UCSB is … My biggest failure and my highest success.
UCSB wasn’t my first option. It wasn’t my dream, not even my goal.
UCSB was my insufficient points in the university test of English and my last chance to go on an exchange program. UCSB was my final opportunity to improve this language and the secret occasion to add something to my resume.
What is UCSB now?
UCSB is the sunset on the beach and people smiling on the street. UCSB is bicycles to school and a free bus to go downtown. UCSB is a constant Friday and an unlimited Monday … because every day is perfect for surfing! UCSB is sand on my feet and books in my bag.
UCSB is the longest hours of happiness but the shortest six months of my life.
UCSB is learning to cook and burning the chicken in my oven. UCSB is waking up too late to make my bed, even to shower sometimes. UCSB is saving every penny to spend them on sales! UCSB is knowing how to manage my own finances. UCSB is an Olympic pool and tennis courts. UCSB is sports and wellness. UCSB is loving your body the way it is.
UCSB is freedom: picking up the courses I have always wanted to take, going into classes sleepy and coming out of them happy. UCSB is the teachers and office hours, blue books and scantrons. UCSB is their willingness to teach you the same thing a hundred times just to be sure you understood.
Only at UCSB can you go from a “can you lend me a pencil?” to “you have to go to Chile and visit me!” in a few days. UCSB is looking for nothing at the bookstore and enjoying the pride of wearing a blue hoodie with the university letters.
UCSB is green parks and blue sea. UCSB is falling off my board and drinking some salty water. UCSB is the Excursion Club and Tuesday’s mail. UCSB is wind and tan, bikinis and ripped jeans. UCSB is life!
UCSB is the international students, where English, Spanish, Italian, Norwegian, Armenian and French get mixed in a nonsense conversation after some beer and too little time to take the party bus.
“UCSB is wind and tan, bikinis and ripped jeans. UCSB is life!”
UCSB is my new Chilean family and the trips around California. UCSB is those pictures with tired faces but amazed eyes, eyes looking at the Golden Gate bridge, Yosemite’s trees, Las Vegas’s casinos or San Diego’s old city. UCSB is open arms to new people I had never known in my own country. UCSB is the knowledge of how much a person is worth for who they are, not for where they come from. This family is surprise birthdays, rented cars, cheap hotels and great dancing. This family is what I now call “friends.”
UCSB is openness and respect. You can go to Mass on Sunday and the Turkish event on Monday. UCSB is to be partners with a Muslim and understand a feminist. UCSB is accepting diversity and its significance.
UCSB is missing my boyfriend and skyping with my mom. UCSB is my messy house and two crazy roommates. UCSB is smelling weed every corner in I.V. and feeling safe with cops on the street … UCSB is bringing my passport everywhere and making it my new Gaucho identity.
UCSB is the Food Bank and the massage chairs, fraternity parties and Del Playa walks. UCSB is FreeBirds at three in the morning and The Habit for lunch. UCSB is the new number I see on the scale.
UCSB is places, people and trips. UCSB is something you can feel, maybe a fragrance. UCSB is part of my memory, hopefully not my imagination. UCSB is a dream but one you can live.
UCSB will always be my new long distance love.
Camila Torres Medina is a exchange student from Chile who has been studying at UCSB since the beginning of spring quarter.