.”
6. I hate how I get a professional identity crisis from time to time.
Numbers 5 and 6 are basically how you tell someone is an OT without saying you’re an OT. I would like to continue emphasizing the need and importance of Occupational Science to address these very common issues we face as a profession.
7. I hate when I was baptized by fire on my first day in my first job as a pediatric OT with tantrums, bites, and projectile vomit.
Honestly, I don’t hate it as much because I just think of it as a very funny fake-it-till-you-make-it story from my first years as a young professional. Looking back, I’m proud of myself for my growth as an OT in handling these situations and I thank my mentors in my pediatric centers (Shoutout to Therabilities South Therapy Center!) for guiding me.
8. I hate when parents or patients forget the big picture and get frustrated with their performance toward their goals.
I have worked with a lot of amazing parents who would move mountains for their children if they could. I would at times witness them (or even my patient) frustrated when their children are having bad days and would blame themselves for it. With this, I always reminded them that progress in therapy is not linear. There will be good days and there will be bad days. I would be the proudest therapist when my clients don’t let these bad days define their worth.
9. I hate when I could not hide my ugly-cry when I had to say goodbye to my clients before moving here to the States.
I would definitely say that my toxic trait is being a clingy therapist. It was absolutely the greatest honor to have been a therapist to my amazing, sassy, and silly kiddos whom I miss everyday.
10. (And in the most dramatic Julia-Stiles-performance I can give) “But mostly, I hate the way, I don’t hate [OT]. Not even close. Not even a little bit. Not even at all!”
I love my job and I believe that I have found my niche, my ikigai, in OT. Cheers to the profession that has helped me find purpose and meaning in my own life! <3
Advanced Happy World OT Day, everybody!
Life Goes On ⟩
September 27, 2022, by Mika
From the words of the great BTS,
“Life goes on.”
This song lyric often comes to mind while I scroll through videos online that romanticize life abroad, sometimes too much. Don’t get me wrong, having the opportunity to study abroad at a prestigious university is a great honor, especially during the pandemic. I thank the great gods of the universe for helping me manifest this dream. However, things are not always what we imagine, like anything in life. My first month in the States was a rollercoaster of emotions — 30% crying because I miss my home, 20% feels like I’ve been living like a caveman as I explore the wonders of Trader Joe’s and Bath and Body Works, and a great 50% being an absolute FOB* (or in my case, a FOP — Fresh Off the Plane) trying to learn and adapt quickly to an entirely new culture. Believe me, it takes a great deal of cognitive power to constantly convert Fahrenheit and miles to the metric system, understand why cars turn right at a red light, wondering why no one uses the umbrella to shade themselves from the killer heat of LA summer, and try to find the whereabouts of any celebrity visiting LA.
Kidding aside, I think the greatest adjustment I had to deal with as an international student was the grief I felt about the loss of occupations and the usual routines I performed back home. One thing I learned from the pandemic is that grief does not only come in the form of dealing with death; it is also what you feel when you lose anything — a person, a pet, an activity, or an object — that is of value to you. I felt grief because I could no longer walk my dogs and play with them after coming home from work. I could no longer drive to my favorite coffee shops back at home anytime I wanted nor randomly messaged my friends to bike around with me in our neighborhood. I struggled with this feeling mostly when I realized I would no longer see my child clients weekly and feared losing friendships since I’ll be in a time zone different from those I valued most. I often doubted my decision to move and worried that I was wasting my energy, time, and resources.
My perspective of things changed when I recalled one of my favorite quotes by Friedrich Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” My why — my patients and the desire to be a better Occupational Therapist for them — pushed me to refocus my energy back on this ordeal and take things day by day. Slowly, those nights of grief and loneliness turned into nights of endless laughter and amusement as I got into the rhythm of new routines here in LA. Pushing myself to go out of my comfort zone and develop new friendships eventually led me to meet the kindest people. Somehow, they felt like home even if I had just met them.
My first month here in the States taught me that we are where we’re supposed to be and that everything will eventually work out as it should. Life does go on for the better, and if we choose to see the beauty of everyday despite the little adjustments and changes, we move one step closer to who we are meant to be.
*FOB — Fresh off the Boat, A slang term used for someone who recently moved to America