This blog is part of a series on “Why I Chose USC” by the Viterbi Student Ambassadors. For more blogs on this topic, check out Viterbi Voices.

Last year, I wrote about the top three reasons why I chose to come to USC. This year, I thought I’d write about some of the smaller things about USC that attracted me:

1. Hands on engineering: I really liked the fact that there are so many opportunities at SC to get out of the classroom and get your hands dirty. Practically every discipline has some sort of design team or project club. The rocket propulsion lab is a student run lab that designs, builds, and tests rockets. This weekend the group is in the desert for their latest rocket launch. There’s also the concrete canoe team and the steel bridge team, both of which compete at the annual ASCE regional conference. There’s a team that builds formula SAE racecars, an aerodesign team, and a team that builds underwater robots.

For me, I’ve loved being involved in Engineers Without Borders. I’ve gotten to travel with the group to Honduras twice, where I learned how to survey land, mix concrete by hand, and so much more about the design process. Next year I’ll be a co-project manager, and I’m excited to learn even more about leadership, and the managerial aspect of engineering design.

2. An engineering community: I really liked the fact that the engineers seemed to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. Now that I’ve been at SC for three years, I can attest to how true that really is. I run into friends in the café at Tutor Hall (home base for engineers) all the time. People are always studying or just hanging out between classes. When I stop by to turn in a form at the front desk, ask a question of one of the student affairs advisors, get my resume reviewed at career services, or even just buy lunch or a mid-afternoon coffee, I always run into great friends from my classes and activities. The best part of this is that I always have people I can go to when I need help on an assignment. I work with classmates on homework and projects every week. It’s also great to be able to ask advice from friends who have been through my classes and program ahead of me. They always have great advice about teachers and classes.

RTH Cafe - home base for engineers

3.  Los Angeles is a great city: When I first started thinking about schools, LA didn’t really appeal to me. I’m from Santa Barbara, so LA was just a place that my family went every so often when we wanted to see what the freeway looks like when you transform it into a parking lot. Turns out, traffic really isn’t that bad if you avoid peak hours and the city has a lot to offer. I really liked the fact that downtown was becoming less of a purely business district and developing more of a nightlife. Now that I’m here, I love all the fun things to do in LA. From restaurants, to movie theaters, coffee shops, concert venues, and sports arenas, there is always something exciting to do or see.

4. Trojan spirit: I went to a high school where we had a little bit of school spirit, but no one got that into it. Once I set foot on the SC campus, though, the energy of the place was infectious. I loved the fact that people were wearing SC gear everywhere, that the band was so dang loud and classy looking, and that people legitimately loved SC. As far as sports go, I heard the most about football, and when I first came to SC, our team had just had a few great seasons so everyone was really pumped. Now that our team has had to deal with sanctions have all the fans walked away? Absolutely not. Trojans still love to be Trojans, and that will never change.

5. Campus: It’s beautiful. The grass is green, fountains and brick are everywhere, and there is more than one library that looks like Hogwarts. I legitimately love going to school here. I walk or bike across campus all the time and think about how nice this campus really is.

Of course, there are so many other great things I didn’t even know about until I got here, but that’s all part of the fun. For those of you trying to decide where to go to school next year, I really encourage you to try to visit and see if you think you’ll “fit” at each place you’re considering. In the end, it’s not all about what school gives you your degree. It’s also about where you want to call home for the next four years.