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4 reactions to 'I go to Cal'

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Whether you're really in an interview or you just feel like you're in one with your parents' friends, what do people say when you go to Cal?


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JUNE 20, 2013

Most Cal students are back home right now. We will run into old friends, our parents’ old friends and new people at social events and work. If any of these people know we’re in college, they will certainly ask, “Where do you go to school?” We will proudly answer, “Cal.” That one word will elicit a variety of reactions depending on whom we’re talking to. Here are some that we’ve noticed since we’ve been home:

“Good for you.” We like these people. They keep it simple, acknowledge that Cal is pretty cool, and leave it at that. No awkward comments or negative feedback.

“Wow. You must be smart.” Ego-tripping Cal students will love this reaction. The rest of us, though, are fully aware that while we work hard, it’s typically not polite to act like you’re the next Einstein. We don’t really have any tips for how to respond to this one. But generally, it’s not a great idea to respond to a future employer with “I know.”

“Ha! Beserkeley?” We will feel compelled to tell these people that Berkeley’s really not that crazy. (Or are we just immune?) We don’t need to, but we will because many still associate our university with demonstrations and activities that they don’t agree with. We think it’s great that students express their opinions freely at Cal, but it can be annoying when outsiders think we’re studying with loud and, in their opinion, no-good hippies.

” … Cal Poly?” There will be people who don’t know that our school is affectionately abbreviated “Cal.” So when we say “I go to Cal,” there will be some who don’t know which school we’re talking about. (We’ll cut them some slack; how many colleges and universities are there in California?) But then we have to clarify with “UC Berkeley,” and they feel a little stupid, and we feel like jerks for making them feel like that.

The majority of us at Cal agree that it’s a good thing to be in Berkeley. But when we go home, we’ll get some negative reactions thrown in with the positive. As long as we keep their opinions separate from our own personal experiences at Cal, we will be just fine.

Image source: Gvahim, under Creative Commons

Contact Jessica Rogness at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessarogness.

JUNE 19, 2013

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