February 10, 2016

Collegiate Perspective: Finding a Piece of Home Away from Home - Alpha Phi and Greek Life Abroad

I was waiting along the curb for my bus’s arrival. It was only seven in the morning, yet it appeared that most Dubliners were already awake and roaming their streets. I tried to hide the fact that my entire body was covered in goose bumps, shivering as a result of the cool, Irish air. My anxiety about the bus’s tardiness didn’t help.

Only moments before I most likely would have panicked, a young blonde girl who looked about my age came up to the elderly couple standing a few feet away from me.

“Are you waiting for the bus that travels through Wicklow?” the girl asked.

The couple nodded and the girl released a sigh of relief. I did as well. No matter what were to happen with our bus, at least the four of us would be in the same situation.

The bus finally arrived and I was one of the first to board. The girl followed not far behind and took the seat beside me. It didn’t take long for us to make the leap from strangers to friends. I think that can be attributed to the fact that some of the first words she spoke to me were, “Oh! So, you’re an Alpha Phi?”

Now, I was wearing a red, long sleeved t-shirt with Alpha Phi written on the front of my left shoulder, which was hardly visible with my black North Face jacket on top. Shelby, as I would later learn, was not an Alpha Phi – she was a Delta Gamma from a school in the west and somehow, still, that was enough common ground.

That day we stuck together, and our conversations were never lacking. We spoke about our separate adventures throughout the summer and our different lives back in the states. We spoke about our big sisters, the university life and the various events – social and philanthropic – that our two organizations orchestrate.

At the conclusion of that day, the two of us stepped off our bus and bid farewell to one another. While I knew I would probably never see her again, on my walk back to my apartment at Trinity College, I realized something.

By being Greek, and by being an Alpha Phi, my world, our world, becomes that much smaller.

Over the course of my summer in Ireland, one of the better friends that I made and spent the most time with was an Alpha Epsilon Phi. Halfway through my summer, in a small pub in the countryside town of Doolin, I met another Alpha Phi who was touring the country with her parents. And then lastly, days before my final departure, I met my Delta Gamma friend.

Of course, we’ll always have our Alpha Phi sisters. But if there’s one thing that all women involved in Greek organizations understand, no matter our distinct characteristics, it’s sisterhood. It’s an element that unites us whether we realize it or not an instant connection that exists beyond the walls of our various chapter rooms.

For me, that brings a realization that no matter how much “on my own” I believe myself to be, I am not necessarily on my own. On a different continent, in different country, in another time zone, I encountered three pieces of home that made this foreign land a little less frightening.

 Christina Castle is a collegiate member at George Mason University (Eta Lambda). To learn more about Christina, click here.

No comments: