The Freshman Year Roommate
Some people think that a high school senior’s stress is over the day he or she is accepted to a college. But sometimes, it’s just the beginning.
The day I received my housing assignment was a little like the day I received my acceptance letter. My parents and I were huddled in front of the computer in my living room, my finger hanging anxiously over the left button on my mouse. It felt a little like watching my life unfold before me.
Eventually I did build up the courage to open the page. I assume that the series of events that ensued in my household was pretty typical. My dad started jumping around over the fact that I wasn’t assigned to “the naked dorm,” although his excitement was brought down a bit when I informed him that there was still a chance that I could have a co-ed bathroom (I still have not heard the end of that one). My mom started gushing about how eager she was to start buying pretty comforter sets for my room. I immediately started searching for floor plans, maps, anything that could give me an idea of what I was getting myself into. Does “lower level” mean “basement?” (It did.) Is living next to my RA going to stink as much as I think it is? (It doesn’t.) Am I really living in the Japanese Hall? (I’m not.) I had so many questions, but nothing topped the one that every person who has ever been assigned to a double wonders: What will my roommate be like?
In good overzealous fashion, the first action I took upon learning my roommate’s name was to email her. I told her that I “really thought we should start discussing stuff.” What was this elusive “stuff?” I had no idea. I just wanted to get some sort of clue, something that would tell me who she was.
What followed? Nothing. No answer, even after a week. I began to question myself. What had I done to make her hate me already? I knew I should have used emoticons or thrown in an “lol” somewhere, but those things are so hit-or-miss. Of course, I immediately began to assume the worst. What if my roommate practiced taxidermy, or worse…collected porcelain dolls? I needed to know. I had been good for a week, but a girl can only be good for so long. It was time to Facebook creep.
What did I find? Nothing. I could find no social networking sites whatsoever. Could it be that she didn’t exist? No, that didn’t seem like an option (spoiler alert: my roommate exists. She was just on a special privacy setting). There was just one bit of information I could find about my roommate: she was a swimmer. I held on to that fact, tightly. So it only made sense that, when my friend came over and casually mentioned that a teenage girl had won the swimming meet for America in the Olympics, I automatically decided that it must have been my future roommate. “That makes sense,” I thought. “She must not be answering my emails because she’s too busy over there in London.”
As it turns out, I was wrong again. My roommate did not swim in the Olympics. This is for the better, as I definitely would have had a difficult time relating with an Olympic athlete. All of my anxiety over the summer was unfounded; by the end of moving day my roommate and I had already moved past all the awkwardness that I’d expected it would take months to conquer. I realized then that a lot of worry we endure when we leave for school can easily be avoided. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the dorm-life experience, it’s that humans are pretty adaptable. If you stick two people together, they will most likely find a way to make it work. It’s only been a month, and my roommate and I have already formed a nice, mutally understood, systematic lifestyle that works for us. And, if you ask me, we are on the track to becoming pretty good friends. (Roomie, if you’re reading this, call me!)
I’ve also learned that, any time you catch yourself jumping to conclusions, you should just stop yourself before you even start. I, for one, am pretty bad at the whole predicting thing, especially when it comes to people. I’ve seen that you can’t really judge a person by a paragraph or a photo, and you definitely can’t forecast the way your year is going to play out after knowing your roommate for an hour. Freshman year is stressful enough without the added assumptions. Ninety-nine percent of the time, things will work out perfectly fine in the end. Whether you’re stuck in a basement, next to your RA, or in a hall that you didn’t necessarily request, just give it a chance. You’ll probably grow to like it. Besides, you know what happens when you assume.