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Things to Do in Santa Barbara

We are really fortunate to live in Santa Barbara where many people come to vacation! Though most of our time as students is spent in itty bitty Isla Vista, try to get out at some point over the course of the 4 years and explore your new home! Here are some ideas for your future adventures.

1.       Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts – Check out a play!

2.       Inspiration Point – Get in shape and reconnect with nature on a beautiful hike.

3.       Horseback Ride – Find a local horseback riding business and have a scenic ride around the coast!

4.       Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara – Get in touch with your inner artist.

5.       Santa Barbara Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum – Thousands of historic documents for the history buff.

6.       Santa Barbara Mission – Beautiful architecture and history.

7.       Golf Courses – Try out golfing at one of Santa Barbara’s many golf courses!

8.       Santa Barbara County Courthouse – Another architectural landmark of Santa Barbara!

9.       Santa Barbara Zoo – The SB Zoo is small, but easily the most beautiful zoo you’ll ever visit! See amazing animals and then picnic on the landscaped lawns with a gorgeous view of the ocean.

10.   State Street – Spend a day shopping and eating delicious food on what is arguably SB’s central attraction.

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

Leaving home and your family can be very challenging

When I got the acceptance letter from Santa Barbara City College I was exited to be going to a wonderful school that had a great view and a lot of academic support. I realized that leaving your family and friends can be very nerve-wracking, as well as finding housing and worrying about finding roommates. People always told me that there was craigslist but as a first year student leaving home you don’t know what to expect when living with them.

There are lots of apartments in Isla Vista but none of those works out for me since it is either too expensive or too close to Del Playa and you have to find a roommate by yourself. So I took a look at the SBCC Apartments Listing. Tropicana Gardens poped up so I went on their website took a look at their price plans and what they offer.

So I told my Dad that I want to live at Tropicana Gardens for my first year since is a residence hall for SBCC students. He responded sure I can drive you down there on the weekend and take a look at it.

Once we reach Tropicana Gardens we went inside and I ask the lovely lady that was working behind the front counter if we can get a tour.

She showed us the rooms, café and answered all the questions that I have. After the tour I told my Dad that I wanted to live at Tropicana Gardens since it would be my first year and so I could make new friends. They also offer roommate matching which is way better than finding a roommate by your self and they have fun activities/events within your quad or the community. There’s also shopping center and restaurants near by and they have a 24-hour study lounge and quiet hours so you won’t be disrupted. They also have a café, which have wonderful staff and offers unlimited meals all day so if you get hungry you can just go there. It can’t get any better than that.

My first year living at Tropicana Gardens was amazing the first day I move in they have a welcome night which they talk about Tropicana Gardens and introduce you to the RA’s and staff and make you feel like is your own home. The next day when I returned from school I was able to meet my RA Sean and he welcomed me to his quad and told me that if I have any questions or concerns I can go talk to him, which is nice because you have someone that actually cares about you when your far away from home. During my experience at Trop I made lots or friends that went to SBCC and UCSB. Not only that but I also became best friends with an International student.

I was also involved in the activities/events that they have like hiking, going to the movies, or just hanging out in the rec room. The thing I enjoyed the most was Quads Wars (Go St. Croix). The rec room is a fun place to hangout since there is a TV Piano, Pool, Ping-Pong and a hockey Table.

When the school year was over I was very sad that I had to leave Trop and say goodbye to the wonderful staff that I met. I decided to look for an apartment that is close to school and I regret that I didn’t stay at Trop for another year or stay at the Villas.

Living with a roommate that you met on Craigslist is very different from living at Trop since there is no one that you can talk when you have problems or do anything with when you get bored.

My experience not living at Trop hasn’t not been a great. I don’t get along with one of my roommates. He scream at you when you do something wrong and much more (come on, we all make mistakes). We also have problems and gets into arguments.

What I miss about living at Trop was the wonderful RA’S/Staff, activities/events and the café since I can just go down and eat which saved me a lot of money because I don’t have to pay for food or utilities because is included in the price plan.

My advice to the Freshman at SBCC is that I recommend living at Trop if you don’t want your 1st year to be ruined by roommates or problems.

Much Love,
David “Chum” Chan

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.

How to Drink Healthier at Starbucks

If you’re like me, nothing screams comfort more than a hot Starbucks drink on a chilly day.

