How to become the woman you’re supposed to be in college

They say that college is more than attending lectures and taking exams. Most people will tell you that college is a place, and more so, a time, to find yourself and figure out who you want to be. As women, we have the opportunity to capitalize on so many opportunities and experiences that lead us to be more aware of who we are and who we want to be. Whether you’re making new friends or cracking open a textbook, be sure to take a chance on yourself by trying some of these things.

Take a class about another culture

Understanding ourselves means understanding how we fit among everyone else. Oftentimes, we can’t fully understand who we are without knowing how we’re different from & similar to others. Taking a class that focuses on another culture allows you to take a step back and better examine yourself, your culture and how you can embrace and better understand others.

Learn to cook

 

We all know that food is a significant aspect of college life, but (surprise!) food will remain a necessity for the rest of your life. Learning how to make good food in college will save you money, keep you healthier and provide you with a worthwhile life skill. Plus, you can impress your friends with your homemade beignets or make a great date out of making a meal together.

Read the materials

While skimming the reading is a legitimate way to get through classes, it’s not a bad idea to dig into the texts. Sometimes you’ll find you really enjoy the different perspectives or challenging stories that you come across.

Ask strangers out to coffee

While you should definitely do this with caution, some of the best friendships come from boldly asking someone to grab a cup of coffee. If you meet someone in passing you connect with, it’s easy to let the moment pass and never see them again. Taking the chance to really get to know someone will make you a new friend and give you more confidence to reach out to someone else the next time.

Build strong, meaningful friendships

 

Some of the friends you make in college may likely be your friends for life. It’s often the first time in your life that you have the opportunity to choose your friends, so choose wisely. And most importantly, invest in your friendships. Make the effort to spend quality time together. Be there for each other when someone fails an exam, breaks up with a boyfriend, or loses someone they love. College, and more importantly, life outside of college can get really real. Be there for each other.

Explore something off-campus

Step outside of the college bubble and explore the areas around campus that are usually reserved for the locals. They have great restaurants, bars, parks and events that give you a chance to run into some people from “real-life” and experience things that aren’t designed for only college kids. See a show or attend a gallery opening. Hit up a brewery or find a running route in a new park. You’ll start to get a glimpse of who you can be when you’re not just going to school.

Take a dance class

Take a break from your lecture seats and notebooks and give your body a chance to learn. A one or two-credit dance class will allow you to try something new and risk looking foolish while you learn something new. It’s a great exercise in humility and flexibility and you’ll be glad you learned about the different ballet positions or how modern really helps you connect with your soul.

Study abroad

 

There are few things more formative than studying abroad. No matter the length of time or the destination, living and learning in another country pushes you outside of your comfort zone and forces you into new experiences. Not only will you have an amazing time traveling, eating and meeting new people, you’ll also be embedded in another culture that allows you to experience and evaluate how you’ll live your life when you return. You’ll make lasting memories, friendships and discover parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed. When else will you get the chance to travel for months at a time with the benefit of financial aid to help?

Intern

While it’s great to have a summer break in between semesters, finding an internship in your desired field is a great way to test drive your career and learn valuable career skills. Interning somewhere will give you great experience that will prove helpful in your job search after graduation. You’ll also learn a lot about what you like and don’t like as well as your strengths and weaknesses.

Explore your faith

As you’re debating about your major and trying to figure out what you want to do with your life, you often end up wrestling with the question, “What’s my purpose?” Figuring out if your purpose is rooted in a system of faith is a great way to understand where you fit in the bigger picture. There are plenty of groups, churches, synagogues and mosques on campus where you can wrestle with your faith and identity.

Mentor a younger woman

When you were younger, you likely had someone older you admired and looked up to. If you were lucky enough, that person looked out for you and mentored you the way only an older woman can. As an upperclassman, take the time to make friendships with a younger woman, who you can share your experiences and your wisdom with. You’ll likely find that you learn as much from the bond as they do.

 

If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover that college is a lot more than textbooks, dorm rooms, cafeteria food and football games. College is about building a life for yourself and forming your identity for the first time. You’ll begin to see yourself and see the woman you can become, and you’ll know that’s she is something worth becoming.

Iris Proctor
Iris is the director of ArborWoman.