One thing they always tell you in Germany before going to the United States to study abroad is how different friendships are. Almost anyone who has lived and studied in the US before will tell you the same thing: Americans are very friendly to you, but making actual friends is harder. In Germany it’s the other way around. We don’t do small talk in line at the grocery store or greet strangers on the street, but once you have made a friend they’re a good and loyal friend. To say I was nervous about this possible cultural difference is an understatement. Luckily, I met an active brother during my first few days in Lexington and let myself be convinced to at least try to rush. I was very cautious at first: all I knew about fraternities in the US was knowledge I acquired from movies, not to mention that German fraternities have quite a different reputation and should be avoided as much as possible. Despite those initial concerns, however, I have not regretted my decision to first rush and then pledge APO once. Being a part of APO has helped me find likeminded people and forge friendships that otherwise I would’ve never had. From pretty much the beginning of my stay in the US I had a group of people that I knew I could count on – something that is not necessarily a given, according to almost all other former German exchange students I talked to. I consider myself lucky beyond belief to have found this “home away from home” and I can’t wait for my NIA semester (even though I will sadly be going alum right after).
Written by Sira Berkhan