Girls moving in a flock from house to house and standing in lines outside in 30 degree weather would probably seem strange to the average person, but particularly to international students, many of whom had never heard of fraternities and sororities.
Engineering freshman Zena Kipkenda, who is from Nairobi, Kenya said that witnessing rush has been an interesting and eye-opening experience.
“Where I come from there’s nothing like rush. There’s nothing like Greek life or sororities and fraternities. It was new to some extent, I didn’t get what the point of it was,” Kipkenda said. “When it comes to public colleges, joining clubs in Kenya is up to an individual.”
Wharton freshman Shaunak Kulkami was also surprised that clubs and groups in America are very different from those in India, but grew fond of them after experiencing rush.
“Generally in schools there aren’t many clubs and the application process is much simpler. It’s never about getting to know the other brothers or getting people to like you,” Kulkami said. “It was quite shocking for me, like shocking in the good sense. I was really amazed by how much fraternities spend financially on this whole thing. For example, one fraternity took us to New York to see a boxing match so that was extremely surprising.”
Wharton freshman Marko Lamza, said that social life in general here has been different from that in his hometown in Croatia, where there are very few university-sponsored social groups, a remnant of the former Communist regime.
“Although Croatia isn’t communist anymore, education and social life has remained somewhat similar to communist times. But, here I got to know the brothers through rush and everything was very organized and nice,” Lamza said. “It wasn't like American Pie, they are actually nice people.”
Both Lamza and Kalkurni appreciated the social aspects of rush and even said they would consider joining a fraternity this semester. Now, they say rush is less of a culture shock and something that they are more understanding of.
“I’m more used to rush now so I’m always looking to the invites slipping under my door. But the events still surprise me. Each event surprises me more than the last one,” Kalkurni said.
However, not all international students found the idea of rush appealing.
“I’m still in the process of understanding it but to some extent I found rush superficial. I spoke to a few people about the rush experience, and not to generalize, and the way people spoke about it is like you have to go make yourself likable to a group of people,” Kipkenda said. “I don’t think I’d want to rush.”
Kalkurni suggested that future international students try out Greek life.
“There’s no harm in not knowing anything about this process. I personally didn’t even know what a frat was before I got here,” Kalkurni said. “I would recommend that an international student talk to members in fraternities and attend rush and just keep an open mind.”
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