Being a new student in a lecture hall full of students who have known each other for years can be uncomfortable. It is just difficult to know how to react in class or how to approach any of my new classmates. But difficult assignments are an ice breaker.
I studied myself very well and realized that I am an extrovert. I am that kind of a student who cannot let the lecturer continue teaching if I have not understood the previous concept. I raise my hand and ask for the concept to be clarified more. When it comes to sitting positions in class, the first two rows are my preference. One of the reasons why I like sitting in front is for the lecturer to quickly notice my confusion by just reading my facial expressions, which they always do.
When failing to cope with writing notes in class, I usually ask a deskmate what I missed or I just pull their notebook for a fifty-second glance and return it. Fortunately, people I usually sit next to in class pull my notebook too, so I don’t feel guilty when I pull theirs. If different people sit next to me in every lecture, that is how I get to talk to almost everyone in my classes. The class sizes at Ashesi University are small, so it is possible to talk to everyone.
I had to become an introvert in lectures during my first weeks at Mälardalen University since the most dominant Swedish people’s social trait is being reserved. In the lectures, I never said a word. Thankfully, an Asian classmate whose personality is just like mine always asked the lecturer to clarify unclear information. The questions she asked were the same questions I would have asked. Whenever I was lagging in writing notes, I left space to fill the information up during the study. I was not sure how the person sitting next to me would have reacted if I had pulled his/her notebook for a glance to update my notes.
On my first day, in my Operations Research class, I saw a girl who resembles Naa, a girl who was in my Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship group during my first year of college at Ashesi University. The extroverted me was telling me to pull my chair on wheels towards her to excitedly tell her that she looks like my former classmate, while the self-proclaimed introvert me decided to ignore it, which I finally did. I waited for her to speak a word in class so that I would also check if she speaks like Naa, but she never did.
A time came when we had learned enough to be doing labs. The lecturer explicitly told us that the labs were difficult, and certainly, they were. We stayed after the lecture hours to continue solving the problems and at some point, the lecturer would leave to attend other urgent matters. It is then that we needed help the most. My friends always tell me that when I am doing school work, my facial expression seems like that of a person who understands what she is doing. Because of that, one classmate I had never talked to before approached me to ask how I had tackled a certain question. Surprised, I smiled and showed him my answer, which was nonetheless wrong. I approached other mates for help and they approached me too. That saw us discussing potential ways of solving the problem, but we still could not arrive at a satisfactory answer.
What mattered to me is that we at least had a conversation, the lecturer would help us with the problem anyway. During that moment, I saw a few people who probably were extroverts, but would not be themselves around new people too. The second lab came, and the teamwork continued. We could not arrive at an answer again, but ultimately we talked. It is that moment that I realized that human beings need each other no matter how much they try to live independently.
After interactions with other mates, I automatically switched from introvert to extrovert mode. I participated more in class and I felt free to pull dear desk mate’s notebook for notes update. I and some classmates started greeting whenever we met in the corridor, and with a few, I exchanged numbers. I can conclude that solving the same difficult assignments is another way of making new friends. However, the theory did not work on the girl who looks like Naa, we never talked.