Meeting The Best Brit Abroad

Who knew you had to travel 5,000 miles to meet some of the best British people ever? Okay so low-key, that’s a lie, because my best friends are still at home – but who knew there would be this many amazing people on the exchange?

Firstly. Let’s meet Perry – the British guy I had the biggest crush on until I found out he was gay (I didn’t find out for a while aha…). I first met him when we went to the welcome meeting – I was with another British girl and we all went up to the sign up booth together. I mentioned where I was from and he just scoffed, he doesn’t really remember it but he still scoffed! We didn’t really formally meet until a few weeks later when we were both drunk in a study room with a random bunch of people.

I found out I had just missed his birthday and drunkenly wrote on his Facebook that he was my favourite British person. That hasn’t changed too much – although, there have been dips in the friendship. He knows about my past and we’ve drunkenly exchanged hilarious and heartbreaking secrets. Turns out all along, one of the nights he doesn’t even remember. Perry is a great guy – he’s the one that persuades me to go on car trips and invite him to my formals. He’s the lad you see in the street first, primarily because of his height, but also because he’s always got a cheeky little smile going on.

Even when we both went home over Christmas – we met up in Winter Wonderland and he even met some of my fam. I guess you could say it was getting pretty serious. But really, it’s funny how we had to fly half way around the world to meet. Brits flock together, somehow managing to find each other randomly, no matter what country they’re in. I’ve met Perry, Ray (my flat neighbour), Rue – the petite girl who I’ve grown to appreciate, and even english people who are here permanently for university in general.

I know I come off as cold, and I’ve been told it’s an english thing – but there’s just something about having other Brit’s around you that makes you feel right at home – thousands of miles away from home. I guess it’s the distance that makes you reveal those secrets, and bond so quickly they become a shoulder to cry on – even if they don’t remember it.

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Let’s Talk Srat

What the hell is Srat? The cooler word referring to what is known as a sorority. A club-like-society, it’s full of girls that want to do good together, study, socialise and party together. I’m a member of one out here, and before I came out I knew what it was and I wasn’t going to leave without joining one. When I first moved in to my Dorm, my flatmate across the hall was in one – judging from my Facebook stalking and one look at the decorations in her room. She was my go-to for advice, let’s call her Ray, because she’s a little ray of sunshine.

Firstly I signed up for rushing online – after going to library walk almost everyday and being handed flyers, talking to the really ridiculously good looking girls, all with my dad in tow. When I met a fellow British girl the flat over; Rose, we decided to go to the information evening together. That’s also where I met one of my best friends that night – Lucy. A whole auditorium filled with beautiful girls and there I was, with Rose to my right and Lucy to my left. I introduced myself to Lucy and apparently I gave a good impression because later on she hugged me outside the dorms we apparently lived close to each other in, (which I still find really weird how comfortable they are getting into your personal space so quickly!).

The whole evening consisted of women saying what to wear, and how to act all week. Once you put in your application, you come in the next week and rush. It’s basically like rounds of interviews, you’re thrown into a room with hundreds of girls and you’re forced to small talk to an hour or so. They have a whole system that I know about now, but back then it just seemed all so overwhelming. They sing to you, hug you, tell you secrets and get to know you as best they can in their allowed five minute time slot. It’s a brutal week – you’re split into groups by surname and you’re given an itinerary. Miss one – they drop you. You also have the option to drop them – but it doesn’t always work out that way.

I got dropped from my top sorority first interview round – to this day I still don’t know why, but alas I ended up in a pretty neat one. I met a little group of friends that became my crew for the majority of the first quarter through rushing. I feel bad now, because we all thought we were going to drop the moment we got our bid, but something clicked in me and I wanted to stay. I thought I picked the wrong sorority, but in the end things happen for a reason and my Big, G-Big and best friends are now in it.

It’s round after round of interviews for a whole week, increasing in formality as the week goes on. Until Preference night – your top 2. It’s beautiful, it’s a ceremony unique to their chapter, and you never find our anyone’s that you didn’t pref for. Then Bid Day! You find out your Rho Gamma’s sorority, then you find out your own. You sit on your envelope, then you quite literally rush towards your sorority. Then the awkwardness starts – you take photos with hundreds of girls you don’t know, a lot of girls cry and another little ceremony happens.

