The Free Press apologizes for using the photo of CWEL scholars with this article in the October print issue. The direction of the article was not communicated to the photo owner and the students in the photo had no association with the article.
It has been a month since the semester started, though the first week of school is still vivid in my mind. Tons of social events, either for peer mentor groups or for residence halls, stacked together and I hardly found much time to be alone. Music, dancing, icebreaker games… everything was new to me, and learning and being exposed to new stuff make me feel fulfilled, but I also found myself feeling tired and weary. In one of the social events, I saw a girl standing alone and looking awkward, so I went up to her and asked if she was having a good time. “No…not really,” she responded.We exchanged some ideas and found we both agreed on the fact those events are overwhelming.
Therefore, I went to interview some people who didn’t like the orientation and asked them what the problem was: “I wish they could make the social activities optional instead of mandatory because I felt it was useless. I could remember neither the face nor the name of people I met. I didn’t get to know them, and I didn’t make any friends from speed-dating.”
“Social events like speed-dating were too superficial. School kept forcing us to participate in that kind of activities and left us no time to get to know people who we truly wanted to know. They should have thought more about introverts, because not everyone’s personality was well-suited for the situation.”
“Those events were too loud and noisy, and I didn’t enjoy hanging out with a bunch of strangers. If I wanted to know somebody, I had my own ways.”
Now I look back and think about how I met my friends: living in a same dorm, eating dinner together, having class together, getting to know them through other friends. There are countless ways to make new friends, but social events in new student orientation is definitely not on my list. I neither enjoyed those activities nor learned anything from it.
To an extent, the second comment hit the nail on the head: Not everyone prefers social events to make friends, and generally introverts tend to dislike them. Because they are introverts, they are quieter and easily neglected, but that does not mean their feelings could be ignored. I am not asking the school to cancel the events, simply to make those events optional. Freeing them from those events will leave them more time to be alone, meet and get to know people through the channels that make sense to them.