What’s that? More nostalgia time? Heck yes. We had a blast writing our last Q&A and it got us to really think about our college experience. We have more to share so we hope you enjoy this part 2!
What did you do in free time/involvement in things outside of school?
P: College feels like so long ago I had to think about this question for a second. I recall being involved in the American Marketing Association for my first two years at UCSB and at USC I was in a News org where we produce news articles and videos for USC. I was also in the Vietnamese Student Association (even though I have 0 Viet blood) mostly for socializing purposes and they had these big/little things that I liked. Through VSA, I also got sucked in into joining their cultural event, which is basically a concert/musical that they do yearly. I was part of the choir team and we spent a few months during winter just rehearsing for the show, which was both fun but also pretty exhausting haha
A: I was heavily involved in a lot of student orgs in my free time. P and I joined the American Marketing Association (AMA) together when we got a flyer for one of their general meetings and got hooked after listening to their guest speakers and participating in their hands-on marketing projects. I joined the Associated Students Office of the Controller which was very entrepreneurial in spirit (like me) since our goal was to bring venture ideas that benefit students to life. I also joined SB Hacks because of my interest in the tech field. They organize the school’s annual weekend-long hackathon, which is a coding event where students of varying levels gather together to program projects from scratch to share at the end, all while meeting mentors and sponsors from the industry. I loved being involved in all three of those orgs and made some really amazing friends who I still keep in touch with today.
Jobs and Involvements
Did you hold a job during school? What was that like?
A: Yeah! At the end of my sophomore year, I was looking for a part-time, on-campus job that would allow me flexible hours during exam periods. I emailed multiple university departments, including the Office of the Registrar to ask about openings and shared my resume. The manager got back to me and said they didn’t have any openings at the time but would keep my resume on file. Lo and behold, I got a call back a few months later asking if I was still interested. I ended up working as the front desk clerk answering walk-in, phone, and email inquiries for about a year, for 10ish hours a week. My supervisor was really understanding and flexible of my student schedule and I typically was able to cut down on my hours if I had midterms or finals coming up. It was a great way to earn some side money for food and drinks while building up customer service/customer facing skills. I also made some new friends with my coworkers!
P: Yes! I had a part-time job throughout college starting from freshman year. My first one was at the dining common and it was a 10 hour a week schedule. I’d have to say I don’t miss this one because it was the most non-glamorous job possible, filled with dirty dishes and endless cleanups. I remember having to go to a class immediately after my work shift and would feel so gross lol. After two quarters, I decided I had enough so I hunted for another job, and landed on a store clerk job. I like how this one was super chill, it was in my apartment complex and it was a relatively slow-paced job which allowed some side studying and socializing. Once I transferred to USC, I took another job, this time as a Front Desk staff in one of the offices at USC. My job includes making room reservations, replying to emails, and coordinating events my office was throwing. This one was my favorite because 1) there were no dirty dishes, 2) the schedule was super flexible, especially during finals season and 3) I actually became friends with my coworkers and bosses which made the office feels like home. Like Anna, I’d recommend picking up side jobs if you can, not only that it gives you some easy $$$, it can also be fun!
Why did you transfer to a new school? What did you like and dislike about each school?
P: This is a tricky one because I didn’t really have any problems with UCSB aside from the fact that I was considered out of state student and had to pay a lot of money. I applied to USC kind of on a whim, and since they gave me a good financial package and their communication school is the best in the US, I thought it’d be a shame to pass on the opportunity. Here’s what I think about both schools:
UCSB: THE BEACH, college town, more laid back environment, already established group of friends from Freshman year
USC: Prime DTLA location – good for internships, Trojan network is super strong (even to this day), smaller class size and overall more opportunities available in and out of the school
UCSB: Expensive for out of states students, a remote location which means fewer internships opportunity, large class size (up to 500 students!)
USC: Nice money if you’re poor, super go-go-go mentality and higher competition energy that can easily be overwhelming
If you ask me which one is better, I’d say it really comes down to your priorities and preferences! Both are incredibly great schools and it’s really up to you how you make the most out of the school you go to.
Did you study abroad? Why or why not?
P: Okay, if I have any tips for you incoming college kids, is GO STUDY ABROAD.
You won’t regret it I swear. Throughout my 4 years of college, I did two study abroad programs – the first one was a summer program in China where we just basically get free food and accommodation for being there. That was my first taste of study abroad and I wanted more, so I did a proper semester-long one on my last year of college in Hong Kong. It was an amazing semester filled with new friendships, lots of weekend travels, and a bunch of memories I now treasure. This study abroad semester also made me fell in love with Hong Kong which led to me coming back here for a job after graduation. I know everyone says this, but seriously if you can go study abroad somewhere somehow, it’ll be something you’ll remember forever.
