To New Beginnings ⟩
August 21, 2020, by Nmachi
As of this past Monday, I have officially started my second year in the Bachelor’s to Master’s program! The start of this new chapter has left me with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am very excited to advance to my sophomore year of college and get back into the routine of attending lectures and acquiring useful knowledge. On the other hand, I can’t seem to get over the fact that I am starting my sophomore year at home, away from campus and friends. Despite feeling distanced from campus life, I have thankfully found ways to stay connected during this unpredictable time.
With the start of this new school year, I am sadly wrapping up my time as the Chan Summer Student Ambassador. I just want to take a moment to thank all of the amazing OT-lovers that I had the privilege to meet and work with this summer. All of you were so welcoming and made me feel like a true asset to the OT community at USC. I appreciate all of the praise and feedback given, and I am certain that I will become a better student and future OT from all that I have learned from you all!
Embarking on my sophomore year and completing my role as the summer ambassador can both be summarized by one word: bittersweet. I am sad to leave the amazing team of ambassadors and faculty, but I am equally hopeful for what’s to come in my future of OT. This opportunity has allowed me to grow in my love for occupational therapy, and I can’t wait for what’s to come. 😊
Discovering Two New Occupations in the Midst of Challenges ⟩
July 29, 2020, by Nmachi
About two weeks ago, my sister and I were doing our usual quarantine morning workout routine: high intensity interval training (HIIT), abs, and lower body focus. Since we had been frequently exercising indoors, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air after the workout. Once we walked out the front door, we instantly knew that we made a great decision. The sun was shining, the air was cool, and the atmosphere was very peaceful.
After walking twice around while listening to music, we began talking about how much we needed that walk. It was something that was very simple but ended up lifting our moods and altering the trajectory of our day. We became more and more engulfed in our positive thoughts on the walk that we came up with the most genius idea of all time: watching a sunrise at the beach! It dawned on me that I had never been to the beach in the early morning to watch a sunrise. Because I’ve lived in Long Beach, CA my whole life, I tend to take my proximity to beaches for granted. Going on a morning beach adventure was the perfect way to take advantage of the benefits of living in SoCal!
Something to note is that my family and I are not the type of people to plan things on a whim. The fact that my sister and I thought of doing something new and actually did it the following morning was a big deal for us. While at the beach, we laid out on the sand, read books, and watched the changing beauty in the sky. It was magical but so simple. Since we arrived very early in the morning, there were barely any people around. This allowed us to truly relax and listen to the sounds of the ocean without distraction.
Going to the beach was the activity we needed in order to get the adventurous ball rolling, if you will. Since we had such a great time being outdoors, we brainstormed other activities to do that would require us to visit and explore different locations. My sister remembered that a family friend had recently gone hiking, so we decided to try out the same trail she went on. It was my first real experience hiking, and I loved it! We felt amazing afterwards and made plans to try out another hike near my other sister’s apartment. This hike was a bit more challenging but equally rewarding. The two hiking trips were amazing and had incredible views!
The main lesson that I learned from these experiences is that it is KEY to get out of the house, especially during this stressful time (while always wearing a mask and practicing social distancing). It’s safe to say that COVID brought many challenges and stressors to people’s lives. Personally, I have been dealing with the struggles of not being able to physically be on campus this upcoming semester. Having to do all my classes and hang outs with friends virtually has its pros and cons, and I know that many other people are going through similar conflicts. Despite having these negative feelings, I pushed myself to get outside of my comfort zone. Through this, I was able to discover two brand new occupations that I will begin to incorporate into my daily life from now on!
Let’s Talk About Mental Health! ⟩
July 16, 2020, by Nmachi
As you may or may not know, July is BIPOC Mental Health Month! This month is dedicated to recognizing the specific struggles that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face regarding mental health.
Personally, BIPOC mental health means taking the time to recognize that prioritizing my mental health is just as (or even more so) important as all the other goals in my life. Growing up in an immigrant household, I was told from a young age that I was to do my best in school and be the best person I could be so that I could make my family proud. Even though this notion is very much still important to me, I had to learn on my own that mental health is just as important as physical health and should be placed at a higher value in my life. Throughout my middle school and high school years, I was faced with the dilemma of consistently getting straight A’s in my classes or putting my mental health first. I know that a lot of people in my community, especially those from immigrant households, are faced with this issue constantly. The biggest thing I’ve learned overtime is that in order to succeed in all areas of my life, it is crucial that I spend time with myself and learn about things I need to do daily to relieve unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Another key reason why July is recognized as BIPOC Mental Health Month is because of the unique type of trauma that the people of this community may face: racial trauma. Racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress, refers to how racial biases and discrimination can affect mental health. I would highly suggest reading more about this here.
With all of this being said, there are many things that I do to cope with feelings of self-doubt and unhealthy perfectionism. Here are a few occupations that help me alleviate stressors in my daily life:
Consuming music regularly
Music is a form of therapy in my life. Whenever I feel overwhelmed for whatever reason (academic/personal stress) I continue to turn toward all forms of enjoying the beauty of music. Playing acoustic guitar, singing, and dancing to music are ways that I deal with my positive and negative emotions that naturally come and go.
