Moving into my dorm was the first time I ever stepped foot in California. As an out-of-state student, one of my biggest fears was feeling out of place among my peers. On top of that, I am the first in my family to attend a four-year institution, and I had no idea what to expect or how to navigate the higher education system. Furthermore, I am black at a predominantly white institution (PWI), so I braced myself for the possibility of negative stereotyping by my peers because of my identity. I thought that all of these factors would serve as a triple whammy for my social life, but my first semester at USC proved the exact opposite, I was a social butterfly.
My first piece of advice is to go to every social event. During your first week on campus in the fall semester, USC hosts a welcome week to help the incoming class engage with their peers. Some of my best memories with my current friend group occurred during that week when we sang karaoke in front of a crowd of strangers, tried some tasty food, and danced at the silent disco event together. Beyond that week, Late Night ‘SC provides weekly social programming for all students to participate in such as movie nights, glow in the dark yoga, etc.
My second piece of advice is to pursue your passions. One unique aspect about USC is that there is a student organization/club for everything. Chess, rowing, community service, even Mario kart gaming. Only through pursuing your passions will you find people with similar interests as you. Various cultural organizations can also help you establish a sense of home.
Thirdly, do not be afraid to try something new. Whether that is food, an experience, or an organization, be sure to step out outside of your comfort zone. While trying new things, keep in mind that it is okay to not like something; that means you are one step closer to finding what and who you truly enjoy.
Lastly, tap into all of USC’s resources. Peaks and Professors, one of my favorite programs, is a premier program that sponsors students to go on outdoor adventures throughout the Los Angeles area. This is a great program to get to know other students and faculty on campus.