To be honest, I had zero intention of studying abroad in college. I mean, I loved the idea of running around some foreign country for “school,” but with everything I was involved in I didn’t think I could make the time for a whole semester. I’m trying to get into law school, which means outside of my sorority, I’m involved in three other extracurriculars, the hours of a double major, and a job. Fitting all that in together alone is tough work, so believe me when I say I understand every reason you could have for not going, but if I can do it I know you can, too.
1. You will get double the Instagram likes.
On top of having unlimited perfect #tbts, you will actually get to be in the most magnificent places on earth, and the pictures will be your best attempt to capture it all. Sometimes you end up in the craziest circumstances (like going to a club in an underground cave in Poland) and not only do you need to be able to remember it the next morning, you deserve the extra likes because you braved three flights of stairs in heels.
Plus, let’s be honest, you’re experiencing more of the world than everyone at home, and they should get to see part of that since they can’t go. You are their culture guru. When you study abroad, everyone who already has is watching you with hopeful and expectant eyes and living vicariously through you. In a way, everyone you love (and those bitches who stalk your Instagram) is coming with you on this incredible journey. The increase in likes isn’t terrible, either.
2. You will make friends outside of your sorority.
I had friends outside my sorority before studying abroad, but they were usually also greek. I LOVE my sisters and preach on how diverse we are during rush, but we all know sometimes it can get old. There’s drama, that one sister you hate, and the same six girls you always go to parties with. I was the only girl from my sorority to study in Europe that semester, but it was a blessing in disguise.
At first, I was nervous that I would miss my family, boyfriend, and sisters WAY too much. I did miss them, and it is hard watching them all post pictures at formal while you’re studying ancient art, but I adapted. I got to know some amazing girls I would have never talked to, guys I would have been too scared to ask to formal before, people from sports teams that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and people that thought I paid for my friends until we were forced to spend three months together. We became a family through months of train rides and late night conversations, countless hours walking through cities, and living together in a place where we didn’t know anyone else. I became closer to my study abroad family in one semester than I had with anyone in my sorority after two years.
3. You DO have time for it.
I won’t lie, it takes a day of sitting down with the catalog and multiple pieces of scrap paper, but you can make it work. It might mean taking two summer courses, but that’s a small price to pay for what was easily the most incredible experience of your life. A professor let me enroll in his course at my campus while I was gone, as long as I wrote twelve very long essays. Believe me when I say the faculty will always be willing to make it work for you, because these programs depend on your money and lots of participation. The world really is yours, and there’s no better time than now when the school is literally supporting you. It’s cheaper and easier than trying to do it on your own, trust me, and once you graduate into the real word of full-time jobs, families, and more, you will regret not giving up one semester.
4. It will make you a better person.
I remember during orientation everyone talked about coming back “changed” from study abroad as if it was a Carrie Underwood song. I didn’t buy it. I thought there was no way going on an over-glorified vacation changes you, unless it makes you more snobby. I was wrong. It’s not because millions of museums make you cultured, drinking is suddenly a dignified thing, you might have slept on a train station floor twice, and you and your new bffs can go backpacking in the Alps. In fact, I don’t know what it is, but the world just seems to shrink. You know you can go anywhere, you can do anything.
The feeling grows inside of you and you don’t even notice, until three months later you’re crying because you don’t want to leave. Living somewhere else forces you to abandon your comfortable world and embrace an exciting and adventurous new one, and you will forever be changed. You become more patient, more sure of yourself, and more… you. Just a you that you didn’t know existed.
5. You gain a new appreciation for different ways of life.
Maybe it’s the ease of public transportation, the regularity of seeing people on elephants, or learning to love the amazing wonders that exist beyond our borders that instill that #wanderlust inside of you, but coming back to America will seem like coming back to an entirely different life.
When you get back, you will have learned so much more about this great big world that it just won’t seem the same. You’ll probably have visited a building older than our country, maybe even lived in one for awhile, and suddenly being the oldest sorority on campus will seem like a silly thing to brag about. You will appreciate different things and value your friendships all the more. You’ll finally understand what being grown up is about, and that it doesn’t hinge on being able to buy all the Lilly Pulitzer dresses to wear to your inevitable brunches.
You will have lived a fantastic life out of a suitcase for the longest three months of your life. You’ve actually started to live beyond the confines of your college town and there’s no going back. Sure, you’ll still always be that new freshman pledge that didn’t know her limits and ended up passed out in a strange frat house, but you will also be the girl who met a sister from a Texas chapter on a yacht in Croatia. You will love the simplicity and challenges of your new lifestyle, and your sisters waiting at home will love the person it’s shaped you into even more.
And then you might just love it so much, you have to tell every sorority girl in the nation to try it, too. .