Mapping Out Berkeley Slang

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So you've made it to UC Berkeley, one of the top public schools in the nation, one of the best universities in the world-and you're feeling pretty sure of yourself, right? 'Til you're sitting in your first lecture, ten minutes early with your pen uncapped (because you're always so prepared), and you overhear the students in front of you:

"Dude, I hope the GSI for this course doesn't do me in."

"Oh no worries, you just have to get to know them. Last semester I had one living at I-House and I'd bump into him in the cafe all the time; he'd help me out a lot."

"But I do all my work at the FSM."

"Really? I never go there, I always hit up the GBC between classes. Or I head to the RSF, blow off some steam, you know?"

For the first time since middle school's sex education course, you find yourself in a classroom with absolutely no idea what's being talked about-and you don't like it. Relax! It's nothing more than Berkeley slang, and we're here to help you out with some definitions and explanations of UCB's most commonly used lingo.

Asian Ghetto: Located on Durant Avenue between Bowditch Street and Telegraph Avenue, the Asian Ghetto is a cheap and tasty option for the hungry college student with only a few bucks to spare and a stomach to feed.

FSM: AKA the Free Speech Movement Cafe, located alongside Moffitt Library and classrooms, the FSM has an array of tasty sandwiches, pastries and drinks to keep you energized for class and can be a great place to hang out and study between lectures. The name pays tribute to Berkeley's activist students and history.

GBC: Located on Sproul Plaza below Sather Gate, the Golden Bear Cafe features a grill, a soup, salad and sandwich bar, a smoothie bar and plenty of refrigerated and packaged to-go goodies.

The Glade: Also known as Memorial Glade, the Glade is the place you probably remember from every postcard, photograph, film or campus tour: It is the picturesque sprawl of grass behind Doe Library where you can lie down with your books, a blanket or a friend and stare at the clouds.

Gourmet Ghetto: Oddly enough, there is absolutely nothing "ghetto" about it. The Gourmet Ghetto is not wallet-friendly, not convenient to campus and not a late-night snack stop, but what it lacks in convenience it more than makes up for in taste! Located in North Berkeley, it features ritzy restaurant stops like Chez Panisse, Cafe de la Paz and Cheeseboard.

GSI: Graduate Student Instructors are what other, less cool university students dub TAs, or Teacher's Assistants. GSIs are extremely important to get to know because they lead your discussion groups, collect your assignments, answer your questions and usually grade most of your work.

I-House: The International House, located above the east side of campus on the corner of Bancroft Way and Piedmont Avenue, is a multicultural housing complex loosely affiliated with campus and home to more than 600 undergrads, graduate students, visiting scholars and exchange students. Grab a quick bite at the ever-popular I-House Cafe and you'll hear a plethora of colorful languages.

Loth: One of the Berkeley Student Co-ops (cooperative living spaces), Loth is short for Lothlorien, the sylvan residence in "Lord of the Rings" and home of the elves, which has relocated to Prospect Street and Channing Way.

RSF: The RSF, or Cal's Recreational Sports Facility, is located on Bancroft Way by the Haas Pavilion. It is usually packed at the start of the semester and you'll often have to wait for a machine if you come during peak hours of the afternoons and evenings.

VLSB: You'll find the Valley Life Sciences building on the west side of campus, and this massive home to Integrative Biology and Molecular Cell Biology majors is not only the largest building on campus, but it is also the largest concrete building west of the Mississippi. It also holds the museums of Vertebrate Zoology and Paleontology and the Jepson Herbarium, and, oh yes, a giant T-Rex skeleton.

Yo Po: If there's one thing I want you to take away from this review session, it's the wonderful little treasure tucked away on Durant Avenue that we Berkeley regulars fondly call Yo Po, otherwise known as Yogurt Park. This easily affordable frozen yogurt delight features eight flavors a day, all fat free, with plenty of toppings and mix-and-match options to convert even the most skeptical fro-yo cynic into a believer.


Contact Hadas Goshen at [email protected]

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