Aidan Galati, ‘16, attends the University of Santa Barbara. She is majoring in biology, but may change her major to biopsychology.
Q: Why did you choose UCSB?
A: I chose UC Santa Barbara for many reasons. I was looking for a school that was great in the sciences, and UCSB is known for its cutting-edge research and amazing science departments.
I also was granted early admission with their highest academic scholarship, a Regents’ Scholarship. As a Regents’ Scholar, I am in the honors program. I receive priority registration in housing and course selection, and I have graduate library privileges. This also looks great on my résumé for my post-undergrad endeavors.
UCSB is also in one of the most beautiful places in California, and everyone there is as nice as can be. It is a wonderful environment to study in.
Q: What’s it like going from a small high school to a large university?
A: I thought going from being at a school like Country Day to a medium-sized UC school would be a huge culture shock. But, honestly, it really isn’t. Being on a college campus is so different than any high school, so it really isn’t more of a shock for me to be at UCSB than it is for any other freshman there. I’m constantly surrounded by faces I don’t recognize. (However), every single person at UCSB is approachable. Meeting someone new is an everyday thing that everyone is open to doing.
Q: How many students are in a typical class?
A: In my experience, it truly depends on what kinds of classes you are taking. As a freshman, I’m taking some larger prerequisite classes that many people have to take in order to advance in their major. My typical lecture size now is around 200 students. As you progress through your major, your class size shrinks because your education becomes more focused.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: Currently, I am taking Introduction to Music Composition, Biological Basis of Psychology, General Chemistry and Elementary Aerobics. I’m also taking What is Life?, a (weekly) freshman seminar about the philosophical, religious and scientific approaches to defining what life is.
Q: Do you have a favorite class?
A: The Biological Basis of Psychology because I am deeply interested in how the brain works. I genuinely like studying for the class. I really like my professor for that class, and I spend a decent amount of time outside of class talking to him.
Q: How does your homework load compare to high school?
A: My homework load is larger here than it was in high school. But I spend less time in class than I did in high school. My typical day has only a few hours of in-class teaching. College classes require a lot more work on your own.
Q: How do you get around on campus?
A: I mainly use my bike, and sometimes I take the bus to campus. I live a mile away.
Q: Are you participating in any clubs?
A: I live on an LLC (living learning community) floor in my dorm called Outdoor Adventure. Students on this floor share this common interest, and we take plenty of adventure trips together. Most recently, we’ve done a few hikes and some sea kayaking. We are also planning on camping and going skydiving together.
Along those lines, I’m also part of a club called the Excursion Club. I share a key to a house in Isla Vista that the club owns, and inside the house is a bunch of adventure gear that we share. Each day the club puts together a fun excursion that you can take part in, or you can use the gear for your own adventure.
I also volunteer for an organization called SciTrek. We go to local elementary and middle schools and conduct fun, educational science experiments with the students.
Q: How do you like living in the dormitories?
A: Living in a dorm is definitely an experience everyone should have. I personally love being surrounded by a bunch of adventurous, like-minded students. That being said, dorms can get especially loud when you’re studying, and it can be difficult to live in a smaller place.
Q: Have you been able to enjoy the beach?
A: I have spent so much time on the beach; it’s one of the best things about UCSB. The campus actually has two beach access points, and Isla Vista has several beaches as well. When classes get tough, however, it’s hard for students to enjoy the beach.
Q: Do you get along well with your roommate?
A: Although I went random with the roommate-matching process, I was put in a room with the best possible person to live with. Me and my roommate met on move-in day, and today we are best friends. I am so lucky to have her because she was my first friend here at UCSB, and she is my closest friend today. We are already set up to live together next year! Her name is Obdulia, and she is fluent in Spanish. It’s great to have a friend living with you who can teach you about Mexican culture and who can teach you a new language.
Q: What is your least favorite thing about UCSB?
A: My least favorite thing isn’t really about the school, but more about being away from home in general. It is really hard being away from home, my family, and my boyfriend, who lives in Sacramento. I come home about once a month.
Q: Have you made any freshman mistakes?
A: My biggest mistake was trying to bike to school in the rain. Never do this.
Q: What college advice would you give to the next generation of Country Day students?
A: My main advice would be to stop stressing out so much about which colleges accept or deny you. No matter where you go, you will get a higher education that advances you to where you need to go. These days, the name of your undergraduate university isn’t as important as what kind of worker you’re going to be in your future field.