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Student sitting at their desk in their dorm room
September 17, 2021
3 mins read

An introvert's guide to residence life

The UBC Life Residence Guide

As we settle into Term 1, many of you are probably still adjusting to a big change: living in residence.

It can be simultaneously exciting and challenging as you move in and spend your first few weeks in residence. Especially for those who appreciate alone time (like introverts do), the idea of moving in with strangers can cause stress over making friends.

As an introvert myself, I have learned my fair share about how to find a balance between challenging myself to meet new people, while also allowing myself time to decompress and gain back my energy.

If you’re worried about making friends in residence and don’t want to run out of energy this term, here are some ways to maintain balance for yourself:

Find time to unwind

Student sipping tea looking out of a their Totem dorm room window

If you’re the kind of person who needs time and space for yourself, but you don’t want to miss out on the fun to be had in residence, then schedule some time for yourself—like physically add one or two hours in your calendar/agenda every day or two to be on your own, catch up on some Netflix, or read a book.

Then, when you’re out meeting new people and having all those fun uni experiences, you know that you have time scheduled to decompress, be on your own, and take care of yourself.

Introverts gain energy by being alone, so it’s important to make sure you allow yourself that time—you deserve it!

Say yes to some things...

...but not everything. Just because everyone seems to be going out every night, or taking part in every activity, doesn’t mean that you must, too. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new experiences or take part when it feels right—you totally should! But don’t feel bad if you’re not the #1 participate-er.

And if you do eventually want to get involved in more residence life activities, initiatives, events, or committees, there are lots of ways to participate.

Strike up a conversation

If you’re worried about being left out, or not making friends, be the person who actively tries to get to know someone. Just do it with one person and see how it goes—ask them if they want to get a meal together!

This is a very common way to meet people, especially during the first few weeks of the term. Everyone has to eat, and you’re probably all going to eat in the same place, so it’s a pretty safe bet. And if you’re not sure where to start a convo, there are a lot of easy openers to try out in the first few weeks of the term, such as…

“Who is Irving K. Barber?”

“Why do I have to run a marathon just to get from the Pharmacy building to Buchanan?”

“Which Starbucks is the best one on campus?”

The sink in the communal bathroom is also a surprisingly great place to meet friends—bring up controversial topics like Coke vs. Pepsi, or, to be on the safe side, just ask them how they’re enjoying campus so far.

Don’t beat yourself up if the first person you meet doesn’t become your all-time best friend. You have a lot of time to get to know people, so go at your own pace and challenge yourself when it feels right.

Leave your door open

Students eating together in a dorm room

For a bit, at least! This is a great way to meet people in residence, without having to leave the comforts of your residence room.

Try it out sometime (maybe after you've taken some energy-boosting time alone, though!), and it will show people that you’re friendly and open. And you never know—someone really cool might be walking by and get the urge to say hi because you left your door open. Then when they leave, you can shut the door real quick without any guilt. Win-win!

Starting this new chapter of your life might seem daunting, but small steps can get you far. Go at your own pace, say yes to things when they feel right, and give yourself the space you need to relax and re-energize.

Be kind to yourself, focus on the things that matter, and try not to stress if you don’t have a gaggle of friends after the first few weeks. Lots of people don’t find their niche right away, and that’s totally fine.

Just remember—if you put the work in at the beginning of the term and put yourself out there a bit, it will pay off. People are looking for connections, just like you, and even if it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world right now, you’ll be happy that you did it later on in the term.

You never know who you might meet, or who you might miss out on meeting. So, go for it, put yourself out there, and know that even if it doesn’t go great every single time, you will find your people, and your space, on campus.