The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “community college”

Deja vu- The first day all over again

Usually, there is only one first day of school.

For me, however, there were two.

I am taking classes at two different community colleges. I’m doing this so I can get all the classes I want my first semester instead of only having a few options as a new student.

My first day at one of my colleges was great, but how was the first day at my other college going to go?  The butterflies returned at the prospect of having to go through the first day of school all over again.

Soon enough, the time came and I set foot in my first class of my first day at this college, my Career and Life Planning. I was looking forward to it because I think the subject of career choice is fascinating and I’m hoping this class will help me figure out what I want to do. I’ve already done so much research on my own, but I hope I’ll get something helpful out of this class.

I talked to the girl sitting next to me right away, and she was really friendly. In class, an activity started where we had to go around the room and find someone who fits one category on a space, like someone who loves music, or who had a leadership position in school, or who volunteers. It seemed a little silly to me at the time but I know the teacher was just trying to get us all acquainted with each other. I briefly met a majority of my classmates, and even won a candy bar for being one of the first people to turn in my sheet with all the squares filled out with signatures from each person in the class.  Woot!

Next, I headed for my Intro to Sociology class. When I entered through the doors, I saw that every seat in the class was taken. Every seat. I had no choice but to sit on the floor, so I did. Soon others came in and had to stand or find somewhere to sit on the ground as well. The room was packed with people hoping to add her class. The teacher is supposedly one of the best Sociology teachers this college has ever had, and she’s won teacher of the year awards. I was excited at the prospect of getting to learn from her, and was hoping I’d be able to add.

We all waited a little while, but there was no sign of her. But then, the door crashed open and a tall white haired woman charged forcefully down the aisle to the front of the room, yelling for everyone to put away their cell phones, and ranting that if she ever saw one out again she’d kick the person out of the class. Several people looked offended and astounded, or slightly spooked, and I could tell that some people would drop. She continued to say that she would not tolerate any talking once class begun, and anyone who talked while she was talking would be asked to leave. There are no excuses in her class, nothing can be late, and there are no make ups. Her tests consist only of essay questions, because she doesn’t believe in multiple choice tests. There would only be three tests all year, and 3 research papers.

I had read that she tries to scare people away the first day and comes off as really strict and tough, but that she is actually one of the most caring teachers on campus. Her attempt to scare us didn’t work on me, and I happily added my name to the add list when she said anyone who showed up today and wanted to learn she would teach.  I had emailed her before asking to add, and she had first sent back an automatic message that said she had over 100 people requesting to add and that she wasn’t giving out add codes before class.  I wrote back saying that was a ton of people and clearly shows what a sought out teacher she is, and that I was hoping to add but I’d probably have to try again another semester.  I said I was hoping to take her class because I’d heard she was an excellent teacher and I wanted to learn what Sociology was about.  To my surprise, she wrote back saying it was her last semester, and she said to come to the first class and introduce myself and she was sure that I had a pretty good chance of getting in.

I was a little nervous to approach her after the big scary image she had presented of herself, but felt like since I had said I would introduce myself, that I should. After adding my name to the add list, I said, “Hi my name is Brittany, I emailed you over the summer about adding your class, and I said I would introduce myself, so I wanted to be sure and do that.” I held my hand out and we shook hands and she smiled and touched my arm and said she was really glad I made it to her class and was going to add. She asked if I’d gotten the books already and I said that I had, and I was looking forward to her class. It was a nice friendly exchange and probably made a good first impression on her.

Next I had speech class. I started talking to the lady next to me, Heather. On the first day we were given an assignment to interview the person next to us in class, so we ended up interviewing each other and another woman joined our group too since there was an odd number. Heather’s a mom of three teenagers and I learned some miscellaneous facts about her. The following class we would have to introduce our partner to the class, so I tried to find out some things that I thought would be interesting to share.

All in all the first day of this college went well too, though my previous first day was even better in my opinion. It was a good day though and I was glad to be done with both of my first days!

My First Day of College (Part II)

PART 2 Continued from Part 1

I was feeling pumped after my great start to the day and marched into my first class, International Relations, with confidence. 

I did a silly thing however and planted myself at a desk isolated from people already seated.  That was kind of dumb.  You can’t talk to people if you aren’t sitting next to people.  Luckily, the seats around me filled quickly.  The room was uncomfortably quiet, however, and I hesitated to break the silence.

