A few months ago, I finished my first year in college. I study engineering and the experience was completely different than what I expected. Before I entered college I was afraid of what it was going to be like being a woman in engineering. I didn’t know what to expect about my classes and my classmates.

The first few months, I felt like a fish out of water. I believed everyone had more experience with computers and programming languages than me and that they were better at math, among other things. I hated when some guys said things like "did you understand the topic?" and " I can help you if you want." I felt underestimated, anxious and simply not good enough. It was hard and I believe I even lost myself a bit.

As time passed, I regained my confidence and I started seeing things differently. I stopped taking things so personally and I relaxed. Studying engineering is hard, but it's not the end of the world. It takes time to learn and understand what's going on. However, you get used to it and, believe me, it feels so great when you pass that exam or the lab practice. It’s like a sensation of power. Also, I realize my classmates weren’t trying to mock me, they were actually wanting to help. I started getting along with them  and making friends. There are even some that treat me like a sister!

All the people I met in college contributed to my realization. They helped me see that we were all a little bit scared about this new chapter in our lives. They taught me a lot about friendship, what is and what it isn’t. They help me understand I wasn’t alone and that I can achieve everything I wanted. When you enter college, you’ll meet people that are only lessons and then there are some people that are really going to be there for you.

I’m also glad I’ve learned that there is a lot of international effort to encourage women to study STEM majors. For example, I help with a program that teaches high school girls algorithms and programming languages. At first, they struggle with some exercises but in the end, they succeed and felt incredible. It’s amazing to create a community where STEM girls support one another.

There’s a quote from Henry Ford that I love. It reads, "one of the greatest discoveries a person makes, one of their great surprises, is to find they can do what they were afraid they couldn’t do." I live that everyday studying engineering. I may fail but with more work, everything turns out fine. You’ll learn how to deal with difficult times and you’ll feel really proud when you succeed. 

It’s a really nice surprise to see how much you learn and grow in college. I ended up discovering a better me. And I know that there is still a lot to learn and that’s great! So, if you are passionate about a major, don’t let the opintions of others affect you. Men and women can study whatever they want and work in wherever field they desire. Learn from my mistakes. Even when it gets hard, try to relax and enjoy the ride of this part of life. I wish somebody told me before I began college that I just have to keep going; that I eventually was going to be able to understand the topics and that everything would fall into place. 

I know that now.  

Lead Image Credit: Unsplash.