Differing views on culture of introversion on campus

When I decided on Lawrence as my school of choice, it was because I fell in love with the environment. It was small and diverse enough, and getting to know people wouldn’t be as hard compared to a big college. But upon my arrival, my view of Lawrence culture started to change.

Only when actually attending Lawrence did I realize that, by and large, students are generally introverted people. TIME magazine recently compiled a map of the United States based on regional personality traits. The Midwest test data showed high levels of extroversion and agreeableness, calling it “Friendly and Conventional.” So I was surprised to see that, at a Midwestern college, people were generally introverted.

Why are people at Lawrence generally introverted? There aren’t many answers.

When Lawrence culture is compared to different cultures around the world, students have a mixture of feelings.

“I was honestly extremely surprised by this fact [that Lawrentians tend towards introversion]. But I found it very beneficial because of the close relationship with professors I am offered from Lawrence,” said sophomore Nutt Punnanitinont from Thailand.

Sophomore Alice Huang from China agreed, saying, “I was kind of surprised, actually. Before I came here, I thought people here would be so easygoing and enthusiastic, but the truth is only part of the people are.”

But, of course, there is  diversity among the students. “I’m quite a dull person and usually don’t care about the atmosphere I’m set into,” freshman Keonho Kun Na said. So this kind of environment is more or less unchanging to him.

Freshman Chiaki Kono, who hails from Japan “was not surprised by [the prevalence of introversion] because everyone smiled when I passed them on the street.  In Tokyo, Japan, a few people smile in such a same situation. Most people never talk with others they don’t know.”

But, overall, we agree that despite the introverted attitude, Lawrence is not unfriendly; instead, students just need a little prodding and warming-up to get through to people.

Punnanitinont asserted her view that the small size actually forges strong relationships between students and faculty: “Lawrence is a super friendly community. Because of its small size, people know each other fast and we get to see each other often.” Kun Na added, “Especially professors and staff; they are very friendly.”

The small campus size means students often run into each other. Sometimes this can lead to some confusion about just how acquainted you are with someone. One of the most infamous parts of Lawrence culture is the confusion over how to greet someone you’ve met just once or twice.

Farland explained “If I’m walking by myself, I don’t say ‘Hi;’ but if I am standing alone and they are, too, I’ll go and talk to them.”

Huang commented, “I always try to talk to people even though I only met them once. Some people give friendly response but some just try to pretend they don’t see you.”

So why do we avoid people we have only met once or twice? Do we find it out of our comfort zone to say “Hi” to someone we might not have a lot in common with? Is it because we simply don’t want to put in the effort to meet someone new?

Whatever it may be, I think we all  can step out of our comfort zone sometimes and make a new friend. We all chose to go to a small college for a reason; if you wanted to be a one-man show, a small college was not a very smart choice. So break down your walls and remember to say “Hi!”

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