Last fall, Chloe Todd journeyed from the U.K. all the way to Grand Valley State University in Michigan to study abroad. Intrigued by sorority life at Grand Valley, she decided to go where very few Brits have gone before – Panhellenic recruitment. After finding her home in Alpha Sigma Tau, Chloe spent the year immersed in Greek life. She raised money for their philanthropy, mingled with other chapters at events, and created lifelong bonds with her sisters. Now that Chloe is back in England, I’ve asked her to reflect on her experience going Greek.
What made you decide to study abroad in America?
I knew since high school that I wanted to study abroad. America was an obvious choice for me, as I have always been interested in the history and culture. I knew studying abroad would be an adventure and offer me many new experiences.
Are there any major differences between British and American universities? What would you say was the biggest culture shock?
There are quite a few differences between British and American universities. For example, I only need to study for three years to complete my degree, compared to the 4 or more years that American students need to earn a bachelor’s degree. Grand Valley is also a lot less relaxed than my home university. For example, attendance does not count towards your grade back home. Also, most of our essays and exams are due at the end of the year.
I think the biggest culture shock was how different the Grand Valley campus is compared to my university in London. I’m used to taking a train or a bus to get to class every day, whereas the Grand Valley campus is like a little village.
Why did you decide to go through Panhellenic Recruitment?
I was really keen to embrace American culture, and I knew that Greek life was a big part of American universities. I also knew that it would be a great way to make friends. So when I arrived last September, I emailed to inquire as to whether I would be allowed to go through recruitment. I would only be at Grand Valley for two semesters, so I wasn’t sure if it would be possible. It turns out that I was actually emailing my future big, and that she had done an internship in London and loved England. So I guess it was meant to be.
Since there really isn’t any sort of Greek life in the U.K., did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?
Honestly, I had only experienced Greek life from what I had seen in movies and on television. I found recruitment so overwhelming, but at the same time incredibly exciting. Each stage of recruitment taught me something different about what it means to be Greek, and just how meaningful it is to be a part of the community.
How did the reality of Greek life at Grand Valley compare? Was it what you expected?
I was 100% expecting to experience what I had seen in television shows like “Greek”. Before going through recruitment, I quite wanted it to be like that. I am, however, so grateful that Alpha Sigma Tau was so much more that what you might typically think a sorority would be. Being in a sorority is absolutely better than I expected, and it means so much more to me than I thought it ever would.
What is the most important lesson being in a sorority taught you?
Being a member of Alpha Sigma Tau has taught me so many important lessons, it’s hard to pick just one. The most important lessons I have learned come from other sisters’ experiences and advice. I have learned a lot about myself, and the type of person I want to become by being around such an influential group of people. Every sister has a unique attribute that I aspire to; my sorority is filled with kind-hearted, smart, and brave young women. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look up to each and every one of them.
Overall, are you happy with your decision to go Greek?
Going Greek was the best decision I have ever made! I only wish that I was able to be an active for more than two semesters. I have made some lifelong friendships and amazing memories that I will always look back on with great fondness.
Studying abroad was the most challenging thing I have ever done. Being away from home, my family, and everything that’s familiar was so difficult. However, knowing that I could rely on my sorority to make me feel better is something that I will always be grateful for. Most importantly though, going Greek was so much fun!
How do you keep close with sisters now that you are back in England?
I mostly contact sisters online. Even if I’m not messaging them, it’s great to see pictures and posts on social media from all my sisters. It keeps me updated on their lives and the sorority. I’m definitely planning on visiting sometime in the future, and they know that they are all welcome to come and visit me in England as well!