Photo: John Schnobrich

4 Simple Ways For Jewish Students To Actually Enjoy College

Stefani Chudnow

Stefani Chudnow

Before high school, I always heard high school would be the best four years of my life. Before college, I was told the exact same thing. While my college years weren’t always the best, I picked up on some valuable tips that I would’ve liked to have known beforehand.

1. Utilize your college Hillel.

For three years, I was told to go to some Hillel events if I wanted to make more friends.

For three years, I only went to Hillel Shabbats and nothing else.

Only in my senior year did I start regularly going to Hillel events like challah-braiding, candle-making and Israel Top Chef, and it was the best thing I did for myself. I got to know people who I’d only seen in passing and quickly grew close with them. I created new friendships with people I wish I’d been friends with for my entire time at college.

If you’re having trouble making new friends at college  like I did, do yourself a favor and go to some of your local Hillel’s events.

2. Regardless of whether your college Hillel is lacking in social activities, join a club.

If your Hillel doesn’t have any events (or events that interest you), see if there are any clubs on campus where you can meet like-minded individuals who may, or may not necessarily, be Jewish.

As a writer, I was  part of a writing club for the first three years of college. Every Sunday, we met as a group and participated in writing activities and shared our art with each other. Though no one else in the group was Jewish, going to this writing group exposed me to fellow writers from other cultures, which greatly expanded my worldview and opened my mind up to new perspectives.

3. Take exciting classes where you think you will have a relevant perspective as a Jewish student over easy-A lecture classes.

During my time in college, I had my fair share of boring and generally awful classes that I wouldn’t want to repeat for anything in the world. On the other hand, though, I was given the opportunity to engage in classes where I was able to discuss and represent my Judaism in a way that was respected and counted for something. I took a class about race in America that changed how I thought about the world, and I also took a printing press class where I printed the Shema Yisrael using an early 20th- century printing press. Both were  cool classes that let me explore new avenues in a creative and open setting.

4. It’s not worth it to fight with anti-Semites.

I took a class during my junior year where I felt forced to constantly argue on behalf of Jewish people and Israel, and it was absolutely exhausting.

Although I didn’t spend too much time in my classes fighting with anti-Semites, the time I did spend fighting just wasn’t worth it. Barely anyone in those types of classes was ever going to perfectly comprehend my point of view, and many didn’t want to try.

Instead of fighting with anti-Semitic people, try to make them understand why you feel the way you do. You’ll be significantly happier if you communicate with others and debate peacefully rather than become hostile with them.

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