Leonardo Eisner, ’19, is majoring in biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).
Q: How was the transition to college life?
A: The transition was super smooth. UC Santa Barbara made it really easy to get going. In terms of academics, Country Day was pretty similar to Santa Barbara, but the social life of Santa Barbara is much better than Country Day could have provided because it is a much bigger school. It is very easy to make friends. Everyone is very amiable, and it seems like the majority of people who chose to go to UC Santa Barbara are pretty outgoing and extroverted when compared to other universities.
Q: Have you or your friends made any freshman mistakes?
A: Biking is a big part of UC Santa Barbara, and a lot of freshmen don’t understand how to navigate the bike paths properly or know the rules. I have a friend who broke his tibia from crashing with another bike because neither of the freshmen abided by the biking rules. He has to scooter to his classes on one of those one-legged scooter things with a cast.
Q: How did the Cave Fire in Santa Barbara affect you?
A: The fire (was) especially crazy. We just had classes canceled for the rest of the week. Some people I know at Santa Barbara City College lost power on their campus. We could see the flames from certain parts of campus. There (were) some ashes everywhere, dotting bike seats and benches, and you could also see the ashes floating in the air a little bit.
Q: What is your favorite part about UC Santa Barbara?
A: It has to be the location. I can’t think of a better location for any university. It’s the only university in the United States that has its own private beach, and that’s an amazing perk. The ocean is so close, and the mountains are in the background. Because of its location, it does feel like its own little town, and downtown Santa Barbara is 10 minutes away, which is a perfect distance. Santa Barbara has its own little community called Isla Vista, which is where all the fraternities are and where all the parties happen, and it’s just a very social area.
On top of that, it has great weather, and one of the best parts is the lack of light pollution. At night on the beach, the stars are just insane.
Q: What is your least favorite part about UC Santa Barbara?
A: The prices. Santa Barbara is a pretty rich place, so anything from gas price to food is really expensive. Even restaurants on campus or near campus cost a lot of money.
Q: What is special about UC Santa Barbara?
A: I think the isolation that it offers is really special. The closest major city is an hour north or south, so you really get a comprehensive college experience at Santa Barbara. But there is also Isla Vista, which is pretty different than most other colleges.
Q: How’s the food?
A: The food is actually pretty great. I have unlimited swipes, which is very convenient, and there are four different dining halls to choose from. Each one is split up into sections based on types of food, and the food quality is really good.
Q: How are the dorms?
A: That’s a tough question because there is a huge variety of dorms in terms of location, if they are on or off campus, how new they are and how they’re set up.
I got really lucky with my dorm because I am in Santa Rosa Hall, which I absolutely love. It’s the best-positioned dorm of any, right in the middle of campus. I can walk to the library or the university center, and two different dining halls that are a minute (away). Then I have the beach, which is only a five-minute walk from the dorm.
Q: What classes are you taking?
A: I am taking General Chemistry, Introductory Physics, Nutrition and Health, Biostatistics and Writing.
Q: How big are your classes?
A: My lectures range from 150 to 350. Labs are only about 20 people, (while) sections are only about 25 people.
Q: What’s your favorite class?
A: Nutrition and Health. The professor is amazing and really lively and engaging, which makes a big difference. For me, if the professor is really passionate about the class, that makes me more passionate about it, too, and it changes the way (I) learn. It is also the closest to what I wanted my actual major to be, which is human biology, but Santa Barbara doesn’t offer that.
Q: What is your least favorite class?
A: Statistics for the life sciences, or Biostatistics. The professor moves really fast and is a little hard to understand sometimes. I thought I would like it because we go over data of studies done in hospitals and libraries and lots of medical research, which interests me a lot, but I don’t like finding the probability and things like that.
Q: What clubs/extracurriculars are you in? Which ones are you interested in joining?
A: I have taken up bouldering (a form of rock climbing that doesn’t use harnesses), something I had never attempted before coming to UCSB. There is a good climbing program at the recreation center with great staff and walls. I now go climbing every other day; it has become a huge part of my routine. Bouldering requires more technique than rock climbing, and it is done without any ropes (and) only a mat beneath you.
Q: Did Country Day prepare you well for college?
A: Academically, it prepared me moderately (well), but socially, no, compared to the high school that I came from before Country Day, which was much bigger.
Q: How did you adapt socially?
A: The social transition was made much easier since I connected with people over the summer before college even began. That made sure that once I got here, I already knew some people and was not completely lost or alone.
Q: What are your relationships with your teachers like compared to Country Day?
A: My relationships with my professors are pretty much (nonexistent) because I do not go in during office hours since I do not currently have much of a need to meet with them. Country Day was great at having the teachers almost befriend their students and made an amicable environment. It is just impossible for a professor to make such a connection with over 700 students, and that’s only for one type of class. Many professors teach multiple classes within the same subject.
Q: What do you wish you had known before college started?
A: How often you are spending time with other people and how little alone time you have. Even if you go back to your room, you have your roommates, and then just walking around, you get pulled into conversations constantly. So I wish I had known how little me time I was actually going to have.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2020?
A: When you are making your college list and decisions, know that there will be a few that are going to be your top choices, but choose a college that will make you happy. Don’t choose a college that you won’t be happy at, and don’t think that any college is inferior to another.