I am writing this letter because I considered myself to be a very shy person. However, I have realized that I am not as shy as I believed. The reason is because I am an exchange student at the University of Oregon and you are not so different from me.
First of all, if shyness were our main feature, we just would not be able to come to Eugene. For sure, we felt nervousness, distrust and even fear but after all we decided to study abroad. What this means is that an adventurous and outgoing personality is inside us. Our extroverted character made the first step. It drove us to join to UO and now we are here.
For our real self, the second step is going out gradually from our comfort zone. I am aware that you have probably heard this before, and sometimes it is annoying because we do not really know what to do to be explorers. Nevertheless, unconsciously we have already made a lot of progress.
Are you asking why? There are a lot of explanations but initially I want to invite you to look back to your first week in Eugene. It was a little unsettling because you did not know a lot of people. Perhaps you could not communicate really well with others and occasionally you get lost on the campus, right? However, check out your current situation. Now it is easier to go around campus and your communication skills improved a lot with daily practice. The most important fact is that you know more people.
They are not only classmates and conversation partners. These new people are teachers, academic coordinators or International Student and Scholar Services staff. When we start a conversation with them, we are leaving our shyness behind. Sometimes, it is very hard to continue a conversation but now I understand that it is a part of the process to leave our comfort zone. Just let it go!
Hence, my point is that we should not be scared about new situations. We must enjoy this new experience, because we do not lose anything by trying. Coffee hours, football games and other activities are helping me to be myself. I am not saying I have thousands of new friends and I am never shy anymore. However, my point is that we are changing our lives for the better.
Being shy is not wrong. Not trying, however, is wrong.
Best of luck!
Majo Andrade Cerda (Ecuador)