Post Classifieds

Opinion | Random roommates provide unexpected lessons

By Hailey Gilman
On February 28, 2013

In high school, college is intimidating. Teachers frighten you with their tales of traditionalist professors, slashing grades and covering papers in red pen. Counselors relent the need to learn how to study and the importance of time management. Indeed, as move-in day approached, my excitement grew, as well as my anxiety.

While I don't deny that classes were definitely one of my biggest concerns, I specifically remember being nervous that my life at Miami would be contingent upon something entirely beyond my control: my roommate.

Even throughout high school, I knew that choosing a friend as a roommate was not an option for me. Though the process works well for some, I wanted to venture out, on my own, beyond my comfort zone and meet someone new. Initially, I filled out the roommate survey and scrolled through the databases' matches for me. I looked at profile after profile, attempting to see similarities to myself in each person, skimming the interests of those with what I deemed to be good music taste and avoiding all that listed themselves as morning people.

The deadline for roommate selection passed and I was doomed to living with a poor, random soul. The horror stories I'd heard from older friends seemed all too real; anecdotes of stolen food, messy, un-navigable rooms and unwarranted passive-aggressive cohabitation tension. By the time I got the long-awaited email to check BannerWeb for my roommate's name, I was petrified.

And thus was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.

I still remember making my first impressions of my roommate, based solely upon her bedding, desk arrangement and the snacks she set out. I only wished for her to be "normal," for at least then I could survive the year. Though I can't recall exactly when, somewhere between convocation and filling out our roommate agreement, I realized we had the potential to be friends.

Now, several months into my college career, I feel as though my roommate teaches me more about life each day than she realizes. We've grown alongside each other and learned to compromise and cooperate, even in seemingly mundane tasks like choosing the room's temperature, restocking the fridge and keeping up the room's cleanliness. I know to be quiet when she's focused and she knows to leave me alone when I have headphones in.

We've become increasingly open with matters relating to our lives before college and though I can't quite say I've walked a day in her shoes, I admittedly feel as though I can empathize more readily with others.

Of course, by no means is sharing a room easy or trivial. Our disagreements are few, but they have occurred. We seem to forget the fact that at the end of the day, we must return to the same room, doomed to continue our discussion or ignore it entirely, yet both of us have the tendency to dig our heels in.

I don't mean to sound as though we fight often, for if anything, we have learned to be more understanding. She keeps me in line, and I'd like to think I could brighten her day.

While I won't be living with her next year, I only hope that she knows how much I'll miss our shared experiences as I've vacuumed up our things, she's broken a bottle of perfume on our floor and we've grieved for our multiple dead goldfish.

After speaking with friends, I understand how incredibly blessed I've been to have such a rewarding, random roommate experience. Truly, I don't believe I ever would have selected her, based on her answers to the roommate compatibility survey. Though I'm sure it's easier for the university to simply pair random students together, perhaps in some situations, unpremeditated roommates provide the best results and more appropriately the best life lessons.

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