Being a Shy Student

Starting university can be scary – and things certainly aren’t easier if you’re a quiet student who doesn’t make friends easily. The good news is: you’re not alone!

I used to be that girl sitting silently in the corner of the classroom, and returning alone to my halls. This might be surprising, coming from a current Students Union officer whose job consists of talking to all kinds of people, all the time. But it’s true – I was once a shy student, and so were many of my awesomely confident friends. To be fair, almost everyone I know now admits that they were terrified when first coming to UAL. Some are just better than others at hiding it.

This is perfectly normal. You’re now an adult starting a new phase of your life, you’ve possibly moved away from your family and friends, and are not sure what to expect. Contrary to what they tell you, Freshers Week is not the best time for most students – but things will certainly get better. Here are a few tips to make your first steps at UAL a bit more bearable.

Be proud (not arrogant)
Congratulations! Unlike many others, you got into UAL. That means you’re amazing at at least one thing - be it painting, photography or writing. On top of that, you had the courage to follow your art school dreams. Share your work. Focus on your passions. Experiment. Believe me or not, you’re awesome – and don’t let anything or anyone stop you from having an awesome time. You deserve it.

It’s ok to be quiet
While the most popular people are often – but not always – the loudest ones, there is nothing wrong with joining a group of classmates and not speaking much. Nobody is judging you – they are too busy worrying about what new friends will make of them. Listen to conversations and join in whenever you feel comfortable.

Join a society
It’s much easier to make friends if you know that you have at least one thing in common. Whether it’s a passion for football, board games or politics – joining a society automatically makes you part of a team, and provides countless conversation starters. It also gives you opportunities to develop skills. Serving on the committee of ArtsFems helped me build confidence and meet my best mates.

Ask for help
Whenever you’re struggling with your feelings, the UAL counselling service is here to support you. Don’t be afraid to contact them with any issues, no matter how big or small.
If you urgently need to talk to someone, call the Samaritans or a student-led hotline called London Nightline. Sometimes a chat with someone friendly and understanding can go a long way.

I hope you have a lot of fun at UAL. Take good care of yourself. Stick to people who make you happy. Try not to worry too much. Everything will be alright, eventually.