Saturday, May 31, 2014

[Photo of the Week] Greek life in the U.S.

If you are planning to study in the U.S. you will most certainly encounter sororities and fraternities, or “Greek life”. These organizations are referred to as "Greek" because their names consist of Greek letters. Examples are Alpha Delta Gamma (ΑΔΓ) and Kappa Alpha Theta (ΚΑΘ).

Fraternities and sororities are social organizations for undergraduate students, and have been a part of U.S. college campuses since the late 18th-century. Most fraternities have their own houses where members can live. Fraternities are usually composed of men only and sororities of only women. Greek organizations can be organized by many purposes such as university education, ethnicity or professional goals but they all have in common the emphasis of brotherhood and sisterhood, and members often develop bonds of friendship that last way beyond college years.

As an international student at UC Berkeley, I lived in a co-ed fraternity. This meant that I could live in the fraternity house as a tenant although joining the fraternity was for males only. Originally from Norway, I wanted the ultimate U.S. college experience which for me included experiencing Greek life and all the social activities I knew came with it. As a group we would go to American football games together, have BBQs, keep each other company during all-nighters for finals, and do community work. We even travelled to Mexico for Spring Break together! We also had various house parties where we invited other college friends such as a Halloween party, rock ’n’ roll themed party and a graduation party. There were certain events for the fraternity members only such as a fraternity retreat and weekly meetings. 

I knew that by living in a fraternity it would be easier to make new friends, and I am happy to say that many of the people I lived with in Theta Xi (ΘΞ) are still my friends today – 6 years later.


Photo was taken by Silje Immerstein

Silje is currently a Research Associate at World Education Services in New York City. She developed a love and interest for international education while studying abroad at UC Berkeley as an undergraduate student. The experience taught her how to embrace diversity, and to be understanding of other cultures and values. Silje later returned and earned a Master’s degree in International Education from New York University.

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