Happy May, Dornsifers! I just finished my last final and can’t believe this year is ending. A few of my close friends from home are getting ready for their senior prom right now, and I’m thinking a lot about this time during my senior year, only a year ago – I’d just committed to USC after holding out until April 28th or something, without knowing what a fantastic decision I was making. I seriously can’t believe how many things have happened, how many wonderful people I’ve met, and how much I’ve learned. Here’s a brief overview:
1. The all-purposes “let’s meet for coffee” date/business meeting/heart-to-heart/study break: Know it, master it, love it.
2. When you have the opportunity to explore the city, take it. Honestly. An afternoon of vintage Christmas shopping in Los Feliz can lead to meeting Darren Criss over lunch in an adorable French cafe (true story). Go to Westwood for falafel or West Hollywood for a show at the Troubadour, and you might find yourself chatting with a pair of trilingual best friends on the bus (another true story). Spend a weekend in the mountains in Malibu or hiking in Joshua Tree. Campus is a wonderful place, but why limit yourself to a few square miles in the middle of an incredible city?
3. Try to conclude emails with things other than “Thanks,”. I’ve seen “Best,” “Thanks so much!,” “Peace,” “Have a great night!,” and my personal favorite, “Cheers.”
4. Running is the single best way to relieve stress. We’re lucky enough to have a campus perimeter that measures almost exactly 2 miles (I think it’s 1.97 or something), so grab your iPod and join the dozens of people who make a habit of it. Your night of perfectly sound sleep will thank you!
5. Go see professors and TAs. They wouldn’t be here if they didn’t love what they’re doing, and they know so much. Office hours sound scary, and they can feel awkward at first, but absolutely take advantage of them – one question is more than enough to start a long and helpful conversation! Also, find a professor/pastor/mentor who doesn’t equivocate when you ask a question, and talk to him or her frequently about your own life, not just the syllabus. It’s much easier to do things you’re unsure of with the blessing of someone older and wiser.
6. Legitimately everyone likes Harry Potter.
7. It sounds cheesy, but honestly, take a few hours every week to just give of yourself. It’s easy to get bogged down under a pile of papers and exams and a dozen chapters to read, but when I go to Homeless Ministry with my church or spend a few hours volunteering at the Natural History Museum across the street, I always walk home thinking about how fortunate I am to be a Trojan. And I promise, opening a textbook and remembering that you’re lucky to do so makes those chapters fly by.
8. Regardless of who you’re dating, working with, or growing closer to, your relationship with your roommate deserves care. Remember, she knows of and deals with lots of embarrassing habits of yours (you eat Nutella with what?). She also hears your Skype chats, sees exactly how often you check Facebook, smells your hairspray, and deals with that pile of rejected outfits that moves from the bed to the desk. Share things that make you laugh with her, ask about her finals, and offer her the apple juice in the fridge, because it’s just the right thing to do.
9. A corollary to #2: When exciting things come to campus, go to them. The Dalai Lama, Rainn Wilson, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, President Obama, Third Eye Blind, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Goosebumps author R.L Stein are just a few of the fascinating people who joined the Trojan family for a night this year, and I came very close to seeing all of them for free. I can’t imagine having those opportunities anywhere else – and if that was one year, I can’t wait to see who stops by during the next three!
10. You have to write a bad draft before you can start a good one.
And, for completion’s sake, here’s the best advice I’ve ever received: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years of trying to get other people interested in you.”
It’s been an incredible year! I’m headed back to Akron, OH for a summer with family, friends, and even an internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art, so I’ll be busy enough to await fall semester too eagerly. See you this August, and until then (as always), fight on!