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Yasmeen - Paris 2While the rest of the Trojan Family returned to campus for the spring semester a couple of weeks ago, I was still biding my time at home in the Silicon Valley. No, I didn’t drop out of school, and I didn’t join a start-up. Rather, I’d been spending the last week of my winter vacation counting down the days until I can finally begin the next phase of my USC journey in… wait for it… France!

A few days ago, I arrived in Paris to take part in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ USC Paris program. The program, which began on January 22nd and continues through the end of May, is run in conjunction with ACCENT, an international education organization that works with American universities like USC to provide quality educational programs abroad. What’s great about the ACCENT center is that it provides students with small, group-like classes taught by actual USC professors. Classes are offered in both English and French, and students are even encouraged to take a class or two at neighboring French universities, such as Institut Catholique de Paris or the Sorbonne.

However, like at USC, a lot of my learning in Paris will likely take place beyond the classroom. All participants in USC Paris live in home-stays with Parisian families, giving them the opportunity to practice their language skills with their host families. And though many students end up planning several trips and outings in and around France, USC Paris also includes various excursions to different parts of the country such as Chartres, Bordeaux, and Normandy.

Though the idea of spending a full semester away from the familiar confines of USC seemed daunting at first, now that I’m here I can’t imagine spending this upcoming semester anywhere else. I’ll be one of several students writing a study abroad travel blog for the Daily Trojan — if you’re interested in getting more insights on students’ study abroad experiences in Paris, London and elsewhere, you should give it a read!

À la prochaine!

Yasmeen - Paris 1

Kyra PoliticsThis semester, I had the rewarding experience of being in a class called POSC 395. This political science course allows students to have internships in various politically related fields. In addition to the internship, POSC 395 requires students to attend two of the many political events held on campus throughout the semester. Political events can cover a wide range of topics and are often in the form of lectures or debates. Many are hosted by the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics or the Political Student Assembly. The events are always free and open to any student on campus. As a bonus, they tend to offer free food.

The first event I attended this semester was called Refugee Crisis at the Border: Immigration Reform’s New Challenge. It was an exciting discussion about what role immigration reform will play in the 2016 presidential election. A panel discussed the topic, and students in the audience were encouraged to ask questions and get engaged in the discussion. I enjoyed being able to listen to a bipartisan panel and learn from perspectives different from my own.

The second event I attended was called Gender and the Politics of 2016. USC Professor Bob Shrum led a conversation with the communications director of EMILY’s List, which is a political action committee that supports electing pro-choice, Democratic women to office. I found the conversation to be very informative and interesting.

Overall, attending political events on campus was an excellent supplement to my studies. I had many options to choose from, and I was reminded of how much USC has to offer for students looking to engage in their respective fields. Even for students who are not political science majors, the political events on campus are a great way to learn more about current world events and issues. I look forward to seeing what events will be on campus next semester!

I can’t believe the semester has ended! It’s been such a fast but fulfilling semester, and I can’t wait to talk about it here! I continued my participation in several organizations I am involved in on campus. I also tried some new things, and all of them Jocelyn Winter-galawent very well. The first thing is…….that I became a Dornsife Ambassador! Yes, I have already spent a whole article talking about this, but I just can’t hold back whenever I get a chance to talk about this! Goooo Dornsife!

Another thing brand new thing that I tried this semester is to join the choir. That must be one of the never-regret decisions I have made here in the United States so far. There are five choirs here under USC Thorton School of Music, including University Choir, Oriana Women’s Choir, Appolo Men’s Choir, Concert Choir, and Chamber Choir. Like most other organizations on campus, all of them are open to every student in USC, regardless of their major and year. So as a Dornsife student, I can participate in many of the activities under Thorton as well as other schools of USC.

