by Tina VanSteenbergen
When I moved into the sorority house for the first time, I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. I told you my story this summer, about how I was kind of terrified to live with 30 women. Living with sorority women was an experience I had only been able to prepare myself for through stereotypes.
And now, here I am 3 years later, a sorority woman who works with sorority women for a living. Who’d have seen this coming? Not me. Because I had no idea I was being recruited.
The reason I’m a sorority woman today is because my sisters understood something I didn’t: people don’t join sororities; people join people.
This post is meant to help you find ways to consistently build and deepen relationships with non-Greek women year-round. I’ll share a bit more of my story, and then provide some practical tips for you below.
Knowing what I know now, knowing that people join the relationships they make and the way those relationships make them feel, I can pinpoint the exact moment I started to think sorority might just be a place I belong.
About one week into living in the house, I had finalized the list of things I still needed to grab from Walmart. I didn’t yet have a car on campus, and was in the process of looking up the bus schedule to get to the store and back when there was a knock on my door. Three of the ladies in my house were about to head to Walmart for a move-in run and wanted to see if I needed a ride. Better than the bus, right?
I was in the car for maybe 5 minutes before I realized this was not going to be like any other shopping trip in my life. The radio blasted some old school N’Sync songs while each of us sang at the top of our lungs and danced like no one was watching. In between songs they asked me questions about my life in grad school and what Minnesota was like. Once in the store, they grabbed carts and began moving through the store, aisle by aisle, each of us finding something new to giggle about on each shelf. They helped me find cute curtains and pillows, and I helped them pick out school supplies. And we laughed. We laughed the whole time.
That trip to Walmart, and countless other stories like it, is how I was recruited. Those silly trips, late night chats, dinner conversations and coffee runs are what changed my mind about sorority. Those women showed me friendship, love, laughter, kindness, fun and purpose—they showed me their values, their sisterhood, simply by inviting me into it. By spending time with me in ways they were already going to spend time together, they brought me into their world. They recruited me.
And, I promise, it doesn’t have to happen during a trip to Walmart. Here are 10 fun things you can do with your sisters and your non-sorority friends—anyone you’d like to have an amazingly fun time with to deepen relationships (THIS is what sorority recruitment could look like for you).
1) Spend an afternoon at a museum: What a fun way to get out of the house! Many museums around town will have a day each week or month where you can get in for free, or donations. Giving back while having great conversations with friends in a classy place? I’m in.
2) Take to the outdoors: Grab your lunch, and go sit outside at that picnic table. Take a blanket from your room, your friends and some homework. Instead of chatting over coffee in the busy coffeeshop, take your drinks out for a nice walk. Mix up the routine and add some sunshine (weather permitting, of course).
3) Get baking: a few friends, flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate chips, etc. = recipe for a fun and delicious evening! Sit around with your friends and get to know each other while baking your favorite treats. Bonus: everyone gets to take home something delicious.
4) Take an exercise class together: The first time I took a Zumba class with my girlfriends, I think I was more sore the next day from laughing so hard than actually working out. These kind of adventures are the making of some of the best stories — ask my sisters about the one where I fell over during Zumba. True story.
5) See a bad movie: Sit in the back of an empty theater and whisper about a terrible movie (as long as it’s not distracting other viewers, of course). Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with seeing a great movie with a great-looking cast. Sounds like good times either way!
6) Can we go thrift shopping?: Definitely. Looking for costumes for the next event? Or a vintage version of that jacket you saw in InStyle last week? Take some friends and an open afternoon to cove through the thriftshops around town. Be sure to have Instagram and Snapchat ready!
7) Homeworking at the coffeeshop: We’ve got to study, right? Why not do it in a place where we can also be a bit social with one another? Find a coffeeshop close to campus and camp at a big table for the day. Even school’s more fun with just girls.
8) Go to an event: …but not a fraternity or sorority event. Grab a few friends and go check out a program being put on by a different campus organization. Maybe one of your sisters has a dance team performance or a soccer game. Maybe you’ve never been to a student government meeting. A play on campus? The cultural student organization is having a food night? Perfect. Bring a new friend and get involved on campus.
9) Spend an afternoon on Netflix: Because let’s face it — we’re going to do it anyway. Might as well invite over a few sisters and friends, and kick it old school with a marathon. Friends? Boy Meets World? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? High School Musical(s)? Gossip Girl? Golden Girls? Don’t forget the popcorn.
10) There’s always room for brunch: Brunch is one of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends. Whether we go out or make it at someone’s house, we catch up about each other’s lives, tell stories and share laughs. It’s almost like an adult version of the slumber parties we had when we were little girls. But with delicious breakfast food.
That’s just a few ideas. I bet you’ve got more. Tell us about them! Share this blog, and with it your favorite thing to do with your girlfriends. Especially the girlfriends you think might make great sisters some day.
Fun note: this blog was inspired by/brazenly borrowed from a funny moment when Matt Mattson, Phired Up co-founder, admitted to reading this article. Credit for the photo goes to Cosmo, obviously.