In what has become an increasingly common occurrence, the streets of Isla Vista are once again flooded with Irish visitors for the summer.
The Breakpointe apartments have been filled with college-aged Irish coeds spend the summer working and partying in I.V. Locals say they believe the annual influx began sometime around 2000, and has been steadily growing. Many I.V. residents, however, associate the Irish people with loud partying and damaged apartments.
Most of the visitors come to Santa Barbara through Exchange Visitor Programs using the J1 visa – which allows full-time students to obtain a temporary Social Security number, required to attend schools and to work, and J1 Visa in order to work and live in the United States – or simply based on word-of-mouth recommendations from friends.
Robert Spedding, a third-year chemical engineering major, said he generally enjoys getting to know the out-of-towners.
“I really enjoy hanging out with the Irish that come to Isla Vista,” Spedding said. “They’re all here for an experience, and it’s pretty much the same experience most people that are in I.V. over the summer are looking for.”
However, some Isla Vista residents worry that the Irish visitors are both disrespectful and destructive. Danielle Shoshani, a third-year global studies major who lives in the Breakpointe apartments, said that Irish sublessees have “trashed” the complex.
Shoshani and her roommates said that some of the damages include kitchen garbage in the swimming pool, tomato sauce and vomit on the stairs, couches on the bike racks, cigarettes and beer cans in the pool area and even pasta in the washing machine.
Shoshani said that the Irish have also been known to jump off the Breakpointe roof and into the swimming pool below.
“I’ve heard that I.V. is advertised [in Ireland] the way Cancun [in America] is for Spring Break,” Shoshani said.
Lindsey Medina, a third-year environmental studies major, noted that there are eight Irish male sublessees in the apartment above hers – an apartment designed to hold only four individuals.
“They’re living in large numbers to keep living costs down and Santa Barbara summer tourist season gives them jobs so they can enjoy their holiday without worrying about money,” Medina said.
Although the Irish are mostly known for noise and minor damages, in 2005, a group of Irish sublessees allegedly abandoned their apartments with $15,000 worth of damages.
However, Spedding argues that I.V. residents themselves often disrespect their apartments in the same manner that they chastise the Irish for.
“A lot of the apartments the Irish stay in get pretty messed up, but the only difference between the way they treat their apartments and anyone else does in I.V. is that they mess them up a little faster,” Spedding said. “But if people think all I.V. apartments are spotless and undamaged at the end of a lease, they need to think again.”
Bridget Benedict, a UCSB student who identified herself as Irish-American, said that despite the occasional problems, she enjoys the Irish presence.
“I think that as a whole they are just friendly, entertaining people,” Benedict said. “Yes, you have your bad seeds. But I.V., too, has its difficult residents.”
As for the visitors, I.V. is a welcomed summer haven. One such visitor, who would identify himself only as “Graham,” said that he chose to come to I.V. for the summer after having been evicted from numerous apartments in San Diego due to noise complaints.
“My friend came back [from Isla Vista] and said it was absolutely brilliant,” Graham said.