During the first two weeks of university, every single first year’s online presence is in competition to see who had the craziest Freshers’ – who stayed out the latest? Who drank the most alcohol? – and after two weeks of straight partying and full-on excitement at this new found independence, the homesickness and the physical sickness (i.e.’freshers’ flu’) starts to kick in. Everyone is sneezing and coughing and missing their parents, girlfriends and boyfriends. Suddenly, a night out clubbing until you drop doesn’t seem so appealing any more (depending on what you like. If you’re still going out every night two or three weeks in, I think you’re crazy).
I’m sitting in bed with a cup of tea, freshers are still yelling at the night outside my bedroom window, alcohol pumping through their adrenaline-fuelled bodies. I somehow miss home when all I thought about over the summer was university.
One of the things I miss the most is my car. My car symbolises what I love the most about life: travel, adventure, freedom. It also encompasses solitude and friendship. I appreciate the moments when I’m driving alone – letting the music I play enhance the glory of the ride. At the same time I’m driving somewhere to see friends or coming home after a house party. It means I am human and I am living my life. Whereas, here, in my halls at university, I have friends within yards every minute of every day and all the shops are on my doorstep. Whilst the university campus is a short bus ride away, the temptation to stay inside and not have to face the strangers on the bus is far too much. I feel lazy.
I miss not knowing what I’m missing out on. When all my flat mates are out clubbing and I’m sitting in my bedroom doing seminar work that needs to be in the next day, I feel a little bit lonely. I can hear my drunken friends outside our block of flats and I always know where they’ll be in the evening. It’s the first hand experience of watching other people have more fun than you when duty calls. It makes me worry about the state of my social life in weeks to come.
Truth is, I’m not as scared as I was on the second day. I barely knew the area, I was uncertain, I didn’t like the pressure to drink, to stay out late and craved certainty. Two weeks flew by happily and for the first time since the second day, I’ve sat and thought about where I am right now and what the future holds. Societies will open their doors and I will flourish in their grasp. My course will allow me to expand my knowledge. I will make friends and meet people like I have never known before. I will relish the opportunities that are given to me. Two or three weeks isn’t enough to time to really get to know people or a place and most uncertainties will vanish come Christmas. I guess this is what I tell myself when I feel scared.
My homely bubble of comfort is still a place I can retreat to from time to time but this new way of life isn’t so daunting any more. This introvert may cower at the thought of constantly being with others and having to talk to strangers every day. But, so far, I think I’ve managed a balance between socialising and spending time to myself and I’m pretty proud of it. What I’ve learned is it’s worth trying to be outgoing, but honestly, no one will protest if you disappear into your room for a couple of hours. University is worth it whether you’re an introvert or not because at the end of the day you’re there to get a good degree and if socialising isn’t what you’re into then it can wait.
So, all I can say is good luck to my fellow introverts. I might not know much about the way university works yet but I’ve written down how I honestly feel at this moment in time. I hope I’ve somehow managed to comfort anyone in the same position as me, perhaps just by letting you know that other people feel the same way. I’m going to emphasise the cliché that everyone is in the same boat because right now, it really is true. Everyone has come to university as a blank canvas. Maybe a couple of friends may be at the same university but it’s impossible to remain in the past. I’d say that you should keep that in mind. It helps.
‘I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion’ – Jack Kerouac