1. Academics are people too
Many students – particularly as they start university for the first time – are inclined to find their lecturers intimidating. This fear starts even before they get to university, because they’re often afraid (whether they realise it or not) of the admissions tutors who will be reading their personal statement. This fear is easily overcome simply by remembering that academics are people too. They too have a life of their own beyond the university environment; they have a family, friends and hobbies, and they’re subject to the same worries, struggles, ups and downs as everybody else is.
They are human beings, and experience the same range of human emotions as you: they’re just as capable of being bored, frustrated, happy or unhappy as you. Remember this in your dealings with them, whether it’s writing a personal statement that they would actually find interesting, chatting to them in Freshers’ Week over a cup of tea, or discussing academic matters with them in class. They’re not there to intimidate you, and you will almost certainly find that you have a more easy-going relationship with your lecturers at university than you did with your teachers at school (first-name terms are common).
2. Everyone is just as anxious to make friends as you are
When you’re new to the university environment, and you don’t know anyone, it can sometimes feel as though everyone else is more switched on than you, that they know something you don’t, or that they’re somehow better at making friends than you. This is not the case. Everyone is in the same boat as you, and everyone’s just as anxious to make friends as you. If you walk into a room and everyone seems to be chatting to each other and already to be best friends, don’t be fooled: they’re probably just as nervous inside as you are, and this external show of confidence is probably only skin-deep. Use this knowledge to reassure yourself, and pluck up the courage to go and say hello – they’ll almost certainly be as glad as you are that you did.