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Getting Around your College Town

Trop’s Tips for Everyday Transport

Walk around Isla Vista during the school year and what do you notice? Everyone is trying to go somewhere. One of my favorite things about this beachside college town is the eclectic variety of ways that people get around. The fact that the majority of the UCSB population lives within a few blocks of their school means that a car may not always be the transportation of choice. In addition, the overall levelness of the terrain, as well as many pathways for non-car traffic leaves room for a kind of awesome range of transportation.

In 2011, UCSB was ranked as #3 in the “Most Bicycle Friendly Colleges” list by Huffington Post, and has maintained that ranking ever since. With more than half of the student population choosing bikes as their primary mode of transport, this makes UCSB the college with the highest percentage of undergrad bicyclists (preferred mode of transport) in the country, and with good reason! Isla Vista’s roads themselves have clearly marked bicycle lanes, and a body of car traffic very accustomed to their two-wheeled peers. But the minute you enter the UCSB campus, you’ll be astounded to see the intricacy of the brisk bike traffic.

The 10 miles worth of bike paths begin as soon as you step foot on campus, clearly separated by white and yellow painted markings to indicate lanes, roundabouts, stop signs, and even yields. Bike racks are abundant and strategically placed all throughout campus, and UCSB even employs the on-campus Associated Students Bike Shop for students’ bike repair needs. Having been one of the 14,000 bike commuters, I would highly recommend it. It’s convenient and quick, and living at Trop, there’s no dearth of bike racks, positioned both underground and alongside the building. One huge tip for bikes though: MAKE SURE YOU LOCK ‘EM! A sturdy U-lock will go a long way to prevent bike thefts.

But now you’re probably wondering, what about the other 50% of students? I, after being primarily a bike commuter for 2 years, began looking for other ways to get around. If you prefer a calmer pace of things, walking is another great way to get around, and it doesn’t actually take all that much longer (sometimes bike paths=detours). There are more route options and possible shortcuts as a walker, and you don’t have to worry about locking up your bike.

Sharing the walker’s sidewalk or road will often be the boarder. An increasing number of long boarders, penny boarders, and traditional skateboarders alike are seen to be zipping stylishly around IV and UCSB, the happy medium between biking and walking. The overall lack of hills makes this area a favorite for boarders, and let me tell you, boarding is delightfully enjoyable in addition to being convenient. Like walking, you don’t have to worry about locking or parking, and instead just carry the board inside with you. Other than that, you do see the occasional scooter, roller blade, or (my personal favorite) unicycle commuter, and I’d say whatever your choice of transport, it will be respected. Word of caution to all sidewalk travelers though: Bikes have the right of way, and bike traffic will not stop! Cross a bike path the way you would cross a street.

Now this about covers local means of transport, but what if you want to go further, such as to the store or SBCC (downtown)? Several students (often in their 2nd or 3rd years) opt to bring their car to college. Something to keep in mind about cars is that unless you want to park on the street, parking is an additional expense, both in your residential area as well as on either (UCSB or SBCC) campus. Parking itself can take an additional 10-15 minutes depending on the time and day, but driving is a great option in case of injury or transporting things. Another great way to get around somewhat longer distances is public bus. MTD schedules are available online, or even easier in the ‘bus setting’ in Google Maps, and bus stickers (which allow you to travel for free) are given out to all UCSB and SBCC students at the beginning of each quarter/semester. The buses are generally prompt, safe, and a popular choice for students and residents alike.

The year-round sun in Santa Barbara gives you the freedom to bike, board or stroll to your destination. In addition to being convenient, these are also a great source of quick exercise. Whatever you choose, I guarantee you will appreciate the beautiful setting of your campus as you get around!

Most Bike Friendly College Campuses:


UCSB Campus Bike Map


How to Kick the Mid-Quarter Blahs

At this point most of us have experienced enough of college to recognize the “mid-quarter blah period” as it’s coming. And it is coming. It’s usually the time after midterms where we’ve all been exhausted from studying to the point of no longer caring or at least to the point of not wanting to put in 100% anymore. When it comes to the decision of taking a nap or going to class, this period makes it easier to pick the former. However, we almost always regret this decision afterwards as we realize we’ve been making a nasty habit of this or as a classmate tells us about how important that one class actually was. But there are several ways to nip this blah period in the bud. To re-inspire yourself:

  1. Try new study techniques to freshen things up!

    If you’re used to holing yourself up in your room and hitting the books, consider finding a study buddy that doesn’t distract you but allows you to have fun while studying

  2. Shift your focus!

    This academic funk can convince you that your classes are boring now and that there’s no point if you’re no longer interested, but find the things that do interest you in the topics you’re learning and focus more on those. Actively seek answers like the intelligent researcher/student that you are. Keep asking questions.

