What is this thing called a sorority? That’s the question Lena Fayner asked when she got to SMU all the way from Moscow. In Russia, Greek life is non-existent in universities.
“My parents still have no idea what sorority means,” she said.
Fayner, a senior finance major, was recruited from her home country for the SMU women’s tennis team.
After talking to teammates, Fayner decided to give this “rush” thing a try. Going in blind, Fayner rushed as a sophomore and pledged Kappa Alpha Theta.
Fayner said she has made genuine friends that she knows she will keep forever.
SMU sophomore Amanda Rule said she loves having Lena as a sorority sister.
“I think it’s so cool that she’s from Moscow,” she said. “I’ve never been there.”
There were many other differences Fayner noticed when she arrived at SMU from her hometown. For one thing, people in Moscow walk more.
“No one is walking around here in Dallas, everyone is driving and sidewalks are empty,” said Fayner.
Fayner describes Dallas as laid back and Moscow as bustling and busy, more like New York. Fayner misses the big city feel, but recognizes the benefits of a smaller city.
“I like the fact that everything is super close to campus and I can get anywhere in 10 minutes and not spend hours in traffic, but at the same time I miss the rhythm of a big city,” she said.
Fayner said house parties are not a thing back home, and that no one has ever heard of “red solo cups,” used for drinks at Greek parties.
“Night life is crazy back home. We stay out until 5 or 6 and then there is an after party, but we also get to the bars around 1 in the morning,” said Fayner.
Fayner said Texans’ southern hospitality is remarkably different than the people of Moscow. In fact, she said the approach to becoming friends with people in each city is rather opposite.
“People are definitely more welcoming here, ” Fayner said. She described the people of Dallas as “easy to first connect with, but harder to get inside the inner circle.”
Moscow people have a different attitude when accepting friendships.
“It’s hard to get people to even talk to you, but if they decide you are worth talking to, it basically means you’ll be friends.” said Fayner.
Fayner has made her mark here in Dallas. You can find her hanging out with her sorority sisters or playing hard on the tennis court.