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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
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Student Blog


Things I wish I knew before moving to Los Angeles ⟩
May 9, 2017, by Raisa

Admissions Life Hacks Living in LA

Hello everyone! It’s good to be back from a much long blog-hiatus. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, things have been moving full-speed. We formally ended our classes a week ago, and guess what my comprehensive exam is tomorrow! eeeek! To calm myself down, I decided to write about something that I’ve been meaning to share with you all for the past few months. I understand that beginning your OT journey half-way across the globe is both an exciting and a stressful experience, believe me I’ve been there! So here are some of the things I wish I knew before the program and moving to LA.

First of all, let’s talk about all of the resources at your disposal. All these links listed below are the respective USC offices and services that you may find helpful when you are just starting out in Los Angeles.

USC Resources:

Office of International Services
Offers services regarding immigration counselling, the OIS is also resource center to assist you with various government processes such as filing for a California driver’s license, filing for a SSN/ITN, filing U.S. Taxes etc.

Financial aid
Offers variety of resources for international students looking for assistance in financing their education. 

Here you can see the selection of housing options available to graduate students.

USC IT Services
Here you can activate you USC ID (you need this to access the resources on campus!). Access the wireless network on campus, download available software to help you stay on top of your game during classes.

Eric Cohen Student health center
Offers medical services, examination and screening, immunization, and student counseling.

Extremely useful to find USC tram times, parking passes, and they have useful information to help you navigate the urban jungle that is Los Angeles.

Department of Public Safety
I suggest reading the Safety tips & training section, this houses useful information regarding safety practices and resources that students should be aware of.

Chan division website
All the information about the division is found on the website. The Student blog and Videos are great resources to get a sneak peek into the lives of Chan Division Trojans. 😉

Next, I wanted to talk about your personal experiences with occupational therapy. Everyone has an OT story, and USC celebrates that. It is a great privilege to bring your experiences and practice into your classes. Take the time to reflect on your own practice, look at the things that you want to improve and things that you thought worked well. In my experience, often times the concepts I learn in class brings me back to my clinical internship, and professional experience in the Philippines. It provided a great opportunity to stir insight and spark inspiration to help me improve my practice. And if you don’t have experience, that is okay! Keep an open-mind, be like a sponge, and absorb the experiences shared by your classmates and professors. Learning is a two way process, you learn from them, and they learn from you. I know this may all seem intimidating and anxiety inducing, but you know what? Intimidation is good, life is boring without challenges. It is okay to be scared, just don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals. Always reach out to your professors, the division is here to support its students, and don’t forget all the resources mentioned above!

What does everyone else in the post-professional MA Class of 2017 have to say?

Tai-wei Lee: Mentally and physically prepare to study in a perfect school! The class load might be a bit tough.
Bella Hsieh: Don’t forget to bring/buy sunglasses, it gets hot in Los Angeles!
Rucha Naik:Sunscreen!
Jayshree Nagvekar: Save your money, loads of great things to do on the way
Shikha Kamdar: Save your money to spend it on Black Friday . . . the clothes will last almost till your spring semester
Nikita Sunny: Get an umbrella! People say it doesn’t rain in LA but it rained this year!
Kathryna Gomez: They say [to bring] just a light jacket but I was freezing during winter.
Rucha Naik: It will be great to buy winter clothes from here. [the] Jacket I carried from India couldn’t keep me warm enough in this cold
Francis Co: Ralphs card
Kathryna Gomez: get all those cards, they help a lot Vons, Ralphs, Seafood Market, CVS etc.
Sujin Kim: kepp in mind the extra expenses that you might have during school year (educational evaluation, NBCOT, graduation etc.) so that you can plan your finances better
Chaitali Sutradhar:  Get at least a year of full-time clinical experience (not as a student)!
Raisa Fernan: Familiarize yourself with your personal devices! Learn to maneuver pdf readers, applications for note-taking, learn email etiquette, digital organization and the like. Keep copies of your personal documents, digital or print copies! Use apps like google maps, citymapper, uber, lyft to help you get around Los Angeles.

I will not lie, you will get homesick. You will find healthy ways to cope, whether it be a new support system or even exploring a new hobby. Internet connection is amazing, so take advantage of the technology and resources at our disposal. It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you it is going to be worth it. Lastly,

Don’t forget to have fun!


Time is of the essence ⟩
February 24, 2017, by Raisa

Externships International

It is officially the end of Week 7 for the spring term. Campus is so quiet now with everyone going off on their Externships. A unique part of our graduate program is we are given the chance to go on a two-week leadership externship. This externship is for the course completion of OT540: Leadership Capstone. The goal of this externship is to develop leadership qualities and traits, which will help prepare students to assume leadership roles in the field of occupational therapy. Read Kimmy’s blog to read more about the Leadership Capstone course and Externship.

This year we have students to who will be taking their externship in Australia, Denmark, South Korea, Ghana, the UK, Sweden, Philippines, and China. Very exciting time indeed! Can’t wait to hear all the exciting stories and experiences when everyone gets back.

I will be spending my externship with the Global Initiatives team. I am definitely excited to start working on some projects for the international students (admitted and prospective 😜), I hope to make new friends while honing my managerial and leadership skills.

