A roommate turned best friend


Photo courtesy of Ashley Rayan

Staff writer Ashley Rayan with her roommate Dayna Rebecca. Rayan says she and Rebecca must rely on each other to get through the difficulties of freshman year.

By Ashley Rayan, Staff Writer

I met my roommate the way I imagine many people in the 21st century meet their significant others: the internet. I spruced up my social media, aware that this would be everyone’s first impression of me.

I crafted a message for the University’s Class of 2021 Facebook group that contained the same cliches as every other post: “I’m pretty clean,” “I’m super chill” and “I’m here to study, but I’m pretty social too!” I picked five pictures to showcase how ‘fun’ and ‘social’ and ‘normal’ I was, and after hours of careful proofreading from my best friends, I posted it.

For the next three days I would check the post almost obsessively, looking to see if anyone had commented or liked my post. After the first few hours, the comments and messages began to trickle in.

“Hey, you seem chill! I think we should room together” and “Message me!” were two common phrases I found littering my notifications.

Two days after I posted, I got the fateful message: “Hey! I’m Dayna, I’m not committed to UIUC yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m going there. Are you still looking for a roommate?”

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Over the next two weeks, Dayna and I bonded over our families, Lollapalooza tickets and indecision over whether we would commit to the University. We messaged each other constantly, talked about prom and exchanged numbers and Snapchat usernames.

Two weeks after we had messaged each other, we agreed to meet for dinner at our favorite place, Noodles & Company, located conveniently between our two hometowns.

Before I left to meet her, my friends and I poured through her social media. I was giddy with excitement about meeting my possible future roommate, yet simultaneously incredibly nervous.

What if we were totally incompatible? What if she thought I was weird? What if I thought she was weird?

That day, we spent almost three hours discussing everything roommate-related over our bowls of mac and cheese.

For the entire dinner, there was a strange tension. We talked about sleep schedules, majors and whether we were OK with sharing clothes. But both of us were too nervous to actually ask if we wanted to room with the other.

Finally, nearing three hours of us laughing over our similarities, I blurted out, “So we’re rooming together, right?”

“Yes! I was too scared to ask you that,” she said.

After dinner, we made plans to meet up again soon and went our separate ways. On my way home, I called my parents to give them the good news.

“I loved her!”

A few weeks later, we picked our room and were disappointed to discover that we were living in one of the last places on our list: Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall. Although I had never visited, Dayna reassured me that it was a decent place to live and said her four best friends would be living in the same building.

Over the following summer, Dayna and I met up just a handful of times. Every time, I felt as though we were compatible. We texted constantly: Who was bringing the microwave? Do we need a TV? How are we going to survive without air conditioning? Should we get matching comforters or is that weird?

I’d always considered myself a fairly easy-going person, and I knew Dayna and I would get along perfectly.

I had a prior engagement scheduled for move-in weekend, so after dropping off all my stuff at the University, my family and I attended my cousin’s wedding. Dayna moved in shortly after me and texted me all the important moments. She live-texted me a floor meeting and added me to all our floor group chats.

Although I was sad about missing out on one of the most integral moments of freshman year, Dayna made sure I wasn’t actually left out. She picked up something for me at every booth at Quad Day, and when I returned to campus the Sunday before the first day of classes, she had laid them all out on my bed with a special note. I felt as though we had known each other our whole lives.

Throughout the first few days, Dayna was my only friend. We were attached at the hip, eating every meal together, hanging out between classes, watching movies together on the weekends. She introduced me to her high school friends living in our building, who I would have never met had it not been for her.

To this day, they remain my closest friends.

I had in no way been prepared for what it’s like to live with a roommate. Although I had shared a room with my sister for a few years, we had more than a few feet to roam around. In our tiny LAR dorm room, I could touch Dayna’s bed while sitting on my own.

When I got sick, Dayna would fill up my water bottle late at night and check on me between classes.

When we spend long nights out with our sorority sisters or at the library, neither of us can sleep until we know the other is home and safe. A trip to the grocery store was never complete without us texting, “Hey, do you need anything?” Although I considered myself an early riser before college, I eventually adopted her sleep schedule, becoming a night owl.

One night during finals week, I was checking out at the credit store when, on a whim, I picked up a cookie for Dayna. On the way home, I texted her, “I’m bringing you a cookie from the credit store!” She responded, “No way! I went there today and I bought you a cookie too.”

I firmly believe that your roommate is one of the defining factors in whether you enjoy your freshman year. If you pick a good one, he or she can become your confidant and make campus feel like an extension of home.

If you don’t, your own bedroom feels like a battleground. I can genuinely say that without Dayna as my roommate, my freshman year would not be half as amazing as it has been.

I could not have asked for a better supporter, person or friend to share a room with.

Ashley is a freshman in Business.

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