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How to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone at University

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A ‘comfort zone’ generally refers to what makes you comfortable in your daily life. This could include where you’re going, who you spend time with, what you wear, and your typical activities. Over time, comfort zones become a part of your personality and lifestyle. Most people hold tight to these personal preferences until they’re pushed beyond them.

For many young adults, attending university is the first major step outside of their comfort zones. It challenges you to be independent and responsible, and to adjust to an environment different from any you’ve experienced before. Understandably, the adjustment period can be uncomfortable, exciting, confusing, and even stressful. Yet, once you adjust, you’ll find that university opens a world of possibilities and opportunities.

More than anything, university offers the chance to step outside of your comfort zone often. Doing what’s uncomfortable can provide learning experiences that allow you to form new perspectives, skills, social connections, and ways of understanding. Ultimately, it facilitates growth. So, while stepping outside your comfort zone may seem intimidating at first, it’s almost always worth it, thanks to its many benefits. Below are a few ways to do something different at university.

Become a Volunteer

Volunteering offers a wealth of new opportunities. First, it encourages you to re-examine your morals, ethics, values, views of others, and empathetic outlook. It allows you to see the world from other perspectives and recognize challenges other than your own. For some, this inherently spurs curiosity and even emotional unease. Secondly, seeing people in less fortunate situations can also serve as an introduction to or reminder of certain social, health, or cultural issues. These factors can rouse the conscience, thus breaking you out of your normal way of thinking.

There are many different types of volunteer work available. These jobs can challenge your skills, intelligence and even physical strength. Some opportunities include:

  • Serving food, cleaning or doing other jobs at a homeless shelter
  • Planting trees and more as an environmental volunteer
  • Tutoring underprivileged children
  • Delivering meals to the elderly and/or disabled

Introduce Yourself to Random People

It may seem simple and often inevitable, but for many students, new introductions can be intimidating. This is especially true when you’re introducing yourself to new people in a new environment. But starting conversations with random people in the dining hall, student lounge, or residence hall (dormitory), is a simple way to push past your comfort zone. Once you get past the initial hurdle of saying, “Hi,” it can help you shake off any jitters related to meeting new people. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible – you never know who may become important in your life. You could even meet a future roommate who will help you navigate Waterloo off-campus housingand living.

Take a Unique Course

Not every class you take has to be related to your major. Universities offer a variety of courses on many subjects, from English literature to eSports. You could study almost anything. Moreover, your courses don’t even have to align with your existing interests. After all, you never know what might strike your fancy. Experience is often the key to finding what fits you. Don’t be afraid to take a course that sounds strange or beyond your normal interests. Of course, it doesn’t have to be outlandish, either; simply taking a beginners’ musical theory course can be a new, challenging adventure for someone who’s never studied music.

Study Abroad

Studying in a different country can propel you far out of your comfort zone. Not only are you stepping into a new social and academic environment, you’re also entering a new cultural environment. For upperclassmen, it also shows that you haven’t reached your limit and that there are many possible experiences, challenges, and opportunities ahead. Intrigue and excitement await as you adjust to new cultural and academic atmospheres.

Start a Unique Class Discussion

Most students stay in their own lane during class, meaning they mostly listen and stay on topic with the lecturer. However, many university professors like to be challenged. It shows that their students are actively listening and engaged. So, don’t be afraid to bring up a topic that’s interesting to you. To push yourself even more, ask provoking questions and share your opinion. Your unique view or interesting question may lead to a rousing class discussion. It may also unlock insights you didn’t have before.

Now’s the time to expand your horizons and push past your limits. Try something new today!

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