It’s hard to believe that this semester is already drawing to a close.  This was probably the fastest couple of months of my life – it’s scary to think that the start of school was almost four months ago!  It’s been an amazing semester, though.

As far as classes go, my favorite of the semester has been Statics.  This is a good thing considering Statics is part of the curriculum for my major, Mechanical Engineering.  I really enjoy visual problem solving, and to me, problems involving Free Body Diagrams make sense because I can visualize reactions and understand the influence of forces.

I also thoroughly enjoyed my Holocaust in Literature and Film class.  I’ve had Holocaust education before in school, but learning about it through literature and through film was interesting because it was a new perspective.  We watched some fascinating films that challenged me to think beyond my typical understanding of the Holocaust and caused me to feel new emotions.  It was a really eye-opening class.

My most challenging class this semester was Physics 152.  After struggling through the first midterm, I then realized it was time to make a change and get the extra help I needed.  I therefore started to regularly attend the Supplemental Instruction (SI) sessions offered for the class, as well as the Viterbi Academic Resource Center (VARC) to get free peer tutoring.  I noticed that my understanding of the material began to improve, as did my grade!

I’ve also been able to get more involved within my minor, Cinematic Arts.  Although I am not officially taking any film classes this semester, I was lucky enough to sit in on a class analyzing the style of Alfred Hitchcock.  It was a truly inspiring course, especially because Alfred Hitchcock was an Engineer.  I felt as if I was able to have a better understanding of his aesthetic because I understood his the way his brain worked and how he saw the world.  Beyond this class, I have been a part of the crew on three different film sets.  Being on set is an awesome way for me to get my mind off of the stresses of my classes while getting involved in the School of Cinematic Arts.

Living off campus this semester has been a big change from Freshman year.  I currently live in my Sorority house, which has been great because it has meant that I am living with 53 of my friends.  There is always someone to talk to or study with or just hang out with, and that has been great for me since I didn’t want to miss out on a social living experience.  Beyond that, we have catered meals 3 times a day 5 days a week, and the food is delicious!  Also, because I serve as the Live Out Chair, I have been responsible for planning events throughout the semester.  Among the events I planned were dinners at Bacaro, trips to the Pantages to see the Book of Mormon, movie watching events at the house, and the like.  Being the Live Out Chair was a great way to get involved and get to know a lot of the other girls in the house.

Another way I got involved and met people was through my involvement with Hillel.  As a Freshman Engagement Fellow, I act as a resource for Freshmen to connect them to Jewish life on campus.  I frequently check in with Freshmen I met on the Freshfest program, an overnight program during Welcome Week, plan events for them, and invite them to the events happening at Hillel.

Having my car here has also been an awesome way for me to get to explore LA.  I got to do fun things like go to Halloween Horror Nights, walk along the Santa Monica Pier, take my friends to lunch at The Counter, drive to film sets in Hollywood, shop along Sunset Boulevard and Melrose, try new restaurants, go see movies, and even go to the Pantages Theatre to see the Book of Mormon.  All of these things were possible without a car, but having mine here allowed me to do them on my schedule.

This Winter Break, I plan to travel to Thailand with the USC Volunteer Center on an Alternative Winter Break trip!  I’m really looking forward to it.  For more information about the trip, check out my blog here:

How I’m Spending My Winter Break: AWB Thailand

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Samantha Kaplan-2015

Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2015, Learn more on her profile here!