So you decided to study abroad? Congratulations! You are going to get an unforgettable life experience living in a foreign country and meeting new interesting people. Studying in a foreign school is always very exciting because everything is brand new and absolutely different from what you already know. Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to explore the world and discover new places.
When you watch American movies about college and university students, do you often hear that students are talking about belonging to some Kappa Phi Lambda organization or other similar societies whose names are letters of Greek alphabet? Such societies truly exist and Finding a New Family Abroad are quite popular in North America. They are called fraternities and sororities, or ‘brotherhoods’ and ‘sisterhoods’ (from the Latin words frater, or ‘brother’, and soror, or ‘sister’).
Quite often international students do not know about such organizations; however, it might be very useful to join a fraternity or a sorority because being a member of such a society makes a person actively involved into his/her university life. The more students are involved into numerous on-campus activities, the easier it is for them to assimilate a new language and a new culture.
A few reasons to become a member of a fraternity or sorority
Why is joining a fraternity or sorority is a valuable experience? To begin with, a membership in such an organization provides with an extensive network. Not only can you communicate with current members of a fraternity or sorority, but also have access to those alumni who used to be involved into the society before you. A lot of these alumni might be very successful people, and having such contacts is always extremely helpful. If your potential employer was a member of your fraternity or sorority, you immediately stand out among other candidates because you are the one who can be trusted. Besides, if you are a member of such organization, you can forget the word ‘boredom’. Numerous events, meetings, contests – this is what expects you if you make this choice. One is always surrounded by other people and is always busy accomplishing some tasks and just communicating. If an international student is afraid of being constantly homesick, fraternities and sororities are one of the best possible cures for this disease. Will you have to go in for sport? Yes. Will you need to perform community work? Absolutely. You do not know what leadership means? You will be trained to be responsible, punctual, hardworking, and sociable – you will learn to be a leader. Members of chapters always help set high goals and support each other to achieve them. These communities are extremely motivating because students are surrounded by ambitious and purposeful people with the right mindset. Moreover, being a member of this society is a great honor and can look great in your resume.
What are the pitfalls?
Everything about Greek life is incredibly impressive. However, there are some disadvantages of becoming a frater or soror. Suppose you are a newcomer and you find yourself living with peers who have left their homes just like you did. Finally you are free to have a life of an adult. For some reasons many students think that being an adult means having parties all night long and skipping classes. This may be quite dangerous being surrounded by young and free people like you, because having fun becomes a priority. Students, however, forget that fraternities and sororities are organizations within universities and that school should be on the first place. Even if a student does not party hard, he/she still has to be involved into numerous activities that take a lot of time and sometimes do not let students focus on their homework assignments. If one thinks that being accepted to one of these societies is easy, one makes a huge mistake. Greek life is very expensive, and many freshmen just cannot afford it or need to work hard to cover all the expenses. Students willing to be accepted have to pay membership fees, chapter dues, fines, and many other expenses that can make hundreds of dollars in addition to annual tuition and university fees. If the chapter is prestigious, a student might need to pay thousands for his/her status. It is hard to say what an average cost of membership is, but according to the information provided by the University of Central Florida, a new member of a sorority will need to pay $1,280 per term, and a fee for a new fraternity member will be around $600 per term. Take into account the fact that this fee does not include food and housing. Besides, many chapters charge fines if members to not attend scheduled chapter meetings. The fees are a kind of punishments and can be up to $75 dollars for a missed event. It is up to a student to decide whether he/she wants to become a member of a fraternity or sorority. What one should keep in mind is that these are not the only organizations in the university system. When a person wants to be involved into campus life, he/she knows how to do it without the help of fraternities and sororities. American schools offer a huge variety of interesting organizations, and some of them can be even more useful one’s future career path. Make sure to explore your campus and the numerous opportunities it offers and enjoy your studying abroad.