What I learned Living in a Sorority House

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So, the year is almost over. It’s time to pack up your winter coats and skinny jeans in favor of tissue tees and denim cutoffs and bunk in the library until finals week is over.  And as soon as you move that final box and lock your dorm room key for the final time it’s summer forever…right? Well, it may not seem like it now, but a new school year will sneak up on you before you know it, and along with it a whole new place to live. For some, next year may bring another dorm room; for others, an off-campus apartment or house.  But for many sorority girls, September will mean a move to another world entirely: the world of a sorority house, that is. Moving into a sorority house is like entering an alternate-universe girl world, and it’s a culture shock for even the most frilly, flirty Sally Sororities among us.  As a sage and experienced end-of-the-year sophomore, it is nothing less than my duty to pass on the lessons I learned during my year at a sorority house.  With these tools, you can muffle the sonic boom of sorority life come move-in day (hint: it sounds just a little bit like Ke$ha).       

Lesson One: Buy Yourself a Pair of Earplugs

Seriously, sorority houses are LOUD. Who knew girls could produce as much noise as they do? From the second the earliest riser gets up (at roughly 6 am) to the instant the hardest-working engineer or craziest partygoer falls into bed (again, roughly 6 am), a sorority house is comparable in noise level to the front row of a Justin Bieber concert. Music plays at all hours of the day and all days of the week — and whether sisters are getting ready to go out or getting ready for a huge midterm, the playlist is always party-appropriate (the smooth, velvety tones of LMFAO are particularly prevalent at my house), and always at full volume.  Add screeching sisters with bad hair days, clomping high-heels, and constant marathons of SoapNet and Bravo, and you’ve got a true sorority symphony.  If you, like me, find that all that noise isn’t the best studying (or sleeping) soundtrack, try getting yourself a pair of earphones — they work wonders!

Lesson Two: You No Longer Have a Car (If Anyone Asks)

Bringing your car to school is super-convenient, right? You can drive to class, you can go shopping, you can go to the movies, all without having to worry about scoring a ride or taking the bus.  But when you move into a sorority house, a girl with a car becomes a resource more valuable than the rarest African diamond — and just as exploited. If you bring your car to a sorority house, you’ll be CONSTANTLY hit up for rides all over campus.  You’ll shuttle sisters to class, exams and the library; you’ll chauffer them to endless practices and parties, and you’ll pile ten sisters on your trips to and from school during breaks.  Basically, you’ll take on an extra job as an unpaid taxi driver, and who wants to do even more work in college? Trust me, leave the wheels at home — the extra walk to class will do you good, and you’ll thank me when you’re not being constantly badgered for rides.

Lesson Three: Not All Clothes are Share-Able

Every girl thinks a bid to a sorority is an instant invitation into 40 girls’ closets; you assume that if you’re all sisters, you can share everything, especially wardrobes. But I was shocked to find, upon moving into my sorority house, that lots of girls are reluctant to lend out their best Alice & Olivia cocktail dress or Louis Vuitton bowling bags, or even their cheapest t-shirts from Urban Outfitters. While you (like me) may be the most generous girl on campus, lending your best party dresses and patent leather pumps left and right, other sisters may be more guarded about their precious cargo.  After all, a night of partying (and subsequent sorority-house-kitchen-raiding) isn’t too friendly to a white dress, or even to a black one, and some sisters are smart enough to keep their best frocks well out of reach of their sisters’ grubby hands. So don’t expect to always get what you want when it comes to a sister’s sartorial stores, and consider making some rules of your own.  After all, do you REALLY want your best dress returned with a huge cranberry-juice stain, or worse, not returned at all? I didn’t think so.

Lesson Four: Catch the Early-Bird Special or Go Hungry

While on the surface we may appear to be 18-22 year old girls, sorority girls are really octogenarians at heart — especially when it comes to our eating habits.  At every sorority house on my campus, the second the clock strikes 5 p.m. the stairs shake as girls stampede into the kitchen to get their fill of chicken marsala before everyone else.  And by 5:15, every last morsel is cleared and the sisters are left to snack on cereal or leftover fruit salad.  If you don’t make the 5:00 early bird special, you better stock up on your take-out menus, because you will not be enjoying your sorority meal plan that night. And start re-adjusting your palate to The Sorority Food Pyramid, which consists of four nutritious food groups: cereal, chocolate, yogurt and whipped cream. Just make sure you hit up the “home gym” (read: treadmill and elliptical in the basement) to work off all those delicious, well-rounded meals! 

Keep these lessons in mind, and you’ll be prepared for life in a sorority house months before all your sisters.  But even more important than a hidden car, guarded clothes, and early dinners is the bond you take away by year’s end.  Nothing brings a group of girls together like a year living together, eating together, getting ready together, studying together, and walking around in your grossest pajamas together, and a year in a sorority house solidifies your sisterhood more than any other experience. I came into the sorority house in August with seven best friends and 35 “other girls” in my pledge class. I’m leaving this May with 42 best friends. So come prepared, and come with an open mind, and a sorority house will become less of an alien planet and more of a home away from home!

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About The Author

Amanda First is a senior English major at Cornell University.  She is Life Editor of Her Campus, as well as founding editor of Her Campus Cornell. She has interned for Cornell Alumni Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Parents through ASME's internship program.  Some of her favorite things include high heels, browsing ShopBop, yoga, The O.C. reruns (but only before Marissa dies), and Tasti D-Lite. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in magazine journalism.

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