Since I’m just finishing my freshman year here at USC, I’m really not much older or wiser than those of you planning to start college next year. Instead of strictly giving you advice, I’m going to tell you about the events and activities that have had the largest positive impact on my freshman year so that hopefully you get a few new ideas.
It sounds strange, but honestly, most of my favorite events from this year have been ones I almost didn’t even attend. There have been several nights I debated between trying to get ahead on homework or going to some event I was moderately interested in. After several months I began realizing that I haven’t regretted a single one of the opportunities I’ve taken here so far. While doing homework and studying is obviously important and crucial to your academic success, I strongly encourage you to manage your time in order to allow yourself to experience all of the opportunities USC has to offer.
Through various USC organizations including the USC Programming Board, the Visions and Voices Initiative, Trojan Scholars Society, and many others, I’ve had absolutely free access to some of the coolest experiences of my life in the last nine months. I’ve heard the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, attended a Joffrey Ballet performance in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, seen Seth Meyers perform stand-up comedy in Bovard Auditorium, listened to Lane Kiffen speak in EVK, viewed the hit comedy Pitch Perfect a week before it was released nationally, watched Fitz and the Tantrums perform at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, perused the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and walked just outside my dorm to see White Panda and Childish Gambino perform live on McCarthy Quad, all at no cost. I’ve even ridden a Ferris wheel on campus!
These performances and shows have been some of the highlights of my freshman year. In more than one case, I decided to go to these events at the last minute, or just because a friend really wanted to attend. After nine months I’ve definitely realized that seizing these opportunities for USC students has provided me with some truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and now I have even more motivation to stay on top of my studying – that way I don’t feel as guilty if I want to attend a last minute performance or lecture.
One last thing to keep in mind: trying new things isn’t just limited to attending events. I’ve also really enjoyed trying new types of food with friends – Peruvian, Indian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Thai – the options are seemingly limitless. I wouldn’t consider myself an extremely adventurous eater, but I’ve loved all of the different ethnic foods I’ve tried since I arrived in LA. If you’re not originally from Los Angeles, like me, I’d also definitely recommend exploring the second largest city in the nation. Some of my favorite adventures from this year have included eating at the restaurants downtown, visiting the Staples Center, seeing the fashion district, wandering around Hollywood and the Walk of Fame, shopping at the Grove and in Culver City, experiencing In-N-Out for the first time, and hiking in Griffith Park.
Los Angeles really offers more than I could have ever imagined. I hope you try some things you’re not sure about while you’re here. Whether it was attending a lecture that only sounded moderately interesting, trying a food I was a little nervous about, or going somewhere I’d never been before, I definitely surprised myself will some wonderful, even life-changing experiences.