Why an international student chose USC

Courtesy of Annie Hickey

Courtesy of Annie Hickey

When people ask me why I chose USC, I don’t know what to say.

“What made you come all the way here from Australia?” is what everyone asks and I suppose it’s a completely fair question. However, the truth is I have no idea.

I don’t know why I applied to USC and I’m not sure what brought me here.

Truthfully, my applications for colleges here in America were based solely off movies I’d seen, books I’d read, the usability of a college’s website, and one gigantic book listing the ‘Top 300 Colleges in America.” Thanks for narrowing it down.

The entire application process is now a bit of a blur. I can hardly remember anything about it other than my mother calling out names of schools to me from the kitchen, while I frantically typed into my computer, did a two minute scan, and replied with either “yeah,” “nah,” or “can’t tell.”

Let me paint the picture as succinctly and accurately as I feel I can: I didn’t even apply to UCLA because I thought it was just so far out of my league it wasn’t worth the application just to be declined. USC, on the other hand, was an alright possibility that I didn’t really give any thought to other than; yeah, it could be a good alternative to not getting UCLA… maybe.

When I found out that I’d gotten into USC, I was happier that I wasn’t be rejected from every school in America than I was about USC specifically. In fact, I think I even googled USC after I got in because I realized I didn’t know much about it.

When I came to the Preview Day for admitted students – USC being the last school I had left to visit before making a decision – I fell in love. I fell in love with the campus, the atmosphere, the weather, the culture, the people, and the vibe. After listening to President Nikias make his speech about how great it was that we’d all gotten in, I said to my mum, “This school is academic? Like, really competitive? How did I even get in?”

I still don’t know.

But as you can tell, I didn’t end up at USC via a “normal” route – I didn’t dream of going here, or even choose it as a back-up, I truly just wound up here because of the weather.

Things didn’t magically start making sense once I arrived, either. The entire first week of my freshmen year, I kept wondering where all the girls in my dorm were going off to all dressed up. When I finally asked a girl where she was going, she answered, “Rush!”

I responded, “Rushing? Where to?”

Courtesy of Annie Hickey

Courtesy of Annie Hickey

I didn’t know anything about anything or anyone. Greek Life was the number one American-Movie-Legally-Blonde-Thing I’d ever seen. My first tailgate was so crazy and “frat” that I just sent videos of the whole thing to my mum captioned omg people do this in real life where am I!I thought it was so weird that people would willingly wear USC apparel to classes, or out in LA, or anywhere that wasn’t the Coliseum and my parents had bets on when I’d wear a USC tee to class for the first time.

Now, as a sophomore, I’m still figuring out how to be a Trojan.

From my Australian culture and expectations, there’s a lot about USC that still stands out as abnormal. Yes, I might fail a class this semester simply because I can’t convert between inches and feet and degrees fahrenheit, and yes – you all have weird accents and say odd things like “ratchet” and “cantaloupe” and “peppers” and “raisins” (a raisin is a sultana people, a sultana!).

But to me, USC is more than that.

USC is diversity. With one of the highest percentages of international students, the culture and food and conversations on this campus are varied and important. People acknowledge gaps between values, and respect difference as a right from one individual to another. International students are not required to conform, but rather, encouraged to express themselves.

USC is challenging. Our school demands a lot from us as students. We are required to invest time and effort and to exert ourselves endlessly in order to fully utilize the facilities on hand. In return, we receive everything: we meet people who challenge our opinions, classes that challenge us academically, extracurriculars that challenge us to break free from our comfort zones. USC is all about new – new people, places, things, ideas and experiences.

USC is opportunity. The alumni network here is one that we all know to be incredible – it’s something we are proud of, and rightly so. The reach of our alumni around the world is something truly remarkable. No matter the continent or country, you are bound to find someone who is inherently proud of the Trojan family, and who will help you, befriend you and welcome you home like an old friend.

I don’t know why I applied to USC, I’m still not sure what brought me here.

All I know is that it was the best non-decision I ever made.