Ziemann: The introvert’s guide to residence hall life

Columnist Megan Ziemann reassures incoming introverted students they’ll find their (metaphorical) people.

Megan Ziemann

One of the hallmarks of the college experience is living in a residence hall. You’ll bond with your roommate, brush your teeth with your housemates and study in the den with business majors and engineers alike.

To some, that sounds amazing. Who wouldn’t want to spend all day with their friends?

Not me. And that’s OK. 

It’s hard to tell through writing, but if you’ve ever met me outside of the Daily, I am a huge introvert. I prefer staying home to going out (which is extremely beneficial in quarantine). I get really drained when I spend too much time around other people and I need to be alone in order to refill my “people meter” before I can go out again.

The summer before my freshman year, I was really worried about how I’d live in a residence hall. To me, it seemed like I’d be around people all the time with no space to myself. 

In reality, I was just fine. I took control of my environment and created “introvert spots” all over campus where I could just be by myself.

Iowa State has two kinds of residence halls: standard style and suite style. I’ve lived in both, but my freshman year I was assigned to Eaton Hall, a suite style building. That meant my roommate and I shared a bathroom with our female next door neighbors.

The bathroom was the first of my introvert spots. When I was in the shower, I locked both doors so the only one in the bathroom was me. I brought a portable speaker in, sang along to music and used my showers to relax and recharge after a day of class.

I needed to study more in my freshman year of college than I ever did in high school. I took advantage of that and studied in a smaller mini den on my floor. Most of my housemates hung out in the bigger den, so that smaller one was quieter and felt more comfortable. Studying turned into a recharge moment, and I got work done too!

Sometimes, I turned my residence hall room into an introvert spot. My roommate was in a learning community for her major, so she would study and hang out with friends outside of the room. I took that time to practice self-care in our room. I’d pop on a face mask, turn on Netflix on my laptop and take some time to do nothing and relax.

My favorite introvert spot is by far the Union Drive Marketplace (UDM) dining center. My freshman year, my meal plan had a limited number of “swipes” or passes into a dining center per semester. To save swipes, I would enter UDM around lunchtime, find a place to sit and stay in the dining center until dinnertime. I’d pop in some earbuds and listen to music or watch something on my laptop and do reading for class at the same time.

And there were snacks, so that was a plus.

Of course, my freshman year experience won’t be the same as yours. You’ll live in different residence halls, frequent different dining centers and attend different classes. 

But that’s not something to be scared of. Campus is yours to explore, and take it from me, there are introvert spots everywhere.

You just have to go out and look.