Going random

Going+random

When I committed to the University of Illinois, I was absolutely clueless coming from Louisville, Kentucky. The one pillar of comfort I was able to revel in was the fact that I was being set up with a roommate from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, and hopefully she would feel comfortable enough to teach me the ways of the University. We could adjust to college life together.

My situation is unique, as I am the minority being out-of-state in my room and the school itself. My roommate is from Buffalo Grove, and my suitemates are from Deerfield and Northbrook. Together, they make up the trifecta of the North Shore majority.

I was set up with my roommate through mutual friends, and we found our suitemates through somewhat complex situations. Ironically, we each had friends in common, yet none of us knew or had ever met each other. And although my roommates and suitemates lived 10 minutes apart, they had never met either, having gone to different schools and living in different neighborhoods their whole lives.

At first, our texts were formal, tentative and sometimes a bit awkward. We were treading lightly, though one would never know looking at our friendship now. Today, our relationship with one another is so strong and symbiotic because we came into college not knowing one another.

Sharing a room with someone else is essentially sharing your life with them; eating, sleeping, working and living alongside another person takes time to adjust to. You expose yourself in the hopes that your roommate will return the gesture respectfully. It is this exposure that creates a healthy or an unhealthy relationship between roommates, and this is why I’ve found that it is essential to live with somebody you aren’t already friends with in college.

It may seem comforting to live with someone you know, especially when you don’t know anybody or anything; however, sharing a room with somebody you already know and trust may make it difficult to create boundaries.

With my roommate, we created boundaries by learning about each other day-by-day. As we stocked our space with snacks, we learned our similarities and differences.

“What’s mine is yours,” we said to one another, as we found that we had the same cravings for apples and peanut butter, oatmeal and popcorn.

There is one thing, however, that I am very hesitant to share. Diet Coke is my favorite drink in the world. Not only that, but I consider it my sustenance in life. Upon telling my roommate this, she knows to never take one of my Diet Cokes unless I offer it.

A close friend would probably take a Diet Coke without a second thought because they are comfortable with the other person and may not mind disregarding their weird quirks. However, this is a boundary that must be set when sharing a room. Boundaries, ironically, create a sense of cohesion because it allows roommates to know one another personally and work together to make the living space as enjoyable as possible.

Diet Coke may seem like a small facet of a roommate agreement, but it allows me to take comfort in my living situation knowing that my roommate has respect for my boundaries.

Roommates, inevitably, are going to have disagreements. Whether it is bedtimes, boyfriends and girlfriends or even a question of who took the last bag of popcorn — no room is going to be perfect. Rooming with somebody you do not have a strong, personal relationship with makes it is easier to squash those situations before they emerge.

Roommates who do not know one another are typically going to be more respectful while trying to gauge the relationship, and it is more conducive to operate slowly and learn as you go, as opposed to diving into the situation. Beginning college is uncomfortable in general, and meeting a new roommate is simply part of the awkward process. It will teach you how to build relationships with new people and experience a partnership — skills that will only benefit you later in life.

A random roommate or a roommate whom you’re set up with through mutual means is the key to a meaningful college experience. It not only makes the living situation a bit easier, but it also exposes you to new people that you can explore the craziness of college life together. You may even be lucky enough to find your new best friend.

Rachel is a freshman in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]