As the guy referred to as the “longtime Isla Vista resident,” I feel the need to write the obligatory “Welcome to I.V. piece for you, the incoming UCSB freshman class of 2003-04.

There’s the parks, open spaces and the beach. The weather is usually nice. Parties? Yeah, we got those. Places to eat? Plenty of those too. In all, we got it made in ways other college towns don’t.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that the only life you can have as UCSB freshmen is strictly confined to Isla Vista. There’s more to the area than our humble half-square mile. You just have to look for it.

It is a good thing to get out of I.V. every now and then. If you don’t you’ll probably go insane. Sure, I love this place. But every now and then it’s time to hit the road, sometimes far, sometimes not. In any case, it’s good to go see what else the area has to offer.

For the active kinds there’s plenty of hiking and mountain bike trails up in the mountains, good surf in either direction on the freeway and the skate park downtown, plus a few secret spots to either skateboard, play paintball or do some BMX dirt jumping. There’s even a BMX track in town.

Downtown is always nice, but if you’re under 21, some of the nightlife is off-limits. But there are all-ages places to go dance.

Have fun, but don’t be a failing experiment in Darwinism. Statistically, some of you will become Darwin Award recipients, but luckily the competition for this award is not too crowded.

As a longtime I.V. resident I can offer the following bits of advice to make your tenure at UCSB a pleasant one without receiving the Darwin prize.

First of all, stay away from the cliffs. These will put you on the Darwin list and in the hospital or the morgue. You’re not going to impress anybody by falling off of one of these. The only thing that will come out of it is a lot of grief and a huge hospital or funeral bill for your family. Don’t take the cliffs for granted because when you do, they’ll get you.

Secondly, don’t become the first in your dorm to get an MIP. This stands for “minor in possession” and the way to get one of these is to parade down the streets with an open alcohol container in hand. You get one of these and you can kiss your driver license goodbye for at least a year.

On the subject of alcohol and drinking let me offer this bit of advice: If you have a problem with drinking, don’t drink. You won’t develop superhuman powers or become bulletproof if you get to the point of obnoxious drunken asshole. You’ll just get beat up or arrested, barf all over yourself and feel like crap the next day. Worth it? Don’t think so.

Like your bike? Lock it up. I don’t care if it’s a piece of crap; if it rolls, it’s as good as gone when some cold and tired drunk needs a ride home from DP at 3 a.m.

If you see a burning couch, change your direction of travel. You may have the urge to dance around it in a pagan ritualistic way or use the heat to keep warm on a cold night on DP, which is all good and cute, but not to the I.V. Foot Patrol. Torching a couch is a punishable offense and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of the punishment.

Make the best out of this place. Go out. Have fun. This experience we know as higher education doesn’t have to be all work and no play. You’re young; take advantage of it.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.