USC’s main campus, University Park, is pretty large. It also has some of the most beautiful buildings on a college campus. Being a student in Viterbi, I feel like I spend most of my day on the south end of campus, where most of the Viterbi buildings are. It’s partly because I also lived on that side of campus, at Parkside IRC, but I also tend to stay near SAL, the computer science lab, so I can get help as soon as I need it.

As my first year wrapped up, I’ve realized that there are so many places to discover on campus. Now some of these places are perfect for studying and get work done, others are more for relaxing or reading or hanging out with friends. Overall, I realized that I should really branch out of that part of campus (see “My Biggest Takeaways From Freshman Year” blog) so during the latter half of this semester I decided to do some explore and share my findings with you. So here are some of my favorite spots on campus.

1) VPD – Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall

Isn’t this place just gorgeous both inside and outside? Home of Dornsife’s Spatial Sciences Institute, the Dr. Verna and Peter Dauterive Hall has a beautiful courtyard with tables and chairs perfect for a relaxing morning. I tend to wake up early on the weekends and make the trek to this courtyard because A) the courtyard is tucked away so I’m the only there and B) the building itself has so many tables and chairs inside to get your work done. Sandwiched between Fertitta and the Law School, Dauterive Hall is in the school of Public Policy and when the weather is perfect, this is the place to be.

2) The Little Chapel of Silence

College is an exciting time for everyone and anyone, partly because of this transcendent experience we have. We spend four years learning about ourselves, our passions, our values, and thoughts and desires. All of that discovery requires a little self-reflection and the perfect place to do that is the Little Chapel of Silence. According to the Office of Religious Life, “Since 1935 it has been a place for silent reflection, meditation, and prayer for the whole USC community.” The Chapel is tucked away behind Town and Gown, and open from 6:30am to 10:00pm. The name is apt, seeing as the chapel can fit just about 20 people all together. The Chapel as a prayer box where visitors can write any prayer or hope they have and place it in this box. Once a year, a student group reads these prayers aloud and then burns them. Even if you’re not the most spiritual person in the world, I think it’s really powerful to write down your goals, hopes or prayers, and bring them to fruition. The place is pretty magical in my opinion.

3) The Literatea Courtyard

If you can’t tell already, I love a good courtyard. The Literatea courtyard is not the quietest spot on campus so if you want to catch up with friends, this is a good place to do just that. Literatea is in the back half of Doheny Library and as soon as you walk through the doors, you enter the courtyard. Sometimes, the weather can be really great but super hot. I don’t usually prefer the hot weather because I turn into a sweaty puddle, but this courtyard is perfect for a hot day because there is plenty of shade and great beverages just a couple steps away.

4) Ronald Tutor Campus Center’s main lobby

I’m not exactly sure what the proper name for this part of the building is, but once you enter the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, or TCC, if you keep walking you’ll find this grand room with high ceilings and plenty of sofas and chairs. TCC is the perfect spot for me in between classes or right after I finish my last class. My schedule this semester is quite spread out, seeing as I usually have at least an hour or two in between each class, so I will head over to TCC in between classes to get some work done or just sit down and take a break. TCC is central to a lot of my classes, whether it be Grace Ford Salvatori Hall or Von KleinSmid Center or the Stauffer Lecture Hall so it isn’t too walk from any of my classes. The place is usually quiet and you can get easily distracted by the gorgeous ceiling – which is a good thing sometimes. The best part is, if you get a bit hungry, walk outside and head over to Seeds Marketplace or the food court. Nothing is out of reach here and your friends will be able to find this place pretty easily if you want them to join you.

5) The field in the School of Cinematic Arts

I couldn’t find a good picture of the field but if you walk around the School of Cinematic Arts, there’s a large grassy field in the middle of all of the buildings that’s perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying a picnic. I love this part of campus because not a lot of people spend their time here during the week so it’s nice to have this big space to yourself. Another great part about branching out – you will get to meet some film majors! I met one of my best friends here one day because she was reading one of my favorite books and I had to ask her about it.

That last point ties into the whole purpose of my list: branching out. For these four years at USC, you will make friends in your major and clubs and courses. I found that I really didn’t know enough people outside of Viterbi until I started getting involved in clubs and organizations that were also outside of Viterbi. These spots have been regulars for me and I’ve seen familiar faces that have become some of my closest friends.

Mahima Varanasi

Mahima Varanasi

MAJOR: Industrial and Systems Engineering YEAR: Class of 2022 HOMETOWN: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @mahima On campus I am part of OWN IT, a women's leadership team who plans an annual summit based on amazing women helping each other out. Outside of Viterbi, I am involved in political campaigns.