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Life at UC Santa Barbara – from a Dublin Gael to a Seaside Gaucho

January 14, 2016

by Katie Somerville (Dublin High School Class of 2012 and UC Santa Barbara Class of 2016)

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Katie Somerville

It is surreal to think, as I sit here writing from my ocean front house listening to the sound of the waves crashing, that I only have two quarters left at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rewind three and half years to freshman move in day: getting dropped off at my dorm and watching my mom drive away without me was a weird, terrifying, and exciting experience. I was forced to share a room with a stranger, surrounded by thousands of people I had never met and was now solely responsible for myself for the first time in my life!

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My house, five minutes from campus

Thankfully, this daunting feeling lasted about five minutes before I was swept away with the exhilaration of becoming a college student. Santa Barbara is not the hardest place to call home. With 283 days of sunshine a year, spectacular ocean views, and unbeatable good vibes, you could say that going to UCSB is very close to living in paradise.

The fears I had that first day were definitely not realized. That randomly assigned stranger turned out to be my roommate for the next four years (I guess the compatibility survey worked pretty well). I chose to be on the outdoor adventure floor so, for the most part, everyone was very active and you could always find someone to go with on a hike, to the beach, or get a game of volleyball going on the sand courts. My floor became the source of some of my best friends at UCSB. With the dining commons an elevator ride away, I never had to worry about a meal (freshman, you may complain now, but I promise you’ll miss it when you have to go grocery shopping, cook every meal, and do dishes!).

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UCSB vs. Cal Poly soccer game

On top of that, cleaners came in and vacuumed my room and cleaned my bathroom once a week. So in reality my only priority that first quarter was to make it to classes, pretty sweet deal! This gave me plenty of time to explore everything UCSB had to offer, and study of course! We may have no football team, but the excitement of watching a NCAA UCSB versus Cal Poly soccer game at Harder Stadium and the throwing of tortillas after a goal is scored is just as good.  I learned how to navigate the bike paths and roundabouts, where almost every single student travels from class to class. I was also elected one of the floor senators for my hall so I got to be involved in choosing and planning all the activities that happened at my dorm like dances, movie nights, and community service projects.

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Nationals in Memphis

At a school with over 23,000 students and lower division lectures maxing out at 860 in our largest lecture hall, Campbell Hall, it can be difficult to find “your place” on campus. For me, I found that place on the UCSB Club Soccer team. I have played soccer my entire life and wasn’t ready to give it up quite yet. Club sports are a great way to continue to play sports at a competitive level without sacrificing your school work, the chance to get a job, and your social life. My experience on this team has been one of the most memorable parts of my time at UCSB. Over the past four years, I have been given the opportunity to travel around California and across the country as far as Memphis, Tennessee to play against other club soccer teams as well as qualifying and competing in the NIRSA National Soccer Championships. Although my team loves to win games, and usually does, the family away from home I gained from my teammates was truly the most rewarding part.

As I was being kept busy by my exciting new college social life during my first quarter freshman year, in the back of my mind there was always a little nag. That nagging was caused by the uncertainty of choosing a major, and the reason I was at UCSB. We’ve all heard the statistic that the average college student changes their major three times. I can vouch for that figure! Initially I came in to UCSB as an Environmental Studies major; however this dream did not last very long. Chemistry was not my thing in high school and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure in a major I wouldn’t love. So here I was, only in my first quarter changing the direction of my studies. I have always been good at math and received a very solid grounding for it at Dublin High School (shout out to Ms. Hall and Ms. Kim) and I also enjoyed AP Microeconomics. This narrowed it down a little bit. I started taking econ, math, statistics, and accounting classes. In hindsight it was a little overwhelming taking the “weeder” classes for four different majors. At UCSB, like many other universities, you are only accepted into a pre-major when you are admitted to the school. The lower division major classes you take determine a pre-major GPA which in turn dictates whether you get into the major. These pre-major classes, such as ECON 1, are set on crazy curves to “weed” people out. It goes without saying that this was pretty stressful. During the middle of my second year I eliminated accounting from my list and declared my major for a second time in Financial Mathematics and Statistics. It did not take long before I changed my major a third and final time to Economics/Mathematics. This gave me a larger selection of  interesting economics electives like “Game theory”, “Environmental Economics”, and “Economic Development” to name a few. I am very fortunate that the UCSB Department of Economics is one of the best in the country!

I knew that I would have time in my schedule to add a minor, so why not? After doing a little research I found a minor called Spatial Science. You’re probably wondering what that is, so was I! After reading about it and talking to the advisors I learned that it teaches the skills necessary for analyzing spatial information. It was a brand new interdisciplinary minor that offered courses from over a dozen departments so I could basically make my own minor with classes that interested me. The only mandatory course I had to take was a class that focused on maps and mapping where I learned all about map design, GPS, GIS, and other geographic concepts. Through this minor, I have taken classes in geography, environmental studies, math, psychology, and statistics. It has been fascinating seeing how all these subjects relate in their spatial concepts and I definitely think that it complements my Economics/Mathematics degree very well.

Sports have always been a huge part of my life and continue to be at UCSB; as a player, captain, and president of the UCSB women’s club soccer team and at my jobs at Sports Authority and the UCSB Recreational Sports as an intramural referee.  When I found out that UCSB offered a Sports Management Certificate through the Department of Exercise Sports Studies it only seemed natural that I take these classes as well. These courses have taught me basic concepts about business and marketing, while focusing on the area of sports. In one of my classes I was instructed to interview a sports manager for one of the quarter projects and got in touch with the head of the Department of Communications for UCSB Intercollegiate Athletics. At the end of the meeting, I was actually offered an internship, which I completed through my junior year.

This past summer, after attending the UCSB career fair, I secured an internship with a company called Young Jets who were in the process of getting acquired by a larger UK company called Victor (recently named 15th on Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track Top 100 fastest growing tech companies in the UK). They are a private jet charter company who book trips “on-demand” for their clientele. Some of their clients happen to be famous artists and world class athletes, so all around the office are pictures and signed posters of some of my favorite music groups! Even though I had never considered going into the aviation industry, let alone working with private jets, it sounded so cool I jumped at the opportunity! The great thing about working for a small startup like this was the chance to try a little bit of everything. Apart from doing my fair share of “typical” intern duties (making coffee and building desks), I started by compiling the databases for the two companies for use on their website and new mobile application. In doing this, I got a feel for the different types and sizes of private jets, learned a little about them all, and the operators that we used to charter the jets. I then got to move onto more important tasks of sourcing, booking, and pricing the private jets. Every day was crazy, fast paced and hectic, but being immersed in a merger like this was definitely a unique and valuable experience. And to answer everyone’s question…unfortunately no, I did not get to fly on one…yet!

I don’t think I could have chosen a more perfect school to go to. I’ve loved every minute of my time here from the education I’ve received to the people I’ve met along the way. Now in my senior year, I’m almost at that beginning stage again, but instead of being a freshman in college, I’ll be a freshman in the real world. My times at Dublin High School and UCSB have prepared me as well as possible for this next step. Once again, it’s even more weird and terrifying, but I’m excited to see where life takes me next!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me (katherine.somerville.9@gmail.com) if you have any questions about UCSB, economics, club sports, or even private jets!

At the Dublin High School 2012 Senior Awards Night Katie Somerville was awarded the Dee Ronchette-Dublin United Soccer League Scholarship, the Dublin High Athletic Boosters Scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, earned a President’s Gold Award for Education Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

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