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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

As someone who made plenty of questionable choices her freshman year at UCSB, I’ve grown well acquainted with the process of asking myself, “Why did I think that was a good idea?” There’s something so exciting, new, and awkward about your first year at college. Many freshmen believe they are invincible when equipped with their newfound confidence and independence away from home. However, many of us fall to the same fate of mistakes and memories that make us shudder at the thought. 

If I could go back in time, I would pull freshman me aside and give her a list of tips to make the transition into college ten times easier. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. However, I can put together a few of them and hope it helps someone else out. 


My first quarter at UCSB was one of what I thought to be the ultimate isolation. In other words, I didn’t go out. I wasn’t looped in on what was happening each weekend, but it felt like everyone else was. It felt like I was in my room watching Netflix while everyone else was having the time of their lives.  

When winter quarter came around, I did everything to compensate. When an opportunity to go out arose, I took it, no matter what the next day entailed. I’d soon realize (but not learn) that fatigue, weight gain, breakouts, and a general sense of feeling bad were all tied to my raging FOMO. More often than not, I’d wake up the next morning thinking about how I gained absolutely nothing from going out the previous night. Actually, scratch that. Most times I gained a single thing: stomach-turning embarrassment. Trust me, nothing is more humbling than a bad night… or two bad nights in a row.

When presented with abundant opportunities to engage in the behavior you think makes the “real college experience,” it can be easy to forget that you still have years ahead. I’m out of my first year and guess what? I can still go out. The world didn’t end when I chose to stay in instead of going out and neither will yours. Watch your favorite show, start that assignment, and validate your experiences because they’re yours, not because you think they match the majority.

Laura Claypool-Postcards Dorm Wall Decor Photos Polaroids
Laura Claypool / Her Campus


There are so many ways that roommate dynamics can play out in college. Social media is full of roommate stories that evoke horror, hope, and everything in between. Sometimes you meet your roommates and feel like you were gifted a live-in best friend. Then sometimes you meet your roommates and realize that’s all they’ll ever be to you, someone who sleeps in the same room and refills the Britta when they finish it. 

As much as you may not want to hear it, it’ll be okay. As the year went on, I became increasingly grateful to have people I could simply coexist with. After a tough day of classes, a quiet room where I wasn’t expected to socialize felt like a sanctuary. You’ll be surprised at how many friendships between roommates dynamics go sour, at least I never had to worry about damaging any friendships with those I lived with. 

Learning to live with others you aren’t close with is an incredible opportunity for growth and communication skills. How do you navigate a conversation concerning guests, noise, and cleanliness when you can’t just make a joke about it and know you’ll be heard? In complete honesty, I utilize tactics I picked up from living with my roommates in my daily life now when establishing boundaries and communicating needs. Ultimately, you’ll find friends beyond the little triple you’ll learn to call home, so don’t sweat it. 


Freshman fifteen this, freshman fifteen that, whatever. It’s more like your body will react to moving to an entirely different place, eating different food, breathing different air, and having an entirely new routine. For example, when I started living in the dorms, I underestimated how the communal bathroom’s shower water would affect me. Suddenly I was losing my mind over how dry my hair felt and the changes in my skin. The dining hall food combined with new social habits made my body change in ways I hadn’t expected, especially considering high school had given me such a structured routine each day. 

It’s perfectly normal to feel and see yourself become a product of your surroundings. Our bodies can be sensitive to the world around us and it takes time to adjust. The, dare I say, “mustiness” of freshman year will fade. I like to think of it as the first weird phase of college before you start naturally flourishing into the best version of yourself. I know it sounds like a long time, but I didn’t feel completely comfortable in my skin until well into my second year. Growing up can be awkward or uncomfortable and that’s only exacerbated by a new environment. I advise deep breaths and a whole lot of patience. 


I wish someone would have told me in my first year that UCSB is not as big of a school as it seems. Despite a large undergraduate population, I continuously defy the odds by running into every person I don’t want to see. By the end of my first year, it felt like DLG had become a convention of my biggest haters. So before you enter that situationship or ghost that person, consider how awkward it would be to bump into them while grabbing dinner, finding a study spot, or searching for a seat in a packed section. 


Every time I faced hardship or heartache during my first year, I’d immediately let the feeling of loneliness engulf me. When I got into a bike accident, I pulled off to the sidewalk and thought about how I truly was on my own at college. I was embarrassed and alone with nothing but a stupid bike next to me. No one from home ran to my side and asked if I was okay. Here’s a secret I want to share with you, though. You are never truly alone at college. 

I always tell myself, “There has to be someone else who has gone through this and came out of it okay.” College holds a community of people all doing their best and at the end of the day, we’re all human. You will do things your first year, look back (maybe even the next day), and wonder what was going through your head. After you say the wrong thing, crash your bike, or bomb that midterm, you can tell yourself that it has happened to someone before. This has happened before and everything turned out okay. I like to think about how there are always steps you can take to move forward and persevere.

At the end of day, make sure to also just have fun. It’s your first year at college after all! Minimize the cringey memories and remember that you’ve got this!

Kimberlly is a second year Environmental Studies and Communication double major at UCSB. Despite loving sunny Santa Barbara, her heart lies in her cloudier hometown, San Francisco. Aside from writing about absolutely anything, she spends her free time dissecting horror movies, reading, or acting on stage.