It’s finally here…Preview Weekend.  It’s been circled on your calendar since the link to sign up came on the Panhellenic Facebook page in January.  You’ve counted the months and days, now it’s down to hours and minutes.  Many of you are already “in the city” while today is a travel day for the rest.  I remember this weekend like it was yesterday.  The anticipation, the nerves, the stress and the butterflies and most of all the crazy fun my daughter had.  I was so lucky to be able to share those 3 days with her.

For those of you who are already “in town” you will have  few hours to kill before the Friday evening parties start.  We actually drove all day Friday and didn’t get in until about 3pm.  All the way down we kept speculating what Preview would be like.  Since we were coming from a part of the country where Preview Weekends didn’t happen and we knew NO ONE who had ever done this before we could only guess what was in store.  I’m not sure who was more nervous…my daughter or myself but on a scale of 1 to 10 we were both above 15!!!

My daughter had made a playlist for the car of “sorority” songs (or at least what we perceived were sorority songs…we had to adjust the list for the next drive).  We listened to “Southern Voice” by Tim McGraw, “Sorority Girls” by Luke Bryan (did you know his wife was an ADPi?),  “Sweet Southern Comfort” by Buddy Jewell,  “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean  and a whole lot more….sun roof open singing at the tops of our lungs!!! We had Mapquest and the GPS whom we named “Barbara”.  About 3 hours into day 2 of the drive (we had left the night before and driven 3 and 1/2 hours..spent the night and then were doing the second half on Friday) we changed Barbara’s voice to the British accent…it was hysterical to hear her pronounce some of the names of the small Tennessee and Mississippi towns.  Entertainment at it’s best.

As you know from an earlier post my daughter stayed with a sorority girl in an all female dorm just across from sorority row.  I so wish The University still did that but unfortunately between the liability and the new curfew in town, legally it is not possible. We arrived with a little time to spare (that’s a really good thing because my daughter will tell you I am directions challenged :/), so we parked and walked down to the area that is called “The Strip”.  The Strip is full of shops and restaurants and lots of college students.

There were sorority girls everywhere!!! How did we know?  Well they all wore what has been referred to as “the sorority uniform”, oversized sorority shirt ( more on this later), Nike Tempo shorts,  and Sperry’s or Chaco’s or flip flops.  It was sunny and 70 degrees 🙂 , a huge difference from the 45 degree threatening to snain (rain/snow) weather we had left at home.  As everyone passed we couldn’t help but stare..ADPi’s Alpha Phi’s, AChiO’s, Tri Delts, ChiO’s…to the right, to the left, in front and behind us (we had swivel heads).  We were mesmerized.  They all looked so sophisticated and beautiful.  My daughter commented over and over again how she felt like “such a creeper” but we just kept walking, looking, staring…taking it all in :).

My daughter is quick to pick up on trends and fashion and this was the first “aha moment” of Preview.  She immediately honed in on the “shirt” …and it became a quest.  We called it “The quest of the holy sorority girl shirt”.   We hit every t-shirt store in town that weekend looking for those shirts only to discover that in order to have one she had to become a “sorority girl” .  We found a couple that were “wanna be’s” ..oh…. we snatch those up but the true “sorority girl” t-shirt eluded us until after recruitment (well actually during..she got the first two during recruitment to wear for Philanthropy Day).

Fashion tip:  If you are at Preview visit “The Shirt Shop” (525 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL)…ask them about their “comfort colors” t-shirts.  The sorority girls wear these and it will serve as a replacement until you get your first “official” shirt.  Many have the women’s t-shirt, v neck with the elephant on the left hand side but they also wear the mens pocket t (remember buy 1 size larger than you normally wear…they wear them big)..these are the ones that come in comfort colors.  The Shirt Shop is an  “icon” in this college town…it is usually filled with Greek men and women.  This is also a great place to buy “game day” dresses and recruitment dresses.  We actually bought a great dress for recruitment there :).

So after “creeping” and “killing time” I dropped my sweet child off and headed to the hotel.  Dropping off was interesting….tons of high school seniors were in the lobby all “meeting up” with their sorority hostess for the weekend (I just can’t stress how GLAD I am that she got to stay with Nicole….).  It was like walking into a Vera Bradley Store….Vera was EVERYWHERE!!!  Oh and Tory Burch ballet flats and school uniforms and Coach Swingpack purses.  My daughter had researched and looked at pictures from the different sorority websites so we were good with all of the above ..she looked like she fit right in.

The first night she was invited to two different parties.  I have to tell you it felt awkward having Nicole take her to another sorority’s get together but she assured me everyone was doing it and it was fine.  I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I got the text that said “Hey, we are going out tonight after the parties.  The fraternities are having band parties.  Nicole just went through my clothes and asked to borrow a dress (winky face)  I am so glad my clothes passed…thanks mom”.  Whew!!!!!  We had done so much shopping for this weekend..remember I had to transform my somewhat “jock” daughter into a quasi “southern belle”.  Gotta tell you that transformation did not come with out a few yelling matches and a couple of buckets of tears but hey this text proved it was all worth it.

