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College and University Campus Vocabulary for International Students

July 24, 2017

Are you planning to attend a U.S. college or university? In addition to learning academic-based vocabulary for the classroom lectures, you will need to learn some vocabulary related to your new college campus!

College and University Campus Vocabulary for English Learners

College and University Campus Vocabulary

Cafeteria/Dining Hall/Dining Commons

Definition: The large room where students eat. Often, students have an account with money or points: students “buy” food with a special dining card.

More related language: 

  • To swipe (a card): to use the card to refill the amount.
  • To run out of (money): to use all of the money or points on the card.
  • To refill a card: to add money or points to the card.

Dorms/Residence Halls

Definition: Large buildings where students live. Sometimes these buildings are on-campus; sometimes they are off-campus.

More related language: 

  • Coed: mixed male and female
  • Bunk beds: two beds; one on top of the other so that the person who sleeps on the top bunk must use a ladder to get into bed.
  • Suite: a living space with bedrooms, a common living room, and a bathroom or bathrooms. Sometimes there is a kitchen area.


Definition: The buildings of a campus.

More related language: 

  • What kind of facilities does the campus have for student exercise?
  • Have you seen the sports facilities?


Definition: The place where students go to exercise (and where teams also exercise and train).

More related language: 

  • Membership: access to the gym’s equipment and facilities because you paid for it (often a membership is included in student tuition).
  • Lockers: the places where you put your belongings (clothes, phone, keys) while you are exercising. Usually students bring their own lock.
  • Machines/equipment: the different machines that are used to exercise.


Definition: A large building.

More related language: 

  • Lecture hall: a large room where many people can sit to listen to a teacher lecture.

A map of the UC Berkeley campus. Click here to download the full map.


Definition: Short for “laboratory,” this is the place where scientific research happens.


Definition: A building that holds books and study areas.

More related language: 

  • To check out books: to take books home to read.
  • Library card: a card needed to check books out.
  • Due date: the date that you must return the book.
  • To return books: to bring the books back after you do not need them.
  • Late fees: the small price you must pay if you do not return the book by the due date.


Definition: A large building used for sports or other entertainment.

More related language: 

  • To book (a person): to schedule a person to speak (or a performer to perform) at an event or concert.


Definition: An open area (usually with grass and trees) that is surrounded by buildings. This area is used by students to study and relax.

More related language: 

  • Chill out: to relax.
  • Hang out: to socialize.
  • Meet up: to meet someone.


Definition: An athletic or sports building with areas for the audience to sit.

More related language: 

  • To cheer: to y excitedly yell and encourage players.
  • Crowd: the people at an event.

Student center

Definition: A building or group of buildings with services and facilities for students.

More related language: 

  • There will often be student centers for groups of students with specific interests. For example, you might find the LGBTQ Student Center, the African American Student Center, the Jewish Student Center, or the Latino/Latina Student Center on a campus.
College and University Campus Vocabulary for English Learners

A map of the UC Davis campus. Click here to download the full map.

IEC@DVC organizes trips to many San Francisco Bay Area campuses including UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and San Francisco State University. Check out our Activities Calendar to learn of the next excursion to one of these beautiful campuses!

College and University Campus Vocabulary for English Learners College and University Campus Vocabulary for English Learners College and University Campus Vocabulary for English Learners

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