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Marvyn

Taking That Leap of Faith >

by Marvyn

Admissions International Life Hacks Living in LA

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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.

If you’re still contemplating or having any questions with your application process, you can always contact me (and my other co-ambassadors) here: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Silvia

Self Care is Health and Health is Wealth >

by Silvia

Life Hacks Living in LA

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Listen, I know it is admission szn and I will get back to talking more about being first gen, but today is not the day.

Today we’re talking self-care because it is my birthday and I am self-caring all day. I turn twenty-something and normally I would be traveling for my birthday, but birthdays have looked different the last couple of years because #COVID and #GradSchool. It’s hard and stressful to keep up with both. Since starting the master’s program I have been on the “go-go-go” mindset, rarely taking time for myself, but this year I am manifesting better mental health, well-being, and happiness. I am making an effort to invest more time in myself to reset and refill my cup before hitting burnout.

So with that said, let me share with you my top self-care activities.

Watching The Beach Sunrise
This one is probably my favorite one—exceptforthewakingupearlypart—because it truly helps me ground and recenter myself. Sitting in the sand, waiting for the sun to come up, and listening to the waves gives me a sense of peace and fills me with so much gratitude.

I am very future oriented, constantly thinking about tomorrow, and TBH I hate it because it takes away from appreciating where I am at right now. You know the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome. That’s exactly what I’m referring to: I’ll be happy when ______ (I get into the master/OTD program; I pass the comp/NBCOT exam; I graduate; I get my first job…). We forget that the moment we are living in right now was once the blank we filled in. So today, I chose to be happy and embrace the fact that I am exactly where I should be.

Malibu Sunrise

A Malibu Sunrise

Beach Sunset

If you don’t make it to sunrise, there’s always sunset:)

Tips for this self-care activity:

  • Go to bed early so you actually wake up to make it to the beach for sunrise
  • Bring a book to read or do some mindful coloring
  • Grab a hot cup of coffee or tea on the way + dress cozy

Working out
Ok I love this one too—excepttheworkingoutpart—because when you look good, you feel good. I like to start and end my day with a workout. My AM workout is equivalent to a coffee lover’s first sip of coffee in the morning, it wakes my body up and gets me in a good mood. My PM workout helps wind me down after my long days. And in case you were dying to know, I am a big fan of the Apple Fitness HIIT and cycling workouts.

P.S. If you have a workout playlist, please share it.

SoulCycle

Working out is funner (yes, I know that isn’t a word) with friends; we did a cycling class at SoulCycle. Pictured: Teresa Pham, Me, Mariamme Ibrahim, Alyssa Matlosz, and Vanessa Elshamy

Tips for this self-care activity:

  • Try something new/switch it up (let me tell you, I never thought I’d love cycling)
  • Put a picture of JLO on your vision board
  • Checkout Alyssa’s Zumba class

Treating Myself
Also love this one—exceptthespendingmoneypart—because who doesn’t like to treat themselves?

I must say though, this one can be tricky because it’s really easy to get caught up in the “I deserve it” mindset. And don’t get me wrong, you absolutely do deserve it; however, treating yourself to things only every now-and-then makes them that much more satisfying. OK FINE, this is what I keep telling myself so that I stick to my 2022 budgeting goal— but is it working? Yes. At least January is off to a good start. Now, instead of getting my Vietnamese sweet coffee 3x a week, I save it for the weekend, and in stead of buying a smoothie or acai bowl after my workouts, I make one at home. #GROWTH.

(Obviously except today because it’s my birthday and I’m treating myself).

coffee treat

Teresa treating me to a true Vietnamese sweet coffee

Tips for this self-care activity:

  • Make a “treat yo self” budget
  • Remind yourself you have food/coffee at home during the week
  • We’re here for a good time not a long time; if you need to treat yourself, please do

___
So in conclusion, whether it’s your birthday or not, remember to practice self-care because… self-care is health and health is wealth.

Marvyn

So You’re in LA. What To Do? >

by Marvyn

Life Hacks Living in LA

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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!

Silvia

MA-2, Year 2 >

by Silvia

Classes Living in LA What are OS/OT?

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2022 is around the corner and so is the end of my time as a student in the Entry-level Master’s program. It is bittersweet to think that just in a couple of months I will be graduating with a master’s degree in occupational therapy and on my way to my second level-2 fieldwork, before prepping for/taking the NBCOT exam and hopefully becoming an *official* OT.

—Woah. Woah. Woah—

Let’s take it back because that still feels very much unreal. Time truly flies by when you’re having fun…and when you’re not, tbh. But anyway, I would like this blog to focus on the now, and that is entering my second semester of year 2 of grad school. Like many of us often do with a new year though, I first want to reflect on what last semester was like before sharing what I hope for and look forward to in the upcoming one.

Year 2, Semester 1 (Fall 2021):
Last semester tried me, and it almost won. But it didn’t.

You know when you start a new routine and things feel off, but you tell yourself you just have to get into the swing of things, and eventually, you’ll get your mojo back? Well, that’s exactly what the entire Fall 2021 semester felt like, except I never got into the swing of things, nor did I get my mojo back. Was it the classes or the switch to being fully in-person? Idk, but we pulled through and in the process realizations and reevaluations were made. Here are the 2 that stand out to me:

  1. A marker of last semester was applying to the OTD program. This was an interesting time because as I was completing the application, which meant staying one more year for another degree, I was complaining about how I had no more school left in me. So, why was I doing that to myself? I came to the realization that I was on “student autopilot” mode and needed to turn it off to figure out what it was that I truly wanted. I am not sure that I completely know yet, but I realize that I don’t have to keep going to prove myself to anyone (including myself).
  2. Priorities—I spent a lot of time reevaluating these. Before even starting this program, I remember telling my boyfriend that when I’m in school, school is my #1 priority and everything else comes after, but that is definitely not true today. Understanding the importance of meaningful occupations and their impact on my mental health has helped me shift my priorities around. Last semester I spent less time worrying about school and more time loving on my family, spending quality time with friends, and focusing on my physical health.

Though I felt lost most of last semester, I think I actually found myself.

Year 2, Semester 2 (Spring 2022):
We’re ringing in the new year and new semester with a remote start. Back to Zoom we go, but I am not mad about it. Fingers crossed that it is only temporary! I have a good feeling about the Spring 2022 semester, and I am looking forward to 2 things in particular: electives and spending more time with friends before we part our ways after graduation.

  1. Did you know that the electives are graded CREDIT/NO CREDIT? I didn’t. But now that I do, it is a game-changer. The semester hasn’t even started, but I am already not stressed. *Knock on wood and fingers crossed this stays the same* Also, this semester we are no longer taking classes as cohorts, which means I get to mingle with the rest of our class :’). I am most excited about the pediatric-based courses that I will be taking because that is the area of practice that I am interested in. I’ll be taking OT 567 (Contemporary Issues: Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention), OT 575 (Dysphasia Across the Lifespan: Pediatrics Through Geriatrics), and OT 578 (Therapeutic Communication: Facilitating Change in Clients)—I will let you all know how it goes!
  2. One of my meaningful occupations is spending time with friends. From study dates to Friendsgiving dinners, I cherish all the memories made. This upcoming semester it is important for me to spend quality time with friends because before we know it, we will be taking different paths—we’ll be at different fieldwork sites, some will be going onto the doctoral program, others will be moving back home, etc. The point is, I want to make the most of next semester with my friends and future colleagues. ❤️

And like that, in the blink of an eye, two years will have flown by.

Marvyn

7 BEST Photos from my PP-MA Classmates >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

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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.

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