Even so, I turned to my left and started talking to the girl next to me.  I introduced myself and she did the same.  When I asked her where she went to high school, I thought she said the name of my town!  I thought that was crazy!  Excited, I said, “Really?!  Me too!  How do I not know you?”

She looked at me, confused.  Then I felt confused.  “You did say (name of my town), right?”

“No I said Indonesia!” she exclaimed.

I laughed at the mix up, and admitted with an amused smile that I wasn’t from Indonesia then.

She smiled.  She told me she’d only been here (the U.S.) a month, which surprised me and I told her.  She has great English!  She was flattered and thanked me for saying that.  I was talking a lot to her and asking questions, and I actually started to worry I was talking TOO much.  I decided to be a little quieter.

I found out that she had a similar schedule to me and we both had about a two hour break after this class before our next classes.  I thought about asking her if she wanted to have lunch, but I was afraid that I had talked too much earlier and she might find me annoying.  I decided to not ask in case I was being overly friendly.

The class started and the syllabus was intimidating with all the work to be done in the class.  We were given an assignment and were told we could work with other people around us.  To summarize, I introduced myself to Erica in front of me, K to my diagonal, and Aileen on my right, and brought Yuli into the group too.  The teacher beamed at us as were introducing ourselves and laughing- the assignment was baffling us all (filling in the countries of a blank Middle East map). To my surprise, many of the others in the class stuck to themselves in hesitation.

After class we all gathered our things, and Erica turned to say bye to me before she left.  I stood up to leave and Yuli did too, and wouldn’t you know it, she said “Come! Let’s have lunch together!”

I was delightfully surprised that she wanted to have lunch and was relieved that I hadn’t talked too much earlier.  I smiled and said “Yeah that would be great!”

So we had lunch together and she told me all about Indonesia and I told her about America.  Our cultures and experiences didn’t really sound that different.  We wandered around the campus together and it was really nice.  I felt comfortable with her already.  I noticed several people on their own at lunch reading or whatever else.  I was glad I had made a friend already and didn’t have to eat alone.

After nearly two hours of talking, walking, and sitting, it was time to part ways for our classes, and I swapped numbers with her too.

Swing dance class was next.  Soon enough, I started talking with one of the girls waiting outside the class.  Turns out she’s a professional belly dancer despite her petite figure.  We stuck together the rest of the class.

Afterward in salsa class, I was approached for the first time.  The guy leaning against the wall next to me started talking to me, and I was glad someone came up to me.  When we entered the class he met another guy, and then I met the other guy too, and we all became friends.  We lined up side by side smiling as we got ready to learn the salsa.  They were both friendly, nice guys and I was glad we had already become friends.

And that concludes my first day of college.  It could not have gone any better!

Make New Friends

Public speaking was a great challenge.  It was probably the hardest one yet because being the center of attention like that brings out the natural shyness in many of us.

I honestly did not feel confident that I was going to be able undertake Toastmasters and public speaking.  I’ve always hated presentations and even the word “presentation” or “oral report” was enough to make my stomach churn and my heart race.  In the past I’ve worried weeks before presentations in school and have had trouble sleeping and concentrating on anything else but the presentation.

Of course, I still get nervous for a presentation. I still worry about forgetting what I’m saying or making a fool of myself.  But I’ve gotten a lot better at quieting my negative voice and magnifying my positive voice.  This has definitely helped reduce the time I’ve spent worrying about an upcoming presentation or speech.  I’ve felt less stressed.

Even though I’m moving on to my next goal now, I am continuing with Toastmasters, like I have continued with my other goals.  It is a fairly big time commitment since it is every week, but I know that the benefits of this educational program will be extraordinary.

But now, it is time for another goal.

It’s time…to make new friends.

High school ended.  College is starting.  It’s the prime time for me to move out of my comfort zone and expand my circle of friends.  Several high school friends are moving away, and although several of my friends are still going to be in the area, I think it’s important to meet new people too.

When you go to a four year college, it is supposedly a lot easier to make friends.  You share a dorm room with someone, who could be a potential friend, or who could be a potential nightmare.  You live on campus so you are surrounded by thousands of other people around your age.  There are house parties, clubs and organizations, sports, campus events, and so forth.

Community college, however, is different.  A majority of the students come to school, take their classes, and then head home or off to work.  There aren’t living arrangements on campus.  There aren’t as many campus events, if any.  Making new friends is a little harder.