  3. Spruce up other parts of your life!

    Sometimes a slight invigoration in fashion or simply wearing your hair a different way can inspire other sectors in your life as well. It’s all about putting your best foot forward. You may be surprised with what a little change can do to your overall mindset. If not a change in fashion, maybe a change in lifestyle? Be more active. Challenge yourself to meeting more people. Try a new hobby. These changes affect mentality and, in effect, can transfer to other fields as well.

To Try or Not to Try

I confess that my reservations about even trying to apply for Resident Assistant for Tropicana stemmed from my idea that it has never been my privilege to experience such a position. I discredited myself before even giving myself a chance, something I am not willing to continue to do. I am aware of my capabilities and I know how far I can go with them. I am conscious of my strengths and weaknesses and I never let the latter go unreformed for long. So why couldn’t I make an investment of trust in myself and commit myself to the ‘challenge’ of trying? I write this to alert people to the ability within themselves. No, I don’t know the qualities to be admired of every person that reads this page, but I know people know themselves better than anyone else. Why is it that we need validation from anyone outside of ourselves? Capacity cannot be seen by others if it is not shown to others. This is why I am a firm believer of trying; trying for everything that we may want. So what if it’s not rational? So what if it’s not practical? So what if others think our goals are trivial, insignificant, or negligible? Our dreams are ours to hold. Our dreams come slow and go fast. To let a dream fade unanswered is a crying shame. Only then is it a waste of time. I say, if you want something badly enough, there could be nothing standing in the way of going for it but you. The goal shouldn’t be winning. Success is to be had in the other spoils of simply trying because there is much to gain from the vulnerability of endeavoring. So take another look at what you want and compare it to what you have now. Every accomplishment started with the decision to try. Not completely, one hundred percent satisfied enough with your achievements to die happy right here and now? Then keep working at it. Make your life the movie you’ve always wanted it to be and make yourself the star you’ve countlessly envisioned. You’ll find that with a little confidence and devotion, it is not impossible.

Applying for Jobs – Quick Tips!

It’s coming up on Summer Job season, and there are going to be tons of opportunities for students to work and make some extra spending cash. Make sure that you are on top of your game to get the job you desire most! When I was in High School I joined FFA (Future Farmers of America) that emphasized professional development. I didn’t end up becoming a Farmer, but there were tons of practical skills I learned that have helped me on my post-high school job hunts. One of the requirements of joining FFA was entering the Regional Job Interview Competition. Beforehand I had never interviewed for a job or done much in terms of public speaking, which, in a way, worked in my behalf since everything I learned was quickly incorporated into my developing professional persona. I ended up making it to the final round during the first competition! Since then, I’ve held some really great positions, working as a Manager for Orange Julius, becoming an Associate Manger of a Movie Theater, and working my way from Res Life Staff to Marketing for Tropicana! Everyone has the potential to be successful and shine during an interview if they show confidence and interest in the job they’re applying for. There are a couple additional factors that will really help you shine. Here are a few quick tips that I found useful in applying for jobs: *Dress to Impress – If you dress like you’re serious about getting the job, employers will treat you as such. Time to polish your dress shoes and borrow an iron! *Do Research – What position would you like the most at the company you’re applying for? What makes you qualified for that position? What is the thing that the company prides itself on? Doing research ahead of time will help you confidently answer questions you may be asked during your interview, as well as help you get the position you want. Check out their website, read through job descriptions, and think of ways you’re a necessary piece to their puzzle. *Practice Professional Etiquette – A firm handshake and eye contact can go a long way in showing you’re confident and ready to work. Other interpersonal skills, such as using “Mr.” or “Miss,” and sending a follow up email to your interviewer, will help you stand out from other candidates! *Don’t Arrive Empty Handed – Draft up a résumé and have it handy. Likely you’ll be filling out an job application, but attaching your résumé is another great way to stand out from the crowd! Here’s a template that I have used in the past, but there are plenty of ways that you can get creative with your résumé! Things that you should NOT include in your résumé: • Labeling your résumé “Résumé.” • Including the date you wrote your résumé • Personal Data that is not contact information, such as your date of birth, race, sex, etc. • A Photograph of yourself: Equal Employment Opportunity legislation prohibits companies from making hiring decisions on what could be seen as bias towards an individual based on how they look. • Grammar School / Jr. High Education – Not necessary =] While I hope these tips are helpful, these are just the building blocks that will help you get that amazing job! There a tons of resources available for you at the Campus Career Centers at both UCSB and SBCC, as well as resources online. Have questions? Please feel free to email me and I’d be happy to answer them or point you in the right direction!

