Having a freshman year roommate, I’ve been told, is a quintessential part of your first year in college. There are the horror stories and the anecdotes of best friends. There’s the socially correct ‘peaceful coexistence.’ No matter the situation, everyone I know will give you a piece of their mind about it. When I received a Residential Life envelope before arriving at Colgate, I searched far and low for a roommate’s name in the letter. Finding the Stillman floor plan, I discovered something I’d never dreamt of: a single. Besides the fact that I’m a pretty social person, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I wouldn’t even have the chance to get anxious about living with a stranger.
After the initial shock wore off, I rationalized the news in my head and moved on to other college-related anticipation. Although by the beginning of October (or maybe it was September) I was grateful for my own space, I continued to wonder what it was like to have a roommate. There were the inseparable pairs and the mortal enemies, quirks surfaced (perpetrators usually unaware) and other enduring bonds formed of which I quickly grew jealous. It was all secondhand, and unlike the smoke of my custodian, I was avoiding the nasty side effects. It’s true that I’ll never be able to tell you a story about my freshman roommate.
To tell you the truth, I probably would’ve been overwhelmed. There’s so much of freshman year that’s new and exciting and dramatic, all at the same time, so much so that I might have broken down pretty early on. But you build a support system: you make friends that you grab lunch with, and others who become Jug-buddies and still others with whom you share your deepest darkest secrets. Eventually you settle into a rhythm and wonder what you were worried about in the first place.
Now a wise fool of a sophomore, I live in a fantastic triple and I don’t have a single complaint. I love my roommates and truly do wonder why I was ever concerned. I was never tied to my freshman dorm. I can’t say I especially miss Stillman, but it pushed me to make friends with lots of different people, who lived all over campus. Sometimes I imagine what a cult-like Curtis floor would’ve been like, but I will never wish for a different freshman year.
It’s a funny thing, to consider the cultural acceptance of American college dorm living, which was recently brought to my attention by an Australian transfer student. You are expected to live packed like sardines, and struggle through it for better or worse. The question “How’s your roommate?” floats around the country amongst high school friends as a regular check-in. ‘Sexiling’ is a regular habit for some (a good or bad one probably depends what side of the door you’re on).
I may not have had a roommate my first year, but I can’t picture college life without the stories of roommates past, present and future, and I hope I’m never able to. It’s a rite of passage in the United States to get past roommate problems, one that sparks conversation across generations and among dear friends. Class of 2014, look in the bed above, below, beside or in front of you, and thank the gods of Res Life for the stories you’ll never forget.