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Author: Carolyn B.

Carolyn is a SBCC student majoring in Theatre Arts. She calls Palo Alto, California her home. Carolyn is living at Tropicana Gardens for her second year as a Resident Assistant. Some of her hobbies include having game nights, going on road trips, and baking delicious desserts. A random fact about Carolyn is that she loves The Hunger Games and Disneyland!

Get Involved! Build Connections, Make Friends, and Be a Part of the Santa Barbara City College Community!

For many when you decide to take the leap of faith and move away for college, the most difficult part is getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people. Already you are at an advantage with having your suitemates and those who live on your floor, but there are still many more opportunities to get involved and meet new people.

Week of Welcome

The Week of Welcome is a Tropicana Tradition where every day of the first week of school has a budget to help you get to know other people in the building who share similar interests. Past WOW programs have included:

  • Wheel Fun – Explore Santa Barbara! Surrey bike around the pier and shoreline of downtown SB.
  • Taste of IV – Get your grub on! Take this opportunity to taste of all of the different restaurants we have here in Isla Vista.
  • Bowling at Zodo’s – Strike! Enjoy a night out one of the coolest bowling allies you’ve ever been to.
  • Casino Night – Black Jack! Put on your Poker face and grab a bag of poker chips to use at different casino themed games. Prizes will be provided to the top winners of the night.
  • Hypnotist Show – Watch your new friends do things they’d NEVER do! Master Hypnotist James Kellogg, Jr. visits from Las Vegas to entertain residents during this extremely memorable show.
  • Movie Night – See the latest #1 movie! Enjoy good a fun night out at the local Camino Real Metropolitan theater.
  • Tie Dye – Let your creative juices flow! with tons of colors and clothing items to choose from!
  • S’mores Night – Make s’more friends! Gather around a cozy campfire using Trop’s s’mores stations to make a delicious dessert.
  • Beach Day – This one of the main reason you moved to SB, right? Bike over to Goleta beach to enjoy a day in the sand playing volleyball and dipping your toes in the ocean.
  • Raffle — Attend all of the events listed, and receive a ticket entry for a prize drawing at the end of the week! Past prizes have included Flat Screen TVs, Beats by Dr.Dre, Gift Cards for local restaurants, and much more!

Tropicana Student Organization (TSO)

Were you active in your schools ASB? Or possibly had a leadership role in a club on campus? Joining the Tropicana Student Organization is a great way to find people similar to you! Meetings are held once a week and we have an executive council who leads each meeting supervised by one of our Residence Directors. Residents hear program proposal from Resident Assistants and vote on what programs get approved and how much money is spent. Residents decide where their TSO money is spent to make sure that the events we do at the building are things our Residents want to attend. By joining TSO you’ll also have the opportunity to plan your own programs in fields you are interested. This is the way fun trips like going to Disneyland or Painting Canvas’ happen. Another cool perk is getting to select the movies that are on Trops TV Channel and Movie viewing website.

On Campus

At SBCC you have an excellent opportunity to be a part of an active student life on campus. Not only are many SBCC classes hands on, so you are getting involved with other students through group activities, but there are also many ways outside of class to get involved. Possible ways to do so include joining a sports team, participating in the theatre department, or joining a club that best suits you.

Trop Programs and Events

Participating in Trop programs is one of the easiest ways to make friends. Your RAs are putting on fun new programs every week that range in a huge variety. Past programs include Painting Canvas’, Hiking Inspiration Point, Playing Dodgeball, Indulging in delicious Boba Tea, Playing Messy Twister, and even Traveling to Disneyland.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways that new Tropicana Residents can get involved in their new community and make friends. But don’t just take my word for it; explore our Facebook page to look at all the fun things our residents have done in years past!

What are Resident Assistants at Tropicana’s College Residence Hall and How Can They Assist Me?

As a Resident Assistant (RA) at Tropicana Gardens, there are a variety of different hats I wear: counselor, advisor, mediator, resource, programmer/event planner, and a friend.

Trop’s intensive RA training process has equipped me to deal with a variety of situations. Say you and your roommates seem to be butting heads a lot. That would be a predicament where you could come to me and ask for advice, or where I could help mediate the situation so you could all come to a mutual agreement.

Another instance where my help would come into play would be for any possible emergency. Every night, there are two RAs on “duty”, which means we are responsible for doing community walks of the building to ensure laws and our residence hall community standards are being followed, such as quiet hours and alcohol & drug policies. We also carry the duty phone, which you can call for a minor emergency (like being locked out of your room), but also for more extreme situations.

