By the time we get to the novitiate, the analogy to dating begins to break down. That’s because after an engagement a couple gets married, which is a permanent commitment. But the next stage of becoming a nun is entering the novitiate. Once a person enters the novitiate she is considered a member of the community, however there is no permanent commitment yet.
Church law (i.e., canon law) sets specific requirement for this stage. Canon law requires a full calendar year during which one focuses on the spiritual life, the vows, the history of religious life, and the charism of the institute (i.e., the gift that the community is to the church). Many religious communities, including the Ursulines, have a two-year novitiate. The second year is a time of education and/or ministry with the community.
Novices live in a special time of grace. The purpose of the novitiate is deepening the call to follow Christ as a member of the community.
The novice lives in a specially designated house with other sisters. At the end of the novitiate you can request to enter into vows or you are free to leave the community.