One thing I’m not the hugest fan of, though, is the amount of fat, sugar, and calories that tempt me on the menu when I’m ordering. While I definitely treat myself to unhealthy drinks occasionally, I try to make a habit of ordering lighter items most of the times so that the only thing getting damaged is my wallet!

Since the weather is getting cooler and finals are approaching, I think that we all could use a guide to which Starbucks drinks provide a winning combination of flavor and healthier nutritional stats!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hibernating in hoodies and sweatpants, gaining some extra fluff is not on my to-do list! Here’s how lightening up your drink can help:

Order nonfat milk: I personally barely notice the change from 2% (Starbucks standard) to nonfat milk in my drinks, especially with flavored lattes. By ordering your drink to be made with nonfat milk, you can cut around 1/3 of the calories and around 7 grams of fat in most tall drinks!

Go with a smaller size: As Americans, we’ve gotten so used to humongous portion sizes in both meals and drinks. By simply ordering a smaller size, you’re cutting unnecessary calories, fat, and sugar from your drink while still getting a pretty sizable treat.

Skip the whipped cream: Whipped cream can add around 120 calories and 11 grams of fat to your drink. What a ripoff! You could drink two nonfat lattes for the amount of calories whipped cream tacks on and save on all 11 grams of fat. If whipped cream is a must for you, though, order “light whip” so they go easy on the good stuff.

Add spices for flavor: I love adding a bit of cinnamon into my drink for a punch of delicious flavor and the soothing smell! In fact, spices such as cinnamon have been shown by studies to have positive health effects such as regulating your blood sugar, reducing LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol, and reducing inflammation.

Cross Enrollment Information

Tropicana hosted a fantastic Cross Enrollment seminar, presented by the helpful and knowledgeable counselors from the SBCC career center. Cross Enrollment allows SBCC and UCSB peers to unite in an academic setting as City College students work towards their transfer goals. As a transfer student myself, I thought I had seen most opportunities that were offered for those attending a community college. Cross Enrollment was a surprising new opportunity that I did not have at my community college in my home town. This goes to show what a unique opportunity students have at Santa Barbara City College, the #1 Community College in the Nation!

At the beginning of the informational seminar, students were given the foundation to Cross Enrollment with a quick lesson in”Transfer 101.” Students learned the basic requirements to transfer to any 4 year college institution, as well as interesting facts about incoming students. Did you know that the average G.P.A. of a UCSB incoming Freshman was a 4.1? When you transfer from SBCC to UCSB however, you only need a 3.2 G.P.A. Why? Because once you have completed your unit requirements, you will have proven you are capable of handling college level work equivalent to UCSB’s lower division coursework.

Another interesting fact about transferring is the unit requirement and its relation to units earned for Cross Enrollment. You will need 60 units to transfer, and you can max out at 70 units. In total, you will need 120 units to graduate from a university with your Bachelor degree, or equivalent.

Cross Enrollment classes are unique in that they can be applied towards the initial 60 units needed to transfer OR they can be applied to the units earned at a 4 year university. This means that you can earn UC credit for $31 a unit, and it can be applied towards transferring or completing your degree at the UC in less time.

To be eligible for Cross Enrollment, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a California resident (not a California resident? See below for more information about Open University opportunities at UCSB).
  • Have completed at least one term at SBCC
  • Be enrolled and complete at least 6 SBCC units during the term of cross-enrollment (student must maintain at least 6 units during the entire semester at SBCC)
  • Have a minimum 2.0 SBCC G.P.A.
  • Be an undergraduate
  • Have all current SBCC fees paid
  • Speak with a Transfer Academy counselor for admittance to Cross Enrollment

If you are attending SBCC, local or from out of state, you can take UCSB classes through Extension. UCSB offers the Open University Program (formerly known as the Open Enrollment Program), which allows all types of students to take classes at the UC and earn transferable units, without being formally admitted to UCSB.

This meeting, while informative, is just a stepping stone to your success. You are encouraged to join SBCC’s Transfer Academy and meet with the counselors in the Transfer Center on a regular basis. Together, you and your counselor can make plans for complete your transfer goals in 2 years. You can also begin working towards completing requirements towards your TAG (Transfer Agreement Guarantee). A TAG is a contractual agreement between you, SBCC, and a four-year college or university. Students who meet and maintain stated admission and major requirements are guaranteed admission to a specific four-year college or university, such as UCSB.

To find out more information about Cross Enrollment or transferring, please contact the following email addresses:

Transfer Academy: