Welcome back. It’s been a fun summer, and now the school year at UCSB is about to begin. Every time I saw one of those Staples back-to-school commercials, my thoughts would drift to all those incoming freshmen who are about to enter the abyss known as higher edumacation at UCSB.

My guess is that, for many of you freshmen, this will be your first time away from home. There are pros and cons to this. On the one hand, you get to make new friends while impressing your old ones with the fact that you’re at a known party school next to the beach. On the other hand, there’s homework, papers, midterms and finals, not having mom to do your laundry, a roommate who snores, and the infamous “freshman 15” to look forward to.

To be honest, there are going to be many pros and cons to the decision to come to UCSB, but you have my guarantee that the pros will outweigh the cons 10-to-1. For you first-timers, dorm life is going to be a bit of a shock. Move-in day probably reminded you of those cattle drives in Western movies.

Remember that you’re surrounded by people in the same boat. In the dorm belief system, insecurity and confusion are the most common beliefs, and, if allowed to run rampant, well, let’s just remember that in those Westerns with cattle drives, there were also stampedes.

So Friday night comes around, and the lure of Isla Vista is calling your name with the promise of inebriation and sex. A simple bit of advice: For obvious medical and physiological reasons, you can’t have both. Any attempt at this combo will most likely result in you getting laughed at by friends of the person you got together with the night before who caught wind of your failed attempt.

Parties on Del Playa have a unique nature to them. In all of my travels, never have I experienced a place where you can just prance on in to a party, grab a cup of beer and move on to the next. Just remember that, before moving on to the next party, that cup has to be empty or you’ll get an open-container violation. If you’re under 21, you’ll be double-jacked.

For adults to assume that you won’t do any underage drinking is an invitation to failure. In the underage-drinking-and-dealing-with-the-parents department, let’s just say that they can tell what’s up. They may seem like they don’t, but they know more than you think. The important rule to remember here is to not make an ass out of yourself. If you do, there will be people to let you know, including the police, and believe me when I say that they’ve seen and heard it all.

Dealing with the I.V. party scene is kind of like a wild country safari: Keep your hands and feet inside the car with the windows rolled up when in the lion’s section, but it’s all right to roll the windows down to feed the monkeys. The hardest part in I.V. is determining who are the lions and who are the monkeys. And besides, there are words for attempting to drive down Del Playa or Sabado Tarde on a Friday or Saturday night: stupid, asinine and impossible. Use your feet, a bike or a skateboard, simply because it’s close.

Sometimes you need to decompress from the UCSB/I.V. life. After all, humans can only take so much psychotic stimuli before they explode. For this, let me suggest heading downtown for the day or hiking the trails in the mountains. There are other beaches to go to along our coast besides those right outside our window. The whole idea is to have fun.

Many of you will be here for the four- to five-year long haul. Some of you will stay after it’s all said and done. And, like cattle, many of you will move on to what is seen as greener pastures.

In any case, make your time here the best for you. Make it a time that, when you get to be my age, you can look back and say, “Damn! That kicked ass!” In other words, find the 10 pros and avoid the one con. It’s what’s kept me living here. So welcome back and have fun. Now if I could only stop watching Western movies.

Henry Sarria is a longtime Isla Vista resident.