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I started my summer by taking Organic Chemistry 1 at my local community college. This was a great way to make progress towards my engineering degree and I found it helpful to focus on only one class to really grasp the material. The credits transfer to USC so I am all set to take Organic Chemistry 2 in the fall. While Organic Chemistry was as exciting as it sounds, I kept pushing because while I was learning reaction mechanisms and doing lab experiments,  I was consciously counting down the days to July 30th when I traveled to Tokyo, Japan to start the fall semester a little bit early.

I went through the Viterbi Writ-340 Fall Lead which is a program that all sophomore, junior, and senior engineering students can apply for. It allows engineering students to study abroad for the first 2 weeks of August and start the Writ-340 class and gain a global perspective on engineering while working towards their degree. Study abroad opportunities can sometimes be hard for engineers to fit into their schedules so this is a great opportunity for students who want to go abroad.

After landing in Tokyo with the other 33 students in the program, we quickly began exploring the city with a bus tour and got to explore cool spots like Tokyo Tower and Sensoji Temple, the oldest temple in Tokyo. Throughout the program we had class twice a week and also heard from guest speakers who were both engineers working in Tokyo. We also had a variety of excursions that were both cultural and engineering related.

One of my favorite activities was visiting teamLabs TOKYO which is an interactive museum where you get to walk through rooms filled with lights, water, and even a floating garden. I also enjoyed our trip to JAXA or the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and our visit to the Tokyo National Museum.

Most of our classes and activities took place in the morning and early afternoon so we had the rest of the day to explore on our own and of course find some amazing food. From ramen to onigiri to the sushi, the food was hands down one of the highlights of the trip. I was lucky enough to visit 2 Michelin star restaurants and an omakase sushi restaurant where we tried over 15 different courses of sushi along with tempura and all you can eat dessert. We had the most amazing chef, Lina and got to hear all about her own visit to California. If you’re ever in Tokyo make sure to stop by Yurakucho Kakida and let them know their friends from USC say hi. 

During the trip we also had a completely free weekend to travel anywhere in Japan and a group of us went to Hakone to experience a stunning view of Lake Ashi, Mount Fuji, and an active volcano. 

Altogether, the trip was an amazing experience and I feel so grateful to have gained new friends in Viterbi, explore an amazing city with the kindest people, and get an insight to the possibilities of engineering in other parts of the world. While coming back to campus was bittersweet, I know we’re all excited to continue writing about and reflecting on experiences as we continue taking Writ-340 together for the remainder of the semester. 

Ava Basile

MAJOR: Biomedical Engineering (molecular/cellular) YEAR: Class of 2025 HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @ava.basile I am currently involved in RoboPals which is a student run organization that teaches engineering workshops to local elementary school students and I am also a member of Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering (ASBME). Outside of Viterbi, I am a part of Break Through Hip Hop which is a student choreographed team that does guest performance throughout the semester and hosts a showcase every semester, and I'm also a co-director of Trojan Tap Troupe which is a team for intermediate/advanced tap dancers.