Orientation week, regardless of country or school or year, is blatantly geared toward the extroverted. Social events, dances and parties, even speed friending are one’s options. As an introvert, I prefer (without shame) to stay in on a Saturday night eating chunky peanut butter by the spoonful watching Netflix. I am also fully aware that spending my invaluable and limited time in Ireland in such a way would probably be frowned upon by study abroad organizations, my home university, UCC, and the many people I’m supposed to currently be bonding with on some superficial level. But I have done this more times than most people, having gone through an excruciating orientation at my first University in Pennsylvania (the activities during which included several variations of games with the intention of ‘getting to know people’) and then transferring after one term to Puget Sound where transfer students were given a haphazard welcoming. Now I am essentially a freshman for the third time, but the difference is I’m done forcing myself into social situations that just make me uncomfortable.
I also suppose part of my lackadaisical attitude stems from my having traveled around Europe for the past three months. Unlike my peers (all of whom thus far happen to NOT be Irish), who are excited to be on their own in a foreign country where the drinking age is 18, I have already experienced that novelty; it has come and gone. Now I’m simply waiting for classes to start, to develop a routine and establish seemingly trivial things like where my favorite study spot in the library is and where the best chai is and where I like to spend my time between classes. Those are the things, to which I’m sure many fellow introverts would attest, are just as important to survival in a new environment as is making friends.
This is all not to say I have no intention of making friends. I plan to do the exact opposite, but just on my own time and in my own way. It’s possible that traveling all summer has given me this sort of calming, self-assured perspective on the cookie-cutter ritual of friend-making. I want to meet my people–my people of course being primarily Frisbee people. Or rocking climbing people, or outdoorsy people, or environmentally-conscious people, or feminists and activists and athletes and atheists. It just takes a bit longer for me, my awareness of which I’m now realizing is a huge asset to my overarching sanity. I know that my reserved nature does not mean I will never make friends and my entire time in Ireland will be spent alone at the bottom of the peanut butter jar, scraping away every last chunk. I’ve been through this enough times to know that whoever said “all good things to those who wait” was sage indeed. It’s just the waiting that isn’t so good.