Then it’s all new member tests and mumbo jumbo – you get your big – meet your best friends and get initiated into the chapter. Then you go wild. Sat life isn’t for everyone; the crafting, the sucking up, the pettiness and the cliques, but I’ve found a solid little group of friends that somehow we all ended up very wrongly in this sorority and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

For future reference – here’s a low down on all that jargon:

Big – The girl that is basically your mentor in the chapter and shows you how to be a frat girl, they also shower you with gifts first quarter. You do the same for them in winter quarter.

Bid Day – The day you find out which sorority you are in – after you ranked your top 2, it’s a day of pictures and awkwardness.

Chapter – your sorority, especially within the university – each university has the same sorority just a different chapter name.

Dropped – you can drop or get dropped. It’s basically saying no to a chapter that you don’t click with.

G-Big – My Big’s Big

Preference night – the night that you pick your top 2 and sit and talk with one girl you’ve bonded with in the process. At the end of the night you pick your top choice.

Rho Gamma – the girl that looks after you during rush week, you’re in a group sorted by surname and they disaffiliate from their chapter all summer so you are unbiased in picking which one you want.

Srat – girl version of Frat, duh.

Sometimes You Should Believe Bad Boys When They Say They Are Bad

Let’s meet Chris. I’m not sure I can quite recall meeting Chris for the first time but I remember one significant night. I’d seen him around, and as I’d mentioned, he was friends with Orlando and therefore friends with Brandy. Brandy and I are in the same sorority and we went to a frat party. Turns out, Chris was in that frat. I saw him one night and I was jealous that Brandy was talking to him because I had seen him around the dorms. Anyway, fast forward a few more frat parties and I get set up on a date with a frat boy to take me to a party. (Oh now that’s definitely another really really great story.)

There I was, at this party, talking to a British pledge, having been ditched by my date for someone wildly skinnier and prettier than me, and Chris walks up to me. We somehow end up outside, and I’ll admit, to get over my loneliness I was pretty darn tipsy at this point. He was foreign too – I won’t say from where, let’s just say he had a delightful accent. We end up surrounded by my sorority girls and a couple frat boys. The conversation turns to hazing – now, this doesn’t happen in sororities where I am, but low key possibly in the frats (never confirmed.) So we stand around laughing about rumours of what people have been said to have done.

Here comes the juicy bit…
He’s discussing how in other universities, fraternities get sorority girls to come in and sit on washing machines, turning them on and the frat boys have to circle the bits that jiggle. They have to lose that weight before initiation. All well and good, horrible hazing but it’s little more than small talk at this point. Then, this bloody boy turns around and looks me in the eye, saying; oh and I quote! “See now, I wouldn’t do this for any of these girls, except you.”

Now, drunk me is pretty slow, but my friend next to me isn’t. Her face turns from a smile to a scowl, she looks at me to gage my reaction and I’m sort of smiling/ sort of frowning. Did he just call me jiggly? Oh yeah. My friend knows he just called me jiggly.

Fast forward a few weeks and we are pre gaming at his place and we kiss. Then in conversation it comes out that he called me jiggly. Now get this, turns out he knew me from across the street in the dorms, and thought I was a different girl to “The Washing Machine Girl”. Oh yeah, I had a nickname in his flat. Yeah, noted. I knew he was a bad boy. We hang out, it’s fun, he’s not the greatest guy. He makes me laugh. We fight. We drink. It’s fun. We meet up in LA, he pays. He leaves.

I was hurt and I wasn’t so chill about it. Purely because he wasn’t meant to leave, but alas, the boy never really knew me and he made it very clear he only wanted one thing. So, lesson learned, trust the bad boy when he says he’s a bad boy. But boy can you have fun with a bad boy.

The Story of How the Cool Girl became my First Best Friend

Let us call her – Brandy. Brandy is one of those girls that you see across the street and know she’s got some crazy stories to tell. Brandy is quite literally the polar opposite of me, but the friend I’ve always dreamed of having.

I met her pretty early on in the year – she was hooking up with another exchange student who lived in my halls. Let’s call him Orlando. Brandy and Orlando had something else going on – they were two extremely passionate people. But cheeky little Orlando had a girlfriend back home. Now I didn’t know Brandy too well at this point, just the odd hello on the walkway outside our halls, and I’m ashamed to say I judged her for hooking up with a taken lad. (Turns out she didn’t know, see? Cheeky Orlando.)

