How To: Talk Like An Emersonian

As with any niche community, at Emerson there’s a good bit of slang and sayings that come with the territory. The school’s community is a big fan of nicknames and abbreviations— things that can make new students and families feel a bit lost if they’re not sure what is being referred to. I, a seasoned Emersonian, am here to help! Consider this your unofficial guide to all things Emerson Dialect.



The first thing your student will do after arriving at Emerson is move into their Res Hall, or Residence Hall. This is where they will be living for the duration of the year. P-Row, or Piano Row,

Piano Row
Piano Row

is located on Boylston Street and is known for its suite-style living. One of the quieter residence halls is Colo, or Colonial, which is also found on Boylston and is known for being the only residence hall with full kitchens (including ovens!) My freshman year included many a late-night walk from Piano Row to Colonial to make cookies with friends. Rather than using the ovens every day, however, your student will make countless trips to the DC, or the Dining Center, where the staff will serve them a wide variety of foods. Around  next to the Dining Hall is Diagon Alley, the side street leading down to the 2 Boylston residence hall and the City Place Transportation Building. This cobblestone path has been affectionately nick-named after the infamous street of shops from Harry Potter. A few other important places to know are ELA, Emerson Los Angeles, and the Castle, or Kasteel Well, which is Emerson’s campus in the Netherlands,

Kasteel Well (the Castle)
Kasteel Well (the Castle)

where 85 students spend each semester traveling, riding bikes, and eating stroopwafel from the local bakkerij. Or, if you’re me, you spend that semester hanging out in the local gem store and writing angsty poetry by the River Maas.



One of the first Emersonians your student will interact with will be their OL, or Orientation Leader. (That OL might even be me! Hi!) Orientation Leaders write letters to new students over the summer and act as guides of sorts during the first few weeks of school. Think like Virgil and Dante in The Inferno, except without the sins and with a liberal arts college instead of, you know, the Bad Place. Another group of people they will meet right away will be their RAs, or Resident Assistants. These are students who will live on their residence hall floor and are responsible for supervising and assisting other students within their jurisdiction. In additions to the RAs, students will have RDs, or Resident Directors, who oversee the RAs.



Boston Public Library

A variety of majors and organizations at Emerson become initialisms. For example, our largest major is VMA, or Visual Media Arts. Another is WLP, or Writing, Literature, and Publishing. SGA is the Student Government Association, which hosts class presidents, senators, and more, and meets twice weekly to discuss how to better the school and community. To get around town, your student will likely be using the T or the MBTA, which stands for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and consists of the subway, buses, and commuter rail trains in the greater Boston area. Some cool things for your student to check out are the BPL, or Boston Public Library, whose main branch is a 15 minute walk from campus, the MFA, or Museum of Fine Arts, and the ICA, or Institute of Contemporary Art. Getting a library card for the BPL gives students access to one of the greatest literary collections in the country, and the space is absolutely beautiful— it was recently renovated and there are tons of different rooms to explore. The MFA and ICA are both free for students with their Emerson IDs and host incredible collections of artwork from around the world. I’ve spent many a Sunday afternoon wandering through the MFA with a notebook and pen, and would recommend to anyone to do the same.


There is, of course, more niche jargon within particular departments, majors, and sub-communities at Emerson, but consider this your starter guide. Please comment with any further questions about the listed lingo or any other Emerson slang you may have come across!


Mandy Seiner headshotMandy Seiner is an Emerson senior Writing, Literature, and Publishing major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the ketchup capital of the world. She is minoring in Philosophy, Psychology, and finding the best cup of coffee in the greater Boston area. You can usually find her teaching children about creative writing, marathoning scary movie trailers, or getting lost in the woods by her apartment.

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