To the freshman class of 2023 and to the transfer class of 2021, let me be one of the many people to welcome you to UC Santa Barbara! You are now among the 25,000 or so who are lucky enough to call UCSB and Isla Vista home.
UCSB has become a paradise to me, and as I return from my final summer before the dreaded post-grad limbo, I’ve found myself reflecting upon how fortunate I am to live in such an idyllic place and to attend such a renowned university — as cheesy as that may sound.
That being said, new beginnings are never easy. There are many lessons to be learned to allow this place to become the paradise it truly is. Instead of writing a generic welcome letter, telling you all the things you already know, I want to take this time to give you some practical advice — some serious, some less so — that I wish someone would have told me when I first came to UCSB:
You don’t need unlimited meal swipes. You really only need 14, I promise.
The “freshman 15” is real! Be realistic with portion sizes, and remember, just because it’s on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat it. However, make sure you’re eating well, and try to make healthy choices. Also keep in mind that eating salad for every meal doesn’t mean you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Being away from home can be liberating, but it can also bring challenges. It is okay to feel homesick, even if your friends aren’t. Some adjustment periods take longer than others. Also, remember to do your laundry (yes, even your fitted sheet).
Surround yourself with people who are kind, empathetic and supportive. Stress is incredibly common; things beyond our control happen. Make sure to take care of yourself mentally just as much as you do physically. Reach out to people if you’re struggling, whether that means friends, your resident assistant, professors, teaching assistants, or counselors at Counseling & Psychological Services.
You may be young, but you are not invincible. Be smart about how hard you decide to party, if you do. Just because you can shotgun a Four Loko in five seconds does not mean you should.
Never, ever, ever sit on the curb.
Write down your roommate’s and your resident assistant’s phone numbers. Phones can die or get lost and it’s so important to be able to contact someone trustworthy.
Everything you need when going out at night can fit in your pockets. Do not bring a bag.
While UCSB students may play hard, it is undeniable that they work hard too. Partying can be really fun, but don’t forget about the real reason you’re here. Inversely, don’t do back-to-back all-nighters at the library. Give yourself a break and remember to have fun. It’s all about striking a balance.
Do something with your free time! It can feel very difficult to acclimate to a new community and it’s very easy to feel isolated, especially if you live off campus. Don’t be afraid to try something new, too. I went to my first Nexus meeting on a whim and wound up forging incredible lifelong friendships.
These are just a few nuggets of my fourth-year wisdom. A lot of them are easier said than done, but focus on a few and you will soon find yourself fully embraced by the paradise that is UCSB.