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An introvert's survival guide to university

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

Came across this from the UCL (University College of London) and found it useful, gentle, and wise article based on as the title says, navigating University life when you may not be the loudest or most chatty student in your group.


Student Journalist and self-professed introvert Maryam Clark shares her tips for navigating university life If you're aware of Susan Caine's book, A Quiet Revolution, then you're probably well-versed on the new and exciting movement being headed by thoughtful, personal-space-seeking, calm-library-corner-occupying introverts worldwide.


In brief, introversion is a personality type on a large spectrum, where those considered introverts seek their energy through, primarily, spending time in solitude, whereas their extroverted counterparts tend to get their energy from social interaction. Although both types come with their wonderful, unique characteristics, us introverts sometimes can't help but feel that the 'university experience' - socials, group assignments, lecture theatres, and even living in halls - was built for people with more extroverted tendencies. So, to help my fellow introverted souls navigate through this overstimulating maze, I bring to you the one and only; 'Introvert's survival guide to university'. Enjoy, grasshoppers.


1. Know your social strengths and embrace them

Us introverts tend to be great leaders; quietly mentoring those around us with patience and encouragement - the kind of member any team would need. With our attention to detail and time we spend thinking things through, we also tend to be quite eloquent writers. Embrace these qualities and have your voice heard by writing articles or even running for sabbatical positions. You can do it, my little introvert! 


2. Let go of the idea that you're missing out

Saying 'no' to a social event because you'd rather spend time in your room/with your cat/dog/goldfish to recharge is not a bad thing to do. So what if you're missing out on the latest hot gossip? Your wellbeing comes first! #NoRegrets


3. Push yourself every so often

Although us introverts tend to not necessarily love being the centre of attention, a lot of academic activities - such as presenting - require us to be put on the spot. Help familiarise yourself with these settings by volunteering for public speaking opportunities (open mics, 3-minute thesis, TED Talks, etc). The first couple of times might not go so well, but it gets easier the more you try!


4. Organise your own small gatherings

Introverts are not anti-social. Period. In fact, a lot of us love the company of others (especially that of small woodland creatures), albeit in small groups or at cosy gatherings. If you find yourself dreading the bi-weekly Fabric trip, then why not organise a Netflix and Monopoly night in with your group? You'll find others will appreciate this a lot more than you'd have initially thought.


5. Don't avoid your professors

Being noticed in a large crowd of students can be difficult - especially if you don't have the loudest voice. However, waiting until after a lecture to email your professors with your questions or ideas and seeking 'drop-in' sessions for a one-on-one chat will help you to build the academic relationships you will value throughout your career. Be proactive - they will be writing your references after all!


6. Put pride in your work and let it be known

Sometimes, we're our own worst critics, so the dreaded self-promotion can sound like a cruel form of punishment. However, the cold, hard truth is that very few people will appreciate your work until you begin to do so. So be brave and fly your self-promotion flag high; your work and ideas are more valuable than you think.


7. Skip the small-talk

We hate this stuff because of the barriers it creates between us. Instead, try to ask more meaningful questions. Yes, this is the stuff bad dreams are made of, but you'll make the best long-term friendships if you do.


8. Stay true to yourself

It's going to become exhausting if you, as an introvert, ignore your need for solitude. Even if this means having a mini-fridge in your room so that you can have a quiet, undisturbed night in, do it. Offer yourself the care you need to be 100% you and you will have a much more enjoyable university experience. Good luck!



David Barrand

Student Wellbeing Advisor - Faculty of Social Sciences

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