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When I committed to attending USC, I didn’t anticipate how much the 24-hour driving distance between my home and Los Angeles would affect me. Not only was I leaving behind my home in the quaint farming community of Blue Grass, Iowa, but I was leaving behind my friends, family, and pets. After the initial excitement of going to school in a new and exciting city began to fade, I started longing for the things I loved most back in Iowa. My first year on campus was tumultuous–filled with tears as I tried to find my place on campus. For a while I tried to keep my home in Iowa out of sight and out of mind; however, as I continued my time on campus, I actively sought out the things at USC that reminded me of my home. Staying connected to my roots has relieved me of my homesick fever, and in turn, brought me closer to different people and organizations on campus. 

Midwesterners On-Campus

Since I was unable to live on campus during my freshman year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to find roommates for my sophomore year via my zoom classes. I distinctly remember the first-day routine that would play through each one of my classes at the beginning of each semester: name, major, class year, and where are you from. I’d never found it particularly interesting to be from Iowa, but since there are very few Iowans at USC, it can be quite the conversation starter! I was surprised by how many other students would follow up by asking questions spanning from what Iowa was like, to how I was liking USC, to what my favorite thing to do at home was. In one of my classes, my introduction caught the attention of my future roommate Lauren. After I announced that I was from Iowa, she immediately jumped to say that she was another Midwesterner from Omaha, Nebraska. After class we exchanged numbers, and we have been roommates ever since: oftentimes looking out for each other on our flights home to the Midwest and enjoying some of our favorite meals from home. 

Along the way, I picked up another roommate from the Midwest coming from Chicago, Illinois. Again, our initial connection stemmed from our shared childhood experiences. Although I have met and befriended lots of amazing people from throughout the world during my time on campus, I enjoy getting to come home to an apartment full of my Midwest friends. Being comfortable in my home and with my friends has helped me to get over some of my initial homesickness.

Snow in California 

Another way to help keep me sane while away from home is continuing to participate in the things that I used to enjoy in Iowa. One of my favorite winter activities in Iowa is skiing, something I had previously thought I would lose during my four years at USC. However, on my first trip to the involvement fair, I discovered the USC Ski and Snowboard team. After I saw the Ski and Snowboard team at the career fair, I immediately decided to apply. By the season opener of my sophomore year, I was ready to shred Mammoth with my newfound ski team friends. Skiing at USC allows me to indulge in a favorite pastime of mine from high school while still getting to meet new friends from California and abroad. Surrounding yourself with the activities you enjoyed from wherever you call home will help you stay lifted on campus, especially when feeling a little homesick. 

Grace Sampson

MAJOR: Mechanical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2024 HOMETOWN: Blue Grass, Iowa PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @grace.sampson I am currently involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), which is a student organization that focuses on social, profession, and community driven events to support women in STEM fields. I am also involved with the Formula Electric team as the Powertrain lead where I help with the design and manufacturing of the vehicle's battery. I also work as a TA for our mechanical engineering measurement and instrumentation class. Outside of engineering, I am involved in the Ski and Snowboard Team which has a permanent residence in Mammoth for the winter season.