Letter to a First-Year Gaucho

Photo by Vicente Villasenor

Hannah Adams

Opinions Editor

Fall quarter is a special time for Gauchos; nostalgia paired with new beginnings is a sensation that supplements our lack of a stereotypical autumn season at UC Santa Barbara. But, first years may see fall quarter a bit differently. Whether you’re anxious and scared about transitioning into college or just generally feeling a bit lost, fall quarter may be a stressful period to go through. So, from an upperclassman who has been in your shoes, here’s a letter of advice to all first-year students who are joining us this fall. 

Communicating With Your Roommate(s) 

Whether they’re a friend or a new person in your life, learning how to communicate with your roommate(s) is an essential part of the college experience. Without communication, all kinds of problems will arise. From staying up late to skipping showers for multiple days, the smallest things will boil over into a tense and hostile environment— one that may impact your life as a student. To avoid this, don’t keep your feelings bottled up. Learn how to confront your roommates about problems that you may have, but also learn how to take your roommate’s feedback in an objective, open-minded manner. Confrontation may seem scary, but at the end of the day, it will lead to better living conditions and a more stable relationship with those who you are living with. 

Making Friends

For some, meeting people is as easy as going to a welcome week event and quickly gaining a solid group of new friends. But for those of you who may not have that group of friends yet, don’t think that you are falling behind. Good things take time! If you are a bit shy, putting yourself out there may seem like an understandably daunting task. Start by slowly introducing yourself to social settings. The RHA’s After Dark Late Night Social Programming events offer new students a fun and safe environment to reach out to their peers; from painting nights to karaoke, you’ll find yourself meeting new people in no time. And as academically-oriented as they are, your class sections are another great way to find people who share some sort of interest with you. Even if you only share a major with someone, you’ll already have a foundation for a relationship. Finally, browse through Shoreline and social media to find different clubs and organizations to become a part of. A great place to start, of course, is The Bottom Line

Adjusting to Classes

The transition from classes at a high school, a community college, or even another university to classes at UCSB is arguably the biggest fear that first years carry with them into the new year. But after the first week of going to lectures and sections, you’re already settling into academic life here. Going forth, the most important thing to learn is how to talk to your professors and TAs. Don’t be scared to reach out for help. By visiting either your professors’ or TAs’ office hours, you’ll allow yourself to get the support that you need. It’s important to remember that everyone comes from different backgrounds; struggling in a new environment is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Practicing Self-care

Self-care is one of the most overlooked aspects of advice for college life. As college students, it may be easy to get caught-up in classes and social life without ever taking time for yourself.  As trivial as scheduling some downtime may seem, it’s important to recognize when you are in need of a break. Whether the signs are physical (e.g. fatigue or tiredness) or psyche-based (e.g. a lack of motivation and interest in hobbies), studying, working, partying, etc. day after day without relaxing is an unsustainable lifestyle. Don’t forget to make time to take advantage of our campus and college town either— who knows when you will live on the beach again.

Navigating through college life as a first year is a universal experience. For all the good and for all of the bad, remember that you’re not alone in your journey. The most important things to remember are to make the most of your time and to not be afraid of the “what-ifs.” Good luck!


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