Excluding a twin and other siblings, your parents are your first roommates. In teaching you to be a decent person with manners, they are also teaching you the basics of how to live with other people. Life is a series of roommates, some more temporary than others. No matter who you live with, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies; it’s compromise that leads to a healthy relationship with whoever you share your living space with. Your parents can ground you when you’re being difficult, but it doesn’t go over too well to threaten to restrict your college roommate’s internet privileges unless they clean their side of the room.
One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of living on a college campus is the random roommate assignment. The months leading up to discovering who you will be sharing a room with are filled with silent prayers hoping that the person isn’t crazy. Fortunately for me, my freshman year roommate and I got along so well that we decided to live together our sophomore year as well.
I credit my positive random-roomie experience with reducing my apprehension at deciding to move in with five strangers into an old house in an unfamiliar neighborhood in a foreign country. To my mom, a ferocious worrier, this sounded like the opening scene to a bad horror film, but to me, it was just the first hurdle of studying abroad.
As I eagerly awaited the email with a list of my housemates’ names, I naturally couldn’t avoid wondering if one (or more) of them was a psycho killer. I soon pushed that thought out of my head as I looked at each of my five soon-to-be-roommates’ Facebooks. I shamelessly scrolled through what pictures were available and they seemed nice and normal enough. After friend-requesting them, I let out a big sigh of relief. We don’t have to be best friends; we just have to tolerate each other.
It’s fantastic when the best case scenario occurs. Looking back, the first night we all spent together in the house really set the tone for how the semester was going to play out. We sat in a circle on the floor in someone’s bedroom and talked about our flights to Australia, and our excitement for the coming months. Somehow, High School Musical snuck it’s way into the discussion. Unabashedly, we sang our hearts out to a medley of songs from the Disney Channel movie. Comfort penetrated through our cloaks of uneasiness that shielded us from the strangers we had to live with.
I am so thankful that the six of us, randomly assigned to the same house, get along so well. This study abroad experience could have been a sour one had my roommates been terrible. Fortunately, that is not the case. Due to our similar personalities, we have happily spent hours sitting around the kitchen table passionately singing and coloring in adult coloring books instead of going out.
In these two and a half months, I have grown close to these five amazing girls, and we have quickly transitioned from strangers to friends. The beauty of random roommates is that although there is that risk of getting stuck with someone incompatible with your personality, most of the time, you end up living with someone who’s at least okay. If you’re lucky, they’ll be great. That roommate may have come from a different background than you and will have an interesting and unique outlook on situations. While there may be similarities, there is always something you can learn from a new person and housemate by sharing life stories.
Amidst the homework, the exams, the hangovers, the breakdowns, the homesickness, the tears, the smiles and laughs, the six of us
roommates friends are each others’ support systems and I couldn’t have picked better ones myself.