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Articles > Mental Health October, 15, 2019

The ‘Uni Experience’ – What I Learned as an Introvert

Rachel Pollard
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The time has finally arrived. You’ve been waiting in anticipation all Summer, and now you’re here!

You’ve waved goodbye to your parents and, with mixed feelings of nerves and excitement, you go and meet your new flatmates.

For me, an introvert, it was terrifying. My new flatmates weren’t at all like me: they were into clubbing, partying, and staying out all night. Instead, I’m the kind of person who’s in their pyjamas before 9pm. The first week, I tried to fit in. I spent time with my flatmates, desperately trying to find some common ground with them, only to find that we were even more different than I had realised. I spent a small fortune on tickets for freshers’ events, and proceeded to tag along as an outsider, and decided to skip some of them altogether.

While the hours I spent alone in my room were lonely, I found comfort in the fact that they were the only time I could be myself. Eventually, I started speaking to my flatmates less and less, and found myself retreating to my room every night. I was miserable, and considered dropping out of university altogether. It seemed to me that every other student was there to have seven wild nights every single week, and I thought, because I didn’t want that, university just wasn’t for me.

However, things eventually started to turn around. I had struggled to make friends on my course (maths) because I’m not exactly an outgoing person, but I had spoken to a couple of people in the study room. One day, one of those people asked me if I wanted to go out with him and his friends that night; it was nearly Bonfire Night and they were going to a fireworks display.

I was a little reluctant – I didn’t know them very well, but it was the first time that someone had invited me to do something other than clubbing since I had arrived, and I didn’t want to spend another night alone, so I accepted. To my surprise, I got on really well with everyone that night, and from then on, our friendship only grew. Soon enough, we were together all the time: doing work together, playing video games or just watching films.

It may not sound as exciting as going out every night, but, to me, this was so much better; there was no need to get dressed up, no awkward standing around wondering how to dance without looking stupid. It was just relaxed and comfortable.

I am so grateful to have met my friends; they completely changed my perspective of what it was that I wanted out of university – I had been constantly criticising myself for not wanting to get involved in the “uni experience”, but it turns out that that experience isn’t a one-size-fits-all: it can be whatever you want it to be.

My point is that if you’re an introvert like me, and you’ve stood in the corner of a club, sipping an overpriced vodka and coke and wondering what all the fuss is about, don’t worry – there are plenty of other things to try at university! I have since been involved in a few societies, including yoga and even dog walking! I promise that there is something for everyone. I just wish that I had been more involved from the beginning.

My advice to anyone starting university this year, introvert or not, would be to try as much as possible, but not to put any pressure on yourself to do things that you don’t want to do. Other than that, just have fun – first year goes by really quickly, so enjoy it!

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  1. Tebogo

    I am a first year and I’ve seen far worse. It’s the end of the year and I still haven’t made friends in my course. I had one friend who I was close to but eventually isolated myself because she was trying to compete with me, not in a friendly manner obviously. I have struggled but I managed to pull myself together and I would say I am doing quite well and have improved from last semester.

  2. Amandeep Kaur

    I think this is such a useful article for those worried that uni life doesn’t have anything to offer them. Knowing that there are so many other activities that are more suited to introverted personalities is a relief.

  3. Leanne McIntosh

    This is bang on the money! I felt exactly the same when I started uni – I thought it would be all pubbing and clubbing when in actual fact I preferred hanging out with friends at the library with a share bag of Doritoes and a 6 pack of cheese-strings!

  4. Tamzin Kelsall

    I’m currently at college and thought this would be a problem with me however I’m moving out with my boyfriend and all seems alright. Just a little worried about class as this is totally what I’m like, I prefer being by myself rather than being out there!