Isla Vista can be an eye-opening place. But nothing is more eye opening than exploring a new city far from home. This winter break, as Isla Vista’s usual hustle dwindles to the pace of a ghost town, I find myself caught between coming down from the stress of finals and rising up to plan the future. The possibilities for Isla Vista residents are infinite: No one can predict which roads we will take and which bridges we will cross during our lives. And with only 20 short weeks left of life in Isla Vista, I wonder: Where will you be after life in I.V?

Alexandra Markus

This winter break I crossed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. Driving over this big red bridge may not have been life-altering in and of itself, but the trip overall opened my eyes to the many roads offered in life and outside the comforts of I.V.

Junior King Suite: Searching online, my boyfriend and I looked for the perfect hotel, in the perfect location with the prefect room and perfect rates. Hotel Frank seemed to be just the ticket, and right in Union Square, but a few of its aspects fell short of our expectations. The room we dubbed “The Shoebox” lacked the “Junior King Suite” appeal that we were promised in the description.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Courtesy Photo

If you want something in life, you’ve to go after it! We wanted what was promised to us at Hotel Frank and refused to quit until we got it. After the front desk denied that any other rooms were available, they then gave us a tour of three possible rooms that were closer to our expectations. We settled in a funky room that was twice the size of the first not to mention it had a plasma TV. Yes, we could have settled for the original room, had just as amazing a time, and slept in the same-sized bed. But we chose a different road, and no matter how insignificant this event may seem, it proved to us that being assertive is oh-so-important.

Santa Barbara Connection: Golden Boy Pizza: With the hotel covered, our adventure continued. About a week before my boyfriend and I would take our trip to San Francisco, we shared a drink at a local Santa Barbara Bar, Old Kings Road. One of the bartenders recommended a pizza place located in the North Beach area of San Francisco, called Golden Boy Pizza. He said the place has great beer and “bomb” pizza in a great location.

One night, we went to see what Golden Boy had to offer, and the bartender was right, the place was perfect. These guys take their pizza seriously, serving huge square slices in a down-to-earth atmosphere, each bite was a fat slice of heaven. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Love or Haight?: The Haight-Ashbury, a place where I kindled a love-hate relationship. The famous street is funky, bohemian, and full of life. There are independent cafes at every corner, endless vintage shops, and bars and restaurants unlike anywhere else. The place is everything someone could want in a city because it compacts history with modernity and poverty with wealth. I loved it.

Caught between the feeling of “I love this city” and “I am tired of people asking me for money,” I stood at Haight and Ashbury. The Haight is notorious for illegal drug culture and counter-culture lifestyles, which prevail today. I am not callous to homeless individuals or people who chose to live their lives unconventionally. However, person after person asking for money and then shouting “Have a really bad day!” when I do not take the time to offer some change does color my opinion of certain areas in San Francisco.

But isn’t this the fun of being in a big city? After all, no one can have their cake and eat it too, just like no one can live in a big city with out being exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

At times throughout my student career, I have most likely had less money than many who panhandle on the streets everyday. Granted, most Isla Vista residents have multiple opportunities and have been served their futures on a silver platter; however, many of us work hard at jobs, struggle financially, and are in astronomical student debt. So are people who live on the streets in this situation because of the roads they chose, or did their road never quite begin in the first place? Life sometimes has its roadblocks and we can find ourselves in situations we never dreamed of. At any moment, our paths can crumble.

Life: Black or White?: As we drove away from San Francisco and an unforgettable trip, I saw a billboard that read, “Jobs Change. Dreams Don’t.” I have many dreams that I will follow no matter how many roads, bridges, oceans, or mountains I have to cross. I like to think that there is no right or wrong road in life.

As Isla Vista residents, we have been forced to choose paths, whether it be picking a major in school, choosing between partying and studying, applying for jobs, or cultivating new relationships. The jungle of I.V. gives residents a crash course to life. Isla Vistans, open your eyes when crossing paths, take the courage to cross bridges, be compassionate toward those who can’t, and go your own way.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” Nelson Mandela


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