Photo courtesy of Will Saetren

Greek Systems on college campuses across the nation provide students with an opportunity to create a sort of “home away from home” when they step out from under the comfort of their parents house and enter the real world of secondary education.  In many cases, the families created by becoming part of a fraternity or sorority shape the eventual future of a college career, often stretching much later into an individuals life.  However, there are scenarios in which it only takes a few weeks or months for a person to realize the family they are working diligently to create may not be the best option. Such was the case with Will Saetren.

A citizen of both the United States and Norway, Saetren first enrolled in the University of Arizona in 2006.  Though he spent a majority of his childhood living in Norway, Saetren had already spent a significant amount of time in the states, and even spent a year as a student at Catalina Foothills High School in Tucson.  Because of his fathers role as a college professor in Norway, every few years he was able to travel to the states with his family to set up a temporary residence for a years time.

In his first semester at UA, Saetren opted to go through Fraternity Rush, ultimately landing him an invitation to join Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  Despite living in the U.S. for a few years of his childhood, he remained virtually ignorant of what the Greek system entailed.  “We don’t have any form of a Greek system in Norway, so everything I knew about fraternities I learned from movies like Animal House and Old School.  Those were still my references when I was about to go through rush, I didn’t know anything,” Saetren said.

It wasn’t long after he accepted his invitation to SAE that Saetren began to feel out of his element.  A few weeks into that first semester, his pledge semester, he made the decision to drop out of the house.  Though he never found a place in the fraternity, he was happy to have taken the opportunity, “It was definitely different, and would never have been something I could experience in Norway.”

The Kappa Alpha Theta house where Saetren worked as a hasher.

Even after his separation from SAE, Saetren still kept his foot in Greek life in a way.  For the final three years at UA, he worked as a hasher at Kappa Alpha Theta.  As a hasher, he would work in the kitchen and dining room of the sorority during lunch and dinners.  “That job was absolutely one of the most interesting jobs I’ve ever had,” Saetren said. “Some of the things I would see and hear in the house were crazy, after all I was an employee there and may not have been seen as a fellow student at all times.  I had a great time over the years as a hasher.”

Saetren recently graduated in December of 2010, and shortly after moved back to Norway to live with his family.  However, his tenure overseas will be short lived, as he plans on returning in the fall to attend graduate school at American University, pursuing a degree in Russian studies.  Until then, he remains as proof that even if a college kid cannot find a house they fit into does not necessarily constrict them from experiencing at least a small part of Greek life elsewhere.

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