An introvert’s guide to surviving residence
Cameron Mitchell, Contributor
For those who have never experienced it, residence is a unique environment that can be pretty daunting, especially for us introverts. Amongst a seemingly constant sea of parties, nightmare roommates, and cooking for yourself – not to mention actual schoolwork – it can sometimes be hard to find your footing. For an introvert, making friends might seem like an overwhelming task.
Here are some tips for meeting people and making the most out of your residence experience.
When you first move into res, it feels like everyone is a stranger. Small gestures are the key to breaking the ice. Prop your bedroom door open. Smile at the people you pass in the halls. Walk to class with your roommates or neighbours. Odds are, they’re just as terrified as you, so taking steps to bridge the gap will making socializing easier for everyone involved.
The first week in residence always involves a lot of events to welcome new students. From the Back to School Bash to Club Days, there are countless ways to get out the door with your fellow residents. Given that many of your neighbours will be just as nervous as you are, these events provide the perfect situation for mingling.
Try asking your Residence Advisor (RA) if you have any questions about events over the first few weeks. As well as being able to inform you about upcoming events, your RA is a great resource for making friends. They can introduce you to the other members of your community and could become your friends themselves!
Parties can be another fun and easy way to get out the door, but they can also be intimidating. The hard-partying university student stereotype is not an inaccurate one. For some, partying comes naturally as a way to mingle with new people. For others, especially introverts, partying can be alien and intimidating. Many first year students feel a lot of pressure to party, even if they don’t want to, or end up shying away from parties all together.
The key to partying in residence is to understand what you enjoy and what sort of situations you are comfortable with. If you love partying, great, you’ve come to the right place. If not, try going to one in the first week or two, just for an hour. If it doesn’t appeal to you, then you never have to go back. There are many other ways to make friends in residence, and you should never feel pressured into a situation that will make you uncomfortable. The trick is figuring out what sort of people you want to hang out with, and what you want to spend your time doing.
One of the things I found hardest about moving into res was balancing my attempts to meet people with making time for myself. Something as simple as sitting in your unit’s common area, porch, or front lawn is an easy resolution to this, since it forces you to interact with your roommates while doing things like reading, studying, or watching TV.
For people who are naturally introverted, it’s important to balance the often stressful act of engaging strangers with taking time for yourself to cool down. Not every moment has to be about meeting people. It’s okay to spend an evening watching Netflix!
Being an introvert is hard in any environment. It’s especially hard in residence, and a lot of people experience difficulty finding their place. Just keep reminding yourself that a certain level of discomfort is something everyone goes through over the first few weeks.
Residence is an adventure, and finding your place is part of that adventure. Some of the friends you make will last a lifetime. Don’t close any doors, but make sure you stay true to yourself. Try following these tips, or make up your own as you go. Everyone’s residence experience is different: figuring out your path can sometimes be difficult, but it is always rewarding.