I've heard the stereotypes, and I know the universal notions about 'sorority life' in America.
Although I often prefer to deny ALL of these things, I will admit that many of them are real. But, indeed, some of them are absolute rubbish.
Too often the movies portray us all as blonde, sesh ledges, disregarding studies, sleeping around, washing cars in our bikinis, and attending raging parties every night.
I lived in a sorority house with 85 energetic, bright, American girls for 2-years in a row – so I know what's real and what's not.
After living abroad, I've realised many people believe that being 'Greek' means you're done some pretty outrageous things. I'm about to uncover the truth and dismiss your false stereotypes.
You can't just 'join one'
It's quite a process. Potential new members must go through 'recruitment', which places each woman in a particular sorority. It's the active process that each chapter member takes to find the best members for their organisation.
It's a mutual selection process – if you don't want the house, you drop it off the list. If they don't want you, they drop you off the list.
The houses do resemble a mansion
I can't speak for every sorority house in America, but for the most part, they're significantly nicer, bigger and more glorious than your typical gaff. And they're full of 19-22 year old girls living, eating and breathing together on a college campus.
We do call each other 'sisters'
Bonded by the same social chapter, sisterhood is central to sorority life. We frequent social events exclusive to the particular sorority, such as formal dinners, chapter meetings, camping trips, or community service efforts.
In fact, service is a HUGE aspect of sorority life. You must log a certain number of community service hours per year in order to remain a member.
It creates a unique bonding opportunity, and benefits the community.
There's usually a room in each house that only members can enter
All sounds a bit creepy, but it's true – there's often a 'chapter' room where meetings are held, and only initiated members can step foot inside.
I'm not sure what the repercussions would be though... maybe death?
Speaking of initiation...
It's the only way a woman can officially become a sister in the sorority. This is a week-long process that new members (usually freshmen) go through, ending with a secret initiation process that entails... well, I can't tell you that.
But once you're initiated, you're in.
A sister for life.
Oh, and during that week, everyone is on the '3-B's'
That mean no boys, booze or bars. I'm serious. They're off limits – and if you break the rules, you threaten your membership in the house.
It's all for the good of the cause, though.
We have a personal chef... and a house mom
That's right – every chapter house has someone to cook three meals a day, five days a week for them. The quality of menu varies from place to place, but it's nearly always an open buffet with hot food waiting for you in the downstairs kitchen.
All sisters call the house mom 'mom', and she's there to keep the house safe and sane – essentially look after us.
Exactly what you need in college.
We do frequent fraternity parties
Especially as fresh meat (freshmen and sophomores), attending packed fraternity parties is a common weekend activity.
I won't go into detail about this, but it's one of the social aspects of being Greek.
The pre-arranged date parties are always nice too. Whether he's your boyfriend, best friend, or an absolute stranger, bring 'em along – chances are, he went to the last one with your sister anyway.
What is this 'Greek' thing?
The term 'Greek letter organisation' is often synonymous with the terms 'fraternity' and 'sorority.' So you could be an Alpha Chi Omega (ΑΧΩ), a Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ), a Kappa Kappa Gamma (ΚΚΓ), a Sigma Kappa (ΣΚ) and the list goes on...
It all dates back to the late-nineteenth century, when initiation rites and ceremonies were borrowed from the philosophy and literature of the ancient Greeks.
Pretty cool stuff?
You must uphold academic standards
Every chapter genuinely has a required GPA (grades) to uphold, and if you don't met them you're a goner. Keep those grades up girls – you're in school to get a degree, remember.
There are massive spring break fiascos
Gather the gals – we're going to the beach! These unreal week-long trips do in fact exist, and things may or may not get weird.
Fraternity boys may be notorious for getting evicted out of their houses, but us girls – we keep it classy.
A sorority is NOT a cult
I understand the assumption, what with all of the secret rules, rituals and bonding within each sorority. But I like to think the 150+ women in my chapter, at least, are quite inclusive.
Sorority girls are not brainwashed, and not everyone 'worships' the sorority they're in.
I mean – this isn't culty, is it?
So, there you have it
The truth about sororities in America – sorry if I've spoiled the movies, friends.