Spring 2016: Your Trojan Back-to-School Guide

Amanda Curtis | Daily Trojan

Amanda Curtis | Daily Trojan

New semester, new year, new you. For spring admits and returning students alike, Daily Trojan bloggers have put together tips for different aspects of college life at USC, whether that be health, cooking tools or even phone apps.

Trojan Tips for…

The Spring Admit: Ten points of tried-and-true advice
By Madison Cisiewski
The Spring Admit: Why I’m glad I’m a spring admit
By Zoe Brown
Greek Life: To rush or not to rush?
By Madison Cisiewski
A Healthy Semester: Taking care of You
By Arim Han
The Techie: Five apps to help you survive the semester
By Caitlin Tran
The Foodie: The best kitchen appliances on the market
By Natalie Laczewski
Semester Resolutions: New Year, New Trojan
By Chloe Ling


The Spring Admit: Ten points of tried-and-true advice

By Madison Cisiewski

Photo courtesy of Daniel Foster, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Daniel Foster, Flickr

Getting into USC has to be one of the most exciting days of your life. I know it was for me, that was, until I opened my letter and saw that I wasn’t invited for the fall semester but the next spring semester instead. It was exciting, nerve-wracking and confusing all at once and left me with a million questions about what coming to USC as a spring admit would be like. Here are some of the things I wondered, learned and experienced as a USC spring admit that I hope can help the incoming spring admits adjust a little easier.

1. The people you get to know at orientation don’t have to be your friends forever.

Coming into school and thinking everyone already knows each other is a daunting prospect. Naturally, you will begin to think the only people you will have anything in common with are the other spring admits or transfers you meet at orientation activities. Yes, these people do serve an important purpose for helping you integrate and feel comfortable your first few weeks of school but they do not have to become lifetime friends. You may find yourself drifting away from them and that is 100 percent okay. Let yourself grow beyond the first few people you cling to for comfort in the beginning weeks.

2. People will tell you that no one becomes friends in GE classes; don’t listen to them.

The first thing I remember is my roommates telling me that no one really becomes friends or talks to other students in GE classes since most of the time you won’t have a class with them again. Don’t listen to this! I remember creating an awesome amount of new friends by talking to other students in my GE’s — students that I may have never met outside of these general classes. It will help broaden your friend group outside of your major or program.

3. Embrace your housing situation, no matter what it is.

I knew a lot of spring admits who were incredibly unhappy with their housing situations for different reasons: Bad roommates, not on campus and small living quarters were all different complaints I heard from students that, due to their spring admit status, were placed in buildings or areas they were shocked to be living in. When I was first assigned housing, I didn’t know any of my three roommates and had never seen my apartment in Troy East. Funny enough, I happened to live in the building another semester because I liked it so much and became best friends with my roommates. Embrace your housing situation and go in with a positive attitude — it will make your semester so much easier.

4. Hang out around campus. Literally just go find a nice spot and sit somewhere.

This one is self explanatory, but it works! You never know who you could meet or what cool places on campus you could discover,

5. Don’t worry about greek life quite yet.

This was a hard one for me. As a girl who always wanted to join a sorority it was difficult not to be able to jump right in when I got to school. It ended up, however, that since I had a semester to adjust, I could really focus on getting to know girls from each chapter and finding out what I wanted out of a house. It made fall rush much easier for me!

6. Work hard in classes, but be gentle on yourself about your GPA.

For some people, this will be the first semester at a university and with that it’s completely understandable to have an adjustment semester while getting used to the new academic setting. That’s not an excuse to slack off, but go to classes, do the work and be in touch with the professors and understand that some classes (especially GE’s) can be more difficult than anticipated. Seriously, don’t stress. You have three more years to raise your GPA.

7. Join an organization.

This seems obvious and is one of the points all the orientation advisors will emphasize but it is honestly so important. You don’t have to get involved in everything on campus but find something that goes along with your interests. There is a club or organization at USC for every single person and getting involved in something you love helps you bond with people with similar interests and gives you a sense of purpose on campus.

8. Don’t stress about switching your major or school.

This was a big one for me when I first came in. I was so stressed about switching my major (since I was admitted under my second choice) that I spent the whole semester getting anxiety about something that I couldn’t even reapply for yet. Keep your grades up and maybe take a class in the major or program you want but enjoy your semester and wait patiently until the time to apply for your new major comes along.

9. Go to the gym!

Honestly even if you’re not a gym rat, working out helps relieve stress, keeps you healthy through all that college food and can open you up to meeting new people. Take a friend and hit the treadmills!

10. Don’t complain about being a spring admit.

I get the difficulty that comes with being a spring admit. I know it’s hard and for some the experience is worse than for others. However, there is a certain level of grace that comes with having a great semester and a positive attitude. Everything happens for a reason so embrace your first semester at USC and be positive about your experience. Everything will work out better than you expected.

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Trojan Tips for the Spring Admit: Why I’m glad I’m a spring admit

Zoe Brown

Zoe Brown | Daily Trojan

Zoe Brown | Daily Trojan

After I tore open that big yellow envelope on that fateful day in March, and saw the word “Congratulations,” I exploded into tears — happy tears, of course. But just when I calmed down, caught my breath and wiped my eyes, I saw the word “Spring”’ and burst into tears again — this time, they were not-so-happy tears.   

Knowing that I wouldn’t be starting college at the same time as all of my friends was scary and upsetting. I knew that I should have been excited, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, even cheated.

Would I still be able to make friends? To find my place? To graduate on time? What was I supposed to do for a whole semester? Should I turn down my dream school for one that offered me admission in the fall?

But after finishing up my fall semester, I’ve come to realize that being admitted in the spring was a blessing in disguise. I learned so many lessons and went through so many new experiences that I never would have come across if I’d started school in the fall.

Living on my own. 

This past semester, I lived at University Gateway, an apartment building right off campus, with three other girls.

With no meal plan, I bought my own groceries and cooked (more like managed to throw together) my own meals. With no Resident Assistant or instruction of any sort, I learned to deal with any issue independently.  

I learned through clogged toilets, growing mold and festering food that I actually have to clean my surroundings thoroughly, like with a sponge and some special foam scrub.

And from my free time and the 3,000 miles separating me from my parents and most of my friends, I focused on putting myself out there to meet new people. Most importantly, I also learned to enjoy spending some time with someone who will always be there for me: myself.

Community college. 

Being a spring admit forced me to branch way outside of my comfort zone. I come from a small town in New England, where over 90 percent of the population is white and most people live comfortably, some even luxuriously.

This past semester, I took three classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at Santa Monica College , a highly-ranked community college.

At SMC, I met just about as many Asians and Hispanics as I did whites.     

I met a girl who was admitted to New York University but had to turn it down for financial reasons and a boy from Maryland who lives on his own and works full-time at a real estate agency. I met a woman three-times my age who was going to school for the first time and a boy who knew everything about gangs.

At SMC, I discovered that there is literally so much more outside of the bubble that was my hometown and my high school. I’d hear about it before but never truly saw what else is out there.

Free time. 

If you’re here at USC, chances are you worked hard throughout high school. If not, you must have worked hard in some other way.

I worked so hard straight through my four years of high school that I never had time to do so many things.

Being a spring admit and having so much more time than a normal college student allowed me to cross so many of these things off my to-do list.

I had time to explore Southern California in every single way – from getting lost on hikes to cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway to buying books for $1 at The Last Bookstore to doing an overnight trip to Laguna Hills.

I had time to start my own blog, “IMO,” to write for other publications and to actually read books for my own pleasure. Most importantly, however, I had time to breathe and realize how grateful I should be for where I am today.

I still made it to the school I’ve been dreaming about for years — we all did. And there’s no reason to be anything but thrilled and proud about that.

Anyway, what’s one less semester when I’ve got the whole rest of my life to keep fighting on with the Trojan Family?

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Trojan Tips for Greek Life: To rush or not to rush?

By Madison Cisiewski


Greek life is an incredibly important part of USC. For some, the greek system is something they’ve wanted to be a part of their whole lives. The spring admit experience changes the dynamic between incoming students and the houses because these students seeking out greek life are caught in a sort of limbo. Here are some tips about getting involved, and what to know about the greek system for spring admits.

  1. Don’t worry about being at a disadvantage just because you might be coming in as a sophomore.

For guys, this might not be the case since fraternities do spring rush, but a few guys want to wait and feel out the system too. Either way, waiting to join greek life really won’t hinder you. Young men and women all the way up to senior year rush and join fraternities and sororities with no problems.

2. Don’t listen to the stereotypes of each house.

One important aspect of being a spring admit is that if you chose to wait until fall rush, you get a chance to really understand each house’s place and influence in campus life. On the other side of this, you see the negative stereotypes associated with each house as well which can create a negative association when you do decide to rush. Ignore all of these stereotypes because they are almost all completely false.

3. Understand the commitment that joining a house entails.

Many people rush with very little idea about the amount of time and effort it takes to be

an active member of a chapter. There is a significant amount of time you have to spend at events, future rush weeks and philanthropies. For some, this is all worth it, but give yourself some time to think about if that’s something you think is worth doing (and spending the money on). If it’s not something you want to commit to, that’s perfectly okay too.

4. Take advantage of the amount of time you have to get to know people from each chapter outside of a rush setting.

As a spring admit, you may have classes with people in different houses and come to understand the character and types of girls and guys in each house. You may get along with some people more than others — this may help you gain more insight as to which house you may look out for during rush.

5. Go to parties, philanthropies and different events held by the houses.

This will also help you get to understand the members of each chapter in a new setting. Learning about their philanthropies as an important part of chapter life is a great way to see what each chapter values in their philanthropic work. Its also a really fun time since many of these events have food, puppies, games and music.

These are just a few basic tips for spring admits interested in greek life. Remember to take advantage of the amount of time you have to see the school and how the greek system is involved. Greek life, for some, is an amazing way to make friends, get involved in campus activities or philanthropy and create an outstanding brotherhood or sisterhood.

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Trojan Tips for a Healthy Semester: Taking care of You

By Arim Han 

Arim Han | Daily Trojan

Arim Han | Daily Trojan

Your very first college semester can be a lot of things — “exhilarating,” “liberating” and “stressful” are just a few common descriptors of a student’s first four months at a university. While it can be overwhelming, college is an incredible experience through which many learn their most valuable lessons, meet friends of a lifetime and create the fondest of memories. Amidst all this, it’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically as you go through one of the most crucial transitions in your life. Here are some things to keep in mind during your first semester as a spring admit.

1. Know Yourself.

Being aware of your mind and body can be of tremendous help when adjusting to a new routine. Just like moving house or transferring schools, attending college is a major lifestyle change that is both mentally and physically strenuous. For these reasons, it’s important to know what works best for you in different situations. How can you relieve stress? What’s the most efficient way of studying for you? How much sleep do you need to function? Knowing how you tick will make things easier, especially during times of stress and anxiety. If you’re not sure about what’s best for you, now is an optimal time to grow and learn about yourself.

2. Eat.

It sounds simple enough. We’ve all heard the “don’t skip meals” mantra, but it exists for a reason! Skipping meals inhibits focus and the ability to concentrate, which can be detrimental to your life as a student and young adult. Focus on maintaining nutrition by making healthy choices, constantly drinking water and keeping a regular eating schedule. If you don’t have time for a sit down meal, a granola bar or apple that can be eaten on-the-go is better than eating nothing at all. Eating clean and regularly has dramatically helped me to balance a demanding class schedule with different extracurriculars, and it’s something I highly recommend if you’re struggling with fatigue and sluggishness.

3. Embrace Alone Time.

College is often associated with social events and the abundance of opportunity to meet new people. While making new friends is all a part of the college experience, it’s important to step away occasionally to take some time to yourself. Find a few things that you enjoy doing alone and set some time aside during the week for yourself — running, reading and catching up on your favorite shows are just a few different ways of many to help you unwind and recharge after spending energy socializing.

4. Take it Slow.

Starting college at a different time than the majority of other students can cause things to feel rushed and out of sync. Regardless, it’s important to remember that college is a place to learn and grow, so give yourself time to figure things out. Remember that transitioning into college life is a major change and giving yourself time to adjust and make mistakes will ultimately be less stressful in the long run.

5. Ask Questions

One of the biggest benefits of entering college in the spring is that you have access to an abundance of peers who have already experienced the ups and downs of their first semester. Take advantage of this, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about any confusions. Chances are you’ll learn about classes, campus resources and different organizations from your fellow classmates. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble, and grow friendships along the way.

Prioritizing your mental and physical well-being early on creates healthy habits that will carry you through college and beyond. Don’t overlook self care, and keep in mind that you’re in college to learn how to live well, not simply survive.

Take care of yourself, and have a happy spring semester, Trojans!

