Tanner Walker and Spencer Wu
Science & Tech Editor and Copy Editor

Certain lessons about the University of California, Santa Barbara and Isla Vista are hard to learn without time and experience. The process of learning those lessons can be frustrating, expensive, and sticky, so we have done our best to share the most helpful tips from our time here. There are many Isla Vista-specific lessons we should not and can not talk about, but these tips can help guide you through some common dilemmas you might face and can help you discover the best parts of I.V.

  1. Bike Etiquette: During the first few days or even weeks of any quarter, the bike paths and racks can be crowded and even dangerous. Look both ways before you turn! Slow down for the traffic circles and use hand signals to show others where you’re going. Don’t try skating in the bike path either; you will likely be yelled at and possibly run over by angry cyclists late to class.
  2. The Great Outdoors of I.V. & West Campus: I.V. has over 20 parks and open space areas — go out and explore them. Without leaving I.V., you can play basketball, disc golf, volleyball, go rock climbing, ride a motocross bike (BMX), and more. Coal Oil Point Reserve, a part of the UC Natural Reserve System, is located on West Campus. The reserve has a slough, freshwater pond, vernal pools, and plenty of wildlife.
  3. Darn the Tar: Have you come back from the beach with your feet covered in sticky, black tar and found that nothing takes it off? Baby oil, canola oil, and even makeup/baby wipes will work, but use them before you get in the shower. Oil Slick Tar Remover was invented by a Santa Barbara City College student and is the easiest, cleanest way to remove tar and can be found in I.V. stores for a few dollars. Here’s a fun fact: the tar on Isla Vista’s beaches naturally occurs!
  4. Don’t Sit on Curbs: Sometimes, after a long night of dancing and strolling through I.V., you might get tired. Never sit on a curb at night, especially on Del Playa, during the weekend. Regardless of how sober you are or aren’t, law enforcement is more likely to approach you if you are sitting on a curb.
  5. Time the Tides: Since the bluffs along the ocean on Del Playa drive have eroded, accessing the beach is more difficult. Unless the tide is low enough, many beaches will be rocky and the staircases will be swamped by water. The most consistently accessible beaches are on the East and West ends of I.V., not directly in front of the houses. Check out the website http://www.surf-forecast.com/breaks/Isla-Vista/tides/latest for tide charts.
  6. Bus Sticker: All students can get a sticker on their access cards at the Associated Students ticket office, which allows them to ride the public bus system for free. Buses run regularly and reliably from I.V. into Goleta and Santa Barbara shopping areas and beaches. If you don’t have a car but need to get around, hop on a bus.
  7. Free Massage Chairs: Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has free massage chairs for students to use. These chairs are a perfect way to break up a long day on campus or help you recover from sleeping in an uncomfortable bed. CAPS also has “egg chairs” in private rooms for students to de-stress or meditate.
  8. IV Housing: If you plan to live in I.V., start looking seriously at signing a lease around the middle of Winter quarter. Apartments will always be available, but houses go fast. Renting a house is generally more expensive than an apartment but gives you more space and freedom.
  9. Humanities and Social Sciences (HSSB) bathroom: The best and most private bathrooms on campus are in HSSB. There are clean, single person restrooms on every floor, fully equipped with wall hooks, mirrors, and hand rails. This is not the famous bathroom overlooking the beach — you’ll have to find that on your own.
  10. Hana Bowls: An I.V. favorite is Hana Kitchen, but don’t overpay for your Asian fusion fix. Based on very unscientific research and general word of mouth, opt for the small portion when ordering a bowl. Considering the depth, the small bowl is comparable to the medium size in terms of rice, vegetable, and meat contents. The disparity is negligible; sometimes, less is more.
  11. Study Room in San Rafael Hall: An underrated study spot on campus is in the San Rafael Residence Hall. This study spot is larger than most on campus, generally quiet, and comes equipped with a whiteboard, rolling chairs, and comfortable lounge sofas.
  12. CLAS: Considering the strain of lectures, sections, and office hours, adding an additional class to your schedule might seem like overkill for one subject. However, Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) tutoring classes are generally 50-minute blocks of time that are solely dedicated to students’ questions. You’ll also have a go-to tutor at drop-in hours located in the Student Resource Building (SRB) or MatLab. Primarily, CLAS is offered for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) lower division classes.
  13. Food Bank: The A.S. food bank is open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday every week. Any student can stop in for a free snack, ingredients to make meals, and fresh produce. The food bank also provides free essentials like toilet paper and soap. Check out our article describing the food bank in depth *here*.