Ryan Huang and Elisabeth Oeverli are students at Iowa State with different majors, from different backgrounds and different countries, but both made the decision to join the greek system on campus.
There are few international students in the greek system at Iowa State.
“We really don’t do any special recruiting for international students, and we don’t keep that demographic,” said Cindy Marquardt from Office of Greek Affairs.
This did not discourage Huang and Oeverli, and they are glad they made the decision to become a part of the greek community.
Both students described going through greek recruitment week as a new experience. Oeverli said the amount of girls was terrifying at first, but learned to embrace it.
“It was different in a cool way,” Huang said.
Huang is a freshman studying mechanical engineering from Xiamen, China, and is a member of Farmhouse fraternity. He credited a lot of his interest in joining the greek system to pop culture, including movies such as “Stomp the Yard.”
Oeverli also credited American movies such as the “American Pie” series with informing people from other countries of the greek life in the United States, though she believed these movies often give people the wrong idea.
Oeverli, a sophomore in pre-biological/pre-medical illustration from Norway, said she feels as though she has “grown a lot being in the greek system.”
Part of this growth for Oeverli as well as Huang was the chance to improve their English speaking capabilities.
“I signed up also partly because I heard I would have to do a lot of talking so I also looked at it as a great way for me to practice my speaking abilities before school started,” Oeverli said.
Huang said joining the greek system was helpful in getting to know people and improving his English.
“Since I am an international student, you come to the U.S., and you want to improve your English and learn about the American culture,” Huang said.
Oeverli even lives in her sorority house now and said it has been a great experience.
“There are always people around to talk to and there are so many different majors and personalities, so I feel like I can learn something from each and everyone,” Oeverli said.
“They helped me ease into the American culture and have guided me throughout several occasions where I have been confused about something that I have never seen before.”
With the greek community preparing for recruitment next year, Huang’s and Oeverli’s experiences show that it is able to reach out to a broader international community as Iowa State moves toward being a more diverse campus.
“I encourage all international students to at least give the greek system a try,” Oeverli said.