I joined the Oriana Women’s Choir, and I love it! We have two rehearsals every week, each lasting for 2 hours. The rehearsals probably are the only times that I can relax and sing without worrying about academic life. The girls in Oriana are all so pretty and nice. We talk about everything ranging from whose music do you like most to where’s the best place to have brunch in LA.. We have around two performances per semester. We just had Winter Gala along with the other four choirs in Bovard Auditorium after Thanksgiving, which is our biggest concert of this semester. The performance was fantastic! People not only from USC but also from the surrounding neighborhood came. There were holding-hands old couples as well as teenagers. We stood in the aisle and sang to the audience from a very close distance. I could even see the tears in one old lady’s eyes when we were singing “Sweeter Still.”

The coordinator of the choir program has an ambitious goal, which is to encourage half of the campus to sing. I am not sure about the feasibility of this goal, but I really appreciate that the choir program provides not only me but also everyone around USC an opportunity to enjoy music. Even though I will have 20 units next semester, I will stay in Oriana to “Fight on” and “Sing on”!

Kyle DoubleMajorBlog

In the past, the concept of having two majors seemed rather intimidating to me. It was something that I thought I would never do. I guess it’s pretty funny how perspectives can completely change; now, I see double-majoring as a marvelous opportunity that I personally could not continue college without.

At the beginning of my first semester at USC, I had cognitive science marked as my sole major. There were two things clear to me at this point. First, I was very interested in studying the workings of the human mind and human behavior. Second, I wanted to go to law school. My first semester class schedule consisted entirely of general education classes and school requirements. It was by luck that I found myself enrolled in a philosophy class, “Legal Controversies and Ethical Principles”, for my category six GE. It turned out to be a class that I truly enjoyed, solidifying my desire to study law in the future. As I became more interested in law, I began to feel like studying cognitive science wasn’t enough for me. I wanted more.

I started looking into the major Philosophy, Politics, and Law (PPL). It seemed incredibly interesting, the perfect curriculum for a pre-law student. Even better, I saw that the philosophy class I was taking fulfilled the first requirement for the major. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I really wanted to add this second major. Upon further examination, I saw that I could easily graduate on time with both majors. Cognitive science and PPL, individually, did not have too many requirements. There was also some overlap between the two. Double-majoring originally seemed like an impossible (or at least extremely difficult) thing to do, but that really is not the case. I suppose it makes sense, now, that a good number of students here have more than one major.

As I look to the end of my first semester, I have nothing but excitement for the future. I’m now on a path that satisfies all of my personal intellectual and career passions. I can continue learning about cognition and behavior and getting involved in research. At the same time, I can prepare for law school and learn more about the field of law. It feels great. I never thought double-majoring would bring so much relief.

Imagining myself leaving USC in just a week and a half seems surreal. I’m graduating a semester early, and I couldn’t be more excited to move on to the next chapter of my life in San Jose, CA. But I’m sad to leave the friends I’ve made over my time Melissa Ling Graduationhere at USC. I keep thinking back to freshman year, when I’d stay up late with my dorm mates for no reason and skate around the empty campus, so grateful that I was at my dream school. I still get that feeling of joy just being on campus, but I’m ready to take on my next big challenge – applying to medical school. Going to school at USC has made me a more independent person and also made me realize how much potential I have.

Over the next few months, I’m going to be working at a hospital in San Jose and applying to med school at the same time. I’ve decided to live at home to save up, but I definitely plan to visit Los Angeles from time to time! I’ve fallen in love with this city during the past three and a half years, even though trying to drive anywhere in LA makes me rethink that briefly. There’s just so much to do in LA. I’ve gotten to watch my favorite comedians, Jake and Amir, perform live, see Big Boi and Phantogram perform right on campus, and hang out with Rivers from the band Weezer — and that was all just this semester. Yesterday, I spent an afternoon walking through downtown LA and realized that there’s still so much I need to see and do in this city. There were people of all ages, backgrounds, and fashion; restaurants that I wanted to try, and music venues I hadn’t been to yet. Moving back to San Jose will be a huge change, but I’m happy I get to see my family and work toward my ultimate goal: to become a physician.

