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UCSB vs. Cal Poly SLO

There’s loud music blaring in the courtyard, students are all decked out in their blue and gold gear, several people are sporting UCSB facepaint… what could that be? Well, a number of things, actually, but this time, Trop’s going to the soccer game! We’ve got our school spirit up and roaring and our tortillas hidden safely in our pants, hoods, and anywhere else they won’t check! It’s GAME TIME!

UCSB vs Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is kind of a big deal. They’re our biggest rival, and it’s important to kick their butts! And have fun while doing so, of course. But still, kick their butts! And throw ALL the tortillas when we make goals and win! I can’t really say more about how important it is to beat SLO, not because I’ve said enough or even because the need to win is that strong, but because I’m kind of a noob with sports, and I know next to nothing about soccer. I mean, I know that goals equate to points and goalies are like Keepers in Quidditch, but that’s really about it.

This game is important on a personal level too, because it’s the first official sporting event that I’ve been to in my life. Ever. I’d never been to high school football or basketball games, or been to a Laker game, or anything like that, so I was super stoked to be going. But because I know nearly nothing about soccer, I came basically just so I could be loud and raucous and throw tortillas than to actually see players play. Oops. Well, going to the game was free, anyway. So I figured, why not?

There was nothing really going on in the first half of the game. At least, until the last ten minutes. Then we made a goal! Yay! Then it was halftime and we momentarily got to sit down, which was really nice. When the game started again, it was more exciting and more intense knowing that we were in the lead. The second quarter mostly consisted of trying not to let SLO get the ball. We made another goal in the last five minutes, which was great, and tortilla madness rained on us all.

And the crowd goes wild! Flying tortillas are really hard to capture on camera…
How ’bout a flying Thunderstick instead?

All in all, it was a great experience to go to my first game. It was fun partaking in UCSB chants and rituals, like counting down to 4:20 or making fun of the opposing team. People get so into it. It was so crazy, but also kind of amazing.

We are the champions, my friends!

I probably would not have gone to the game, had it not been for where I live. Tropicana del Norte is really awesome, and I thank them and all the RAs that work so hard just to give us cool events like a pre-game sesh, among other things. It was awesome seeing everybody so pumped and so psyched. Before the year started, I had multitudes of people telling me that “You end up being really proud of your first dorm,” and “School spirit is contagious.” At first, I didn’t really see any of that becoming a reality. I thought they were insane, die-hards who were too happy to be in school. But now I see that yeah, they’re kinda right. It happens.

How to Avoid the Freshman 15

Let’s face it, the dorm environment and college life aren’t typically known as beacons of health. In fact, it would almost seem as if the odds are against you in maintaining healthy eating habits- a problem that causes many students to gain the “freshman 15” their first year at their new school.

As a self-proclaimed healthy living girl, I had to completely relearn many of my engrained habits as I was faced daily with all-you-can-eat dining commons, hours of schoolwork, partying, and the lack of motivation to make it to the campus gym.

In the end, putting in the effort to stay fit and healthy is one of the most important things you can do during your college years and will help you feel confident, happy, and comfortable in your own skin.

  1. Just Because It’s All You Can Eat, Doesn’t Mean You Should Eat All You Can

    Now that’s a title for you. Many college campuses boast all you can eat dining commons with a huge variety of different cuisines and flavors, but keep in mind that getting multiple plates of food to sample can be a major pit-fall. While greasy burgers and fries are an okay treat once in awhile, having them for lunch and dinner along with a plate of pasta will not only devoid you of essential nutrients, but leave you feeling sluggish and bloated from the extra sodium. Instead, try sticking to one main entree and a side salad for each lunch and dinner and oatmeal, egg white omelets, or yogurt with fruit for breakfast.

  2. Snack Smart

    Many students have the option of keeping a mini fridge in their room, but don’t take full advantage of what a great resource it can be to their health. Keep your fridge stocked with items like greek yogurt, fruit, hummus, and veggies for when you’re up late and feeling munchy. Try to avoid processed snacks such as the classic Cup of Noodles and potato chips which are full of sodium, refined carbs, and saturated fat.

    Eating small meals helps keep your blood sugar stable and will keep you from crashing and binging on all the unhealthy options around you.

