CSUMB Survival Guide

Being in your first year at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) is a memorable experience because being in a new environment pushes you to get out of your comfort zone and grow. 

As exciting as it is, a fresh start can be a bit daunting when you don’t know anyone on campus. This guide contains the essential information you need so that you can focus on having a positive kick-off to your semester!


Basic Needs is a resource for students who are food insecure or simply want to spend less on groceries. The office is located in building 12 and is open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Illustrations by Zoe Kapp

There are plenty of ways to get active as a CSUMB student from the Otter Sports Center to recreational activities. The gym has a basketball court where you can rent basketballs or volleyballs, a weight room, and a cardio room. I would recommend checking out the website before you work out in case the gym is closed for a volleyball or basketball game. 

There are also various indoor and outdoor activities available to students through recreation. The Rec department rents out bikes, teaches fitness classes, and organizes intramural sports teams. If you’re interested in recreational activities you can learn more here or on MyRaft.

The Personal Growth and Counseling Center (PGCC) is a crucial resource for all students to manage their mental health. The PGCC offers free individual counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, and even more resources for students. 

The library offers free textbook rentals through course reserves. You can check if the book you need is available on the library website and pick it up at the front desk. Before I spend money on a textbook, I always do a Google search for whatever book I need in case there’s a free PDF available online.


Don’t be afraid to chat with people around campus or in classes, there are a lot of new faces and everyone is looking forward to making new friends. My first week here someone randomly complimented my sweater and we’ve been friends ever since. 

Joining clubs is one of the best ways to meet people with similar interests. Even if you end up not attending consecutive meetings, you can still make new friends and hang out with them outside of the club. 

When I first started at CSUMB I attended campus events that I wouldn’t normally go to because I wanted to meet people.  I’m glad that I did because it was a great way to make friends and learn more about what our campus has to offer. 


Getting to know your roommates and having someone who understands what you’re going through as a first year is a huge (and fun) part of freshman year. With that being said, living on campus with total strangers can be very overwhelming and it’s normal to experience some sort of anxiety regarding roommates. It’s important to communicate your expectations when it comes to chores and boundaries as soon as possible, as those are some of the biggest issues new roommates tend to disagree over. 

Alone time can be rare when you share a room. Keep your roommates’ personal space in mind and if you need some time for self-care, it’s OK to ask for it! My previous roommate and I shared our schedules with each other so that we could rest our social batteries and made sure to let each other know in advance when we were having friends over. 

When conflicts do arise, make sure to communicate your feelings calmly, making sure everyone feels safe and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your Resident Advisor for help managing these problems, they are there to help you! Becoming friends with your roommates is one of the best ways to expand your social circle and get out of your comfort zone during your first year. Be yourself and have fun!


We all have our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to school and whenever I need extra help, I visit the Co-Operative Learning Center (CLC) for tutoring or ask my professors for extra help during office hours. 

I tend to be more productive when I study outside of my room. My favorite place to get in the zone and grind out some work is the library, which has study rooms available to book on their website. 


Playing games at home or in the Rookery is an entertaining way to get to know your new friends. The Rookery, the game room on the third floor in the Otter Student Union (OSU), has pool tables, ping pong, Dance Dance Revolution, foosball, a Wii, and board games! 

Bonfires are one of the most popular social functions among CSUMB students. You’ll probably hear about them through friends, and you can always throw your own! Make sure to only start fires at beaches where they’re permitted, such as Del Monte Beach. 


Working on campus is a great option for first-year students especially because your job will expose you to a new group of people in the CSUMB community and it’s convenient. Jobs on campus understand your priorities as a student and will work around your schedule, and they’re a great way to make connections. You can find jobs or internships on campus at Otter Jobs

Some students prefer to work off campus because there may be higher-paying opportunities. This can be a double-edged sword because some students get overwhelmed because they have to travel or put in extra effort to budget their time. Either option could work for you, it just depends on your needs and preferences. 

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