Effective field theory is an indispensable tool for the analysis of emergent theories, in which we may know little about the UV degrees of freedom of the theory, and still tremendous amount of information can be revealed only by guessing the light degrees of freedom and symmetries. In this talk I will make use of this tool to describe the quantum theory of emergent long strings, open or closed, where the string need not be fundamental (thus not critical), nor it is strictly one dimensional. I will explain how tremendous amount of information (=universality) is found by using only the power of symmetries, whereas the non-universal features of any string are parametrized systematically. I will expand on the various approaches to the subject, latest results (analytical and on the lattice), some work in progress, and intriguing open questions. On the way we gain some more understanding of fundamental strings and their relation to gauge theories.