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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
Living in LA


Dear Zoom, it wasn’t you >

by Silvia

Classes Living in LA

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I’m just going to say it—I miss Zoom University. 

Zoom University and I had a toxic relationship and although it wasn’t my first, it certainly is the only one I miss. Sometimes you really “don’t know what you have till it’s gone.” Don’t get me wrong; I love being on campus, seeing all my beautiful friends, and making real-life connections with my professors, pero like*…it’s hard out here.

Before making the transition back to in-person classes, after over a year of Zoom, I never truly realized or acknowledged how much work it takes to be an occupational being, aka a student. Let’s just consider some of the things that we didn’t have to do when Zoom was part of our lives (or at least my life):

  1. Get ready in the morning (if you still did this, I am proud of you and I admire you)
  2. Prep lunch
  3. Pack bag(s)
  4. Leave the house
  5. Drive to campus
  6. Find parking
  7. Walk to class
  8. Sit in class
  9. Actually pay attention in class (R.I.P mute and camera functions)
  10. Socialize

I’m sorry, but the fact that I can’t get up and walk to my fridge for a quick snack or mute myself/turn my camera off and lay down on my bed for a second is rude. Also, do you know how intense my phobia of getting stuck in LA traffic on a school morning is? Ok never-mind the phobia, have you seen those gas prices? Seriously though, transitioning back to in-person classes has been quite an adjustment that I wasn’t fully prepared for.

As much as I hated being confined to Zoom at home, I had a greater sense of control over my entire school experience and I loved that about our relationship. I didn’t have to worry about traffic, whether or not I would find a parking spot, or being late for that matter. I could monitor the sound level, air temperature, light intensity, number of guests—basically everything that I have absolutely no control over in the underground lecture hall, G 37. G 37 induces sensory overload in my body and exhausts me; it makes me reminisce the good times with Zoom.

I feel guilty for hating Zoom so much when all it did was love me and be there for me through the hard times, aka the pandemic. Yes, it gave me migraines and worsened my vision, but it also let me sleep in, eat during class, lay down between lectures, and spend my money on things other than gas. If I am being honest, it wasn’t Zoom, it was me. I was so upset and stuck on the idea of being “robbed” from my graduate school experience that I didn’t value or appreciate all the good things Zoom had to offer. I thought I was ready to move on—to be 100% back in-person and on campus—but what the heart wants is not always what the body wants or needs. While my heart is happy to finally see and meet my cohort and class in real life instead of a square on a computer screen, my body is tired and needs time to adjust.

I know I am not the only one feeling this way, and I just want you to know that you have permission to miss Zoom too. Listen to your body, allow it to rest and recharge as it adjusts to yet another change.


*Common Spanglish phrase meaning “but like”



Camping with my childhood friends >

by Arianna

Living in LA

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When I was younger, my older brother was in Cub Scouts. There were three other boys in his troop that he became close friends with, and inevitably, the moms became close as well. Two of the boys had sisters my age, and we became inseparable. In 2007, our parents planned a camping trip to Refugio State Beach, just a few miles north of Santa Barbara. This trip soon became a tradition, and we have been camping there every summer for the past 14 years (not including 2020 for obvious reasons)!

Every year more and more people join the group. In fact, about 14-16 different families come with us now! This vacation has always been my favorite because I’m constantly surrounded by my friends and family. There are no electrical outlets there so we have to conserve our phone batteries. As a result, we get to spend real quality time together without being distracted by technology. When we camp, we usually spend all day at the beach. For dinner, we have a giant potluck and eat together at the picnic tables. At night, we typically have a campfire, play a giant game of hide and seek, watch the kids goof around, and just enjoy each other’s company.

Here are a few pictures from our most recent trip and the trips we made in the past!

Eight young adults smiling for a picture at the beach

2021: These are the people I went on the first camping trip with! I am in the red on the left and my brothers are wearing black jeans on the right. My best friend and fellow Trojan is the girl I’m smiling next to 😊

Eight children posing for a group picture in a tree

2007: Here is a picture from our first camping trip!

Three young women smiling for a picture at the beach

2019: These are the two girls I met in Cub Scouts. We have known each other since 2003!

Three young girls smiling for a close up picture together

2009: And here’s a picture of us at one of our childhood camping trips.

This year’s trip was especially meaningful for me. I felt a little sad after the school year ended because I realized this was my last summer break EVER before I start having fieldwork every summer and eventually a full time job. I also realized that I only had one full year at USC’s main campus. My sophomore year was cut short, my junior year was entirely online, and my senior year will be at the Health Sciences Campus (HSC). I began to feel like I lost too much time and that I missed out and will miss out on so many opportunities to make lasting memories with my friends from undergrad.

However, after going on this trip, I realized, friendship has no time limit. I only see my camping friends a few times a year, yet every time we meet, it feels like nothing has changed. I know the same will be true for the friends I’ve made at USC. Although I am excited to meet new people and make new friends at HSC this fall, I know I will stay close with my friends at main campus. One day, I hope to introduce both groups to each other, and maybe I can even bring them camping!

Thank you all for reading and I hope this blog inspires you to reach out to old friends!


