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.