An international perspective on going Greek

Sofia Rada, Blogger

Greek life. Like football, it is an aspect of the American college experience that few international students knew much about before starting school here. With sorority recruitment ending Tuesday, I’ve talked to a few international girls to compare our rush experiences.

For many of us, preconceptions of Greek life came from the media.

“I’d assumed it was what I’d watched in ‘American Pie’ (and) ‘The House Bunny,’” said Erica Zou, a Weinberg freshman from China.

However, we’ve found that the reality at Northwestern is far from this; the prevalence of Greek life convinced most of us to try it out.

“I was really surprised when I heard that 35 percent of Northwestern was Greek,” said Radhika Kalra, an Indian Weinberg freshman who lives in Singapore.

She said that fear of missing out made her want to rush. Both Zou and Rebecca Lu, another Weinberg freshman from China, told me that knowing girls who were either already in sororities or were rushing made them want to go through recruitment. 

“I knew from hanging out with them that everyone was extremely sincere and down-to-earth,” Zou said.

Being from another country, though, sometimes affected recruitment conversations.

“Sometimes (being international) made things easier, because it was a topic to fall back on, but […] [the] ‘you don’t have an accent’ comments [could] be a little frustrating,” Lu said.

Zou also received comments about her English.

“There was sometimes a momentary prejudice when they heard I was from China and automatically assumed that my English was only deceivingly good, but it wasn’t a problem,” she said.

For others, they found issue with the fact that conversations focused on where they were from and not who they were.

“I think most of the conversations were more superficial […] because they would keep asking me what Singapore was like and how I was adjusting to America […] as opposed to asking about the kind of person I was and what I wanted to get out of a sorority,” Kalra said.

I experienced this when I’d make a conscious effort to ask about things like siblings or TV tastes to dodge explaining that I was from Mexico, lived in China and grew up all over.

The process, however, is more difficult and stressful for others, whether or not they are from the U.S. Despite her previous conceptions and the comments on her English, Zou was mostly upbeat about the experience.

“I didn’t think it was hard at all,” she said.

Sororities aren’t for everyone. Regardless, I highly recommend rushing to any girl at Northwestern. It is a stressful week. You end up exhausted and behind on all your classes. If you’re international, you’ll explain your situation so many times that you’ll develop an abridged version. But it’s all worth it.

Even if at the end you decide not to complete the process, you will likely make great gains. During recruitment, you meet great people and learn more about Northwestern and yourself. And if you do find that Greek life is for you, you will open doors to a whole other level of college life.

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