I have a friend who took organic chemistry their first year of college. They described sitting in lecture as being at an academic conference where everyone but you knows what's going on. Regardless of the difficulty of the subject matter, no one asked questions, no one seemed to need to. However, upon going to office hours and school-sponsored study sessions they were astonished to find a lot of their classmates going over the same material that seemed like a breeze just hours before. Participating during seminars or discussion sections can be highly intimidating for a variety of reasons. Refraining from raising your hand could be due to a fear of public speaking, but for an overwhelming number of students, there's a fear of looking unintelligent. That’s absolutely normal. As first-generation college students, you can often feel like you have to fake it until you make it. The most important thing to bear mind is you belong. You worked very hard to get to the college level and have the ability to enrich discussions through questions and personal insight. Even if you truly don’t feel comfortable with participating frequently, visiting your professor's office hours or emailing them with any questions you may have demonstrates a proactive attitude that will make you stick out and help you even after the semester, as having a strong relationship with instructors in your department will be invaluable for your career.
Asking questions and asking for further explanation can seem like the last thing you should do in a college classroom. I’m of the opinion that if you do the readings as well as some outside, relevant research to supplement your weekly lectures you will find yourself with plenty of information to volunteer during your discussions. Eventually speaking up won’t be something to agonize over moreover, when you have a well-informed group of classmates your debates will become more robust and engaging, enhancing your takeaway from the class. It won’t be easy at first, especially if you don’t consider yourself particularly vocal, but a big part of college is the growth that occurs inside the classroom and how it translates to your career and even your personal life. You were admitted to your institution because they saw you as an individual with something to contribute. Not everyone will become a powerful public speaker, but being able to stand up and voice your opinions is a skill that will easily translate from Socratic seminars to work meetings. The only thing that will change is how high the stakes are.