UCSB’s freshman body, which consist of around 4,300 first-year students, is just about to finish its first quarter in college. Yet, how exactly is it that students are dealing with the transition from high school to moving away to their new home in the resident halls? Some generalized comments go from, “the area is great, I love my classes and the people here are really friendly …” to others straight up admitting, “it sucks.” Regardless of the response, what most Resident Assistants recommend to undergrad freshmen is to “just give it time … things will eventually work out and you’ll adjust.” Though the end of the Fall quarter is near and some students seem to be having the best time of their lives down DP on the weekend, others stay in reminiscing about family and hoping to be able to go home whenever possible, making it a struggle to build friendships.
Yet first, one must look at the reason why entering college students choose UCSB over any other campus. What is it about UCSB that sets it aside and has various students thinking we are paying to live close to “paradise?” UCSB is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, so students basically live and go to school close to the beach, which is just a small bike or walk away. We also have various clubs and organizations, from frats and sororities, to sports clubs and community service volunteering programs — there is something here for every type of student. If not, UCSB students have the liberty to start their own club to pursue their interests. Besides the opportunities this school has to offer their undergrads, we also live in a vacation destination. Students are, at most, 10 minutes away from being able to hike the San Ynez Mountains and 15 minutes away from Downtown Santa Barbara, a place filled with shopping attractions, world-class dining restaurants and even a zoo. So even when students do not partake in activities offered on campus, there is still always something to do whether it is in Isla Vista or Santa Barbara.
So if UCSB and the city around it have so much to offer students, what can make the changeover process so difficult? It is evident that while some students are anxious to make the transition into college life, some — particularly first-years — stay apprehensive about it. It takes more time for some students than it does for others when it comes to adjusting to an unfamiliar environment and living arrangements. Unmistakably, there are always disadvantages to some new experiences, especially for first-years: roommate conflicts, dealing with the added responsibilities one gains with the amount of personal freedom one has, time management, academic efficiency and problems like long-distance relationships and body insecurity. Even though there are some negative sides to certain situations, one must stay focused on the positives and remember why it is that they came here.
By nature, college demands more from its students, primarily through its rigorous coursework. Some students face more pressure from themselves and parents and don’t learn to efficiently cope with it. This doesn’t only apply to freshman, but to many other undergrads who have been in school for three or even four years at any given university. Christopher A. Thurber, Ph.D. and Edward A. Walton, M.D. who researched the topic on college students dealing with apprehension and homesickness for the Journal of American College Health state, “Sufferers typically report a combination of depressive and anxious symptoms, withdrawn behavior, and difficulty focusing on topics unrelated to home.”
Although the first quarter of college for most incoming freshman can be quite challenging, it is a huge milestone into adulthood and it provides the opportunity to interact and live with other students of various backgrounds, cultures and identities. One can enhance their college experience in the meantime by getting involved, connecting with other students — even if it starts with just talking to people on one’s floor — and utilizing the services offered here at UCSB. But most importantly, one must take care of oneself and be patient. Adjusting to a second home might take a while for some people, but no matter what, we Gauchos have each others’ backs.
Penelope Monte has your back, Gauchos.