From a young age I have always watched American movies and thought what would it honestly be like to live in America. I mean it all looks so interesting with the whole sorority and fraternity way of life at college. Could it be the same as the movies? Is it that wild? Before venturing to the states on several occasions I asked myself if I was born in the States would have I been apart of a fraternity or would have I opted for something else.
Well my turn came after meeting Kelly in Ireland back in 2013. I was over to the states for 3 months exploring and living the college life while she was completing her degree at Florida State University. I honestly didn’t know what to expect boarding the flight with a pocket full of paper money and American speaking airhosts aboard United Airlines.
After arriving in the states and being chaperoned around Orlando, Jacksonville and St Augustine for a few days, we were en route to Tallahassee. The anxiety was building as I had also lived on campus at a university in Australia, but FSU was ten times the size. How was I going to survive this one?
We arrived into Tallahassee, and I met my roommates, one of which had just graduated and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. Of course being Australian, my first question to him was, “Do you have a gun in this house and where is it?” I got a prompt response. “Yes, a 22 gauge shot gun in the cupboard.” He took it out and showed me. To be honest, I had no idea what I was looking at and just agreed with everything he was saying. We became mates and went shooting on several occasions. There’s something empowering about going out into the woods and shooting clays. I recall going shooting and the excitement of hitting my first clay after 50 attempts. It was like I had scored the winning points in a match! Although I will blame McKinley for poor throwing of the clays as to why it took me that many attempts.
Anyway, back to Tallahassee. I could not get over how enormous this place was with over 50,000 full time students. Kelly took me for a drive about campus and I was asking, “are we still on campus?” Always with a response of “yes, yes, yes.” As we drove up and down these streets full of sorority and fraternity houses, I recall asking Kelly why the hell are there symbols above the doors that look like upside down horse shoes and traingles. She laughed at me and said these are the Greek Symbols. I was none the wiser.
We arrived at Kelly’s Alpha Phi sorority house. The place looked like a children’s play house for some reason. I felt like it wasn’t real life. As I entered the doors and walked into the dining area I felt at least 50 pairs of eyes looking at me as if I was from a different planet. I just smiled and waved. I had to pinch myself, and I texted my closest mates this message:
“I am standing inside a sorority house full of girls. This is just like in the movies.”
All of Kelly’s friends proceeded to come up and ask me to speak, which I thought was a little strange. I would respond with a ‘hello’, and they would all giggle from my accent. When we would go out in Tallahassee or hang out at the “house”, I would be having a long conversation with people, and they would turn around to me and say “I have no idea what you are saying.” We are both speaking the same language!
After having some ridiculous nights out, it is fair to say Florida State University is an insane party college that has a VERY healthy student life. Its nickname around the state is “Tallanasty” for a reason. From the socials to the semi formals and formals, St Patricks Day madness and daily dollar drinks at “The Strip”, it was like I was living out my own movie. The price of drinks never really hurt the pocket with bottomless cups for $10 on the strip or $2 happy hour at Madison Social. We were always looking for a cheap and exciting night. I mean this is the way of life at college.
To this day I still don’t completely understand the sorority and fraternity way of life. It really seems highly demanding, and to think you could be fined money for not showing up to a meeting, well that’s just robbery. I mean do you get fined for not showing up to that 9am class on a Monday morning after drinking yourself silly on cheap booze? Didn’t think so!
In reality, it is what it is and I am glad I was lucky enough to be a part of it for 3 months. I learned from the best on how to ‘Y-bomb’, ‘shot gun’ and ‘smash and crush fireball.’ It was an experience that will stay with me forever. Although I am still waiting to tailgate at a Florida State college game, and I have been pestering Kelly to paint me a “cooler” since we met. Maybe that day will come sometime soon.
As my time at Tallahassee came to an end, I met some awesome people who all added to my time in different ways for better or worse. I will still sum up with this: Australians should give you guys a few lessons in how to drink. I mean I am all for a few hours of drinking, but making a day of it and lasting the entire day is much more satisfying. Its almost like you have achieved something for that day.