When we return from our Externship and Spring Break it’ll be mid-March, and that means full speed ahead to graduation! It feels just like yesterday I started this program, and started my blog. A little part of me doesn’t want this to end, there’s still so much to learn and so much to do!

Time is of the essence and it is time to make things count.

Fight on everyone! Enjoy your externships!


Countdown to the 2017 AOTA Conference and Centennial Celebration! ⟩
February 17, 2017, by Raisa

Getting Involved

One quality I admire most about the USC Chan Division, is their sincere support for their students. Recently, I was granted the Student Leadership Award; this is awarded to those who have a particular interest in becoming a leader in occupational therapy or occupational science. This year, the award is in support of student attendance and participation in the annual AOTA Conference and Centennial Celebration. It will be both an honor and privilege to attend the AOTA conference. It will be my pleasure to represent USC and the international students, this will definitely be the highlight of my academic year.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the national professional body for American Occupational Therapists, they strive for improvement and advancement of the profession. The association and profession was established in 1917, hence the Centennial celebration! It is indeed an exciting time to be in the occupational therapy profession, we are closer to achieving the centennial vision our forefathers had envisioned for us. This year, we celebrate 100 years of our beautiful profession, 100 years of helping people live life to the fullest!

Stay posted for updates, 6 more weeks to go! Hope to see you there!

AOTA 2017 Banner, See you in Philly!

“We envision that occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs” — The AOTA Centennial Vision


Being multi-lingual is awesome ⟩
January 27, 2017, by Raisa

International Life Hacks

One of the most challenging things about being an international student is breaking the “language barrier.” Especially entering a graduate program, sitting through classes with English as the medium of instruction will seem intimidating. However, do not fear because anything is possible when you set your mind to it!

Some readers have been eager to learn different ways on how to improve their English. Today I wanted to share with you some strategies on how to master the English language.

Television was one of the many ways I polished my English. I loved watching TV shows like F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Scrubs, and How I Met Your Mother. I always recommend this method, since the stories are always interesting plus you will get a glimpse of American culture. The internet also holds much promise in helping you learn a second language. Youtube has been a great platform for sharing videos and gaining information. You could also visit our YouTube page to see what’s going on in the Chan Division.

Reading has also been one of my favorite occupations. I can pick up a good book and just read on for hours until I finish it. Reading is a great way to get a good idea of the English grammar. It’s one thing to hear it and another thing to see it. Read Kimmy’s blog about how she loves reading too.

Lastly, I believe that actually practicing your English will be the most beneficial way of learning. Our professors here always say “You use it or lose it,” practice makes perfect! It is always helpful to practice conversing with someone who has a good mastery of the English language. In this way you will get over your nerves and it will help you get used to conversing with an English speaker.

There are many resources out there to help you improve your communication skills. Websites like BBC Learning English, IELTS preparation and TOEFL-tips are my favorite sites to go to especially when polishing my English.

Don’t be intimidated by the English language, embrace your multi-lingual tongue and add English under your repertoire of spoken languages!


Hello 2017 and Hello Spring Semester! ⟩
January 13, 2017, by Raisa

Classes What are OS/OT?

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everybody had a wonderful end to 2016 and a positive start to 2017. The start of the New Year also marks the start of the spring semester, which means new courses and my last semester in the Post-Professional Master’s program.

I am stoked for the spring semester as I will be diving right into my practice area of interest, which is Adult Rehabilitation! Find out more about the USC OSOT courses.

Let me give you a breakdown of the electives I will be taking this semester:

  • OT574 Enhancing Motor Control: This class provides an in-depth understanding of the role of OT, the domain of practice and occupation-based approach to adult rehabilitation in upper motor neuron syndromes. In this hands-on laboratory class, students will be able to interact with clients and clinicians for an integrated learning experience of both theory and application in the different approaches relating to Neurorehabilitation.
  • OT573 Hand Rehabilitation: Students will be able to build a good foundation of the anatomy and physiology of the forearm, wrist, and hand; incorporating the science and the art of occupation into developing your clinical reasoning skills for occupation-based evaluation and treatment for common hand disorders.
  • OT575 Dysphagia across the Lifespan, Pediatricts to Geriatrics: This course will give students a better understanding of the role of OT in the management of dysphagia cases from pediatric to geriatric populations. The class will focus on the OTs domain of practice, which will equip students with a firm foundation in the comprehension and treatment of swallowing disorders.
  • OT577 Seminar in Occupational Therapy: This class provides students with an overview of the role and domain of practice of occupational therapy in different clinical settings and contexts. Seminar and class discussions will be done in order to integrate both theory and clinical practice in various healthcare settings.

USC offers a variety of electives which will equip you with the skills you need to become a well-rounded practitioner. Evidence-based practice (EBP) is also a common foundation that all these courses are built on, your future self will thank you for keeping up to date with the latest EBP trends. Some of these courses even go towards a completion of specialization or certification in your future practice.

I hope to grow as an Occupational Therapist with the help of the esteemed USC OSOT faculty and my Trojan Family. I look forward to this semester, and I wish everyone the best of luck in their endeavors! What electives would you want to take in the USC OSOT division? Shoot me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

Fight on!

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