So it’s the first days of classes, ‘Welcome Week’ is over, and you’ve officially lived in your dorm room for a full week by now. As you walk down Trousdale between classes, maybe you’re trying to decide when or where to eat lunch, if you should go to a library to study during that little window of time, or if you should hurry to that Trojan Talk from Tesla. For the first time in your educational career, you are not held to a schedule of six+ class periods in seven hours all set out for you and required to be followed. This new freedom to the day is incredibly refreshing and exciting since the day is entirely up to you. However, this new lack of overarching structure to your week can be a little overwhelming, especially during those first few weeks and even months at college. When I found myself in that situation of questioning what to do in the beginning, it seemed to me that all the students skating and biking past me had a deliberate heading and a plan in mind for their day. I felt a little disoriented without a real image in my head of what my day was going to look like, much less my whole week. This is not to say that having an element of spontaneity or unknown in your daily life is a bad thing, but a solid sense of organization is helpful for establishing a healthy routine, mentally and physically.


Now I am not saying to go look on Amazon and buy one of those inspirational daily life planners that has you track your everyday actions and outline each hour of the day. I wish I was the kind of person who had the ability to be that consistent and dedicated to a journal or planner, but alas, I am not. What I am saying is that it takes some time to create a sense of normalcy and a rough outline for your newfound time at USC. Below I have laid out some simple yet important steps I took in my first semester to go about doing this and they might be helpful for you as well.


Decide On When To Do Your Laundry

It’s pretty easy for the dirty clothes to pile up in your hamper and the sheets to remain on your bed for months on end before you’re desperate enough to take the trip to the laundry room. As tedious as it may seem to keep to a laundry schedule, your personal style (and hygiene) will thank you. Pick a day of the week (or every other week) that works for you to have a few spare hours in which to load and unload machines, maybe working in a study period or a meal with friends during this time. Also, choose a day on which doing laundry is less popular so you can actually snag a machine or two to use (weekends are usually the busiest). And you might laugh at me, but for some reason finishing up a few loads of laundry makes me feel like my day was productive because even if I’ve hardly done much else, at least I have clean clothes.


Test Out All The Organizations You Want But Eventually Narrow It Down

The two-day long USC involvement fair can either make you extremely excited to try every club that interests you or completely overwhelmed with all the choices. I fell into the first category, going to countless information sessions and attending so many meetings in one week that I lost count, often on the same night. Needless to say, this was exhausting and I had to pare down my list of doable options in order to make sure I got a reasonable amount of sleep at night. Organizations are a great way to develop your passions or discover interests you didn’t know you had as well as meet a range of fellow students to form friendships with. However, you won’t be able to invest all the time you want into the clubs you truly connect with if you are trying to commit to several different ones along with coursework too. Not to mention you will wear yourself out much too early on. Take the first month or so to hone in on those few organizations that you want to be involved in most and move on from those that are less important or gratifying to you. And if a new group or activity comes up on your radar down the line, don’t be afraid to give it a go. Just be aware of your own limits and find the balance that’s right for you. 


Commit To Exercising At Hours And Lengths That Work For You

I’ll admit, I’m not the most consistent when it comes to working out and often have lofty ideals for exercise plans. But studies have shown time and time again that even a fairly small amount of physical activity a day greatly improves your bodily health as well as mental focus and recall. With this in mind, it is a great idea to get in the habit from the beginning of making space in your schedule for working out. Whether that be hitting the weight room at 11:00pm an hour before the gym closes, going for a run around campus on weekend mornings, or vowing not to take an elevator all day and opt for a 5-story stair climb instead, any form of movement is a positive. I know I told myself the consistent excuse that I simply didn’t have time in the day with all my other activities and engineering classwork, but I promise you there are pockets of spare time where a short jog or game of tennis can be fit in. Don’t feel like you have to do a full 1.5 hour long workout each day; a consistent effort from the start is all you need.

Make Plans To Meet Friends For Meals Or Chats Between Classes

In high school, you were constantly surrounded by your fellow students and friends who were all on pretty much the same schedule as yourself. This meant you had lunchtime, sports practices, club meetings, and multiple other orchestrated activities to spend time together and share your complaints or tales about the day. Creating deliberate moments in your college days to do this can be a much-needed stress reliever or simple break from work. This could be just a quick text asking your friend in another dorm if he/she would want to join you for dinner or planning to meet a pal for lunch after class every Tuesday when possible. After one of my longer days of classes, I’d always make sure to set aside at least 30 minutes to chat with my friend down the hall, even just standing in one another’s doorway laughing at Tik-Toks together. Ensuring you make time to foster your relationships and check in on friends during a notably transformational as well as stressful time in each of your lives will bring you closer and be a much needed outlet for you both. 


How you establish your new sense of home at college is entirely up to you though and depends on your priorities (I’d like to argue that laundry should be a priority for everyone however…). Whatever you do to help during that stage of adjustment in the first semester, keep your goals in line with your health as you try to find your new “normal.”

Bon voyage as you start your USC journey!


Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__b I'm involved with computer science research investigating affective gesturing in robots in the Interaction Lab along with being a Freshman Engineering Academy Coach. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a part of Greek Life, SC Climbing, the Student Alumni Society leadership board, and I am a volunteer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.