Learning to navigate the social sphere of any university can be incredibly difficult for introverted students. This is especially true after the COVID-19 quarantine allowed us to revel in our solitude as much as we wanted. I, like many others, retreated to the cocoon of my childhood bedroom for two years straight. And when I came out, it was time to embark on the pseudo-adulthood journey that is college.
During my first semester, I was constantly overwhelmed by balancing my alone time with meeting new people and putting myself out there. Even during my second semester, I slept for nearly twelve hours straight each time I returned home. My body was desperate to restore the energy it lost from constant socialization.
Some guidance on how to take care of myself would have been perfect. So I’ve put together this quick guide to help fellow introverts navigate student life in New York City!
Guide to Roommate Relations
I, like many other students out there, introverted or not, have a lot of trouble advocating for myself when it comes to my living situation. College was my first time living with a roommate. And I was nervous about dealing with relationships that had the potential to sour over time.
So what’s my main tip? Establish boundaries early.
Communicate with your roommate as much as possible before coming to campus. And as soon as the school year kicks off, sit down and establish boundaries. For example, set up a cleaning schedule. Ironing out these details in the very beginning will ensure you have a foundation to fall back on if something goes wrong. Additionally, confrontation will naturally be more manageable when you’re simply reiterating something you already discussed and agreed upon.
Getting time to yourself while living in college can be difficult in any new place, much less in New York City. Exchanging class schedules with your roommate early on will ensure you know when you have the room to yourself. This can be the most difficult part of any college experience. So continue reading for more insight on how to get alone time.
Guide to Third Places
As an introvert, getting time to fully recharge is essential to remaining yourself. Unfortunately, alone time is difficult to find in New York City. Still, if you want to find socially obligated–free moments, I strongly recommend building a reliable list of third places. The “third place” is a sociological term used to describe places that are separate from one’s first place (their home) and second place (their place of work). In this case, a third place is somewhere other than your dorm room and your academic building.
It can take some time to find the right place for you. And it takes even more time to learn when it’s busier than usual. But here are some suggestions for finding spaces that are easy to escape to when you just need to get out:
- Coffee shops: Cafes are great places to go on slow weekends when you need time to be nothing more than an anonymous city dweller. Check out the locations near your residence hall. But also consider venturing out into neighboring areas.
- Gyms: In my first year, the gym was my safe space. I spent most of my time at 404 Fitness, one of two on-campus gyms. Establishing a workout routine will also do wonders for your stress. Plus, it gives you the chance to cope in a healthy way.
- Parks: New York City hosts several beautiful green spaces. As a lot of us are coming from areas with more nature than the city, parks are a great place to unwind and do some people-watching.
- Bookstores and Libraries: Get a New York Public Library card and check out those study spaces. Or go out and explore one of the many bookstores dotting the city. I am often at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square reading in their Starbucks while looking out over the park.
- The City: Thankfully, New York City is highly accessible. You can go just five blocks away from your residence hall and suddenly be in an entirely different neighborhood with a new set of attractions. Consider blocking off time each week to explore.
Guide to Moments of Solitude
While these third places are a fantastic way to find your place in a new environment, they often have people in them. Of course these places are occupied, it is New York City, after all. It may be counterintuitive, but when you’re in need of a serious recharge, finding solitude in New York City is rare, but not impossible. You just have to get the timing right.
Over time, frequenting third places makes it easier for you to discern the best time to escape. For example, I went to 404 Fitness early in the morning on a weekday, when most students were in class. In addition, I spent a lot of time in my residence hall’s various common spaces.
Each residence hall offers different amenities, from study rooms to game rooms. For example, I went to the study lounge on weekend mornings and camp out all day until I finished my homework. I was usually alone for the first few hours. So I had the chance to enjoy the solitude while getting some work done. During the spring semester, I went to our multipurpose room in the mornings as well. One lucky Saturday I had the entire room to myself for over six hours! In other words, it was the definition of heaven.
As you learn the different crowd patterns, you’ll turn into a bit of an expert on when and where to go depending on when you need to unwind.
Guide to Preserving Your Sanity
As a college student, your sanity is defined by how you balance your academic, social, and personal life. Finding that clear divide is crucial to ensuring you finish your school work promptly. Then, you’ll have enough time to unwind by yourself.
What does this mean?
No more Picture-in-Picture.
I’m the biggest culprit of this. Picture-in-Picture is an extension that allows you to complete another task while Netflix or another video platform plays in the corner of your screen. While this seems like a general college tip, I promise you, mixing your downtime with your work is a bad idea. Having a clear separation between schoolwork and when it’s time to de-stress is imperative to optimizing your relaxation time. So any time to yourself you earn as a college student will mean that much more to you.
Going to college can be incredibly overwhelming for anyone, much less an introvert in a large city. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you aren’t alone. There’s always a community of people out there who knows how you feel. Everything gets easier over time so long as you put in the effort! Don’t lose hope!