One thing you’ll notice at USC is that there are a million and one opportunities to get out and do super fun activities. Whether it’s with your dorm, with your friends, or organized through a club, keep your eyes peeled and you can get out to some amazing places. This year I was invited to attend an Engineering Honors Retreat the weekend before schools started with 40 other Viterbi students, mostly in their freshman and sophomore year.

We went to Murphy, California (an extremely long bus ride), which is this really cute, country town up in the mountains. We stayed at a family-owned Christian camp with probably the nicest people ever who setup cabins for us and cooked meals (which probably cost me a pound or two over that weekend alone). After a night of getting to know these 40 strangers, we went down into the depths of the Earth together.

Have you ever been in a suddenly creepy situation and thought to yourself “This could totally be the beginning of a scary movie”? Well this was one of those times for me. Actually, the entire 3 hours in the absolute darkness under 250 feet of rock was. My subconscious was going to town. But the rest of me had alot of fun!

We get all harnessed up and dropped into a little hole and they say “just feed the rope smoothly through”. Ok, no big deal, I’m going down this little hole, looking up and waving at my friends, bouncing my feet along the wall like you see in movies and then …nothing. My feet swing out into darkness and I barely keep from knocking myself unconscious as I lower into an enormous cavern. I look down 130 feet to sharp rocks (which I later learned have grown to cover human bones of less fortunate climbers). Yeah it was thrilling, but a fun ride.

From the bottom of the cavern, we turned on our headlamps and headed into the darkness. It was a tight fit in some places, and I was super happy that I’d taken yoga this whole summer. We got each other through and painted our faces with mud, ending the trip up through this 30 foot climb that is called Santa’s Nightmare, sliding back down Wedgie Hill (which lived up to it’s name) to finish the tour. My group of 10 really bonded down in the dark. We told each other scary stories, and when we came through the passage called the Birth Canal, we all came up with new names for ourselves. I chose the first thing that popped into my head: Jasmine.

We all posed for a survival pick on the way out of the cavern! Then we planned how to spend our last night camping, with S’MORES!

The next day we headed back on another long bus ride to campus. It took us all day but we alternated between taking naps, playing word games and puzzles with each other, and watching bits of Warhorse (which I didn’t really get to appreciate). Finally we got back and I pointed the freshmen towards their dorm and went to prepare for the first Society of Women Engineers officer council meeting, SWEtastic!

Another fabulous weekend in California!

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