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I Never Thought I Would Make Friends!


Today is the day! It’s move in day at Tropicana and I have no Idea why I’m so nervous about meeting new people. It’s funny because I was looking at the big line of new students at SBCC and I was trying to see if maybe I could guess who my roommate was going to be , so I made a game to ease my nerves.I picked out this one girl who looked shy but nice and sweet. Now I’m checked in ,ready to move all my stuff from the car to my room. After all my stuff was packed someone walks into bedroom C , and guess what! It was the girl who I thought was going to be my roommate! I was so happy and excited so I have her a big hug and her name was Marlana.


Marlana was now my Best Friend in a matter of 3 hours. All of my butterflies were gone and I was excited about starting school. I was excited about starting a new life 5 hours away from home (I’m from Sacramento) by myself. Lucky for me Marlana has been talking to someone who goes to SBCC and was going to the ice cream social and I decided to go along. I met two more people named Amira and Jess and they were so nice to me and I was excited to hang out with them and get to know them and just become my new family down the road. All in all I learned you can’t go to college and not make friends. There are just too many people who are social butterflies and love to hang out and go to parties. So get out of your comfort zone and make some friends. 🙂

Ted’s List of Places to Eat in Isla Vista

(Map Courtesy of Google Maps.)

In my first year at UCSB I gained thirty pounds, lurching from 130 to 160. Despite jogging twenty miles a week and sampling gym machines at UCSB’s Rec-Center, I couldn’t escape the ‘Freshman Fifteen.’ It caught me twice! Even when I ran marathons up the mountains to the north, I couldn’t shake the weight.

Why? Well, when you run, you’ve gotta eat, and Isla Vista’s got hungry people covered. Today let’s look at some dining options near campus.

First, I’m writing for Tropicana del Norte, so let’s discuss their cafeteria. Food is catered by College Fresh, and I can state without bias I’m looking forward to eating there again. When I moved into an apartment for the 2016-17 school year I missed the privilege of having teams of caterers make food for me. The menu changes daily, and if one day nothing appeals to you, you can walk to the back to order hamburgers and the like (or eggs made-to-order in the morning). Grab some toppings and condiments from the sandwich-making materials and you’ve got a meal. I wouldn’t eat here three meals a day seven days a week, but as a staple food-source for college students, Tropicana knows what they’re doing.

Second, let’s review UCSB’s dining halls for anyone who has a dining plan. The dining hall closest to Tropicana Del Norte is probably Carrillo, in Manzanita Village. Carrillo has the widest variety and best desserts, but only soft-serve ice-cream. Ortega and De La Guerra both have hard, scoopable ice-cream (DLG a wider selection). Ortega and DLG are quite close to one another near the Old Little Theater, and of the two I prefer DLG. Ortega offers sushi, but DLG has a build-a-burrito bar. However, Ortega occasionally has sundae bars, chili bars, or other special events I’d recommend over DLG. Check the schedule once school starts. Ortega is also the only dining hall which lets you take a box of food off the premises. (There’s another dining hall, Portola, but I’ve never been there. It’s built into off-campus student housing.)

On campus there are two Subways, a Panda Express, a Jamba Juice, and other assorted eateries, mostly in the University Center (U-Cen). I enjoy Santorini Island Grill, which serves gyros, spanakopita, shawarma, and baklava. I also enjoy the bulk candy bins at the U-Cen student store (not the book-store, but nearby), where you can satisfy your sweet-tooth and pay by the pound.

Anyone who’s been to UCSB before is waiting for me to mention FreeBirds (or, uh, FreeB!rds) World Burrito, which is near Tropicana del Norte on Pardall Road. Many campuses claim to have the first FreeB!rds, but only UCSB touts that title legitimately. FreeB!irds offers burritos, monster burritos, quesadillas, quesaritos (burritos made using quesadillas), tacos, and nachos. Opinion differs on whether it’s comparable to Chipotle, but the nearest Chipotle is miles away and FreeB!irds gives you more food per dollar, I think. Generally a monster burrito will feed a student for a day or two, and I’d recommend splitting the nachos with a friend.

Near FreeB!rds, just outside of school, there’s a third Subway, a Habit burger grill, and a Starbucks. Down Pardall there’s SilverGreens for healthy burgers and vegetarian-friendly fare, and Buddha Bowls for bread-bowls filled with soup or salad. When they scoop bread to make the bowl, they give you the scoop as garlic bread!

Quite a few restaurants serve boba, or bubble-tea. If you’ve never had them before, bobas (bobii?) are chewy little Taiwanese tapioca balls submerged in a drink. You slurp them up with a wide straw. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ‘em. Personally, I love ‘em. Maybe it’s a Californian thing, or a Millennial thing, like avocados.

Anyway, I first had boba at Hana Kitchen. Hana Kitchen sells meat-and-vegetable bowls with rice; I prefer the vegan option, which is soy-based, as the larger sizes are a bit too much meat for me to eat in one sitting. They also have interesting tacos, and taco sales on Tuesdays. Hana Kitchen sells boba and other drink-jellies in a variety of beverages like teas, milk teas, and ice-slushes. The Pho Bistro sells boba in more exotic flavors like taro root, alongside an extensive menu of vietnamese soups and noodles. My favorite restaurant name is Naan Stop, an Indian counter-service restaurant which also serves boba. True to their name, they’ve got great naan.