Because RAs are generally sophomores (there may be juniors and seniors as well), we’re a valuable resource for you. We’ve “been there and done that” at Santa Barbara City College and we’ve lived in Isla Vista and Santa Barbara for at least a year. So we can help you with bus schedules, tell you how to get around on campus, and even give you our reviews of local coffee shops and restaurants!

One of my favorite parts of the RA job is hosting events and programs, with a goal of building relationships within our community. RAs try to incorporate a variety of diverse experiences such as painting a canvas, trips to Disneyland, paintball tournaments, and s’mores nights. We love having input from our residents about what types of events would interest them. My favorite function that I hosted with fellow RA Evelin was Trop’s first ever Winter Formal dance. It took a lot more planning than most programs, but a resident committee helped us create a magical winter wonderland. We had a great turn out and danced the night away.

You can kind of see how this job isn’t like a normal 9-5 job. I have a lot on my plate when it comes to my RA responsibilities, and I also have my schoolwork to think about. It’s my residents who make it all worth it.

When I first met all of my residents, I didn’t know what they were going to think of me. Being a theater major I’m a very “out there” person, which can be a lot for people to handle. However my residents seemed to enjoyed my personality and felt comfortable coming to me for questions and advice. During the year I got to know my residents on a very personal level, which made saying our goodbyes harder than I expected. There were nights where I’d go over to their rooms to help with homework or they’d come to mine to watch the classic “Land Before Time” series on Netflix. I cannot express how lucky I am to have known this group of individuals, many of whom I now consider to be my friends.

I think the best way to sum up the RA’s job is that we’re really here to make sure you have the best year possible. We all remember how scary freshmen year can seem, not having the support of your family and friends, and we truly want to make to this transition as smooth as possible.

Choosing a College Roommate

Starting college can be nerve wracking. Chances are, you’re leaving home for the first time. On top of that, the only people you’ve lived with have likely been your family. So how do you make sure you find a good roommate when you head to SBCC?

To start off, the very best advice I can give is to be completely honest on your Tropicana Gardens housing application. Know your limits and what you’re comfortable with. Don’t respond inaccurately just because you believe it’s a popular answer or you want to seem cool.

Having a good roommate can make or break your year, so it is extremely important that you find someone you’re compatible with. It does not necessarily have to be a match made in heaven, but it’s important to find people you can actually live with.

Here are some questions you’ll want to keep in mind while filling out your profile questions:

  • Am I night owl or a morning early bird?
  • Do I plan on getting all of my studies done in the room or will I take care of it in the study lounge?
  • Am I planning to go out every weekend or stay inside with a good book?
  • Do I keep things neat and organized daily or do I tend to pile things throughout the room until I get around to moving them?

After thinking that through, now you get to figure out the fun stuff: finding people who have similar interests as you. Once your housing contract is finalized and you are granted access to the online roommate matching, use your Roommate Profile to your advantage to find like-minded individuals. Are you a huge Disney geek? Do you love to take pictures? What’s you’re favorite sport to play? What do you like to watch on TV? Do you enjoy baking tasty desserts? What’s you’re guilty pleasure? Are you obsessed with Pinterest? Have you figured out your major? Write a snappy profile that you think best describes you.

Now, maybe none of this applies to you. Perhaps you have a friend from back home who is also coming to Santa Barbara City College and you’ve already decided to pair off together. This is totally fine, but just do so with caution. Just because someone is a great friend, does not mean they’re going to be the best roommate for you. Be sure to have some conversations about your expectations before moving in together.

Remember, this is the first time you get to pick your roommate, so choose wisely!

For a step-by-step guide on how to use Tropicana Garden’s online roommate matching, click here.

Getting Around: Tropicana’s Tips for Day-to-Day Transportation

Throughout high school, I had my “independence baby steps,” aka little things to prove to myself, and my parents, that I would be able to take care of myself as an adult. Little things like cooking for myself, doing my own laundry, obtaining a job, and the big one—driving. I think the first thing I did when I got my license was book it to American Apparel to buy a top I’d been eying. But who could blame me? I had a car, I had my freedom!

“So what am I getting at?” you might be asking. Well, just as soon as many of us have gotten our licenses, we are shipped off to college and must resort back to our early years when our bike, skateboard, or public transportation were our only means of getting anywhere on our own.

So I’ve put together a guide, one might say, to how everything will be okay without a car.

Your skateboard can get you pretty much anywhere in Isla Vista, and you don’t have to worry about the time or hassle of locking it up because you can simply carry it with you. Skateboarding can easily get you to the Rec Center, IV Deli, Freebirds (for world-famous burritos!), and the beach. And if you are one of the many who has not yet mastered the art of balancing, might I suggest you dig out that trusty scooter you refused to let your parents give away? Come on, you kept it for a reason.

Your second means of transportation: your bike. We know you still have it from those glorious years of high school, so bring it with you to college. (If you don’t have a bike, don’t fret. There is a bike shop just a few blocks away that has a wide variety of pretty colors). Tropicana Gardens has bicycle racks throughout the property, so you won’t have to worry about where to lock it. Take advantage of all of the bike paths throughout UCSB and Goleta. I highly recommend biking over to the Farmer’s Market at the Camino Real Market Place.

However, if you’re not up for the challenge, the bus becomes an excellent resource. Your SBCC student ID works as a bus pass on the Santa Barbara MTD and can take you to many other places besides school. You can look over to the Santa Barbara MTD website to get a more descriptive look at which busses will take you where. The 24x will take you to the Kmart/Costco Shopping center and it runs about every 30 minutes. The 24x will also take you downtown to the transit center. Finally, the 15x express bus will become your new best friend because it will take you directly from Trop to school and back!

Yes, taking the bus to school can take some planning (you’ll have to wake up a little earlier to secure a seat), but it’s also a great opportunity. Many SBCC students use the bus each day, so what better way to get to know people? Everyone is super friendly and eager to meet new people, especially those first few weeks.

So what if you are one of the luckiest people on earth who gets to bring their car with them to school? Don’t take this for granted. In addition to being able to easily get to Kmart, you will also be able to venture throughout Goleta. You can hit up Trader Joe’s, Michaels craft store or Bed Bath & Beyond. You will also have the opportunity to venture to Santa Barbara’s beautiful downtown, perhaps to visit the famous Mission, or to the many hiking trails Santa Barbara has to offer.

Now if you have a car, I highly recommend finding people who have classes at SBCC at the same time as you. You can offer to carpool with them, which will get you a pass to the carpool lot, saving you a lot of time trying to find a parking spot on campus in the morning. I’m sure those who you’re giving a ride will be generous and chip in for gas. But all in all, it’s just nice to have someone to accompany you.

I hope this information makes getting around in Santa Barbara a little simpler and a lot less uncertain.

What’s Included in your Tropicana Gardens Residence Hall Suite & What to Bring

There are many things that you won’t have to worry about schlepping when moving into your Tropicana Gardens suite. Trop outfits your bedroom with a mattress and bed frame (it’s a Twin XL) as well as a dresser, desk and chair. The living room is furnished with a couch, chair and tables plus a bookshelf. You may want to bring a rug, pillows and posters to personalize your space, but the living room is ready to go. I do suggest a door mat for wiping the sand off your feet after returning from the beach! A microwave is going to come in handy for those late nights where all you want to eat is your cup of ramen. You’ll probably want to bring a TV, but work that out with your roommates in advance to decide who will bring it. You might also want to bring a DVD player so you can check out one of the many DVDs Tropicana has available for residents to check out at the front desk. You can bring your own mini fridge for the living room or your bedroom to store yogurt, fruit, and favorite juice, or rent one from Tropicana at move-in day.

Your bedroom list will be a little longer. Make sure you bring your favorite pillow and blanket, in addition to the Twin XL sheets you’ll be purchasing especially for your college. In order to make your bed more comfy, I suggest investing in a mattress topper. A fan can not only help you stay cool at night, but provide some white noise to help you sleep. Your bedroom has privacy blinds, so curtains or drapery panels are optional.

It’s a smart idea for you to bring a lamp (desk, floor, or clamp-style) to shed a little more little in your room for those late-night study sessions. Bringing your computer is a must, but your printer is optional as Tropicana Gardens provides a printer in the study lounge for residents to use (as long as you don’t print out War & Peace!). Bringing a white board will serve many functions: creating to-do lists, drawing, writing notes to your roommates, keeping a chore log, or a way to keep score during game night. You’re going to want a laundry basket or bag to transport your clothes to and from the laundry rooms, located in St.Croix and Barbados.

A huge help for me this year has been having storage bins. You can find pretty, cheap fabric boxes that fit perfectly above your closet. Under-bed storage also comes in handy. You’ll want to get an alarm clock also, preferably one that doubles as a charging station for your phone. My favorite purchase that I’ve made for college has been this nifty door hanger from Urban Outfitters ( It has a mirror, hooks for headbands, and trays for my make up. Command strips are going to be really useful for hanging everything up – and I mean EVERYTHING – from posters to framed photos to extra towel hooks.

When it comes to the bathroom, your shower has a sliding glass door, so a shower curtain is not a necessity, unless you just want to decorate! You’ll want to get a shower mat that sticks to the floor to prevent embarrassing slips. Shower caddies are a huge help for storing all your shampoos and gels; it’s a good choice to get one that hangs over the shower nozzle. You may also want to get a container/holder for your toilet paper so that you can store a few extra rolls in case you run out (this prevents that awkward call to a roommate – trust me!).