  3. Skip the Soda and Sugary Drinks

    We all know that soda is chock full of sugar (think 50-80 grams per can!), but often label fruit juices as “healthy” alternatives. While fruit juices may contain more vitamins and nutrients, many contain sweetened syrup, lack fiber from the juicing process, and contain huge amounts of sugar and calories. For most people, drinking their calories leaves them no less hungry and can contribute to weight gain if drank in excess. As an alternative, try to make drinking plain water, tea, and milk a habit- your body will thank you!

  4. You Can Be Social Without Eating

    This one was a tough one for me to conquer. Many times, a late night trip to the dining commons or local pizza place with friends makes bonding and establishing friendships seem dependent on food and drinking. Keep in mind that making this a habit can lead to weight gain and that there are plenty of other options for socializing. Instead, try grabbing a group of friends together for a walk or fun activity such as ice skating or hiking.

  5. Don’t Skimp on Exercise

    Eating habits are only half the equation when it comes to finding a balanced lifestyle and skimping on exercising can be a huge problem. Exercise provides countless benefits, such as controlling your weight, improving your mood, fighting cardiovascular disease, strengthening your bones and muscles, and helping you sleep better at night. Many colleges offer A-grade gyms complete with weight and cardio machines that you can pop in to in-between classes.

    Make a point to hit the gym and break a sweat at least a couple of times a week. If the gym isn’t your thing, there are tons of other fun options such as going for a group run, hiking, swimming, and biking.

Getting Around Town – The Ins and Outs of Transportation for UCSB Students

When you first move to UCSB, getting around in general is going to be perplexing because you don’t know where you’re going. However, knowing how to get around in certain areas will DEFINITELY make a huge difference in your life, and reduce a lot of that needless stress.

When you first move to UCSB, getting around in general is going to be perplexing because you don’t know where you’re going. However, knowing how to get around in certain areas will DEFINITELY make a huge difference in your life, and reduce a lot of that needless stress.

One thing that I learned right away is that if you are living at Tropicana Del Norte, or really anywhere in IV, and you’re going to UCSB, a car is a complete hassle. My first night I needed to go to pick up some odds and ends from Isla Vista Market, and a couple of my new roomies wanted to come with me. Being from a town where parking was abundant and everyone just drove everywhere no matter what the distance, I decided to drive there from Trop. What would have been a nice and brisk 5-minute bonding stroll with my roommates turned in to a 45-minute hassle because there was absolutely zero parking available next to Isla Vista Market! How far was it from Trop? Less than 5 blocks. It was definitely a Freshman mistake that I suggest you not repeat. Isla Vista is less than one square mile, and nearly all restaurants and shops are centrally located within the 10 block radius.

One way you can save money on gas if you do bring your car is carpooling with friends and splitting the costs of driving. Carpooling to pick up a few things to decorate your living room is a great way to save on gas, as well as bond with your roommates! Carpooling will likely come in especially handy when you start making your plans to head home for Thanksgiving or Winter Break. You’ll be making tons of friends here at Tropicana, and there’s a good likelihood that you’ll meet someone who is headed the same direction as you are.

You may be asking yourself about getting around to shops and restaurants that are not in the Isla Vista area, such as K Mart, Bed Bath and Beyond, or Costco in Goleta, or Santa Barbara’s downtown shopping at the Paseo Neuvo Mall. One of the best things about being a UCSB student is the unlimited access to public transportation via the MTD Bus system. When you arrive to UCSB, make sure that one of your first stops is the UCEN. You can take your Student ID Photo and pick up your ID card right on the spot! You’ll also receive a sticker that shows that you are currently enrolled, which will grant you access to any bus, any time of day. Check out the Bus Schedule here:

Riding a bicycle is…well…just like riding a bicycle! You never really forget how to ride one, but you may need to brush up on your skills. Upperclassmen at UCSB, who are seasoned pros when it comes to riding their beach cruisers and fixies, can spot a freshman cycler a mile away. Good thing too, since it’s unlikely the first week of school will be fender bender free with the amount of traffic at the roundabout bicycle intersections. My recommendation is to take a bit of time the week before classes start to refresh your coordination and reaction time, before heading into full on bicycle traffic.

Pro skater? Syck bro! You can get around just about everywhere on campus on your skateboard, BUT you have to be mindful of how you get around. Skateboards don’t belong on the bike path. Many parts of campus have a designated skateboarding zone on the sidewalk specifically for boarders, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding room to skate when you’re on your way to class.

Tropicana Del Norte is less than five minutes walking distance to most things on campus, as well as IV. Sometimes it’s nice to stop and smell the birds of paradise.

When you’re heading home for breaks and long weekends, you may want to take a train ride, or fly if timing is a factor. Luckily there is an Amtrak train station a short bus ride away on Hollister in Goleta, as well as an airport right in UCSB’s backyard. For information about the train and to buy your ticket online, check out their website: For information on flights out of Santa Barbara Airport, check them out here:

What is a Resident Assistant in College?

A Resident Assistant (RA) is a peer who makes sure that your residence hall community is safe, fun, and academically conducive place to live for you and your neighbors. They work to make your overall experience at Tropicana Del Norte a positive one. As a former RA, I’ll be completely truthful; it isn’t easy. Being an RA was one of the most challenging, yet enriching, experiences of my life. I met so many people from diverse backgrounds, and I like to hope that I made a positive change in their life by making their freshmen year a memorable and fulfilling experience.

There are three basic things that all RAs are responsible for: building community, peer counseling, and community standards.

  1. Building Community. RAs are a conduit for bringing residents together and sparking friendships. Coming to Santa Barbara, you’ll likely not know anyone, and that’s okay. Your RAs job is to put on fun, social, and educational programs and events where you can meet your neighbors and build relationships. Have a special interest? Tell your RA and work with them to put on a program or event.

  2. Peer Counseling. Not seeing eye-to-eye with your roommate? Unsure about where to buy your books? Looking to find out more about getting involved at Trop? You RA can help! RAs are your go-to guide and peer advisor, here to help you establish your new life as a student here at UCSB. They’ve been here for a year or more already, so they’ve already gone through a lot of the things you’re going through now. Take advantage of their valuable knowledge.

  3. Community Standards. RA’s help maintain the safety and academic atmosphere of our building, ensuring that laws and our residence hall community standards (such as quiet hours and alcohol/drug policies) are being followed. When the RAs perform community walks at various times throughout the night, they would like to make it a social visit, just stopping by to say hi. Invite your RA in and get to know them!

You can read the Tropicana policies in our Residence Hall Handbook. Think of your home as your safe haven where you and your roommates can study and sleep in peace. All other activities that are not conducive to an academic environment should be done elsewhere.

Tropicana Student Living Residence Life Staff 2012 – 2013

Your Resident Assistant won’t be a cookie cutter stereotype; each RA is different and colors the role with his or her own personality. Each individual will bring something different to the table. For example, some RAs are really creative and great at arts and crafts, while other RAs love to play sports. Each one bonds with people differently, but the common thread is that your RA wants to connect with you and help you connect to others.

Surviving UCSB Finals

Finals week at UCSB is upon us. It gets intense as the time ticks away while you’re studying and staying up all night. I know that the most logical thing to do is to study as much as you can and cram the night before, since it worked for midterms. (Let’s hope!) However, you can always take an alternative route not as detrimental to your mind and body. Here are some helpful tips for surviving finals.

  1. Stock up on drinks. Students usually make sure they load up on snacks during this demanding week. Stress eating is very dangerous, so reach for a drink instead. Dehydration can affect your concentration and cognition. Water is refreshing, plus it won’t pile on calories.

  2. Make sure that you are sitting at a desk. Studying on your comfy bed can seem like the best idea in the world, but oftentimes I find myself falling asleep after a couple hours. A bed is such an amazing product, but not if you want to get some serious studying done!

  3. Don’t push yourself too hard. Working hard is highly valued, but if you’re on the urge of falling asleep and constantly trying to stay awake in the wee hours of the night, just go to bed and take a nap. The information may not stick, even if you’re studying as hard as you can.

  4. Take advantage of Tropicana’s healthy snacks. Take an apple or banana for your study session later. Or take a break and come to the Café for finals week study snacks. Study snacks are a highly valued perk; thank you, Tropicana!

