Saturday, 27 February 2016

5 Ways University Helped Me out of My Shell

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Picture a lonely young teen, reading her Harry Potter in the corner while wistfully admiring those laughing with their friends in the playground below. Yep, that’s me.

Okay so maybe I wasn’t THAT bad but up until last year, I was a shy little Indian girl nervous about making friends and ‘finding herself’ at university. A year on and at a recent family meal, an uncle tells me how I used to be so shy and have really come into my own since starting university. I still think I have a long while to go, but I believe my time so far has provided a great head start. It can be hard being shy and introverted especially at university, especially in an environment which encourages openness and loud personalities. These are just a few things that helped me develop. And if the biggest sceptic/pessimist can do it (that’s me if you didn’t guess), there’s no reason you can’t!
1. Make an effort with flatmates
This is probably most applicable to first years but still relevant; after all, you do live with these people! Try as much to secure strong friendships with these people as you’re going to be seeing a hell of a lot of them. I was worried that I was too quiet (and quite frankly a little too weird) for my group of friends until we all became close enough to really be ourselves. You might think you’re an exception to the rule but give it time, trust me. 

2. Join societies
With regular meet-ups and induction events for newcomers, societies are the perfect way to meet new people and develop your social skills. If you’re like me and Ladies Hockey slightly intimidates you, join something more on your wavelength. I do believe the Cheese and Chocolate society is looking for a new president and has your name written all over it! If you’re worried about braving it alone like I was (and probably still am) then there’s no reason not to get your friends involved to help you gain confidence in large groups.

3. Make friends on the course
When you don’t think there can be anything better than the friendships you’ve made in your halls, your course mates can surprise you. I honestly feel I’ve made some of my closest friends on my course and it was with the people I’d least expect to get on with. It’s even easier to strike up a conversation because you can moan about how much you hate/dread your lecturer or how you haven’t done the seminar work. (Student life am I right?)

4. Engage in intellectual debate
If you aren’t the most outspoken person like myself, little victories such as participating in a mini debate between your peers or your friends can make you feel on top of the world. Voicing your opinions even if it’s not as much as others in your group doesn’t matter because it still counts as a personal milestone.

5. Life begins outside of your comfort zone
Lastly, whenever I feel nervous about doing something new I just think about how university is about trying new experiences. These three years of discovery won’t come around again and you’ll be filled with regret if you don’t make the most of them. Of course it’s about studying but it’s also a time for personal development before you enter that big, scary thing they call ‘the real world’. Why not make the most of it?

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