One of the main reasons why I wanted desperately to go to a four-year school before was to make new friends.  My brother Andrew made a family away from home while he was at UC San Diego.  He is still good friends with many of them today, even though they live in different parts of the country.  My brother Sean spent his first few years at community college, but didn’t really make any friends there.  It wasn’t until he went to Sonoma State that he met Brian, who welcomed him into his large circle of friends.

I realize it’ll be easier to make more friends once I transfer to a four-year school, but I want to make the most of my experience at community college.  I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made in the past and I really love getting to know people.  My hope now is that I can make some new friends.  The trouble is, how do I go about doing that?

My main idea is to make at least one friend in each of my classes this semester. I don’t know if I’ll be able to join school clubs where I realize it would be a lot easier to meet people, but I can make friends in my courses.  Since I have little time with six classes and a new job, I’ll have to get creative.  I can meet friends of my new friends.  I can meet friends of my current friends.  I can make my friend search well-known, so people know I am looking to meet new people and would love to be introduced.

College is a time for a fresh start and new beginnings, and I am more than ready to come in with a clean slate.  If I make an effort, I believe it will be possible to make friends at community college.  It’s all about making that first move and seeing where it goes from there.

Who knows who I could meet if I just try?

1st Night of Psychology

Well what do you know, the first class went great! 🙂  I was so worried about it and imagined myself having trouble talking to people in my class, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought!

I got dropped off at the college 20 minutes before my class began, and immediately went to the list posted in the center of the room where students were crowded around.  I figured this was the list that showed all the class numbers for each of the classes.  When the crowd whittled down a little so I could get close enough to the list, I scanned for my Intro to Psych class and soon found it.  I asked one of the ladies that was crowded around the list if that room number was upstairs, but I got no response, and she left.  I felt a little embarrassed, but I don’t think she was ignoring me on purpose, she must have not realized that I was talking to her.(even though I turned around and faced her)  Anywho, I went upstairs to where I thought the class would be, and eventually found it even though the room numbers were scrambled and were not in order.

When I entered the class, it was dead silent.  About 10 people were already seated, and no one was talking or making any kind of noise, not even ruffling papers!  I scanned the room trying to figure out where to sit so I could be in a good position to talk to some people.  I decided on the 3rd row, and sat next to an older lady.  My first thoughts were “Dang, it’s so freakin quiet in here that I’m never going to get a conversation started!”  I was conscious of my breathing even, that’s how quiet it was.  I felt awkward.  I then decided to ask the lady next to me if this was the Intro to Psych class, and she smiled and said yes.  I then started talking to her about the textbook that we both had out and asked if she had read any of it yet, and she said she hadn’t and asked if I had, and I said I’d read the first chapter.  She then asked how much I had to pay for the book and I said only a few bucks because I got it online.  She said she got hers for around $10 at a thrift store or something like that.  I then told her about the other classes I was taking and she told me about some of the classes she’d taken.  She said she’s 50 years old and has been trying to get all the requirements to get an AA degree.  She smiled a lot and was really nice and friendly, I’m glad I sat next to her and started talking to her.

Then another girl came in and sat next to me, and asked me if this was the intro to psych class.  I smiled and said yes, and that I had actually asked the same question earlier.  I then asked her if this was her first psych class and she said yeah, and that she needed it as a nursing requirement.  She wants to transfer to a nursing program.  I then showed her my schedule and talked about classes that she liked or ones that were easy and she gave me the teachers’ names.  She and the older lady also use ratemyprofessor.com, so we talked about the reviews for this teacher and the other teachers that I was going to have.  She was really nice and friendly too.  The girl’s name was Rose, and she actually knew the other lady next to me, Patricia, from a Spanish class, so we were all talking in our row so no one was left out, which was great.  Everyone else in the room was still pretty much silent, but after we started talking it wasn’t weird being the only ones talking, and as I mentioned that I got the book for cheap online a guy in the front spun around and asked me how much I had paid for it, and I told him only a few bucks off of the internet.

Soon the class started, and the instructor, Mrs. Jaimez, introduced herself and said she had a PhD in psychology and first worked as a psychologist, and later decided to become a teacher so she could spend more time with her kids.  She said she enjoys teaching more anyhow.  She then said that she wanted each of us to introduce ourselves, say something interesting about ourselves, and then say why we were taking the class.  I felt a pang of nervousness in my stomach, but was glad that I had at least talked to the people next to me already and had already been talking and introducing myself before she made us do it to the class.  Rose looked at me and raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, as if to say “oh great” and I smiled.

