IV Baby

I had a panic attack when I found out I was going to UCSB.  My first two choices were Berkeley and UCLA, because I had heard of them, and I could picture myself living there.  One thing I've learnt in that respect is that the places you envision yourself living based off TV/film or postcards will never live up to your ideas.  When you've romanticised a place, even if you think you haven't, no matter how awesome the reality it will not be as you expected.  I had no preconceptions about UC Santa Barbara, and every discovery made me love it more.

The first thing you should know is that UCSB is a party school, I mean a website called BroBible ranked it #7 in the whole damn country so that should tell you something.  So the street nearest the beach, Del Playa Drive (known as DP but be verrrry careful with that acronym) has parties spilling out of almost every house almost every night.  You can just stroll down there, wander into someone's house, drink their liquor and dance with hot strangers, although admittedly this goes down better if you're a girl.  On a less savoury note, there's a high rate of sexual assault so always travel in packs and make sure if one of your girls is headed off with some jacked bro that she looks into it.  For dudes, no worries, this is California, all the girls are hot too.

Typical morning after
For those of us who came from countries where you could drink well before the age of 21 (a.k.a normal fucking countries) the law took a little while to get used to.  Fake ID was never a concern because there are just so many house parties, so many handles of spirits being passed around, so many drinking games that you're not really lacking for booze.  For me it was more the annoying thing of having to plan ahead what we would be drinking so our designated over-21 could head to the store, then all chipping in; or just coming back from a lecture, thinking how nice it would be to have a beer in the sunshine, and realising I'd have to call someone to get it for me.  Also, the parties were fun but you get sick of playing the same games, or just being in your apartment, and I craved the neutral territory of a bar.  That said, nowadays I'd glad get in on a game of Gauchoball out in the sun.  There are a few UCSB-specific drinking games, but most will be familiar to the seasoned house-partier (again, I'm a barfly so it was a learning experience for me).  The one you'll see the most is snappa, which I guess is like beer pong but slower, using dice, and you can play sitting down.  You'll regularly see frat boys just sat out on the lawn at a game of snappa...and checking you out as you pass.

As I've mentioned before, everyone cycles at UCSB.  And that's not just to class: it's down the street to get fro-yo (apart from the sorority girls piled into a hummer to drive 5 minutes), and it's even to parties.  The Chilean crowd I knew would regularly head out to parties on bikes en masse, all 20-odd of them.  There are a couple of bike shops in town where you can get the obligatory beach cruiser - the turquoise Huffy was particularly popular - or you can get something cheaper from K-Mart or Craigslist.  As long as you get a good bike lock, because believe me nothing is sacred in IV and that shit will get taken if you leave it unattended.  Theft is generally pretty common because with the whole open house party culture, people can just wander into your home and nick your stuff.

DP during the day
The town itself is quite pretty.  It's on a grid of course, but there are palm trees everywhere and some nice buildings.  Urban legend has it that Jeff Bridges lives in IV and attends a pottery class but I have seen no evidence for this (or even a pottery class).  You do get quite a few celebrities in Santa Barbara county, John Cleese and Oprah Winfrey live in Montecito for example, but even though The Dude would fit right into IV I'm sceptical.  During the day IV is the polar opposite to the messy chaos of night.  It's so chilled, people cycling to class, or sitting outside Subway with their friends, or coming back from the beach.  I guess nothing clears up a hangover like sea air.

After a cake attack at a friend's birthday luau
The biggest parties of the year are Halloween and Deltopia.  Halloween at UCSB is infamous throughout SoCal - people drive up for the long weekend and the population of the town literally doubles. Isla Vista Foot Patrol are out in force, and there are policemen on horseback, roadblocks, and the beaches are closed off.  But that doesn't stop DP from swimming with people in (slutty) costumes from UCSB, Santa Barbara Community College, teenagers from across the county, and students from further afield.  Careful, that girl you're chatting up could be 16 and that's illegal.  Deltopia is the remnant of an insane party tradition called Floatopia in the first week of spring quarter where people would get in boats or on floats and get drunk on the beach or in the ocean.  Unsurprisingly the police were not happy about this, and they close the beaches around Floatopia time, but the party just shifted back onto DP and became Deltopia.  I visited this year and one of the balconies at a frat house collapsed because there were so many people on it.  It's a messy day.  The Excursion Club are also known for their parties which are open to club members only, the one themed Space Bears was particularly memorable.  I was wearing a lot of tin foil and my friend was wearing a onesie.

Good times
Now, the party lifestyle is not for everyone, I understand that.  And there are plenty of things for non-partiers to do, such as all the varied sports clubs and the beautiful beaches and hiking trails, which I will write about another time.  But be aware that unless you go into private housing and choose your roommates, you will likely be living with people who party hard.  So avoid the dorms basically (I'm looking at you FT, you filthy lot).

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