Last Wednesday, when turning in his application to study abroad next year, second year Environmental Studies major George Benise discovered that his prospective host country, “NorCal,” was, in fact, not a country at all. He was shocked to find that “NorCal” was simply an abbreviation for the upper portion of the state in which he currently resides.
“The term would always come up in conversations, but I never knew what it meant, so I just kinda went with it,” said Benise. “I mean, it all makes sense now, but doesn’t it sound foreigny? ‘We’re at war with NorCal,’ ‘a deadly virus, originating in NorCal,’ ‘made in NorCal.’ Those all sound like other countries, right?”
Jessica Wright, an advisor for the Education Abroad Program, says that this is all too common of an occurrence. “Every year we get ten or twenty students applying to study in countries that are actually just places in the United States. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to read application essays that talked about how students wanted to understand the perspective of people in ‘Loui-sia’na.’” When asked what her suggested remedy for this was, Wright said, “I suppose the other, non-SoCal states should just try to be more interesting so students will bother to know they exist.”
When asked her opinion on the matter, Julia Mae, a fourth year English major who studied abroad in New Zealand for the entirety of last year, said, “I’ve never heard of this ‘NorCal place, but it’s gotta be better than New Zealand. Did you know that all those castles and stuff in The Lord of the Rings were fake? I think they need to make that a little clearer in their brochures.”
Despite learning of his mistake, Benise intends to follow through on his plan to spend his junior year studying in Norcal. “I hear they’re really green up there. So, whether that’s environmentally or marijuanally, it works for me.”