Conservation is Critical to Extending Santa Barbara County’s Water Supply

On January 17th, 2014 it was declared that California was in a state of emergency caused by drought. California’s Governor has asked all residents to reduce their water use. Santa Barbara County has joined the State in declaring a drought emergency and has asked for a 20% reduction in water usage.

Coinciding with the State’s and the County’s efforts, we ask you to please be mindful of your water usage. We appreciate your personal efforts in helping our community reduce our water use as a whole.

Here are some things to think about when you are using water, which can assist in our conservation efforts:

  • When brushing your teeth, don’t let the faucet flow. Use a glass of water for rinsing your teeth.
  • Wait until you have a full load of laundry before you do a load. You’ll save water, energy, and money for laundry.
  • One way to cut down on water use is to turn off the shower after soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water.
  • Report any water related maintenance issues immediately to the Tropicana Front Desk. 

Together we can conserve and extend Santa Barbara County’s limited water supply.

Reduce Stress

In Santa Barbara, we occasionally hear the rolling sirens of ambulances nearby, speeding past our windows. But I’ve come to ask a pestering question. What about the ailments that don’t get a siren? Like a broken heart, a collapsed pride, or a mental breakdown? College sees a lot of the latter. As second quarter veterans of UCSB, we have all experienced the stresses that come with the close of a quarter. Finals have become the dreaded inflictors of such pain, but no hospital, no medication can cure us. Here are some ways to therefore prevent mental breakdowns and to do so as early as now:In Santa Barbara, we occasionally hear the rolling sirens of ambulances nearby, speeding past our windows. But I’ve come to ask a pestering question. What about the ailments that don’t get a siren? Like a broken heart, a collapsed pride, or a mental breakdown? College sees a lot of the latter. As second quarter veterans of UCSB, we have all experienced the stresses that come with the close of a quarter. Finals have become the dreaded inflictors of such pain, but no hospital, no medication can cure us. Here are some ways to therefore prevent mental breakdowns and to do so as early as now:

  1. Get some sleep.
    If you feel your eyes drooping, and see the words on those pages blurring together, just stop. No matter how much more you have to do, close that book, set aside those notes, and get some sleep. There’s no sense in robotically reading without retaining information. You’ll actually be hurting your ability to focus later on due to the continued lack of rest. Without that necessary energy you will read and think slower and, possibly, incoherently as I’ve experienced. I call it my “Lost Sleep Loopy-ness”. Your body needs downtime to complete the processes it usually goes through while you sleep. Depriving your body of that opportunity can mess up your system.

  2. Review your notes early on.
    I won’t lie. In the past, I’ve left a class proud of what I’d learned enough to ignore the notes and just take a nap/get on with my day. But the average hour and fifteen minutes of class can actually go over a lot of information (which some of us realize when we miss a class and try playing catch-up for the next week). Now imagine that multitude of information over a quarter’s worth of classes. This is the information we crammers try to fit into our studies in the span of one or two nights before finals. It is more beneficial than many realize to just review each class’s notes the day after as a simple refresher while eating breakfast or while drying your hair after a shower. You don’t need to dedicate too much time solely for your review and you feel much more confident in the information learned when you encounter the topics again in the course afterwards. This, in addition to your specifically dedicated study time and class participation, can make you one kick-butt expert on any course.

  3. Remain positive.
    It’s always easy to let the large, double-digit amount of pages you have left to review stress you out enough to distract you. Then you find yourself scrambling to finish faster, re-reading passages because you were too busy freaking out to really pay attention the first time, and on the brink of surrendering to your negativity. Breathe. Hone in on what you’re supposed to accomplish. Let everything else, all distractions, fall away into the background. Don’t let yourself think about anything but the content you’re studying. Be in the present. And if you’re like me and need incentive to finish at a timely pace, promise yourself a reward after. When you’re finished, you can enjoy your prize (Ice cream? Music break? SLEEP? One episode of your show?) and most likely, GOOD GRADES.