Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity for college students to immerse themselves in new cultures, gain global perspectives, and broaden their horizons. But, for those involved in Greek life on their home university’s campus, the question may arise: “Can I study abroad if I’m in a sorority or fraternity?”
This blog post will answer your questions about studying abroad while still participating in Greek life.
Can you study abroad if you’re part of Greek life on campus?
Short answer: Yes! Despite what you may think, you can study abroad while also being in a sorority or fraternity, and tons of college students do it! If you’re set on not missing rush season, you just need to time your study abroad around it.
When is the best time to study abroad if you’re in a sorority or fraternity?
The truth is, there’s no wrong time — it just depends on your preferences!
If you’re determined to study abroad when it’s not rush season, there are a number of options. If you don’t mind a shorter program, consider going during winter break, May Term, or your summer vacation. The shorter length of time typically makes these programs more affordable, and the best part is you won’t miss any time on campus. If you’d prefer a full semester abroad, Spring semester is ideal since the majority of Greek life recruitment happens in the fall.
If you’re okay with missing the bulk of your sorority or fraternity’s recruitment season during Fall semester, consider studying abroad during that term. While a little less common, plenty of people in Greek life do it! Again, it’s all about your preferences.
Tips for students in Greek Life who want to study abroad
1. Plan ahead
Start planning early to ensure a smooth transition between your Greek life commitments and studying abroad. In addition to looping in key players like your study abroad office, Academic Advisor, and family or support network, it can be helpful to discuss your intentions with your fraternity or sorority, too.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Part of the appeal of Greek life is that you have a built-in, de-facto family that you can go to while you’re away from your actual family, so it makes sense you don’t want to be without that support structure for a few months. The thing about studying abroad is that, because of your shared experience, chances are you’ll quickly make friends with other people in your same program. Plus, there’s a whole new city of people to meet! Just be open to expanding your friend group internationally.
3. Your sorority or fraternity wants you to go
Chances are your sorority or fraternity encourages its members to strive for achievement and branch out. While they’ll miss you at the various on-campus events, your brothers or sisters want you to be your best and true self, and if that means going on a journey abroad, go for it! Many sororities and fraternities will even use the fact that they encourage people to study abroad as a talking point during recruitment!
4. Use technology to stay connected
These days it’s easier than ever to stay connected with your fraternity or sorority. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about falling behind with forming friendships with new members or staying engaged with chapter activities. Video calls, social media, and messaging apps can help bridge the distance and allow you to actively participate.
5. Document your experience
Keep a journal, start a blog, or create a vlog to document your study abroad experience. Share your adventures with your Greek community, fostering a sense of camaraderie and encouraging future members to explore similar opportunities. Who knows, someone you meet abroad could be a new pledge.
Don’t take it from us, here’s what one of our students Elissa had to say about staying connected with her Greek life while studying abroad in, well, Greece!
On the two types of “Greek life”:
“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.”
On her sorority’s support:
“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.”
On her FOMO:
“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.”
On why you should consider studying abroad as someone involved in Greek life:
“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.”
Worried about not being able to study abroad while participating in Greek Life? Don’t be!
Studying abroad while being a member of a sorority or fraternity is a rewarding and enriching experience. If you just manage your commitments and stay connected, you can create a harmonious balance between your academic pursuits and Greek life adventures.