I am an international student and I missed both Orientation and Intro weeks. This may not seem so awful but I am also an introvert. The combination of these three facts would have left me without friends for at least a month if I didn’t already have a friend from college who was coming to Sheffield too.
That was a little over a year ago and it seems like every single person I’ve met since then is either extremely outgoing or like me, very good at pretending. However, I am fairly certain that this will be useful to some of you so I’ll share a couple of tips that have helped me out. Of course, it might take a little tinkering with them to find your balance.
Everyone says it. You must have heard it more times than you care for but you will have to fake it a lot. A good percentage of the people who appear extremely confident decided to be that way. Not everyone is bestowed with that gift so the next time you enter a lecture hall and are tempted to find your zone – the one that everyone else is farthest from – bury that feeling. Sit next to someone, introduce yourself, ask them if they understand something the lecturer has said that you’re struggling with. If you see a group of approachable students sat together, join them. It may not happen immediately but after a while of talking to at least one of them you’ll have made one friend. It really only takes making one friend to kick-start the expansion of your social circle.
Another thing that made me more confident in dealing with people was volunteering. I was a weekend volunteer at the Mind Shop for 7 months. I met so many other awesome volunteers there and my bosses were great. I found that after my initial apprehension when ‘till training’ was mentioned, followed by days where I made mistakes in serving customers, I began to love it. The Sheffield Volunteering Hub is great because there are all sorts of opportunities available; enough that you can match your interests with volunteer work, have a great time interacting with people and maybe find out something new about yourself. The Mind Shop is always looking for volunteers to help out so definitely drop by the shop if you are interested.
Last but not least, if you feel like a society with its ever-smiling committee and chatty members may be too much for you to handle now, you should try one or more of the Give It A Go activities on offer in the What’s On section of the SU website. It doesn’t have to be something you know loads about. You literally just give it a go and see what happens. The same can be said for every opportunity you come across during your time here. Stop talking yourself out of things. Do something!
By writing this blog, I am taking my own advice. 🙂