Social Butterfly or Cocoon Comforter?

By Jhanvi Vipin

If you struggle with social pressures, or you’ve been feeling like you haven’t truly fit in at university yet, take a breather. Everyone has a different pace as to how they make friends, socialise and even explore their surroundings. Although we have our social butterflies at university, that you may recognise surrounded by friends from all walks of life- for many of us it’s just not the case, preferring the comfort of our social cocoons. I see you! You’re made of spun silk and you would most rather stay home safe in your comfort blanket wouldn’t you? 

Being an international student myself, the feeling of moving to a new country hadn’t settled in for me until my parents went back home. I suddenly found myself immersed in a world with a completely different culture from what I was used to and I was also late by a month due to COVID-19. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know the city, and on top of that, I didn’t know what to do. Alcohol isn’t something I enjoy and partying on a weekend isn’t exactly my scene. I was also very afraid to make new friends as everyone seemed to have their own social circle already. So unfortunately in the beginning of my time here at Strathclyde, I found myself more often than not just staying at home and focusing on my coursework for classes.

I was fortunate though. Every year, on the University of Strathclyde’s Instagram page, they launch a post where you can comment and find someone from your course to make friends. I was lucky enough to find a great friend who not only was in the same exact course but was also of the same ethnicity and community. I finally started to feel like I belonged! She reached out to me first (as I was too shy) and we’ve had so many adventures since then. This gave me the confidence to pop out of my cocoon bit by bit and make other new friends as well!

After realising how friendly Glaswegian people are and how easy it can be if you communicate (once you learn to make out the fast pace and strong accent) I started to make a conscious effort to get to know everyone that I met in and out with classes.Whether it be people in societies or flatmates just to make some form of connection. With social media at our fingertips, you can always text fellow students to meet up, even if it is just for a coffee. It lays the foundation you need to start a friendship- finding common grounds.

Societies are a great way to find time for your hobbies and find people who are like-minded. You’re bound to find something that amuses you. Say you have a penchant for reading, you could always join your university’s book club. Have an interest in fitness? Why not join a sports society that you like or get a gym membership? Is dancing your passion? Join the dance club! You’ll find that everyone is motivated, as they’re spending time doing things they enjoy and vice versa. Even if you’re embarrassed to take that first step, remember that you’re in a place where everyone seeks to learn and hence, will support you for taking initiative. Overall, the best thing about societies is attending meetings as you’ll familiarise yourself with more faces on campus.

As someone who was very introverted and had a somewhat negative perception of socialising, university changed my perspective on it all. Most of the time, we’re afraid of judgement, and don’t put ourselves out there as often as we should. But the number of people I’ve met within a year changed my mind. From good friends to unique acquaintances, I’ve found some of the best people in Glasgow. They say home is where the heart is, but I disagree. Home can be anywhere if you make it so, and find what makes you happy there. Don’t stay too long in your cocoon, you might miss out on a current that’ll help you fly!