By Rochelle Thomas
‘Congratulations, you have been accepted to study at Rhodes University!’, the letter read and my heart leaped into my throat.
For the next few minutes I entered into a state of excitement-fuelled euphoria, mind buzzing with a million different things at once. By the time I had finally settled down to really think about it, the realisation hit me:
“But wait, Rhodes University isn’t in Cape Town, it’s in GRAHAMSTOWN which is in THE EASTERN CAPE!”
Panic ensued. How was I to survive? I was about to leave my hometown and all two of my friends!
And then another shocking realisation displayed itself to me: I have to make new friends.
University can be a scary thought, and although it’s an exciting experience once you get into it, for some it might take a little bit longer to get socially comfortable.
However, DO NOT FEAR. I have devised a short list of totally needed survival tricks for my introverted brothers and sisters.
University Survival Kit: For Introverts
Feeling the pressure yet? In this new environment with fellow young people, some introverts may feel the pressure to appear talkative and bubbly like their extroverted counterparts. This is an exhausting way to cope with the adrenalin and nerves of being in a new environment and not knowing anybody and is probably not one of the best ideas. My solution: stay calm. Yes, your heart is racing and your palms are sweaty and you don’t quite know how to handle all the stimulation around you, but it will all settle down in a while. Stay true to yourself.
Your people will find you. Rhodes University is a large place with hundreds of larger than life characters who attend it, but don’t let that scare you into losing yourself. If going out clubbing on a Friday night is not your thing, then it is perfectly fine to stay in and read a book or watch a movie. Being alone does not make you a loser or uncool, it actually makes it easier for other people to approach you. Sooner or later you will find the people, or person, who truly understands your introverted ways. Sometimes you just have to disappear to recharge your social battery.
The dining hall doesn’t bite. The clock strikes 5 o’clock, your stomach is making its presence known and you’re still contemplating whether going to the dining hall is a good idea - you also have no back-up plan. Trust me, I still experience this, the scary feeling of going to the dining hall to eat with 100 other students. A quick hack around this is to go really early, so that by the time it gets really full you will be finished and on your way back to res. You can also challenge your social skills and acquaint yourself with a complete stranger. You have to risk it for the biscuit. Either way, the dining hall is a much needed source of re-energizing yourself with the food and nutrients to keep going.
Your res mates don’t bite, either. Moving into res can be intimidating, but once you’ve settled into your room, met the friendly warden and house comm, found your new res room, it’s really not that bad. The helpful house comm make sure that everyone’s needs are met if there are any problems. Although res may get a bit noisy during ‘noise hours’ it is a mostly quiet environment with little conflict between students. When conflict does arise, it will be dealt with immediately. The library is one of the best places to escape the madness. Find a bean bag in a quiet corner and delve into one of your favourite books.
Lastly, stay focused on the goal - you’re doing this for your degree after all.