I recommend that if you don’t already have a bike that you purchase a cruiser, but wait until you’re in Isla Vista to do so. This will save storage space in your car and there are normally local deals around move in time.

Another great way to save space in the car on moving day is to use Bed Bath & Beyond’s “Shop Here. Pick Up There” free service. Just go to your local Bed Bath and Beyond, select your dorm décor, and pick it up at the Goleta store, just one freeway exit away from Tropicana.

What’s Included:

  • Bed Frame
  • Mattress
  • Dresser
  • Desk & Desk Chair
  • Couch
  • Chair
  • Tables

What To Bring:


  • Sheets (Twin XL)
  • That favorite pillow
  • Mattress Topper
  • Blanket/Comforter
  • Desk or Clamp Lamp
  • White Board
  • Photos
  • Hangers
  • Storage bins
  • Laundry Basket/Bag
  • Alarm Clock
  • Fan
  • Rug
  • Command strips (to hang up posters, photos, etc.)


  • Towels
  • Hanging Shower Caddy
  • Shower Mat
  • Toilet Paper Holder

Living Room

  • Door Mat
  • Microwave
  • Mini Fridge
  • Television
  • DVD Player
  • Door Mat
  • DVD Player
Finally, bring a few mementos to personalize your space. Pick your favorite photos of you with your friends and family to remind you of home. You’ll be able to find lots of cool ways to display them by checking Trop’s Pinterest page. Soon, you’ll make yourself a new college home!

Five Ways TEMPO Can Make Your Stay at Tropicana THAT Much Better

Leaving for college is such a love-hate relationship. On one hand you’re like, “Get me out of here! I can’t take this place anymore! I’m ready for my next adventure!” But on the other hand you’re saying to yourself, “Wait! What do you mean I have to leave, and be on my own, and be without my mom? I’m not ready. Please don’t make me go”.

When I was heading for college my freshmen year, I had spent the entire summer working at my local theater. I had only taken two weeks off, one to participate in a sleep away camp (my first, I might add), and the other was the week before I left for Santa Barbara. However, it was a decision of how I would spend that final week. I had the option of using it to have one last hurrah with my friends, saying my final goodbyes, and celebrating my birthday with my family. The other option was moving to Trop, my home for the next year, a week early to settle in, get to know people who would be my friends, and get myself acquainted with beautiful Santa Barbara. I opted to stay home to say my farewells.

At the time it seemed like the better choice. Shortly after arriving to college, however, I realized I had chosen poorly.

Returning to Tropicana Gardens as a Resident Assistant (RA), I was able to experience the magic and wonder that is TEMPO (Tropicana Early Move-in Program & Orientation). I honestly regret not doing TEMPO my freshmen year because ,while I would’ve been homesick for those first few nights, I would’ve been able to make friends sooner which would have bettered my overall freshmen year experience.

I got to see firsthand the amazing perks these residents experienced by moving into Tropicana Gardens a week early.

First off, residents could get their room unpacked and set up with no worries having to be in bed by a certain hour because of starting classes the next day.

Secondly, they got familiar with the City College campus. One of the great opportunities Trop offers is a “field trip” to SBCC. This is great preparation in figuring out where your classes are, so you won’t have to be that kid with a map when the first day arrives. You can also take advantage of this time to stop by the student center to get your student ID, which also includes your bus pass. That will help you save a few bucks getting to class that first day, and every day thereafter.

Third, you’re going to have more of a feel for both Santa Barbara and the Isla Vista community. Trop and SBCC offer a few programs to help you know your way around. One of the most popular that Trop offers is the famous Landshark, an amphibious vehicle that drives you through the downtown State Street area of Santa Barbara and right into the Pacific Ocean for a harbor cruise. Within Isla Vista, you will get to eat at many of the popular joints, so that you become familiar with places to get a late night study snack (my all-time favorite being Silvergreens).

Point Number Four: At Trop, you’ll also be able to stop in for some helpful advice from your RAs on topics that might be of use to you this year. They’ve “been there and done that” and are a great resource on everything from classes and teachers at SBCC to getting along with your new roommates.

Finally, there will be the opportunity to make friends with a variety of events that will be planned for incoming freshmen, including a trip to Zodo’s bowling, an ice cream social, and a scavenger hunt through Isla Vista. One of the coolest things that I witnessed during the scavenger hunt was two girls who were both friendly but a little nervous, finding out that they were both going to be on the Track and Field team. Connection made!

So if you weren’t already planning on coming a week early, I really hope you learn from my mistake and create an experience that will last a lifetime. For more information on TEMPO and other early move-in options, click here.

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