Alumni Ambassador Elissa worried that studying abroad for the semester would take away from her sorority experience. But she learned you don’t have to choose between Greek life and studying abroad.
When I first started college, there were two things, among others, that I was adamant about doing before the end of my college career: joining Greek life and studying abroad. Initially, I saw no reason why these should conflict until I really realized that study abroad was not some fantasy I had dreamt up. It was a real semester I was about to experience in a country thousands of miles from home, school, friends, and my sorority sisters. At this point, it comes down to priorities: do you value a semester of exploring new places, diving into a new culture, meeting people from all over the world? Or do you place a higher priority on staying in your comfort zone with people you already know?
I am in Greek life, I enjoy Greek life, I see value in Greek life. However, I found great value in traveling to Greece and experiencing that Greek life. The Greek life filled with water so blue you can’t comprehend how it exists. The Greek life of feta and olives and 3 euro gyros. The Greek life where your hosts teach you Greek dancing and offer a free tour of the lesser known beaches. I actually studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in the spring of 2015. Study abroad allowed me to visit many countries, including Greece, where I traveled to Mykonos and Athens.
My sorority did not frown upon me going abroad; Greek life encourages its members to strive for achievement and branch out. In the semester I went abroad, there were six other members of my sorority abroad as well. They were experiencing the same things I was, and I even got to meet up with some of them!
My sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, embodies its motto Esse Quam Videri, which means “to be rather than to seem to be.” My sorority encouraged me, and every other member, to be our true selves. For me, that meant going for my goal and studying abroad.
I am in no way saying that I did not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) at times seeing pictures of my sorority sisters at Greek events and wishing I could be there. I wanted to join in on Greek Sing, dance until my feet fell off at the 24-hour dance marathon, and go to formal.
I worried that my Little, who I had just gotten the semester before I went abroad, would feel lost or sad that she didn’t have her Big there. Would she resent being paired with me since I abandoned her for the semester? But there were many other girls who stepped in and made sure she felt comfortable, which gave me a huge relief. Even with the brief sadness I felt from missing out, I knew that being abroad was where I was supposed to be, and for every moment I felt I missed, I was gaining a new experience.
My biggest hope for future students interested in studying abroad is that they never question if study abroad is right for them because they are concerned about their position in Greek life. Greek life should never make you feel bad about something you want to do, even if it means you are absent for a few months. Go Greek and go to Greece (or, just abroad in general): you can have both.