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The Introvert’s Guide to Dorm Living

Welcome to college!

You are about to embark on a four-year journey of studying, late-night pizza runs, an unhealthy caffeine addiction, and memories to last a lifetime.

But what friends will you share those memories with, and how will you meet them?

If you’re an introvert, you may already be worried about those two questions. The good news: You’re not the only one. Many introverts have walked those halls before you, and many will be walking with you during your college experience.

Spoiler alert: You’re going to be just fine! But, if you still need to calm your nerves, here are some tips all introverts should take advantage of to find friends in college.

Open-door policies

Many resident hall assistants (RAs) have open-door policies during the first few weeks of college to increase community and encourage residents to socialize with each other. What that means is residents keep their doors open when they’re in the room (and, you know, awake and dressed), so hallmates can pop their heads in for small talk when they walk by. To put it simply, an open-door policy is a tool to facilitate interaction—and eventually friendships—between you and your dorm neighbors.

This may not sound super appealing at first if you’re an introvert. However, the open-door structure can work to your benefit by giving you friendly faces to say hi to, and possibly long-lasting friends.

Open-door conversations can be awkward at first, so remind yourself that college is a new experience for everyone, and the other residents are most likely feeling the same way! Besides, it will be a lot more awkward if you go through the entire semester not knowing your hallmates' names.

If your hall doesn’t have an open door policy, ask your RA if you can create one, or just keep your own door open and see who strolls in! After all, the most outgoing people are the ones most likely to say 'hi' and they can be a valuable resource in meeting other folks in your dorm. 

Unplug from devices

A huge no-no when it comes to meeting new people is to lock yourself in your dorm room with your Xbox or TV. While these devices may seem harmless, they make it harder to have the face-to-face interactions and personal encounters that are so important in the early days of college.

You won’t be able to make friends if you prioritize your relationship with your favorite TV characters above other students, so stay out of your dorm room and immerse yourself in campus life by walking around outside and participating in group activities as much as possible.

That isn’t to say that you should never use TV or video games. Small doses of screen time can give you a much needed break from college chaos. And, for introverts, blocking out alone time can be necessary to replenish lost energy from social interactions.

One possible compromise: Use the TV, video game, etc. to build a friendship. For example, if you and the person across the hall have the same favorite show, a weekly "viewing party" can be a great, but low-key way to get to know each other better. There are worse ways to find friends than through a shared love of Outlander.

However, it is important to know yourself, and think about if your TV usage is adding to or taking away from your college experience. 

If you are unsure, you might want to leave your TV back home and revisit the issue later. With all the excitement college brings, from parties, to sports games, to keeping up with your studies, you most likely won’t be missing it.

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Clubs and activities fair

A common myth is that “you can never be too involved in college.” However, at the beginning of the semester, it’s always a good idea to sign up for more activities than you actually want to keep up with. This will give you the flexibility to try out different clubs, and drop the ones you don’t like.

Putting your name on an email list or attending a few meetings will let you explore your interests and help you find friends who are similar to you. Even if you choose not to go back to an organization, you may want to keep in touch with some of the people you met there, so it’s worth trying out as many activities as possible.

Continue the conversation!

It sounds silly, but every "hi" counts! Waving to the people you’ve met in your hall, on campus, or through different organizations (even if you don’t know their names!) will put you on their radar and give you a friendly face to talk to early on.

Initiating a conversation may feel scary or awkward at first, but chances are, if you don’t feel a little bit uncomfortable, you are not trying hard enough to make friends.

Think about it the other way around: Being acknowledged feels good, and chances are that person will wave to you the next time you pass, or see if you’re around to get lunch. Ultimately, getting to know your classmates on even a minimal level can help make connections and build relationships down the road.

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