Find your comfort zone, then step outside it

When I first came to UM from my small town in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s safe to say I was a little lost. I was torn between two majors, living independently for the first time and totally unaccustomed to big-city life.

Like all students, I was searching for my role in this large, diverse community. I made friends with my floormates, spent time at Hillel and joined a sorority. But nothing gave me the sense of belonging that I felt when I started working for The Hurricane. Doing what I loved, surrounded by students who share my passion and consistently inspired me, I finally found my place.

At The Hurricane, I was fortunate enough to truly get to know this campus. Sometimes we’re so laser-focused on making it to graduation that we forget to take a moment to appreciate everything UM has to offer. This campus is constantly bustling with activity, from speakers to symposiums to art exhibits to student events and initiatives. Being part of this university community has a value that far exceeds the tuition price tag we love to whine about. Too many people go through college in a self-absorbed bubble without exploring beyond familiar paths.

But that’s the beautiful thing about journalism; it forces you to get out there and immerse yourself in the community. This is more than knowing the best shops and restaurants or understanding how to get around the city without using GPS (which I still struggle to do). It’s about making real relationships with people you never would have met otherwise, expanding your mind and discovering different perspectives.

Even if you’re not a journalist who has to go out and report, learn about this campus on a deeper level. Encourage yourself – or force yourself, if necessary – to step outside your comfort zone. Go see a performance at the Ring Theatre or check out a club that interests you. Take it all in while you can, so when you finally accept that diploma on graduation day, you can feel confident that you made the most of this opportunity. This campus has so much to give, you just have to embrace it.

Julie Harans will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in journalism.