There’s no shortage of pizza in Isla Vista. The most famous pizza in IV would either be Woodstock’s (which also has a kiosk on campus) or Pizza-My-Heart. Pizza-My-Heart serves pizza by the slice, while Woodstock’s serves mostly whole pizzas and has event nights, like trivia night. Blaze Pizza on Pardall will build your pizza in front of you. If you’d like a more standard experience, there’s a Domino’s near IV Market next to a sushi place, Sushiya.

Finally, desserts. The well-named IV Drip sells coffee and sandwiches, but is most well-known for its ice-cream. The Equilibrium Cafe sells crepes of all kinds. Next to Domino’s, Sweet Alley sells frozen yogurt and candy by weight.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the restaurants in IV, but I hope it helps you find places to eat with your friends in your first year at Isla Vista. There’s enough variety here for everyone to find something they enjoy. If you see me stocking up on food after a long run in preparation for an exhausted hibernation, say hi, and tell me your favorite place to eat! Did I leave it off my list?

Move In Day

Moving in a day before school is probably not ideal for most but let me tell you that its not bad at all.

For personal matters I did not do TEMPO nor did I decide to move in two days before or early check in. I was quite nervous that I didn’t do any of these things. When I told my friends I was moving in a day before school started they thought I was insane. “It’s not enough time!” they said. As did I.

If you cannot do any of these other options do not fret. Most people moved in the day before. Regular registration began at 9:00 am. While I waited in line to get registered, my family was already loading my things into the suite. By the time they were done I was registered in. Then came the second part of the process: unpacking and organizing. Now this stage may vary depending on some people. Once you are done you’re settled in!

The Tropicana team and RA’s do an amazing job at keeping a light and friendly atmosphere all while making your transition as efficient and easy as possible. If you really feel like you need more time to adjust then by all means look at the options Tropicana has to offer. Diving right in can seem daunting to many people but the transition is more easy going than you might think. No matter which way your new life is just one small step away.


The first week is the craziest week.

There was a surge of energy everywhere I went. I’ve never felt anything like it. Finally going to college makes everyone so excited to go out and meet people. As I walked around the first night every door was open, welcoming anyone who stopped by or walked past. The people are so nice and open to meeting everyone around. Trop is so lively, vibrant and ecstatic. The party never ends. There’s music blasting from three different rooms all trying to compete with each other, people yelling across hallways and shenanigans everywhere I looked.

The events held the first week helped to make friends as well. The first night I managed to meet a huge group of people during the Hypnotist show. The show was hilarious. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. I’m not the most social person when someone meets me but I’ve slowly accumulated friends over time just by sitting outside my door! May not be the greatest method but it definitely raises heads.

Even though I moved in a day before I surprisingly adjusted well to my room situation. My roommates and I all immediately clicked and we’re always hanging out which is great. Its always nice to have someone to fall back on even if you’ve made other friends or be like me who clearly does not have enough friends as other people.

Despite having to adjust quickly, the atmosphere I came into made it all the better. I have to remember that almost everyone here is in the same boat as I am. From having to make friends to living with several other people, we are all in this together. Remembering that gives me a sense of comfort.

On Sunday evening I was sitting on my bed looking out the window. The sun was just setting. The clouds were scattered above the rooftops giving them a light orange hue. As I looked too see the last sunset of my first week I realized that this is where I am now. This is where I’m meant to be and its going to be okay.


A Reflection by Asia Cooley – Tropicana Gardens SBCC Freshman

A Reflection by Asia Cooley – Tropicana Gardens SBCC Freshman

It felt like a typical high school film. When our senior class president said to turn our tassels to the left there was a sea of red gowns jumping out of their seats. The confetti bombs blasted from all sides of the field, showering us with red and white. I was still sitting down.

I finally get out of my seat to hug Gina, the girl next to me, and some of my other peers around me. While the paper rain was still falling I run to the other side of the field, where my close friends were. We hugged each other like there was no tomorrow and some cried like babies. We shouted “We made it, We made it!” and rejoiced in such a magical moment.

Is that not cliché or what?

That’s the moment that pops into my mind every time I think of my high school graduation. Yes there was plenty of departing messages, congrats and too many pictures but for some reason that moment always sticks in my mind.

In those short moments I was thinking about the entirety of my high school experience. Over the past four years my classes became strenuous and tiring. My self-esteem came in waves, my grades turned into an uphill battle and the drama in my life was a civil war. I cried and fought. I loved and I lost. High School was truly a great and terrible treasure. By senior year I grew into a better person: figuring out what I’m capable of and who I need to be. I accomplished so much. So why was it that it took me so long to get out of that chair? Why did me running to join my friends seem like a cliché?

I realized that I wasn’t done. I worked so hard on studying for tests and exams, constantly drilling myself to get a letter or number on a paper. But I’ve only come to accomplish just the simple things. I didn’t raise myself from that seat for such a long time because I knew I could have done more. I could have been better. I felt like there was something missing that made me feel as though I couldn’t relish in the moment. As I ran to my friends I felt as though it wasn’t over. This moment in time with my friends, with that school is over. However there’s bigger things to come and harder challenges to fact. That will not be simple.

My biggest regret in those moments was that I wish I did sigh in relief. I wish I was proud of what I have done, even if there was more I could have done. I wish I had praised myself for graduating from such an intensive program. Just for a small moment I should feel good about my accomplishments. That’s what I learned from graduation. Take that cliché moment if you have it. It might seem fake but the moment is very very real. Have joy in the victory. Feel good about the goal. There will always be more to do, but think about what’s happening now. And just for a second, take it in.

Maybe clichés aren’t too bad after all.

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!