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Ted’s List of Things to Bring to UCSB

I’ve got a history of packing light. As a toddler on a family trip I threw one of my shoes out of a moving bus, and I was quite proud of myself for it. When I studied in Japan for six months I brought only a backpack packed the night before, allowing nimble navigation of the subway systems while my equally jet lagged colleagues struggled to haul whole cabinets of clothes in over sized suitcases. I think the practice has served me as well at college as it has abroad. Let’s look at Ted’s List of Things to Bring to UCSB!

  • A sturdy laundry hamper with a lid. There are flimsy laundry hampers which fold down tiny, but unless I’m taking a plane I like to use the hamper instead of luggage. Pack it with:
    • Clothes. UCSB has pleasantly warm summers and cold, often rainy winters. Don’t forget a swimsuit! If you want to use the gym on campus or in Tropicana, be sure to bring some gym shorts or basketball shorts or something. You won’t NEED any fancy clothes, but bring some if you plan to go to job fairs.
    • Two towels for bathing, and one towel for the beach or pool.
    • Laundry supplies. Keep detergent and dryer sheets in the hamper so they’re always on hand when you carry dirty clothes to the washers.
    • Sunscreen. If you plan to go to the beach a lot, bring baby-oil as well. Sometimes flecks of tar wash up on the beach, and baby-oil is the only thing that gets them off your skin.
    • Shampoo/conditioner/shaving cream.
    • A decent water-bottle with a filter. Water in Santa Barbara doesn’t taste great, and it’s worse the closer you get to the shore.
    • Chargers for electric appliances and a power strip. If you have space, two power strips. Your roommates will thank you.
    • A desk-lamp. It’s good to have private light while your roommates are asleep.
    • An alarm clock (if you can’t put one on your phone).
    • A calendar. UCSB hosts a lot of events, and if you want to advantage of them you need to track them.
  • A backpack, I wouldn’t bother bringing school supplies like pencils or notebooks. You can buy those in the student store at the UCEN. Use the extra space to pack:
    • The rest of your clothes. Fold them neatly so they’re not wrinkly when you take them out. Pack flip-flops for the beach and any shared showers.
    • A laptop. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, try a Chromebook. It just connects to the internet, but UCSB has campus-wide wifi and you can use cloud services for anything a student might need to do. I recommend Google Drive for word processing, PowerPoint, etcetera, and ShareLaTeX for professional-looking scientific document drafting. You can code for free in a variety of languages at!
    • Medications and toiletries. You can fill prescriptions at student health and buy toiletries at the student store (or 7-11, or the IV Market), but you really don’t want to spend any time without. Be sure to remember a toothbrush, toothpaste, and while you’re at it, a bag of those flossing picks. Hygiene is important.
  • A bike, scooter, or skateboard
    • On bikes: I recommend buying a cheap bike and a nice U-Lock. You’ll rarely meet a senior who hasn’t had a bike stolen. Always remember to lock up properly with your U-Lock threaded through the bike frame, one wheel, and the bike rack. (Bike racks are everywhere, so use them. Lock up somewhere else and you’ll get a ticket.) I wear a helmet, even though no one else seems to.
    • On scooters and skateboards: These aren’t as fast as bikes, and you can’t use the bike paths, but you don’t need to lock them up. Just bring them into class and stash them out of the way! This makes them convenient, especially for short trips. Helmets are great, but I’d also recommend wrist braces: there’s a dedicated skateboard lane on the main road, but people walk in a random, Brownian path through it without regard to your wrist bones.
    • Some people roller-skate or wave board or unicycle—go wild, just go safe!
    • To transport your transport, secure it to the roof of your car or stash it in the trunk. Or, buy something here! There’s a bike shop and a skate shop on Pardall.
  • A set of sheets and comforter, with a pillow.
  • And… that’s it.

If you have those things while rooming at Tropicana, you will survive. Anything else, you can buy either on-campus or at local stores. It’s important to remember you’re not moving to outer Mongolia; you’re moving into a college dorm, in a town, near a city. If you forget a water bottle, you can buy one. Last year I showed up without blankets and bought some at Target.

Ultimately, when packing for your first year at college, you should prioritize convenience over thoroughness. If your parents are helping you move in it’ll be all sappy and memorable, and you don’t want to ruin the moment by making six trips for suitcases. Bring clothes in a laundry hamper, a backpack, and maybe a bike, and it’ll take half an hour to move in. Then you can get a burrito with your folks, and make them buy you anything else you think you’ll need.

Some final thoughts:

  • When the quarter starts get a bus-sticker on your Student ID. Then you and your friends can ride the bus downtown. The #24x bus is the fastest way into Santa Barbara proper.
  • The #11 bus circuits in two directions, clockwise and counterclockwise. The #11 bus and the #6 bus are the same bus; as the #11 bus stops at the Camino Real Marketplace it becomes the #6, and as the #6 passes the other way it becomes the #11. (The #24x bus is also the #12x bus.)
  • All your school books are probably available in the student store of the UCEN. They’re on the lower floor, down the stairs are tucked all the way in the back.

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