To UF students, the Greek community is a normal and constant component of our university. But to a foreigner, these Sperry-clad, preppy students who seem to be constantly sporting gang signs may not seem so ordinary.
More than 4,200 students were members of Greek organizations as of 2000, according to UF's website. According to the UF Fact Book, about 4,000 students enrolled in the Fall 2010 semester were international students. I am a resident of Weaver Hall, otherwise know as the international dorm because, according to the Department of Housing, all international students who wish to live on campus are assigned to Weaver.
"They call it Greek, but it's not really," said Priyanka Parmar, 19, a sociology sophomore from Leicester, England. "Nothing about it is Greek. My best friend at home is Greek, and I don't see anything here that's Greek."
She said she thinks it's just a name assigned to them.
Bibi Iqbal, 19, a biochemistry sophomore from Oxford, England, had a contrasting opinion.
"I think the way the media portrays them as very stuck up, blond-hair bimbo types, but I feel like they are not like that at all," she said. "At least not all of them."
"It's nice in some ways because you get to meet people from different years and different majors," she said. "So I think in that way it's good, and you get to do all these cool events."
Aidan Knowles, a 19-year-old journalism sophomore from Dublin, pointed out that Greek life isn't exactly familiar or normal to an international student.
"We don't have them back in Ireland," he said. "I find them a bit strange. They are kind of a strange cultural thing that I don't really understand."
"I think they are cool and stuff, but I don't like the air of exclusivity they seem to have around them," he said. "That's sort of unusual."