Speaking with people I trust about my struggles
I find that expressing what I’m feeling and discovering the reasons why I am feeling that way is crucial when attempting to resolve inner conflicts. Thankfully, I was able to find those people who I can confide in and who will keep me accountable at USC. Having a strong support system outside of my family was very important to me. I am forever grateful to those friends, who I now call family, that continue to be there for me and understand my unique struggles as a young Black woman.
I started to incorporate affirmations into my daily routine fairly recently. As I began to make reading affirmations a habit, I noticed a difference in the way I view myself as an individual. When I would consistently tell myself that I am worthy of love and happiness, it allowed me to not let the negative thoughts and comments of others truly affect me. Don’t get me wrong, not giving in to others’ predisposed thoughts about me as a Black woman is a daily battle. It is very difficult to maintain confidence in who you are as a person when society and peers overlook you and your community all the time! Despite this, I know now that I don’t need to feel like I have to prove myself to everyone. I don’t need to be perfect. I am perfectly fine right now, just as I am.
My Freshman Year Experience at USC ⟩
July 1, 2020, by Nmachi
As of May 2020, I officially completed my first year at USC! I can truly say that the past year of living on campus has taught me a variety of things- positive and negative. My time as a freshman was so impactful for so many reasons. For one, I was able to meet and interact with people who would soon become like family, I achieved a new level of independence that I never had before, and I started the process of frequent inward thinking and learning more about who I am as an individual and what I desire to become.
I feel like the best place to start when discussing the highlights of my freshman year experience would be the place I called home on campus: Somerville Place. Somerville is a special-interest floor in the dorm building Fluor Tower (main campus); the floor houses freshmen who identify as Black and creates a safe space for them to bond and create lasting relationships. Applying to live on Somerville was, hands-down, the best decision I made during my senior year of high school (aside from applying to USC of course!). Since being involved in the Black community on campus is very important to me, I knew that I needed to put myself in the position to engage with my community everyday. Living with the students I met on Somerville was so fulfilling and freeing because I never had to worry about conforming or changing who I was in any way; I could just be my truest self.
Another highlight from my experience on campus would have to be the overall fun that comes along with attending a school like USC. Going to tailgates and Saturday football games with friends was an experience that I plan to continue to cherish through my career at USC.
On a more academic note, I definitely learned a lot from my experiences with classes. Registering for classes and deciding what you would be interested in was a process that I had to get used to. In terms of attending classes and workload, I think that I was fairly prepared because of how my high school instructed their curriculum. Despite having great preparation, I still found myself struggling with balancing academics and social life, especially because I was literally living with all of my friends on one floor. As time went on throughout both semesters, I began to create my own method of balancing everything in my life in a healthy way.
To all of those who might be seniors in high school and are wondering how life as a college freshman will be, I want to make it clear that every single person will have a different experience. My biggest recommendation is to make the most out of your time as a freshman. Freshman year is the time to discover things that make you happy and that you may want to pursue alongside your career. Make sure to try new things because you’ll probably pick up new hobbies and passions by doing so. Last but not least, take care of yourself by whatever means necessary. As a perfectionist, I tend to stress myself out with getting the best grades and accomplishing the most that I can. It is great to have a drive and to desire success, but it is just as crucial (or even more so) to focus on your physical and mental health.
With that being said, I am beyond grateful to have had the freshman year experience that I did, and am very excited to continue my journey at USC. Fight on! <3
What This Period of Chaos Has Taught Me ⟩
June 12, 2020, by Nmachi
It’s safe to say that the past few weeks and months have been nothing short of confusing and chaotic. It is so easy to get into the habit of complaining without striving toward finding beneficial solutions. Here’s a few things that I have learned over the past 3 months:
1. Spending time with family is necessary.
Due to COVID-19 health restrictions, all USC students were encouraged to return home to quarantine beginning in late March. This news was not pleasant for the majority of the student body, but I was especially bummed because that meant that I would not be able to complete my freshman year of college on campus.
Moving back home was definitely bittersweet. On one hand, I was disappointed because I wanted to spend the remaining two months of the semester with my friends while enjoying the last bit of the traditional dorm life. Alternatively, I was grateful to be healthy and to be able to go back home to my family. While being quarantined, I’ve utilized this time to the best of my ability; I have successfully created an at-home workout regimen that I do with my sister, played extensively with my two-year-old nephew, and caught up on my favorite shows! Making memories with my family while being at home has been very rewarding and was possible because of the current global situation.
2. Take time to reflect and better yourself.
One of the goals I made at the beginning of the year was to read more. Sounds simple enough, but being a full-time college student and young-adult, it can be difficult to put down the phone and pick up a captivating read. Nevertheless, this time of social distancing has provided me with the opportunity to focus on bettering myself as an individual by reflecting and taking in useful knowledge through reading. My latest read was The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, which is a self-help book that emphasizes the importance of finding inner peace and self-love before trying to be that peace and love for others. I have learned that taking a moment to just be still and reflect daily can truly change the entire trajectory of your whole day.
3. Educate yourself with local/global issues. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date.
It may seem obvious, but staying informed on issues regarding the well-being of this country is vital. Just because a recurring tragedy doesn’t directly affect your community does NOT mean that you should remain silent and complacent; it should urge you to stand up for what is right by all means (verbally, financially, etc.).
During this remote time away from our regular schedules, I implore you to take these tips into consideration. You will be surprised at how much you can evolve for the better!