I know you will study the best you can and I hope you will do great on your final exams. Keep your head clear and goals straight, because distractions will rise – especially since there is a new 7-Eleven in Isla Vista that’s open 24 hours. Another opportunity to go grab a Slurpee when you feel like you need a study break.

Healthy Eating in the Trop Café

Upon entering college, I have to admit that the thought of gaining the “Freshman 15” was consistently entering my mind. Discussions of the typical college student diet were abundant, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only student out there that was convinced eating healthy in a dorm was nearly impossible. Every student faces the transition from enjoying home cooked, wholesome meals to the stereotypical “dorm food diet.” As a student athlete, I figured I had no reason to focus much attention on my diet; exercise is enough, right? Wrong. After hours of research and goal setting, I made a commitment to myself to maintain a nourishing lifestyle, which included eating as natural and “clean” as possible (whole, unprocessed foods). Small changes and a gradual incorporation of this eating style allow for the process to be exciting and extremely self-rewarding. So where did I start? Here are a few introductory tips I always kept in mind.

  1. Make vegetables your focus. The salad bar is at the start of the food line, so I always fill my plate with the most nutritiously dense vegetables, and make the heavier entrees my sides. Skip the premade potato salad and pasta salads to keep things raw. To make your salad even healthier, skip the fat- and calorie-dense dressings and opt for some lemon juice and olive oil, or perhaps olive oil and balsamic. Yum! Top with some sunflower seeds instead of croutons.

  2. Say no to the soda and juice. It’s hard when it’s all right in front of you…I’m aware. Instead, get a glass of water with some fresh lemon slices. If that’s too bland for you, try a glass of unsweetened ice tea that is located next to the soda machines. No sugar-filled sweet teas for me! To meet your calcium needs, have a glass of low fat milk, skim milk, or even some soy milk.

  3. Order from the grill. My favorite is the grilled chicken sandwich but be sure to write “without bun” on your grill order slip. The bun is purely bleached wheat and is just an empty carb without a lot of nutritious value. With this you get a grilled chicken breast which I occasionally top with some salsa or cut it up and throw it in my salad! The fries and quesadillas are tempting, but again they lack in nutritious value.

  4. The most important meal of the day is breakfast. The omelet station is great, but there are tricks to create a more nutritious omelet.

    – First, even before they start your order, nicely request for the cook to use olive oil. Olive oil is a heart healthy substitute which includes monounsaturated fats (good fats!) along with vitamin E & K.

    – Politely ask for them to make your omelet with whole eggs. If you want a big omelet, maybe try asking for 2 whole eggs and some egg whites as well to keep down your intake of yolks.

    – Skip the cheese. If you can’t eat eggs without cheese, ask for no cheese and then sprinkle some on your eggs yourself afterwards. The cooks are usually overly generous with the amount of cheese they put on.

    – Fill up your omelet with vegetables to make it a meal that fulfills a part of your daily recommended vegetable servings.

  5. Don’t fall into the myth that cereals are healthy. They aren’t. Can Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs really be as nutritional as the commercials say they are? No, they’re loaded with sugar and lack nutritious content. Try PLAIN yogurt with some fruit, honey, nuts, and some cinnamon. Top it off with some granola, but remember moderation is key. Although granola is a whole grain, it tends to be high in sugar and fat. An average cup of granola has approximately 600 calories! So be sure to use it only as a topping.

  6. Utilize the spice rack! I cannot stress this enough. Do you often find your food lacking in flavor? Do you find yourself reaching for the salt, or adding on blobs of dressing, sour cream, butter, cream cheese or whatever else we college students find to enhance the taste? That’s the problem. Spice up your steamed vegetables, salad, grilled chicken, or soup with the numerous bottles of spices Trop Café offers. My personal favorites are oregano, basil and, in the mornings, cinnamon. These are natural flavor enhancements that you’ll never have to feel guilty about.

    Eating healthy may be difficult in a cafeteria when there are unhealthy options in front of you that are hard to resist, but it is not impossible. Make some goals, commit to slight changes, do some of your own research and stay focused. It’s truly not that bad once you get going. Trust me, I had to start from the bottom and build up. And remember, that Tropicana Del Norte’s fitness center is open til midnight every day for you to further your goals. A 10 minute workout is better than 10 minutes of sitting on your couch watching TV, eating Cup Noodles and chips!