Ah... roommates. Whether you chose your roommate or not, whether they are already your friend or you were set up together by the housing office, if you are going to be sharing a living space with someone, you truly don't know how that will end up until you experience it.
I lived on campus dorms my first three years of college. I know, I know... I don’t know how I survived either but it was too complicated for me to find my own. And, looking back, it really wasn’t that bad.
Year 1: Freshman Fears
I feel like the housing office of a university is a little bit like a matchmaker. Except, instead of getting a date, you get thrown in a tiny room with a stranger. Do you go to sleep at around the same time? Do you have similar tastes in music? Do you have some similar habits? Yeah, those are basic questions. But, do they snore? Will they bring their own dates over and banish you from the room once a week? Will you have to get an eye mask because your roommate likes to sleep naked? Those are the real questions.
Before I started college, I had heard my share of roommate horror stories. I watched a video where someone said their roommate filled their shampoo bottle with a hair removal product. Luckily, she was found out in time!
At this point in my life, I was spending a lot of money to straighten my hair every six months; I wasn’t about to risk it. I went on the Facebook group and tried to find someone that had similar interests as me. We talked, recommended some TV shows to each other, and were about to ask housing to make us roommates until she talked about how she goes to sleep every night at 8pm and needs all the lights off and complete silence.
... As someone with a terrible sleeping schedule that considers 1am as early, I knew then that we weren’t meant to be. So I left it up to fate and that’s how I met Lillie.
Honestly, Lillie and I were a perfect match as roommates. We both had terrible sleeping schedules, we respected that we would need space and privacy sometimes, and we both really liked Rent.
So dorm life itself wasn’t that bad, except for the fact I had to share a bathroom with the whole sixth floor of my building; If I wanted to cook, I had to get my own pans, go to the dorm’s basement, and hope no one else in the whole seven floors wanted to cook at the same time. Same with laundry— sharing less than 10 washers with the whole building will really teach you the true meaning of patience.
Roommate-wise, though, I was lucky. I got to hear other people complain about their roommates, so I know you can’t 100% trust the housing office, but I would say from my experience that you have a pretty good shot.
Year 2: Sophomore Sorrows
Actually, sophomore year was simultaneously the best and worst. I got to share my room with friends I’d already met my first year: Loreen, Rachael, and Alice. But, because Alice and Rachael were studying abroad during Fall and Winter/Spring Semesters respectively, at every point in the year there would still only be three of us in that room for four. That meant that the housing office had to work it’s magic again and fill that spot with someone else. Again, we were lucky. We got Minami, an exchange student from Japan.
We definitely leveled up in the living-conditions department: we had a bathroom for the four of us now! It was only a three-floored building and there was a kitchen and a laundry room on each floor. If our floor’s washers were all full (which they usually weren’t, since this dorm was smaller) we had the possibility of going to the first floor and using theirs. Not the third floor though, people said that one was haunted but that’s a story for another day.
You know how I said sometimes it doesn’t matter whether or not you knew your roommates before, it can still be rough?
This was the epitome of that.
These girls are still some of the closest friends I made in college. But, that year was one of the hardest ones. We all had personal situations: unexpected breakups, money problems, future concerns, depression, even natural disasters for me and Minami.
That was the year there was a massive earthquake in Ecuador. I skipped so many classes and cried so much; everything made me upset. It’s hard being in another country when your people are suffering and you feel so powerless. It’s hard that people in America don’t talk about it but it’s all that’s on your mind and all you want to talk about.
My mental and emotional state affected my relationship with my roommates.
When it’s that bad sometimes you just need to be alone for a while. When you have one roommate, that’s easy. When you have four people in one room, it’s never empty. Besides, with four people there are more things you have to be considerate about.
I’m grateful because even though we all went through such a hard time my roommates were always there for me. They’re such great people, I love them and I would definitely live with all of them again. I just wish the house was bigger.
Also, remember Lillie? She ended up being my RA that year. She let me stay in her room while she was at work so I could have my much-needed alone time. The bond formed by roommates is something else.
Year 3: Junior Joy
Junior Year, like other years, was rough in its own little ways, but it was also the best and last room I got at the dorms. It was a mini-studio apartment originally made for one person but they fit another desk in there and a bunk bed. It was small, but we finally had our kitchen, our own bathroom, and even a little dining table.
My third-year roommate was Dalena, and I have to say that if we hadn’t been roommates, I don’t think we would still be friends. We met through some English class and kind of kept in touch.
She couldn’t get on-campus housing for the fall and we both knew I’d definitely get a place, so we decided to apply for January housing together and that’s how we got the studio. Besides school stress and nearing The Senior Year of College our roommate life was pretty peaceful. She showed me some of the groups she liked and I forced her to sit down and watch dramas with me at least twice a week. Our class schedules were very different so both of us had our own share of the alone time every stressed college student sometimes needs.
Sure, our room was a little too small sometimes, and not being able to invite your friends over whenever can frustrating, but overall, my last dorm-life experience was pretty good.
Every roommate and experience in the dorms taught me something about myself. It taught me what “little” things I’m okay with and when to give in. But again, I’m very lucky that all of my experiences turned out in friendships.
If you have trouble with your roommate, you can go talk to your RA and get switched to a different room. Don’t hesitate to do this if your roommate is making your life miserable. Your mental health is important and you need to at least feel like your room can be a safe space.