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USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

My 15 minute walk to anywhere

Since back in California I’m asked the typical questions. How was Asia? Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you learn?

My response: Asia was great! I did not just like it. I loved it! It was so much fun. I learned…hmm

How to explain what I learned? You could always say it was life changing, amazing, beautiful. But even then it does not truly define what this experience has been. I don’t think any of us will be able to answer that question for a while, at least nothing more than a superficial response.

When we headed of to Asia we expected to see new and exciting things. We were studying cities and being thrown into one, though over whelming at times, was expected. I did think about the trip back. It is strange being home. I never realized how much of my life circled around suburbia. The first vestige of this phenomenon was flying into LAX. When landing in Shanghai you saw huge housing blocks yet as we flew over greater Los Angeles I realized how much our tiny track homes have taken over the landscape. From when we first flew over land onward I saw rows and rows of houses, each with their own patch of green with a driveway.  Even more, a grid of avenues and streets connecting to our extensive highway system defining these rows, creating a texture that was surprisingly flat.

After landing my Dad picked me up and we got on the freeway, hitting the customary traffic the 605 and 10. While we waited I looked over and watched as a metro train picked up about 15 passengers. Why is there a train stop in the middle of a highway? And 15 people, that is it? But is that really shocking? It is in the middle highway! Could you imagine this in Shanghai? The idea is laughable.  Haven’t these people though about putting systems like this within areas of high density, preferably anywhere else but amongst an abundance of cars.

Yet currently car-less I never realized how stagnant life can be when you don’t have a one, especially when the majority of your friends with cars are still in school. Before study abroad I accepted my lot in life but as I sat at home immobile I began to think about my options.

Option 1: Buy a car…yeah that is not happening any time soon.

Option 2: I could take the train to LA and visit some friends at SC. It’s a 45 minute bus ride from home to the station than another hour and a half travel time on the train. I finally reach LA and no one can pick me up. Alright wait for a bus, ten minutes if I’m lucky.  Get onto bus and arrive at USC in fifteen minutes. Total amount of time: Three hours. Please note that this time did not take into factor traffic, which would add an extra hour.

Option 3: Stay home and watch some T.V. I have a million shows to catch up on.

Unfortunately option three is winning. I am really starting to miss my fifteen minute walk to Shanghai South Railway station where I had an endless amount of destinations at my finger tips.

So next time someone asks me what I have learned in Asia I’ll talk about advocating better infrastructure and how putting it out in boonies does not help the user or the industry. And after my quiet, little tirade we can have a discussion on the pros and cons of such a system. Now that is putting my learning to good use.

– Precious

Image courtesy of railpictures.net – Copyright Charles J Freericks

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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Director:
Andrew Liang
Instructors:
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Students:
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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