Sep 062011
 
Authors: Emily Kribs, Libby Williams

Emily Kribs, freshman

College is expensive. There’s no getting around that. Well, OK, there is, like scholarships for instance, but I digress. And one costly aspect of higher education is living arrangements, an issue many choose to alleviate by splitting the cost with a roommate.

Of course, an unintended side effect of a roommate is having to share your personal living space with another person.

For most people, this turns out all right. But it’s definitely jarring. We’ve all visited friends’ houses before and all, but for me, this is the first time I’ve had to live in such close quarters with someone I barely know.

In my case, my roomie’s name is also Emily, which makes for a whole new world of worry. Because I mean, how do the other people in our hall differentiate us? I’d be fine with being “the one Emily who isn’t blonde,” but somehow I doubt that’s how it works.

And somehow, I suspect it’s the chick politely trying to sleep with my laptop’s light glaring in her face who’s labeled “the cool Emily.” Not that working for the school paper doesn’t scream “awesome” or anything.

Having grown up in different families, we’ve grown up with different rules and values. I always worry about that border between “slob” and “snob,” and which side I’m toeing at any given moment. Do I really need to make my bed every morning?

At about three weeks in, Emily and I are still as courteous as a pair of waitresses. “Do you mind if I have some friends over?” “Are you sure it’s okay if I blow-dry my hair in the morning? I don’t want to wake you up.” “Would you do me a huge favor and pass me that book?”

She’s preferable to my buddy’s roomie, who comes home drunk every night. And she’s far superior to her gentleman friend’s roommate, who regularly kicks him out and forces him to sleep on the sofa in the basement. But it’d be nice to know she’s actually okay with these things and not just saying so to be polite.

We do have our differences. I tolerate her country music; she abhors my metal. I’m ready to buckle down and start my homework around the time she’s ready for bed. Her friendly and positive personality contrasts with my awkward and cynical one.

But it’s nothing insurmountable.

Yet.

Libby Williams, senior

I’ve lived with a total 13 people throughout college –– boys and girls –– and each and every one of them has gotten on my nerves at some point in time.
You’ve got it right, Emily. “Yet” is the key word.

Even when you don’t get to choose your roommate, you try to make it work. And after living with that person who clashes with every aspect of your life, you think that actually picking your own roommate will make it better. But it rarely does.

I wouldn’t call myself unique, because I’m sure many college students have had interesting living situations. But I’ve come across some that I’d classify as unusual.

Libby’s Roommate Awards:

“Weirdest Roommate” Award: My freshman roommate stowed dead swimming frogs in the fridge. You can imagine my surprise as I casually opened the refrigerator looking for PB&J ingredients and saw the amphibians. Seeing my shock, she let me know that she had a 30-day warranty on them, and she intended to get her money back.

“Scariest Roommate” Award: Living in a house with boys, a roommate came home late to find himself locked out. In the process of attempting to enter through a window, he shattered it.

Thinking we were in the middle of a break-in, another roommate met him with a shotgun. Both were equally terrified with the circumstances. How often does one roommate almost accidentally shoot the other?

“Most Psychotic Roommate” Award: My sophomore year roommate often fought with her boyfriend.

One night, she locked him into her bedroom and sat sobbing on the couch. After hearing a rustle in her room, she opened the door to her boyfriend fleeing out the window. Needless to say, she went berserk and continued the sobbing streak for over two weeks straight.

“Most Romantic Roommate” Award: My junior year roommate’s boyfriend got me to help lure her outside for his marriage proposal. I asked her to give me a second opinion on a dent in my car (which was actually in perfect condition). When she got outside to take a look, he was down on one knee on the front lawn. She said “yes.”

“Most Frustrating Roommate” Award: I had a big bill-paying issue with my senior year roommate.

He and I were left, mid-semester, with a $1,200 rent bill to split. We made it work during school, but when the lease didn’t end until August, the two of us had all-out summer-long yelling matches via phone and text. The bills got paid, but we are both still bitter.

So Emily, prepare yourself for some interesting roommate moments. Don’t be shocked when “the cool Emily” kicks you out of the room because she is having an “intimate” moment with a guy, decides she wants to learn to play the trombone or tries to sneak a baby squirrel into your dorm room.

Survey the campus. I’d venture to guess these scenarios aren’t too far-fetched.

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