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Global Greeks

You might know the Greek system is known for its close-knit families, philanthropic facets and commitment to academic excellence, but it’s time you add one more significant merit to the list, and that’s studying abroad.

In recent years, studying abroad has become such a huge part of collegiate life that many students seek out these opportunities their first weeks as a freshman and participating in more than one study abroad program is becoming increasingly popular each year.

One segment of campus that is a particularly significant contributor of study abroad students is the Greek system. Since so many Greeks study abroad, why not make a competition out of it? The Global Greeks Award recognizes both the fraternity and sorority whose chapters have had the highest participation in Study Abroad each year. This year, the numbers are in, and the winners are Phi Kappa Psi and Alpha Gamma Delta!

Pete Leenheers, a brother of Phi Kappa Psi, has participated in both the Purdue Summer in Florence and the Engineering Internships in Hannover and Clausthal during his time as a Boilermaker, and was able to discover new things about himself through his experiences.

“I realize that all the traveling I that I have done has helped me become more comfortable relying on myself,” Pete said. “Traveling abroad can be extremely stressful and I would often have to rely on myself to find a place to stay, find a meal, or make new friends. While doing this I learned a lot about my strengths, but also weaknesses I didn’t even realize I had.”

Another double study abroad-er comes from the other winning house, Alpha Gamma Delta. You could even say that this student, Lisa Abrego, studied abroad while studying abroad, as she is an El Salvador native studying at Purdue.

Lisa participated in the China Maymester program as well as the Summer in Siena and could not endorse studying abroad more.

“I love being able to interact with different cultures and just engage with people that I would have normally not been able to,” Lisa said. “I think that studying abroad is an incredible opportunity, which is why I had to do two!”

Pete feels participation in study abroad is important for both Greeks and non-Greeks because it gives you the opportunity to truly discover yourself.


“I found that living across the world really helped me find out who I was as an individual,” he said. “As long as I gave an honest effort to appreciate the people I met I never felt like I was being judged or needed to change myself in any way to be accepted. I’ve probably never felt more comfortable being different in my life.”

For Lisa, studying abroad provides another great opportunity for active Greeks to become even more involved and on an international level.

“We are already so active in our community, but there is a whole world of opportunities out there that we should take on,” she said. “It is also really neat to get to know other people who have never been exposed to our kind of Greek life so it is really cool to get to tell them about it.”

For both of these students, having their Greek houses recognized for their involvement in Study Abroad is a great honor.

“When I pledged as a freshman, studying abroad was not a normal thing for a brother to do,” Pete said. “I’m really proud of the guys and I hope we can keep our participation up. We don’t have to keep winning awards, but as long as the guys have an interest in experiencing something new, I’ll be happy.”

“(I am) so proud that our house is so involved, and happy that so many of my sisters have taken on the opportunities of putting themselves out there and having life changing experiences,” Lisa said.

At the end of the day, however, studying abroad isn’t about awards or recognition, but rather the opportunity to have a life-changing experience and learn something about yourself in the process.

So to end with a few words of advice for our readers…

“There are cooler places in the world than West Lafayette and they’re worth checking out.” – Pete

“No matter what, do study abroad. If money, time or whatever is in your mind is holding you back, just go to the Study Abroad office and they will help you sort it out. There is a ton of programs that are super different, so you will most definitely find something that works for you.” – Lisa

Amanda Norell is a junior at Purdue University where she is working toward a communication degree, supplemented by an art and design minor. A true Midwesterner, Amanda was born in Chicago and raised in northern Indiana, just minutes from the Michigan border. In addition to being Purdue's Campus Correspondent, Amanda is also a junior board member on Liberal Arts Student Council, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, and has both edited and written for The Exponent, Purdue's independent daily student newspaper.  She has held internships in both event planning and career development, and has her sights set on becoming an event and wedding planner after graduation. She cannot get enough of campus in the fall, crepes from Greyhouse, Urban Outfitters, and simply lovin' life. 
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