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How to Challenge Yourself in ESN

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Reading time: 5 minutes
We hear these phrases everyday - “challenge yourself”, “leave your comfort zone”, “try something new”. Saying them is one thing, but where do you actually start? How about ESN?
person lifting a stick

Studying is the best time of your life for travelling. I guess you already knew that one, right? Students usually don’t have a full-time job to worry about, no pressing family responsibilities to take care of, and studying, let’s be honest, doesn’t take up too much time if you organise yourself well enough.

But these arguments don’t apply only to travelling. That might be the most tempting thing to do when you have some extra time on your hands, but definitely not the only one.

What else can you do as a student to make your time well spent? The answer is in the title. Challenge yourself. Learn and experience new things. You will have fewer opportunities to do that later in your life. Trust me.

So, how can you challenge yourself with ESN...?

people joining hands
How to Challenge Yourself in ESN

Improve what you’re already good at

If you know your place in ESN and you think there is no more space left for you to improve in that particular area, chances are you are wrong.

Join the national or international level. That’s a challenge, isn’t it? It definitely helps you increase your knowledge, meet people who have similar passions and goals, expand specific skills, for example, international relations, communication, IT, finances or any other.

Teach others

This is more or less a follow up to the previous point. If you are good at something, teach others. Help them to improve. That’s why we have Eduk8, various training opportunities on all levels, non-formal education and ESN in general. We learn from each other and improve together.

Go to Eduk8, lead a workshop or a training, perhaps lead a team building game or just make a small presentation about something you are good at and present it at your section meeting. Possibilities are limitless. Share your experience, learn from others and help this network shine.

Try something new

We are all good at something and, once we discover what we’re good at, that’s usually what we continue doing. But if you are the main star of organising events in your section, why not trying something new for a change?

As an event organiser in some company or an engineering student, you cannot wake up one day and say “Today I am creating a promotional campaign instead”. But in ESN, you can. ESN sections are doing so much in so many different fields that they practically allow you to challenge yourself in limitless amounts of activities.

You can try so many new things and, if you want, improve at any of them with some help from other ESNers. We love to share our knowledge. Just don’t be afraid to ask and you shall receive.

You can try any position there is, and then you will definitely know what field suits you best, what you like doing the most and which activities are the best combination of those two. Moreover, it is pretty good to be able to add one more point to your CV to show how experienced you are.

'You got this' written on pavement
credit: Sydney Rae

Overcome your fears

It’s easier said than done, I know. However, I wouldn’t have included this point if I haven’t done it myself.


Think of what you are afraid of. Try to overpass phobias like fear of spiders, snakes or some other terrifying creatures. Those might not be that easy to overcome in ESN unless we organise an international event in wilderness…


Let’s take public speaking for example. It is quite common fear students have. If your voice breaks down when you are presenting something in front of the class, ESN can be a perfect place for you to practice public speaking until you have no such fear anymore.


Start easy - hold a small presentation on something you care about at a local section meeting or event. Then expand your audience. From few friends in the beginning to few dozen or hundreds of people at the university or some city event once you feel comfortable enough.


In ESN you can also overcome your fear of heights by going on hiking trips or your fear of needles by donating blood. It might give you creeps at first but realising how much good is being done can change your mind.


Fear comes from how we look at things and what we associate them with. If you start comparing your fear with what you love (volunteering, ESN, helping others), it might not seem so terrifying anymore.

…and why is it worth to do so?

woman above clouds
credit: Tim Gouw

You improve. In one thing you love or in multiple things you enjoy. You realise what you like and what you don’t. What you love doing and what could never become your 9 to 5 job.

You gain experience. Adding “volunteering” to your CV might not say much. But explaining what you did in ESN and what you’ve learned can be worth quite a lot. It doesn’t only show skills you gained but personality traits and motivation you have for things you love in general.

You understand yourself better. While trying out different things in ESN, you realise what you enjoy doing. It might not necessarily be the field you study in or somewhere you’ve imagined yourself working at. But it can be much truer to you than what you initially chose. Things you love in ESN can remain hobbies, but they can also turn your life around and make you change your study field or job. You never know how it will work out.