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Greek Life and Study Abroad: Why You Should Go for It!

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From a Small Sorority to a New School in a Big City

 Best friends, big/little reveal, bid day, formals, mixers, Greek Week, Executive Board, apparel, philanthropy events… these are some of the best parts of being in a sorority. Leaving these behind for a semester or even a year can be a huge deterrent in deciding to go abroad. This means leaving behind the comfort of having your best friends with you all the time, the fear of not knowing new members, missing your favorite events, and being out of the loop when you get back to school. And leaving these behind for a semester is the best decision I’ve made in my college career.

Pre-Abroad Emotions

My sorority is different from many of those at big schools as I go to Trinity College in Hartford, CT – a school of 2,500 students- but many of the experiences are the same. In our first year, we are not allowed to go through recruitment, which allows us to explore who we are and what organizations we can be involved in outside of Greek Life. Outside of my sorority, I am a part of an a cappella group and theatre productions on campus, which I have been a part of since my freshman year. My sophomore year I decided to go through recruitment as an opportunity to meet more people.
It took me a little while to settle in, know what to expect, and get to know the girls in my sorority as I had not known many of them previously. However, by second semester, girls in my sorority became my best friends. The second semester of my sophomore year had been my best yet, and after a somewhat tumultuous fall of my sophomore year, I finally felt comfortable and grounded at my school and with my friends. To uproot my life for summer and not see these newfound friends until the following spring seemed intimidating. I saw how fast my life could change in one semester and I was afraid of coming back to a whole new dynamic. However, as I came back to school I realized this experience was entirely worth it. 

Making Friends Abroad

Coming from a small school, immersing myself in a new city where I knew no one and making friends was intimidating. I had no idea what to expect. One way I met people was through orientation events. Bonding over climbing the O2 Arena, I met two girls from Pennsylvania and Washington. We laughed as we climbed, and soon became friends. As soon as I met friendly people willing to explore, we then made plans and met up with some of their roommates that night. This formed the basis for building other friendships and getting close with each other.
We joined the Kings College Lacrosse team and met more people at practice every Tuesday. This team brought me out of my comfort zone and brought me joy while making bonds with team members. From the people we met here, we participated in team bonding events, and a weekly get together at an on-campus bar. The friends I made soon became girls I ate, studied, and travelled with. By the end of my semester, they became some of my best friends. I still talk to many of them, and I even got to visit three of them at their home universities and my friend from the Netherlands is visiting me next fall!

FOMO aka Fear of Missing Out

Okay, so it is entirely understandable when you are at school and you are having so much fun to be afraid of missing out. Let me tell you, you will not be missing out when you are exploring an entirely different country, doing activities far more unique than going to another formal. The other thing that helps is (most likely depending on your study abroad location) the time change. For me in London, the time change is five hours later than back home. So, when your friends are posting stories at midnight, you’re sleeping at 5am. Where sometimes I would feel a pang of disappointment looking at and Instagram picture from formal, it would quickly be replaced by the excitement of every day in London. 

Staying in the Loop

Keeping in touch with friends from home can be hard especially when there is a time difference involved. One way I kept in touch is through WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. All my sorority friends who were abroad kept a group message in WhatsApp and discussed how we were feeling about things back home. This included sorority-specific events like bid day and ordering apparel, but also more general concerns like housing and class selection.
My network of friends from home provided me with a network of support, especially as they went through similar concerns about home, and any difficulties in adjusting to the new setting abroad. This allowed me to stay connected even though we were in different countries. I even had the chance to visit many of them. Some I visited, some visited me, and some I saw because we ended up traveling to the same place at the same time!  I also kept in touch with my sorority-wide group chat on Facebook Messenger. This kept me up to date on events happening and even some inside jokes. 

Why Studying Abroad is Worth It

Studying abroad pushes you out of your comfort zone. It challenges you to be more independent and become comfortable with enjoying the world around you rather than always worrying about adhering to social pressures. I got a taste of what it would be like to experience the ‘real world’ living in a city by myself. I honed my ‘people skills’ as I started fresh, meeting more people and asking more questions. I was able to see American culture from a British perspective, and observe how one question in a government class is answered by people from many different cultures. For me personally, going abroad allowed me to see the world outside of my own little bubble. I made realizations about not only the world around me, but about home as well, that I wouldn’t have realized otherwise.
Julia Adrian is a Public Policy and Law major at Trinity College and studied abroad with IFSA at King’s College London in England in the Fall of 2018.