Living in Isla Vista changes residents. It’s like watching jet traffic out of the Santa Barbara airport. When you first see a plane approach, it is loud and distant and seen a particular way. As it speeds closer and suddenly passes over your head, within seconds, you are left looking at the tail end of the aircraft not knowing exactly what it was.
With graduation just a few weeks away, Isla Vista residency has come and gone for many of us. So how have we been changed by I.V. living?
Isla Vista puts students’ morals, values, and interests to the test for better or for worse. For many of us, landing in I.V. opens our eyes to fresh perspectives, new faces, various opportunities, and a profusion of pursuits and hobbies. Social norms are unique to I.V. A friend said to me, “Living in I.V. makes it hard to interact with people outside of Isla Vista; you can say whatever here because the inmates run the prison.” Everything one does is relative to this less-than-one-square-mile town, where making inane decisions and immature mistakes is acceptable and expected.
So, does this freethinking social norm remain in I.V., or does our changed perspective stay with us after I.V. life?
We have all learned our lessons, good, bad, and ugly, whether it is sleeping though class, forgetting about a paper, or even landing in the drunk tank after a night of overindulgence. Some people continue down a negative path with a one-way ticket to failure. Others learn from their mistakes and rise above their lapses in judgment. No matter how clouded our thoughts may become now and then, many people emerge as stronger individuals while living in Isla Vista.
There have been times when I.V. residents, including myself, have not seen the I.V. Foot Patrol in a positive light. As I gaze after the departing, metaphorical jet plane of I.V., I realize that I have gained a new perspective on it. During certain periods of our lives here, many of us have looked around and been thankful to see an IVPD officer standing near. It is hard to deny that stabbings, robbery, and assaults have been minimized by the presence of our Foot Patrol. Walk on the streets of I.V. completely sober on any weekend night for an understanding of what IVFP must contend with on weekly basis. This work should be recognized, not derided. Thank you for being here, IVFP.
Though it’s expected to get a little black and blue from college blunders, many residents have not made any really serious mistakes. In truth, most of us have taken good advantage of the opportunities we have been given. After all, the majority of us are here to get an education and transform into the adult professionals we are striving to become.
Just one professor, or one inspiring lecture, can change the life of a young adult in freshman year, the time when most of us choose our majors. Whether we see undergraduate requirements as simply that or whether we choose to sink our teeth into a subject that drives us to aspire and achieve, it is up to us to take the reins and steer ourselves in the right direction.
Even our perspectives on family life have been altered by living in I.V. In previous articles, I have written about families that live in Isla Vista, I have talked about how each student apartment or household is a family of its own. However, when looking back, I realize that there is nothing more important than the family I can truly call my own.
After four years away from home, returning to my family brings new ideas, thoughts, and appreciation for aspects that I didn’t fully recognize before. Although I have achieved a great deal on my own scholastically, I would not be here, nor would I have such interests and motivation without the support of my family. Family remains a key foundation for many of us as we embark on new adventures and chase new dreams.
Life, college life especially, quickly approaches and passes. As I.V. residents prepare for a new chapter, whether we remain living in I.V. or take on a new city, it is important to embrace the experiences we have had here and acknowledge how these events have transformed us both negatively and positively.
In the words of author and motivational speaker Karen Kaiser Clarke, “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely”.