A Day in the Life (Hybrid edition) >

by Yna

1 comment

Classes International Living in LA Videos

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“What’s a typical day of a master’s student look like?” “How are your classes being held?”— these two must be some of the top questions that I get asked by students. That is why I decided to make a vlog called A Day in the Life—Hybrid edition, because we are currently employing a combination of in-person and virtual formats for some of our courses. Safety measures are observed to ensure safe delivery of in-person instruction, such as weekly COVID-19 tests, completing the Trojan Check before coming to campus, physically distanced classroom seating arrangement (one student per table), and wearing of face shields whenever we needed to get closer than 6 feet with each other. In this video, you will see me go to campus for our in-person class for OT500: Clinical Problems in OT, Special Topics and Emerging Practices, wherein we learned from Jane Baumgarten OTR/L proper techniques when performing physical transfers and mobility on a variety of client populations. I also included steps on how to do the Trojan Check and how to make a reservation to use the library. Watch the video here:


CA Fun — Yosemite Edition >

by Liz

Living in LA

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Restorative occupations week was exactly one month ago. At the time fieldwork kept my roommates and me super busy. Yes, we did do things that were restorative — however, this weekend we decided to take part in a belated restorative occupations weekend! As you all know USC is located in the best state in the world, California. We are lucky enough to have amazing weather nearly all year round!

For our restorative occupations weekend we decided to take a day trip to Yosemite National Park. California is full of beautiful national parks. So, if you decide USC is the right fit for you — definitely take time to enjoy nature’s beauty!

The drive to Yosemite from LA took us around 5 hours. Of course this included making a pit stop for food and several bathroom breaks. Our first stop was paddle boarding at Bass Lake. This was close to the city of Oakhurst, which is where we were staying for the night. After a fun afternoon in the water, we checked into our Airbnb and went stargazing later that night.

The following day we were back on the road at 7 AM to head to the national park. There was barely any snow left, but the views were breathtaking! We hiked to Mirror Lake and Lower Yosemite falls. By 3 PM we were listening to our girls trip playlist as we drove back to LA.

As the school year comes to an end and everyone in my friend group is worried about the OTD/getting started with work, it was nice to take a break from the stress and enjoy ourselves. Here are some pictures from the trip!

Paddle boarding

Liz and Lorelei

Liz and Stephy


The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part II >

by Bethany

Admissions Classes Living in LA What are OS/OT?

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In a previous post, I began The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part I. So continuing right where we left off…

Occupation — Occupation is, of course, the focus of our profession and one of the focuses of our schooling. We do not compare ourselves to other professions, but rather learn how to advocate for the inherent value of our distinct perspective as OTs.

Program interconnectivity — As a BS-MA student, we get to meet a lot of OS minors through classes and the Pre-OT club. We join up with Entry-Level students for the graduate level curriculum. We get to learn alongside Post-Professional Master’s students and OTD students in our electives, and have PhD students as our TAs. From my experience, students get to interact with OTs in all programs.

Questions and answers — Questions about fieldwork? Scheduling? Applying to the OTD after finishing the Master’s? Clinical experience? Our faculty and staff (and student ambassadors!) are responsive to all of our queries. We are also paired with faculty mentors, who are matched based on our interests.

Rehab lab — In the Center for Health Professions, we have a lab for Adult Physical Rehabilitation that includes a hospital setting, a bedroom, bathroom, and fully-functional. We can practice creating and implementing interventions in a real space. You can check out the room on our virtual tour!

Shuttle — There is free transportation between campuses! The shuttle is accessible to everyone, not just students. And shuttle time is great for conversations, naps, or watching shows on your phone. One of the previous ambassadors, Noelle, recorded her shuttle trip.

Trojan Family — Whether it be cheering our team on to victory, ending up at a fieldwork site with USC alumni, or of course networking through the Trojan Network site, the Trojan Family is inclusive, extensive, and supportive.

Undergraduate Study — USC is one of the few schools to offer an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy, which helped me claim my identity as an occupational therapy student and learn to advocate better for the field. We also offer a minor in Occupational Science.

Vibrant student life — Around campus, you will find a bustle of students, whether they be grabbing food at the farmers market or Trader Joe’s or going to football games amidst a sea of cardinal and gold.

Well-established — USC’s OT program lives up to its name. We were the first Master’s degree in OT and the first PhD in OS. We developed Lifestyle Redesign, and we continue to be a top-ranked OT school.

X-amine yourself — Within our classes, we are given opportunities for introspection about how our own beliefs, communication styles, and backgrounds can affect how we come into a client-therapist relationship. For example, we complete a values checklist and share our results with our classmates, leading to (1) introspection, (2) learning to understand and listen to other perspectives, and (3) understanding the position of vulnerability we ask of our clients.

You’re not alone — Whenever I needed help, I had support from faculty. They worked with me to make sure I could participate in band for my senior year while taking classes. They looked at which fieldwork placements best suited my preferences and transportation needs. I’m happy to have resources to go to for anything I need in the program.

Zeal — One thing I have always admired about USC students is their passion. And now, I get to pursue my passion in occupational therapy alongside others who share that zeal to find ways to creatively help others do what they love.

Whew! 26 letters. Felt like a long list, but even so. It cannot sum up the passion for OT and the community that I found these past years. Regardless, I hope that I was able to give you a good glimpse into the program. 😊

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