Welcome to the Residence Halls: buildings full of possibilities for those historic collegiate moments you’ll never forget — like that day when you first discover the versatility of the Ramen-Cheez-it-Easy Mac casserole or that time when you accidentally set fire to the first floor lounge with an overcooked Pop-Tart.

It’s a bizarre world, teeming with thousands of saps such as yourself, all trying to negotiate the domain of shower shoes, sexile, roommate drama and resident assistants. However, understanding the tricks to surviving your first year in the residence halls unscathed simply requires fine-tuning many of the habits you have developed under your parents’ roof.

While the basic necessities of the room, such as a bed, desk and dresser are provided, the rest is up to you and your new best friend. Because you only have control over half of the room’s decor, you and your roomie will have to arm wrestle over whether Justin Bieber or Jack Daniels can claim the last open spot on the wall.

Kaitlyn Roos, a fourth-year communications and religious studies major, said her experience in the dorm setting was both frightening and exhilarating.

“Leaving home and being with hundreds of unfamiliar faces could not have been more intimidating,” Roos said. “But you’re not alone. Everyone is feeling the same way so it’s easy to meet people, try new things, take chances, be crazy and do anything!”

First-year housing is separated into three very unique micro-communities. The “Channel Island Five” (the on-campus dorms) are made up of two different kinds of halls: the two-story “shorties” and the high rises. While the shorties — Santa Rosa, Anacapa and Santa Cruz — are nestled between the ocean and De La Guerra dining hall, the high rises — San Nicolas and San Miguel — stand amid DLG and Ortega dining commons and feature kickass ocean views.

Though the shorties are bustling hubbubs of activity and are conveniently located right in the middle of campus, they are somewhat infamous for triple rooms.

As far as campus dining goes, UCSB isn’t too shabby. With a plethora of food options and extensive hours of operation, it’s easy to blow through your meal plan fast — especially because it’s buffet style dining. Each diner is also allowed to take one piece of fruit or dessert item to go. Trust us, you’ll need it.

Manzanita Village, which rests across the lagoon, consists of seventeen houses and sports the newest facilities. The Farside area consisting of Manzanita and San Rafael Hall — which do not usually house first years — has its own dining commons, Carrillo, and a swimming pool. And while the Farside area is farther from the center of campus, it’s closer to Isla Vista.

Possibly the most infamous dorm of them all is Santa Catalina. “San Cat” as it is called — an improvement from its previous nickname, “Fuck Towers” — includes a dining commons, swimming pool and gym. San Cat holds the most first years of any residence hall and is located on West Campus, which is a pleasant 10-minute bike ride from the heart of UCSB — except in the rain.

So here’s to a new year of first years; heed our advice, enjoy yourselves safely and carry on the traditions of the residence halls well! Oh— one more thing; the lock on your door? Use it. It will serve as the best barricade between you and the drunken students that wild nights often bring to your doorstep, ready to splash their urine all over your room in a blacked-out stupor.