As with Preview this year,  IFC (Inter Fraternity Council) also hold their Preview Weekend.  Remember that the guys do recruitment way different from girls.   It’s a guy thing…male bonding at it’s best.  Kind of “hey you want to hang out with the brothers and drink some beer”?  It seems if you can hang, and drink and talk and listen to music then they haul you off to the roof of the fraternity where the recruitment chair, the president and a few other brothers give you a bid card.  It’ so informal and although it can be stressful it’s nothing like Formal Recruitment for the girls.  So about 5 or 6 fraternities had put up huge barricades consisting of wooden poles covered with black tarp.  This seems to be common for band parties.  My daughter “made the rounds” that night.  Oh the whole band party alcohol talk took A LOT of time on the way down.

So for those of you who are in town and are planning to go to these events here’s a little “motherly” advice.  First of all the wall have ears and eyes.  What do I mean???  You are being watched ladies!  Don’t fool yourself just because the sorority girl with the red solo cup in her hand is partying it up doesn’t mean she hasn’t noticed that you are there.  Behave yourselves.  Remember guys talk and gossip even more than girls!!!!  You don’t want to be “the girl” who when recruitment comes in august and they are going through the recs, is remembered as the passed out drunk girl at the Beta house :/.  Yep that reputation has ” liability” written all over it.  I know I sound like a lecturing mom but remember I have a current sorority girl who lives under my roof…I’ve heard the chatter as she and her sisters talk.  Believe me I KNOW what I am talking about!  Be on your best behavior.

Secondly don’t drink out of any open container.  If you didn’t pour it…don’t drink from it!  Am I saying someone will ruffie  or spike your drink..nope, but it has happened and better to be safe than sorry.  The new hot drink is grape drink, vodka or pure grain alcohol and cough syrup.  They make it in batches.  If a drink gets served from a vat of mixture…leave it alone.  Same goes for cans.  If you didn’t open the beer or see someone ope the beer don’t drink it.  And by the way these little tid bits of advice go for after you pledge as well.

For you moms who are reading this…take a deep breath, put on the reality glasses and have an open conversation with your daughters about alcohol and drinking on a college campus.  I honestly do not know of 1 sorority on campus that has “forced” a girl to drink but peer pressure is another thing.  Our dear sweet daughter was the youngest of four.  My two older daughter really didn’t “drink” in high school or college (well the second one did to some extent but not excessively).  However our son was a football player…captain of he team..VERY popular and a regular at parties.  Little sister, being two years behind, and ..ok I am going to brag..attractive..was invited to all of the parties.  For the most part she didn’t really party though.  Confession time….her senior year I actually had some of our son’s older girl friends take her down to a local college campus and “practice”.  You see I wanted her to be able to see what it was like in a somewhat “controlled” environment.  I knew if she got into trouble she was only 30 minutes away as opposed to the 12 hours to her college campus.

So…I wasn’t really worried about her that Friday night.  We have a great relationship, I knew she’d call if she needed me and I trusted Nicole (well at least I had convinced myself I trusted Nicole).

Really quick about the invite parties…Moms…you guys don’t go!  It’s just for the girls.  As much as I wanted to “go” and “see” It was just for my daughter.  Trust me you can grill for details all the way home or tomorrow at breakfast. ALSO…through the wonderful medium called social media many girls are making connections.  Encourage your daughter to meet up with these girls, to spend some time with them and cultivate a new group of friends.  It will serve two purposes, 1) She will “know” people when she arrives for recruitment and 2) it’s networking…you might be able to snag a rec you need and who knows they may invite her along to party that she didn’t get invited to…thus opening up yet another door for a possible connection

Ok…back to the story….She made it over to the KD pizza party…had a blast (it turned out Nicole’s roommate and so my daughters other hostess was a KD).  It was at the KD house…she said it was fun and laid back  and everyone had on sundresses :)….it was fun.  She then went to the Alpha Phi (my sorority) appetizer party at a local restaurant called Chuck’s Fish in downtown.  She said it was a totally different type of party….tons of girls and APhi’s …noisy..lots of conversation but great food.  she made so many connections that night.  When she texted me as she was leaving she just gushed about how much she LOVED the girls, everyone was SO nice and that she REALLY could see herself as an APhi (smiles from mom).

Then it was off to spend the night living like a sorority girl  she had the best time ever!  I am glad she went.  She met lots of girls from lots of different houses…networking at it’s best :).  She also met a couple of very sweet boys…two from a fraternity and two incoming freshmen who were down to “rush” for the fraternities.  She behaved least that’s what she said and I believed her. I spent the night visiting the Mall and Mid Town Village….enjoying just getting the feel for The University and the surrounding town.  I can honestly say I went to bed and slept soundly….it was a good night.

Ok…so tomorrow I will post a little about the actual “Preview” day from a different prospective but if you are reading this here’s a tip.

PARKING>>>>>>it’s at a premimum….make sure you give yourself LOTS of time to find a place to park.

Just another little tid bit…my daughter just called.  She was telling me about all the high school girls walking around campus and up and down sorority row.  I told her I was blogging about it even as she was telling me.  She was also “remembering” that day two years ago when we went to Preview.  I asked if she was getting lots of “looks”…she’s at the Rec working out :0.  She said “oh yes mom…they’re staring at my shirt :)…..”.  Have fun today…enjoy the experience.

TOMORROW>>>>Crazy town part two….”the DAY”.