The University of Southampton
Life at Southampton

A Freshers’ Guide to Southampton Slang

OK, I’ll admit it. This isn’t really slang, but it sounded cool as a title, and works a lot better than ‘words you’ll probably hear a lot around campus, especially during Freshers’ Week, and won’t understand until someone explains them to you’. See what I mean?

So not really slang, more like… Jargon. Anyway, let’s get into it.

Building 58

aka “the one with all the stairs”

Yup, unfortunately, if you see the dreaded 58 on your timetable, you better start getting used to exercise. Don’t skip leg day.


While it sounds like something you really wouldn’t (or would?) want to go to, it’s actually just the societies fair, so you really shouldn’t miss out.

Very little room for activities, ironically.

Interestingly, its meaning is: a tea party or other function, typically of a grand or official kind, so I’m not quite sure why we use it in this context. Words are weird – especially made up ones.

Caff Paff

Again, sounds a bit dodgy, but it’s the shortened version of Café Parfait, a club in town which I vaguely remember has people dressed up as scientists serving you.


The “bar” that is twinned with Jesters. We’ll get onto that in a bit…

Common People

Southampton’s answer to Isle of Wight festival. Surprisingly, doesn’t use Common People by Pulp enough in its marketing.

Killer views though.


The University’s WiFi service across campuses and halls – one of the best ways to keep your monthly data usage under control.

Freshers’ Fayre

Go to this. You’ll get loads of free stuff. Domino’s are always there handing out free pizza, and last time they had a spin-the-wheel game where someone won a whole (academic) year’s worth of cheesy goodness!


Ah, Jesters. It’s like Marmite to most people. Either they hate it, or they’re ‘Jesters ’til I die’ which… Well it’s honourable but please find a better way to one day shuffle off this mortal coil. Anyway, I can’t do it justice in a blog post, it’s really something that needs to be experienced to truly understand.


Jesters’s official cocktail. It’s supposed to be pink, but I’ve had it in all sorts of weird and wonderful colours. I don’t think anyone really knows what’s in it… Not even the bar staff. Reports that they just scrape the ingredients off the walls are as yet unfounded.


The place you go for a cheeky curry after Jesters or Sobar. I’m pretty sure it’s open until 4am, so if you’re the kind of person who craves vindaloo after a night on the VodkaBlus, then Manzils is your penultimate destination before (of course) making it home safely to a pint of water.


The NOC is the National Oceanography Centre. It’s actually a really lovely campus with some really cool stuff going on, but it’s a little hard to navigate. I once got lost in there for three days, surviving only on text books for nourishment and water from the fish tank.


Oceana, or ‘Ocies’ as it is sometimes affectionately called, is a club chain located right on the docks, so it’s a pretty big trek if you don’t live in the city centre or at Mayflower Halls. I’ve just been informed that on Tuesdays, if you take a banana, it’s free entry. I’m not sure I agree with that but people seem to like it?

Palace of Dreams

Another name for Jesters, unfortunately.

It’s not quite the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


You guys will probably know this one – it basically means the drinks you have at someone’s house before you go somewhere else, so that you don’t have to spend too much money. There are some awful people in the world who refer to this as ‘prinks’. They are bad and they should feel bad – I’m sorry to have ruined your day with that nugget of information.

Pub Crawl

A pub crawl in Southampton will generally kick off at the Stags on campus, followed by the Mitre, Wild Lime or Hobbit (depending who you’re with), and then either Jesters or Sobar, or maybe even both if you’re feeling adventurous.

The Redbrick

The big space on the South part of Highfield campus, outside the SUSU building, where a lot of random flashmobs are held, students fundraising for various causes, and a weekly food market.

Sometimes there is a dancing cat man.

That’s not an exhaustive list – there’s always something weird and wonderful happening there. It’s also where you need to be if you want to get into all the fayres/events in Freshers’ Week!


Coming from someone who doesn’t really enjoy going out for the sole purpose of drinking, Retrojam is easily one of the best events. It’s held at Switch on a Wednesday every three months. Tickets go quick so put it in your diary!


Short for Sainsbury’s. I’m pretty sure shortening it like this is just a Southerner thing. See also: ‘prinks’ under ‘pres’ in this post.


Short for Southampton. I have to put it in this list because, amazingly, people still don’t know what I mean when I say this.


Something that people do when they want to finish a drink from a bottle but don’t want the bubbles in it or still want to be able to breathe or something? If I’m honest, I don’t know how it works and have never felt compelled to learn, so if anyone want to explain this mystery to me, please do so that I can avoid it at all costs.


SUSU stands for “Southampton University Students’ Union”. Except for a few months it was called “Us”, but everyone hated that so they changed it back to SUSU. It’s one of those things that won’t impact anyone incoming this year, but if you ask anyone in the years above you about their feelings on the Students’ Union name crisis, expect to be there for a while.
It’s also the name of the stray who found her way into the building many years ago and never left. She’s a little old and tired now, and sometimes a bit grumpy, but still cute as a button – you’ll usually find her dozing by the sofas on Level 2.

And there you have it! A comprehensive list of some of my favourite Southampton words and phrases. Got any more? If so, I’d love to hear – tweet me @GeorgiaLHarper.


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