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Finding a Home Away From My Greek House: Studying Abroad as a Student Involved in Greek Life

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As a freshman, I went through formal recruitment at the University of Mississippi and I have been very involved in my sorority since. I held positions on recruitment team and was involved in multiple committees. Other members in my sorority were very helpful and encouraging when I decided to study abroad, but it was also very daunting since I had to leave my home campus when I finally felt like I had found my place. My sorority played a huge role during my preparation, my actual semester abroad, and my readjustment back to home.

How Greek Life Prepared me to Study Abroad

Being in a sorority gave me personal access to many resources to learn more about studying abroad. I saw girls older than me have the times of their lives traveling everywhere you could imagine. It was very helpful to have so many resources and people to turn to for advice as I narrowed down where exactly I wanted to go. I actually ended up studying in Australia at Griffith University with IFSA because two of my sisters had done it the semester before and they could not stop raving about it.
They were very helpful when I was deciding on what program to pursue and what classes to take, but they really emphasized the personal effects of studying abroad that couldn’t be quantified in credits or grades. I had known both of them for a couple years and they were very confident, smart, and independent women. If you knew them at home, you’d think they were completely put together, like they had nothing left to learn. However, when they returned from Australia, they told me all of their stories about finding themselves through their experiences abroad. Living in a foreign country puts a new pressure to be independent on a student like they’ve probably never felt before. When utilized, this pressure can teach you to be the best version of yourself, independent of any identity you found at home before. It taught all of us to think and act by ourselves and for ourselves. Our confidence and originality even further improved our sorority involvement when we returned.

Getting Involved Abroad

Since I was so involved in my sorority at home, I knew I wanted to have a similar community during my time abroad. In my IFSA program, I got the opportunity to meet multiple other people who were also in Greek Life at home. This gave us the opportunity to vent about our nerves of missing our sororities and fraternities but also gave us a community to share all the fun things we got involved in at Griffith University. I was able to meet girls in my same sorority at other schools and I even got to meet girls in sororities I had never heard of! Since we were all involved in organizations at home, we were all able to encourage each other to get involved in Australia. I joined a youth group while my roommate joined an academic club. It felt so comforting to be encouraged to join yet another community with people who have the same interests as me!

The Fear of Missing Out

At my university, most students live and breathe Greek life. We have events multiple times a week and my sorority was the main way I was involved on my campus. Because of my sorority, I have had such a fun and memorable time in college. I have made my best friends and developed a passion for our philanthropies, Prevent Child Abuse America and Girl Scouts. I was very nervous when I committed to flying across the globe for four months because not only was I worried about not being able to get involved on my new campus, but I didn’t want to miss out on all the fun here.
While I was in Australia, it was hard seeing my friends having fun back at home, but in all honesty, I was having so much fun as well, I hardly had time to be upset about it. With a pretty rigorous course load, I spent a good amount of time in class as well as completing my assignments. When I had free time, I was determined to see and experience all that I could. On my days off class, I went surfing, shopping, hiking, and sightseeing. My friends at home were so happy for me and excited to see where I went and what I did and I was genuinely enjoying it so much, I didn’t feel like I was missing out at all!

Coming Home

Another one of my biggest worries when studying abroad was coming back to my university and feeling like I got left behind. I was scared that everyone would have so many fun memories from the semester that I was gone, and I wouldn’t be able to adjust back. Because I was so involved with my sorority before I left and I kept in touch while I was away, when I came back, I was able to feel like they were all in Australia with me! I got to return home with so many great relationships formed abroad as well, and I am so thankful for my good friends around the world! During our first week back, everyone was saying how much they enjoyed my pictures and stories about my travels and nobody made me feel like I got left behind while I was away.

Hadley Ismert is a Real Estate major at the University of Mississippi and studied abroad with IFSA at Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia in Spring 2019.