She started in the front row and eventually it got to the third row and Patricia introduced herself and accidentally repeated why she was taking the class twice out of nervousness I think, but she pointed that out aloud and got some laughs.  The interesting thing she said about herself was that she works on the clavicle of the back or something like that.  I’m not sure exactly how she put it, but she pointed to her lower spine.  Then it was my turn(oh boy), and I said “Hi my name’s Brittany, I like to play tennis and go swing dancing.  I’m taking this class because I think it sounds interesting and I want to learn more about psychology.”  I did my best to speak loudly and clearly, and I think I was understood.  Then Rose went, and said she’s pregnant and due in August.  She said she’s taking this class because it’s a requirement to get into a nursing program.  Then all the 50 something people went, and when one lady said her name, Ann Healy, in a beautiful British accent, I knew that must have been my friend Emily’s mom.  I thought Emily was thinking of taking the class, but I didn’t see her there, and I didn’t expect her mom to be taking it.  I wondered if the mom would know me if I went and talked to her, since I’d never met her before and hadn’t hung out with Emily too much.  But during the break, I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see her standing over me and she said she knew I was Emily’s friend and I told her I thought she was her mom.  I also said that I thought Emily was going to take the class too, but it turns out that she really wanted to volunteer at the library and ended up with a shift on Wednesdays, so she couldn’t take the class.  We talked about the class and she said a cousin had taken the class and really liked it.  She then said she was heading outside for the break and left the classroom.  I got some papers together on my desk, then decided to head down to the bathroom.  When I was at the sink washing my hands, Emily’s mom came out of one of the stalls and washed her hands too, and she started asking me about my tennis season.  I told her it had ended a few months ago, and she asked if I missed it, and I said not really because the weather’s been so bad and I have so much more free time now so that I can take these college classes.  We then talked the rest of the way back to class, and returned to our seats on the opposite side of the room.  I started talking with Patricia and Rose some more until the class started up again.

So for the actual class, it was alright.  She pretty much lectures from powerpoints and you have to really listen to what she’s saying to have good notes, because her slides are very brief and won’t tell you much of anything.  She seems nice though, I think some of her tests will be tough and I think I’ll have to spend a lot of time studying and reading the chapters assigned each week, but it should be ok.  She encourages participation and offers a lot of opportunities to participate, and I thought it would be great to raise my hand for something since I was already on a roll that night, but my shyness got the best of me and I kept my hand down, despite repeated efforts in my mind to “answer the next question”.  The next question came and went, and I found some excuse in my mind not to answer it.  For example, some of my thoughts were: I don’t want to answer that one because it’s too hard to explain, I’m not sure how to word my answer so it sounds like something I’d say and not what I just noticed in my textbook, The answer I have might not be what she’s looking for, Someone else already said the one I was going to say and anything else I say already sounds too similar, yadda yadda yadda.  My mind really needs to shut up sometimes.  But I’m so proud of myself for making 2 friends in my classes, and becoming friends with Emily’s mom.  I had a lot of good conversations, and was able to be friendly even when everyone else in the room was silent and sticking to themselves.  Normally, I’d be one of those people.  I’d be doodling, flipping through the textbook, anything to avoid making eye contact with people and attempting conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d WANT to talk to people, I’d want to make a friend, but I’d feel so awkward that I would just keep my eyes glued down rather than attempt something that could cause embarrassment or awkward lulls in conversation if I couldn’t think of what else to say.

So all that worrying was for nothing.  I did great, and I’m really happy with myself.  When 2 of my other classes start next week, hopefully they’ll go just as well, and I won’t be stressing out as much as I was this time.  But realistically, I know I’ll worry.  I just have to remind myself how well this experience went and how past experiences have gone well too.  My perception of the situation controls how I feel about it, so if I can think to myself that the class will go fine and that there’s no harm in talking to people and if I don’t it’s not the end of the world it should help.  Having expectations to talk to people makes me more nervous because I don’t want to let myself down, but they’re also helpful for me because I like to fulfill goals.  I feel a sense of pride when I set out to do what I want to do.  Unfortunately when I don’t fulfill my goals, I often feel sad and ashamed that I couldn’t open my mouth and say something to the person next to me.  So I have to be careful not to be too hard on myself and put extra pressure on myself, because that could very well backfire.

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