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13 Signs You Went to College in San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo
by Paige Smith Aug 9, 2016

You know what a Bull’s Sweat is and you’ve lived to tell the tale.

If you lived in SLO during your 21st birthday, you probably spent your debut of newfound alcohol-fueled adulthood downtown doing the classic 12-stop bar crawl—complete with a handmade sign tied around your neck that listed all the drinks you had to down at each place.
The first stop? Bull’s Tavern. The drink in question? The notorious Bull’s Sweat. You know it’s a combination of gin, wild turkey whiskey, tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce, but depending on who makes the drink (and how punitive that particular bartender is feeling) there could be a little something extra in there.

Chances are good that you spent about fifteen minutes after the deed was done breathing slowly, clutching your stomach, choking back gag reflexes, and cursing your terrible friends, but from that day forward you joined the rest of the cheering crowd any time a fresh-faced 21-year-old took on the challenge.

You still have a bold-lettered shirt somewhere in your closet that says, “Buck the gauchos.”

You went to the football stadium for one reason only: to watch the Cal Poly soccer team kick serious ass. And when the school’s equivalent of the Super Bowl—a match between the Cal Poly mustangs and the UCSB Gauchos—came around each year, you stormed the field after the game (win or lose) wearing your yellow and green face paint and yelling like a maniac.

You’re a Thursday night farmers market snob.

Fresh organic fruit, local honey, roasted corn on the cob, tri-tip grilled to perfection, and toasted cinnamon almonds (with a very generous sample guy to boot)—you were totally spoiled. In your early-twenties’ naivety, you probably even thought every town had farmers markets of a comparable caliber.

Back in the real world, unfortunately, you learned that wasn’t the case at all. Those homemade tamales and cheddar popcorn ruined you for life, and now every time you visit the farmers market in another town, you feel a pang of nostalgia and regret for not having appreciated it enough when you had the chance.

You own a North Face fleece jacket.

And you wear it everywhere, fashion be damned. It doesn’t matter if there’s only a slight chill in the air or if you’re dealing with sub-zero temperatures—your sturdy North Face is there for it all.

You make friends with local wildlife wherever you go.

Farm animal sightings are commonplace in SLO—we’ve got cows grazing in nearby fields, deer running through the forests, and plenty of hens and roosters moseying around. The frequent loud “moo-ing” you heard across campus may have startled you at first, but you got used to it eventually.

After all, once you come face to face with enough packs of wild turkeys ambling across campus, you learn to love and respect the country creatures that share our planet.

You still obsess about tri-tip sandwiches from Firestone’s.

There was nothing better than a juicy steak sandwich and a basket of crispy, perfectly seasoned fries on a Friday night. Or a Saturday afternoon. Or literally any time of day, for that matter.

Most of your favorite drunk stories took place on a Tuesday night.

Because Tuesday night was Pint Night at SLO Brew (known as DTB to those of us there before the big change), and the place was always packed.

It didn’t matter that your philosophy paper was due in 15 hours or that you had to pull an all-nighter studying for your architecture midterm—you rallied and went, even if it was just to gulp back a quick Reggae Red or Honey Wheat before getting back to work.
Oh, and those reusable SLO Brew pint glasses? You owned about three or four.

You refuse to study or work at Starbucks.

With a plethora of old-school, adorable, charming, hip, and hipster-type cafés in SLO, Starbucks was at the bottom of the totem pole for places to study in college.

Instead, you went to cafés like Kreuzberg (dibs on the window seats), Linnaea’s, Sally Loo’s, or Blackhorse.

Most of your closest friends are from SoCal or NorCal.

Except for the occasional outlier from Ohio or Hawaii, the majority of students at Cal Poly were from Northern or Southern California, meaning most of your friends lived just a few hours away in either direction.

You ate fro-yo several times a week.

People didn’t talk about meeting up for coffee or tea—they got together for fro-yo instead. Between classes, after dinner, before lunch, as a late-night treat—any time of day was a perfect time to hit up Teaberry.

You celebrated every occasion with a day of wine tasting.

Birthdays, graduations, parents’ weekend, Halloween, the start of spring, the end of summer, a sunny day, a job promotion, a breakup, a passed midterm—there was always a reason to go wine tasting.

The fact that there were at least ten fun, affordable wineries within a ten minutes’ drive only made it that much easier to grab your crew and head to the vineyards for a spontaneous trip.

You have a love-hate relationship with St. Patrick’s Day.

On the one hand, the stories (not to mention the pictures) from those early morning 5am bar crawls (complete with green beer and Flogging Molly music blaring from every speaker) are hilarious and legendary; on the other hand, getting sloshed before the sun came up seriously screwed up your internal rhythm for several days afterward and left you feeling permanently scarred.

Hiking was your favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

It didn’t matter if you hated exercising and never once went to the gym—if you lived in SLO, chances are good you hiked at least a few times a month, probably because your group of friends always made it sound like the best idea ever.

There were so many options: you could challenge yourself by hiking up the steep backside of Bishop’s Peak, you could check out 180-degree views of ocean at Avila Ridge, you could hunt for tree swings and waterfalls off the 101, or you could meander along one of the gentle paths at Madonna.

And the best park of hiking? Heading downtown afterward to grab a sandwich at High Street Deli.

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