A: I can’t speak as much to this, but I went on the same “study abroad” summer program in China with P the summer before my junior year. I say this with air quotes because it wasn’t an official study abroad program organized by the exchange department at my university. We were introduced to this ~3 week program through our Chinese language classes. Our professors told us that it was sponsored by the Chinese government, so all room and board and food costs would be covered and that one of our professors would be leading students from our university who are going. Throughout this program, we took Chinese language classes and did a lot of fun immersion activities like learning how to play the Guzheng and hiking the Great Wall of China. Looking back, I do wish I had actually done an actual semester-long study abroad program like P though! At the time, I had decided against it because I was at a position with the student orgs I was involved in where I would be able to move up to major leadership roles (as in lead the entire org itself). Although I wouldn’t want to miss out on gaining that kind of experience that got me the job I have today, if I could do it over again, I would try to compromise by looking into a summer study abroad program instead. I do remember that one reason I decided against considering that was because of the cost since summer programs don’t get financial aid applied to them but in this do-over, I would look into scholarships to help fund that.
What’s the dating scene like in college?
A: I actually met my current boyfriend back in my freshman year of college haha. He was the roommate of my friend’s then-boyfriend and I had a huge crush on him after meeting him at this hangout we had in the dorm’s rec room. In the following quarter, I would sneak looks at him in the dining commons and yelp hi before fast walking away ?. My friends finally found out and one of them stepped in and exchanged my number with him (but that’s another story lol). We went on dates with each other for about a month at the end of freshman year before we finally made it official. I never thought it would’ve lasted this long LOL (hopefully he doesn’t read this heh) but here we are — 4 years strong and still going!
P: Uh lol. Unlike Anna, I did not meet the love of my life in college, but I definitely had my share of dating experience in college. I think college dating is by default easier compared to now since you probably already have one thing in common – the school you go to. That plus proximity and just a lot more freedom make dating so much fun and magical while you’re in school! But also, I feel like there’s this idea (and pressure?) that you are supposed to find important people (including your forever partner) in college. While this may be the case for some people, I also think that college is a perfect time to just dip your toes in the dating scene and meet people! Trust me, dating after college is a whole other game I don’t wish to play lol.
What were your expectations of college-going into it?
A: I went into it thinking it would be an incredibly liberating experience of self-discovery — and it definitely was. It was everything I imagined it would be and more.
P: Hmm, I think I went into it thinking that it will just be one big fun party. Which it can be, but also I didn’t think it was going to be that hard. As much as you will have fun, college is also where you will hit many rock bottoms and experience things that shaped the way you are for the future.
What were the best and worst parts of college? Your best and worst memories?
A: I had so much fun but I had as many lows as I did highs. There were times when I doubted everything I wanted to do and be and I thought the worst things of myself…. Like “I’m not smart enough that’s why I can’t ___” and honestly it would spiral from there. I had to dig myself out of those negative holes into space where I became my biggest cheerleader — because you have to be. That’s where you learn to become independent and to persevere. I pushed myself more than I thought I could go and surprised myself by succeeding beyond my initial goals. It instilled a sense of self-accomplishment that helped me build the confidence that I lacked in high school. Throughout it all, I came out feeling surer of myself, of what I like/dislike, of what my strengths and weaknesses are, and really, just who I am and who I wanted to become. I think that’s the best part of college — you test yourself in a space that’s quite forgiving — because everybody else is going through their own struggles and is trying their damn best too. There’s something about that vulnerability and “reach for the skies” mentality that builds a sense of community that’s hard to find elsewhere.
P: I certainly don’t miss the endless studying late at night and all those exams we had to do. I have so many great memories from birthday surprises to late-night talks in the dorm hallway, to mini adventures around town, to sleepovers, to partying till dawn in a foreign country – I miss all of it.
Any regrets? If you could have a do-over what would you do differently?
P: Initially, I regretted transferring to USC because I missed my friends from UCSB so much and it was a pretty hard transition. But now looking at it, I’m glad I transferred because I got to meet so many more people and I probably wouldn’t have had the experience (personally and professionally) that would lead to my current job if I hadn’t transferred. I loved my college experience for what it was and I wouldn’t wish to have it any other way.
A: Honestly — no. It’s funny.. Looking back I remember I had numerous moments when I would think “ugh why did I do that, if only I had a time machine”. Fast forward to the present time, I don’t even remember what those moments were specifically about. They don’t matter anymore. In the grand scheme of things, all the bad moments taught me something. It’s the bad AND the good moments that made me the person I am today, and I wouldn’t trade anything for that.
Ahh this was so much fun to write! Still can’t believe it’s been a year since we graduated, and we can’t help but miss (the good part of) it! How was your college experience? Any lessons you’d like to share? Let us know!