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Learn the Lingo

Learn the Lingo
A lot of lucky students are about to embark on their adventure to study abroad. The next few months will be full of new experiences and friendships, as well as cultural faux pas. For those headed to the US for studies, I’ve solicited a list of unique word usage from a couple of students who have been studying there for the past two years. Below is a primer on some of America’s campus-related idiosyncratic language usages, which can be quite different and confusing to an Indian student. This should provide some guidance for students and a trip down memory lane for any parents who have ever lived or studied in the US.

  • Gen Ed Requirements – short form for ‘general education,’ compulsory classes which all students are required to complete.
  • Elective – a course of student’s choice, sometimes within a subject, e.g. “I took chemistry as my science elective”
  • Upper-Division class – curriculum taught beyond the second year, usually for subject majors.
  • Office Hours – timings when faculty are available in their office for students to drop-in for a meeting.
  • Citation (APA, Chicago etc.) – bibliography
  • Graduate .verb – to complete a course, can be any level, e.g. “He graduated from middle-school” means he passed 8th standard
  • Add/Drop Period – class selection option, period during which students can change their class schedule.
  • Credits or Units – number assigned to different classes depending on duration or material covered.
  • Syllabus – reading and study guide for a particular class.
  • Freshman – first year college student, equivalent to FY. Also used for 9th standard.
  • Sophomore – second year college student, equivalent to SY. Also used for 10th standard
  • Junior – third year college student, equivalent to TY. Also used for 11th standard
  • Senior – fourth year college student. Also used for 12th standard


  • Dorm – hostel
  • Swag – pride
  • Gas – petrol
  • Shuttles – university bus
  • Honor Code -pledge
  • Class President, Senator – head girl/boy, prefect
  • Truck – big car
  • Pitch it – throw it in the trash
  • Trash can – dust bin
  • Downtown – heart of the city such as South Mumbai
  • Shades – sunglasses
  • Ride .noun – car
  • Ticket – parking fine
  • Bike – bicycle
  • All Nighter – sleepless night before exam
  • Dining Hall – Canteen
  • Soda – cold drink, e.g. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite
  • Chai Tea Latté – masala chai
  • Hash Brown  – potato cutlet
  • Fried eggs-hard, medium, easy, over easy – egg fry
  • 2% milk – low-fat milk


  • Quidditch – only seen in Harry Potter movies
  • Frisbee – disc thrown to dogs or humans to catch
  • Intramurals – friendly sport matches
  • 9 squares  – hop scotch
  • Beer Pong – beer drinking races
  • Ninja – goalspot
  • Soccer – football
  • Game Day – sports day or day of a big rivalry match
  • Homecoming – founders day, when graduates return to the campus
  • Little League  – junior games
  • 5k/10K – organized running event
  • Spinning – stationary cycling in the gym
  • Lodges – discos or private parties
  • Greek Life, Sororities, Fraternities – social clubs
  • Intervarsity club – Religious club
  • Host Mom and Dad – aunty and uncle who sometimes live in hostels
  • Beach Week  – Student outings during term breaks
  • LGBTQ community – gay or homosexual people, full form is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer
There are many, many more such idiosyncratic language usages and unique experiences in America. It may take some time to become accustomed to all of them, but the most important thing is to embrace the experience with an open mind and take advantage of as many new opportunities as possible. By doing this you will grow academically, intellectually and personally. There is no better way to spend your youth and prepare for a promising future. And above all, have fun!
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The fundamental role of independent educational consultants is to help students explore college opportunities and find the right place for them to succeed academically and socially. IECs don’t get students admitted—they help students demonstrate why they deserve to be admitted at appropriately chosen schools. They help students find colleges they might not have heard of—often out of their region—and they help students put their best foot forward.

Here are 5 things families should consider when looking to hire an IEC:

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