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Trojan Tips for the Techie: New Semester, New Apps 

By Caitlin Tran 


I’m a self-proclaimed “early adopter” who downloads just about anything. That’s not to say I don’t have high standards though. Most apps don’t stick around on my devices for too long — awkward interfaces, annoying notifications, or, worst of all, battery draining are all common reasons for deletion. It’s rare that I find something that sticks, but the reward is always worth the hunt. Here are five apps that have made it with me to 2016.

1. Wunderlist

This to-do list app runs and syncs seamlessly across all major devices so whether you’re on your phone, laptop or Apple Watch, you’ll never forget a task. The simple interface allows you to create and name multiple lists with tasks on them, organize lists in folders, reprioritize tasks, set due dates, share tasks with others, add sub-tasks and more with ease. I’ll admit that I’ve grown quite attached to the satisfying “ding” sound that rings when a task is checked off.

Caitlin Tran | Daily Trojan

Caitlin Tran | Daily Trojan

2. Momentum

Momentum is a Google Chrome Extension that replaces Google’s generic “New Tab” page with a beautiful, personalized dashboard. You can check the weather and time, search the web, create a to-do list, set a daily “focus” to be displayed or navigate to favorite links all on one page. My personal favorite feature is the inspiring background that changes thrice a day to new photographs from around the world.

Caitlin Tran | Daily Trojan

Caitlin Tran | Daily Trojan

3. Noizio

I can’t concentrate on my work when I overhear conversations around me and listening to music just makes me want to sing along. This app for Mac OS X takes me away from the world’s commotion with its curated selection of background noise. Escape to the sound of “October Rain” or mash-up multiple tracks to create a custom mix of “Paris Cafe” and “Sunny Day” so you can focus on what needs to be done.

Caitlin Tran | Daily Trojan

4. Workflow

The only one of my recommendations that isn’t free, Workflow, is well worth the $2.99. This iOS automation app allows you to create recipes of multiple tasks that run sequentially with the single touch of a button. Besides creating your own Workflows, there’s a library of existing ones you can also download. Want to call the closest pizza company? There’s a Workflow for that. Make a GIF from a Live Photo? There’s a Workflow for that. Save the cutie in your GE’s latest Instagram post to your camera roll and make them fall in love with you? Workflow can help you out with half of that.

Photo via Cult of Mac

Photo via Cult of Mac

5. Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

The next best thing to being with your cat at home is having a virtual cat in your pocket. The free game, which is available on iOS and Android, revolves around luring kitties into your home with snacks and toys and nothing more. If you’re feeling stressed, simply open up “Neko Atsume,” fawn over your adorable visitors and repeat until symptoms subside.  


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Trojan Tips for the Foodie: The best kitchen appliances on the market

Natalie Laczewski

Photo courtesy of Danny Howard, Flickr

Photo courtesy of Danny Howard, Flickr

If you don’t have a meal plan or dining dollars or if you simply like to work in your own kitchen, don’t think you cannot afford to invest in simple kitchen appliances. Aside from the standard microwave and fridge, kitchen appliances can save time and money as well as open up new culinary doors without costing you an arm and a leg like everything else in college already does. Check out these five items under $25 from Amazon with prime eligible shipping that can rev up your kitchen this semester!

1. Crock­pot/Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are so underrated. Have a busy day full of classes and work but still want a home-­cooked meal waiting for you when you get back? You can throw ingredients into a crockpot in the morning and let your meal cook to perfection while you’re away on campus.

Pinterest offers many recipes for delectable dishes, dinners and desserts included. I just purchased one from Amazon this week and made chili in it an hour after I opened it. You don’t need anything extravagant or large. This crockpot is just around $20. It’s also the perfect size for a college student — plus a roommate!

foodie12. Coffee Maker

Don’t want to splurge on a Keurig or fancy coffee machine? Don’t want to wait in that long TroGro line that’s going to make you late for class again? Save time and money by making coffee yourself at home with a simple Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. It has a very light price tag, but I own this coffeemaker as well, and though I’ve only used it a few times, it manages to brew a small yet delicious,hot pot of fresh coffee. It’s a nice size for a dorm, easy to use and could really come in handy once midterms come around.

And come on, it’s only $16. That’s like the cost of three lattes. (If you want to spend $4 more, you can upgrade to a programmable coffeemaker so you will have a hot pot waiting for you in the morning when it’s too early to think straight.)

foodie2 foodie223. Electric Kettle

Being an avid tea drinker, I consider electric kettles to be a must in living spaces. They’re so easy and convenient when you need to boil up water for anything from a hot cup of tea to a bowl of ramen. This model comes in several fun colors, and Amazon features a variety of other brands –– even glass kettles — for around $25.

foodie34. Personal Blender

Don’t want to dish out cash or spend time in line for a smoothie from Nékter or Amazebowls? Toss in your favorite fresh fruit with a splash of almond milk or fruit juice, ice and/or some yogurt and you’ve got your own smoothie in no time. Just drink straight from the travel bottle you blended it in! Blenders are also great for pureeing and chopping food into certain textures. If you can spend a little more, you might want to upgrade to an all-in-one blender food processor.

foodie45. Food Processor or Chopper

No time for cutting those pesky vegetables and crying tears over an onion? Or lacking in kitchen knives (this happened to me last semester)? Food processors can come in handy in a multitude of situations. Many can chop, combine or puree food to your desired consistency and leave your hands clean and free.

For a cheaper version of a food processor, you can invest in a simplified version with this Ninja model, or upgrade to one version for $30 for a better blade and blender system with different bowl sizes. Though these may not be top of the line products, thousands of reviewers have rated them at 4 out of 5 stars making them seem appropriate and more than substantial for our tiny kitchen apartments and dorms.



Happy Amazon shopping and cooking this spring, Trojans!

*Note: Prices and availability are subject to change

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Trojan Tips for Semester Resolutions: New Year, New Trojan

By Chloe Ling 

Chloe Ling | Daily Trojan

Chloe Ling | Daily Trojan

In addition to having a year-long privilege of bragging rights from our glorious football win against the Bruins, 2015 was a great year for the Trojans. As 2015 strolls down memory lane, 2016 — currently being welcomed by the pelting rain of El Niកo — calls for thrilling adventures up mental, social, financial and spiritual avenues.

The idea of blossoming anew and abiding to the “new year, new me” attitude consists of setting personal goals and drafting resolutions for the upcoming year. Indeed, writing New Year’s resolutions sets the wheels in motion to begin a daunting year-long adventure of self-discovery and personal goal-attainment. While our goals may be arbitrary, 2016 emerges as a clean chapter for all Trojans to improve themselves, whether it be academically, financially or socially. Here are three key goals that every Trojan should strive for in 2016!

1. Frugality is a must.

As a college student, it is imperative that we all learn to budget for the future. I highly suggest checking your balance on a daily basis, so that you are aware of your spending rates. (Pst! Ask yourself: Was it really worth paying $15.50 for those macarons at the cafe down the street?) By separating our wants from our needs, we can keep money in our savings to be allocated for the macro needs, such as purchasing a car, paying apartment rent, or financing for graduate school. Having trouble paying off that USC tuition? Apply for part-time jobs on campus (or out of campus)! The connectSC Jobs and Internship Portal is a great place for you to start looking for a new job. This year, learn to be a slightly less consumed Mr.Krabs — in other words, be frugal.

2. On friendships: Quality over quantity

At USC, we are thrown into a like-minded, yet diverse group of people — it should not be difficult to make new friends on campus! Although the in-crowd is enticing, we should be smart about who we are becoming friends with. For this New Year’s resolution, rather than focusing on Instagram likes, learn to build trust in the friendships you make. In addition, make valuable friendships with your classmates, your professors, your hallmates and your co-workers. Being friendly to those who wish to see you succeed is never a setback.

3. Embrace your Trojan values

During  this new year, try your best to embrace what it means to be a Trojan. That is, be faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitious. To be scholarly, try to make meaningful contributions in class, no matter the subject. Engage in a research lab. Spark societal change through public awareness of unaddressed issues. Volunteer. Establish a non-profit organization to save the world. To be skillful, you must take the knowledge that you learned from lectures and apply them to the real world. Did you take “The Management of the New Enterprise”? Learn how to create a startup company that serves the underserved. Be proactive. Be you. Be courageous, bold and fearless. Learn to inspire each other and to energize those around you. Only by working together as a Trojan family are we then able to achieve cooperative success, not just for you, but for he, she and me.

The sun rises for 2016. It is a year of unwritten new chapters that awaits to be penned by you — the ambitious Trojan!

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