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:

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/05/bikefriendly-universities_n_844696.html
  • http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2012/05/29/10-most-bike-friendly-campuses-across-america/
UCSB Campus Bike Map
  • http://bikes.as.ucsb.edu/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

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: TransferAcademy@sbcc.edu

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 (http://tinyurl.com/lzmbpcj). 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:

Bedroom

  • 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.)

Bathroom

  • 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!