Balancing college courses and new extracurricular activities is hard enough as it is, but living with one, maybe even two roommates for the first time can add a whole new layer of stress. To help our freshman readers, the Nexus news staff interviewed five former and current Resident Assistants (RA) for advice on navigating dorm life.

The interviewees:

Steffi Huynh

Former Anacapa RA, current San Nicholas RA and fourth-year biopsychology major Steffi Huynh

Sandi Isozaki

Former San Rafael and Anacapa RA and fourth-year global studies major Sandi Isozaki

Nicole Willard

Former San Miquel and Manzanita Village RA and fourth-year feminist studies major Nicole Willard

Their advice:

Daily Nexus: What is the best piece of advice you can give a freshman moving into the dorms?

Huynh: Bring only what you need and be mindful that you’re sharing the room. It’s helpful to communicate with your roommate(s) before moving in so you can organize who is bringing what and avoid possibly bringing two fridges!

Perez: “Just do it!!” Shia LaBeouf hits the nail on the head with this statement when it comes to being involved. When you first move in, you will feel intimidated by the whole experience. But don’t coop yourself up in your room! Your dorm intentionally plans many programs the first week of move-in so you can be social and meet new people. You will have such a better experience when you put yourself out there, and you could possibly make lifelong friends! Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and get to know other people.

Aranki: The best piece of advice I can give to a freshman moving into the dorms is to make an effort to get to know the rest of the people on your floor or building. Some of these people will be your best friends for life. Also, don’t forget to take it all in. Moving into your first college dorm can get pretty overwhelming, but as long as you remain optimistic and hopeful, you can definitely make the most of your time here.

DN: What are some things freshmen often forget to pack when moving into the dorms?

Perez: Get yourself some baby oil! Once you walk along the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara, you will learn about the sticky tar that is almost impossible to get off of the bottom of your feet. Baby oil does the trick, and it will save you the pain of scrubbing those toes forever!

Willard: Freshmen forget to bring air freshener! Sometimes those rooms get smelly and no one wants to be “that room.” I know a lot of freshmen also forget to bring business attire, for job interviews and such. Last thing, stamps!

DN: What are some belongings freshmen often move in with that won’t be useful?

Huynh: Freshmen definitely do not need to bring a printer since UCSB offers 200 free pages a quarter at various printing labs. Check out the free resources your campus offers!

Perez: Don’t bring clothes you don’t need! When you go visit your family for breaks, you can switch out clothes for the different seasons. This will give you so much more space for you and your roommates!

DN: How can freshmen who don’t participate in the “party scene” get involved?

Huynh: RAs work really hard to plan programs weekly for residents to who don’t want to party. Residents can suggest ideas and even organize the programs with their RAs. If freshmen want to get involved, there’s SO MANY leadership and volunteer opportunities at UCSB such as Hall Council, RHA, Associated Students and various interest clubs!
Isozaki: There are plenty of organizations on campus that are excited and welcoming to new first-year members, ranging from activist groups to cultural groups to dance teams to video game clubs. Finding a job is a great way to get work experience, make friends and stay active. It’s also very possible to be involved in the party scene without drinking or doing drugs. The campus climate of UCSB is not about who drinks the most, it’s about having a good time.

Aranki: There is so much you can do. I think there is a strong misconception that every single person parties at UCSB, it’s definitely not true. There are so many student organizations that you can get involved in. If you log onto you can find a huge list of the many clubs and organizations we have on campus. Many of the RAs create programs that will have alternatives to the party scene. You will have many opportunities that will cater to your needs and interests.

DN: How can freshmen learn to get along with their new roommate(s)?

Willard: It is super important to have an open and honest discussion in the first few days you are there. Set some ground rules, and stick to them. There have been too many instances where one roommate doesn’t like something the other roommate is doing so they go ask their RA to fix it for them. When that happens, I don’t intervene until I know they have talked to their roommate about it. Also, being passive aggressive doesn’t work! Don’t do it. If you have a problem, try to be an adult and find a solution yourself. Also, sometimes it is just easier to let the small things go. If you have a mutual understanding and follow the rules you set at the beginning of the year, everything should be fine.

Aranki: I think the main thing is just to have respect for one another. Having healthy communication and remaining transparent whenever it is necessary definitely promotes a positive living environment. Try to make an effort to get to know your roommate(s). I suggest to go to programs your RA plans together or find a place to eat in Isla Vista that you both have not tried yet.

DN: What’s a common mistake freshmen often make?

Huynh: Freshman should take advantage of the fresh new start that college gives them. They should reach out to others, be open-minded and try new things. The person you were in high school does not have to be the person you are in college. You literally can reinvent yourself!

Aranki: Not buying a U-lock for one’s bike! We are a biking campus and having a U-lock helps keep your bike from getting stolen. Also, choose a major based on passion, not pay, because there are so many opportunities in every major to excel in great things.

DN: Are there any other tips you would like to share with the class of 2019?

Hunyh: Set some academic and personal goals for yourself before starting college. Think about what you really want to achieve by the end of your first year and work towards it! It’s not bad to get lost or go with the flow, but make sure you’re always working towards something great!

Willard: It is imperative that freshmen learn time management and remember to not put off studying until finals week! Meet your professors and hall directors, go to office hours and don’t be afraid to use all of the campus resources, because they are there for you!

Aranki: Your freshman year goes by so fast! Take advantage of every single opportunity that comes your way. Remember to just breathe when things get tough. We have a wonderful community that will support your endeavors.

A version of this story appeared on page 8 of the Thursday, August 27, 2015 print edition of the Daily Nexus.