USC has a plethora of student organizations that everyone can get involved in. Some of these are more social based, while others are about professional development. However, even in the professional clubs there will be events that encourage students to bond with each other. A very popular event is retreat. In one of my organizations, Construction Management Association of America, I planned a retreat to Big Bear for the executive board. It was one of the best experiences of college so far.

It started with a 2.5 hour drive from USC to Big Bear at 7:30am. We rented an Airbnb for one night but couldn’t check in until 4pm so our first stop was Big Bear Village. In this village, we ate at Teddy Bear Restaurant which was a small diner with the best hot chocolate I have ever had. Then we walked the streets to look into the small stores they had. We bought chocolate strawberries, a puzzle, and caramel apples. Then took a ton of pictures with the yellow and orange fall trees that are nowhere to be seen in LA.

The next stop was Trick or Treat and Plantation hike, which was 4.5 miles long! I think we only chose this hike because it was almost Halloween and we were feeling inspired. Even though I am not the biggest hiker, the view at the top was amazing. We were literally standing above the clouds. We played 2 team bonding games: the human knot and blindfolded scavenger hunt.

Finally, we went to the Airbnb and cooked dinner as a team. We had people prepping in the kitchen, manning the grill, and getting started on the puzzle. We ate bacon-wrapped hot dogs, burgers, garlic bread, and many many snacks. It was definitely a unique experience cooking dinner with 11 other people.

We ended the night playing games, going into the jacuzzi, and playing Guitar Hero. Overall it brought all of us a lot closer and created many inside jokes. I highly recommend joining an organization where the students are more than just your peers. It makes the college experience!

Natalie Le

Natalie Le

MAJOR: Civil Engineering (Building Science) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: San Diego, California PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @nataliexlinh On campus I am involved in various Civil clubs like Construction Management, Earth Engineering Research, and Society of Civil Engineers. Outside of engineering I work a part time job in the Office of Admissions.