That was my first impression; stunning, rebellious, too cool for school and a little intimidating. So our conversations were short and polite – until I met Orlando’s friend. Now let’s call this guy Chris. Chris is another story. But when we hung out it would be the four of us and several other people who were mutual friends. Eventually it ended up being the coolest crew that I had been craving for the longest time. We studied together, drank together and got into trouble together. I got closer to Brandy throughout this whole process, and when we both got a bid for the same sorority it was pretty clear that we were similar on some levels. She even got the girl I wanted as my big originally – another story.

Something clicked – neither of us really fit that “srat” lifestyle. But boy we did have fun. Brandy was the girl that persuaded me to jump out of windows to run away from cops after a party got busted, steal wings, rave in ubers, dye my hair pink, she taught me to own my body and not let the judgement get to me. This girl is a whirlwind. And she’s made me say yes to the things I would’ve said no to before.

Brandy – the girl with the blue hair –  the dopest girl I’ve ever met and despite my failure at yicking, picking up lads and my very very little smarts compared to you. I’m so glad we met.

Making Friends

Bloody hell, this was a rough one for me. I can’t say I’m the most social all the time but I do have small bursts of confidence. Let’s just say, I forgot how much small talk comes before inside jokes, discussing toilet habits and crying on their shoulders.

Some advice I’d give? Throw yourself into it. Say YES to EVERYTHING. I met a girl out here that doesn’t drink but she’ll come out on nights out with us and make sure we all get home safely, and boy she’s got some moves of her own. I was terrified that I would end up getting out here and being so lonely throughout all of it, but the biggest lesson that I’ve learnt by going through this process, is that you just gotta do you. Yeah its cool to reinvent yourself, get over your ex and go a bit crazy, but at the end of the day, these people will become life long friends – and you’ve still got to head back to your home uni at the end of the year.

I faked being sick for the first social event of the year – and I regret that every time someone brings up a memory of that day/night. Yeah its silly awkward, and it’s a little embarrassing when you’re sat alone and everyone looks like they’re having a good time. But chances are – they’re feeling just as awkward as you are and they’ve just mustered up the courage to say hi.

I’ve made some really great friends out here and I’ve also met some interesting people that don’t see eye to eye with me and vice versa. But at the end of the day – you’re abroad! Most likely, most of the friends you make will be too! It’s awkward yes, but just wait it out – keep going and honestly you’ll end up with the best stories, the sweetest shoulders to cry on and people that bring you a golden red cup because they know it’ll cheer you up. These people that I’ve met have no idea how much they’ve influenced me, broadening my mind and given me some of the best memories I could have wished for.

I’d do it all over again if I could. Even the awkward parts.

The beginning of it all

My biggest dream?

Living in America.

What better way to do it than combine doing it in my  degree, hey, work hard – play hard.

Honestly, I applied because my friend on my course did. She ended up dropping out of the process half way through and I carried on. Hands down, the best decision of my life.

I made my Dad do most of my application for me honestly, it’s all so bloody confusing. First I applied to my university, then had an interview to see if I would be a suitable candidate. Then, once you’re paired with your university – you apply to them. It’s one of the longest processes I have done – and entirely worth it. Handfuls of essays on what type of person you are, how you’ll contribute to the university and why you’re the best pick over another standard british girl.

When I found out I got America I was ecstatic then I got placed in my 3rd choice of campus, but hey I guess beggars can’t be choosers – and what a bloody ride it’s been.

Let’s start off…

Let’s start off with what you’re all dying to know about…

The toilets.

First off, I thought public toilets in England were bad but goodness me I was in for the shock of my life out here. The experiences I have had so far are not the best. Let me just note that you walk in and generally if the smell doesn’t hit you first, the bloody GAPS IN THE DOORS will. I’m sorry, but did they run out of material to fill in the sides of the doors? I’ll walk through the toilet and manage to know which ones are filled or not because I can see people’s pants around their feet and I can actually see their faces in the gaps in the doors. It’s crazy!

Anyhoo, I’ve become quite accustomed to it. It hasn’t become endearing but let’s just say I’ve learnt that if you want to be ‘comfortable’ just head home to pop to the loo – if you catch my drift.

Oh, also, I’ve discovered that absolutely no one has any idea what the loo is… I’ve discovered that if you don’t want to ask 5 people before you find it, it’s purely called the toilet..!