Everything that happened your first semester at USC

Time to spend those remaining Dining Dollars

First semester freshman year at USC is something many of us have been looking forward to for a long time. A grueling senior year full of college essays, interviews, acceptances and rejections would finally be justified by the first five amazing months in South Central. Taking classes you’re actually interested in, joining clubs, sitting in the student section at the Coliseum – as Lizzie McGuire put it best, “This is what dreams are made of.”

And now, somehow, this magical period we spent so much time anticipating has come and gone. Some of you many be wondering what exactly happened over those first 14 weeks away from home.

Welcome Week


We start out with Welcome Week, full of hope and excitement of everything that is to come. You meet your roommate (and hopefully they’re as normal as they seemed online), decorate your room to your Pinterest-perfect specifications and start figuring out which activities you’re going to.

This is like the Honeymoon period at USC – everything is pre-planned for you, there’s enough free food as to where you don’t realize how bad EVK actually is and you can sleep in as late as you want. This comes to a screeching halt the first weekend.

Discovering newfound independence leads to guys peeing in the New North stairwell, your stockpile of free treats is dwindling and you realize you actually have reading to do for class on Monday.

The first week of class/Rush


Then comes the first week of classes. It’s supposed to be easy, just going over syllabi and playing get-to-know you games, which are surprisingly still a thing even though we’re supposedly adults now. The most stressful part of it all should be getting used to the schedule, trying not to get hit by bikes on Trousdale, and figuring out how feasible walking to Parkside on a regular basis could be.

But no, at USC, this week is also Rush. If trying to start your whole life over wasn’t hard enough, try running from GFS to the Row for parties where you’re going to be judged on your personality, looks and background for the rest of the night. Hopefully it’s worth it.

Your first week in Greek Life


If you survived Rush, congrats! Welcome to your first week as a greek. This means Blackout Monday, Tequila Tuesday, Wine Wednesday and your first frat parties Thursday through Saturday.

Oh, and getting to know your new brothers and sisters, of course.

The first Invite


You met a cute boy at one of those parties, and he doesn’t seem like a total douche! Amazing! Now he’s invited you to his frat’s first invite of the year. This is basically like a high school homecoming dance but 5000 percent more lit. You ask your sorority sisters for advice on what to wear and get ready with your friends who also got an invitation.

After grabbing dinner with your date’s friends somewhere Downtown, you head back to the frat to load up the party buses. They drop you off at some club in Hollywood the frat has rented out for the night with an open bar. There are many ways the night could go. Fingers crossed you make good choices.

Football season begins 


My first frat invite was the night before the first football game of the season, which meant waking up the day after for a 7 a.m. tailgate – I wish that on no one. At USC, football is a religion, and tailgating on the Row is the pre-game ritual.

You break out your new Song Girl skirt and Hype and Vice body suit, secure your fanny pack, pull up the knee high socks and hydrate for the marathon of a day ahead of you.  They aren’t kidding around when they say it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you make it past half-time, props to you.

And don’t worry, by the end of the season those chants will be permanently burned into your brain (and the SoCal spell-out will get easier.)

Your first time venturing off campus


Everyone will have the same genius idea when they finally decide to journey away from University Park and Downtown: take the Expo Line to Santa Monica. With the mere $1.75 ticket each way, it’s hard to turn down.

If you’re down to be touristy, you’ll venture down the pier, or if not you’ll just do some well-deserved shopping. You definitely run into at least three other groups of freshman on the Promenade.

The first Halloweekend


At USC, Halloween is a multi-day event. If you thought finding costumes for frat parties was hard, try three to four days straight of Halloween. Also, replace all candy-eating with the consumption of other substances.



Apparently Homecoming here is a weeklong event with different events every night ranging from karaoke, to BP tournaments, to an exchange. By the time the actual football game rolls around, you are high key exhausted and forgot this was the point of the whole deal in the first place.

The push to break


It’s about at this point that you realize you have a bunch of Dining Dollars you need to get rid of before the semester ends, which is perfect because you’re so done with dining halls. Everyone is “doing fine” but is secretly dead because they have to finish up an essay for Writing 150 or have some other giant project due soon. But there is a glimmer of hope: Thanksgiving. If you can make it until then, you can do anything. Unlike your friends’ schools, USC is mean and doesn’t give students a fall break, so those five days of freedom are looking real good.



It sure feels great to be home: sleeping in your own bed, home-cooked meals, using your own shower, catching up with your high school friends – how did you survive without all of this? Luckily, nothing has changed too much. And surprisingly, you are actually kind of missing your life back at school. Especially because you’re realizing that half of your stories are only funny if you mention that you weren’t exactly all there when they happened, which may not be exactly what your grandma is wanting to hear from you right now.

Classes end


You’re back from break with only one week of classes to go. Life seems manageable. The holiday spirit is in the air; the Christmas trees in Alumni Park give you a little boost as you walk to class. You end the week with your last invite of the semester and dance the night away because you somehow got through your first set of college classes!

Study days/Finals


Or so you thought. You see, studying is rough. Especially since finals are super spaced out and Ubering to the Grove for some festive retail therapy is a total possibility. Leavey becomes everyone’s second home. Tapingo-ing Starbucks is a must. And your friends might have already finished up and gone back home before you’ve even sat for your first exam.

Going home


Finals are over. Congrats, you made it through your first semester at USC! You drag your bike up to your room to store over break, pack up your dirty laundry for your mom to clean and say goodbye to your dorm-sweet-dorm for the time being. You’ll miss your friends, maybe your professors and definitely the people who take your fingerprint at your door. But you’re excited for the New Year, the new semester ahead and the rest of your time this amazing school.

Thanks for a great first semester, USC! We’ll see you in 2017 for Part 2 (and the Rose Bowl).


University of Southern California