Sisterhood is Life Changing

Hannah Fritschner joined the Select Study Abroad team two summers ago. She is now our Assistant Director and an integral part of our team. We knew she was Select material when we saw how much she cared about our students. Within the first few days she knew everyones’ names, hometowns, colleges, majors, chapters, favorite foods, and favorite colors. When we asked her how Select Study Abroad has been #lifechanging for her, well, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves:

My college didn’t have Greek life. I don’t have any sisters and I never went to camp. I’ve never done the girl bonding thing. I never really understood why anyone would join a sorority. After working for Select Study Abroad for one summer, I get it. These girls are a lot of things. They are strong and smart, adventurous, fun, and thoughtful. Most of all, they are supportive.

Going abroad with strangers can be daunting. Italian culture is foreign in more ways than one, and though we (your Select Study Abroad Staff) try to make it as seamless as possible, speedbumps are inevitable. From the get-go, though, the girls had each other’s backs – finding common ground, encouraging each other to try new things, playfully calling each other out, studying together, building each other up, getting frustrated at things they would later laugh about. It was like they all knew they were going to come out of this experience with an amazing bond, so they decided to skip the awkward period and embraced the bond immediately. That’s not easy, and I think it’s uniquely sorority.

Last summer we had a few students taking an event planning class, and for their final project they had to organize a community event. They put an enormous amount of time and energy into planning the event and coordinating it with the community. All of our other students set aside their own plans to surprise them at the event and help ensure its success. It may seem like a small gesture, but they all had individual plans for their last week in Florence, not to mention exams of their own to study for, and they all took a few hours to support their sisters. From the first day to the last they were always there for each other.

If you have any doubts about studying abroad with your sisters, don’t. Yes, there can be frustrations. You may get annoyed. That’s true of all relationships. But your sisters are there to help you through the homesickness and culture shock, and they’ll turn your good times into unforgettable memories. These girls made me understand what sisterhood is all about, and I count myself lucky to know them.

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Kathleen GETS Select Study Abroad

We had the great pleasure of having Kathleen on both our Mother-Daughter Trip last year as well as our June Study Abroad Session. She brought an energy that was truly infectious, the kind that can infuse an entire group and bond them together around her positivity and genuine, non-stop laughter. When we read what she wrote about Select Study Abroad it all made even more sense. She showed us that she really gets it. She gets Italy, she gets study abroad, and she gets sisterhood. She gets us:

“To travel to Italy is not merely to enjoy gourmet meals, see beautiful sights, and soak up the Tuscan sun. To study abroad is not merely to take a class in a different country. To be a part of a sorority is not merely to have a nice group of girlfriends.

To travel to Italy is to experience a culture unlike anything you have ever known. You aren’t just eating; for the first time, you are trying pasta that was handmade only minutes before it enters your mouth. You aren’t just drinking; you are tasting wine from grapes that were grown, fermented, and bottled only miles away. You aren’t just sightseeing; you are standing in the shadows of hundred-year old towers and praying in the same churches where great Renaissance thinkers have been laid to rest. This is more than a vacation.

To study abroad is to immerse yourself so deeply in the Italian culture that it becomes a permanent part of your identity. You aren’t just learning a new language; you are struggling to understand the people around you as they speak elegant Italian. You aren’t just visiting; you’re living in here and trying to make sense of a way of life that is so incredibly different from everything you’ve ever known. You aren’t sitting in a classroom reading about Machiavelli, Galileo, and Dante; you are standing in front of Galileo’s tomb in Santa Croce, you are staring up at Dante’s home on via Santa Margherita. This is more than a class.

To be a part of a sorority is to fully commit yourself to a sisterhood. You aren’t a gaggle of girls; you are an assembly of women bound by ritual and rooted in history. You aren’t a part of this for the parties; you are a part of this for the joyous celebrations of friendship. You aren’t here to gossip and chat; you are here to empower, uplift, and support one another. You aren’t just friends; you are sisters. This is more than a group of girls.

When you combine travel, study, and sisterhood, don’t be surprised when you find yourself in the most powerful six weeks of your life. Don’t be surprised when you fall in love with a city so deeply that you feel you must have lived there in another life. Don’t be surprised when you wake up before your alarm because you are truly excited to go to class in the morning. Don’t be surprised at how quickly and deeply you form bonds with the women around you.

Don’t be surprised when, only weeks after you’ve left, you find yourself trying to think of ways to return to Italy with your sisters and recreate a perfect summer.”

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