Fight on forever!

Parents’ Weekend

Maddie Parents WeekendAfter not having seen my family since August 20th, parents’ weekend finally arrived. My mom, dad, and little brother all boarded a flight from Indianapolis to LA – I’m not sure if they were more excited about a break from cold and snowy Indy or seeing me, but either way it was great to see them again and show them around my new stomping ground.

The grand tour of USC included the buildings where I have my classes, the campus center, and the dorm room that I had spent an hour cleaning the night before (Yes mom, it always looks like this). It was so much fun showing my parents my new life at USC with Dornsife, and they couldn’t have been happier that I am loving my first semester in college. That night was the USC – Cal game. After getting decked out in our game-day gear, I got to drag my parents around all the tailgates outside the Coliseum and introduce them to many of my friends. It was my brother’s first college football game, so I had fun teaching him the fight song and watching the Trojan victory with him.

There was also Delta Gamma Presents over parents’ weekend. My entire pledge class put on long white dresses — yes, it did kind of look like we were getting married — and we were presented with short bios to all the families that were there. My parents loved hearing about how all of my new sorority sisters are involved and really enjoyed the event! I also got to give them a tour of the DG house, and we all got to enjoy a nice brunch after the event was over.

On the night before they left, we all had one last family dinner together! I said my goodbyes, and though I was sad that my family was leaving, I was happy to be staying at USC. Showing my family my new life here just reinforced the fact that I could not be happier with my decision to go to USC and become a part of the Trojan Family.

My last Conquest

Melissa Ling ConquestWith rivalry week each year comes Conquest, a huge pep rally before the Trojans take on the Bruins. Not only is this a major time for school spirit to shine but also it’s one of the occasions when the USC Concerts Committee organizes a big concert for all students to enjoy. This year, I clicked “going” on the Facebook event for Conquest and waited in suspense for the committee to announce who our headliners were going to be. The hints were that the artist won over 5 Grammys and headlined Coachella, a music festival, in the past.

On the morning of Conquest, I checked my phone and saw that the headliners were just announced – Big Boi and Phantogram!! I was so giddy with excitement I was almost late to my first class and had to try very hard to stay focused through my 6 hours of class that Thursday. Finally, in the evening, my friends and I made our way over to McCarthy Quad and sung along to Phantogram. When Big Boi came out, the whole crowd was dancing, and I felt so lucky that the last big USC concert during my time as a student featured artists I happened to love. Not going to lie, I’m pretty happy with myself that I was able to rap along to Big Boi’s entire super fast verse in B.O.B, one of the songs he put out with Andre 3000 while they were in OutKast.

These are the kind of events at USC that I’ll miss once I graduate! There’s really no other school that’s so strong in school spirit and is also able to throw such amazing events for its students.

What is life?

The school year is coming to a close and finals week is upon us — things are getting stressful with papers and projects and final exams. But there are always a flurry of new students getting ready to apply to USC, and our ambassador-ness got an opportunity to shine, which was a highlight of the semester!

Cara Black PoloThis past week, we got to work the Discover USC event, where we got to talk to prospective students who hadn’t decided on whether or not to apply to USC yet. I got to talk to tons of students about all that Dornsife has to offer, like internships, our awesome classes, study abroad, and all sort of opportunities that are unique to USC and to Dornsife. It was really fun for me, because it felt like just yesterday I was one of those students applying to colleges, and I wish I had attended an event like this at USC when I got the chance, just to be able to explore everything that USC had waiting for me when I got here.

This event also marked my first opportunity to wear my coveted black polo shirt and gold name tag for Dornsife Ambassadors. When I walked on campus freshman year and started seeing polos and name tags around, I knew those people were involved somehow on campus, and it encouraged me to find out how to get involved myself. Now, first semester sophomore year, I have earned my polo and name tag, and I am so excited about being an ambassador!

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