Before I came to Penn State, I felt stressed out about making new friends and getting along with roommates. “I don’t understand why I can’t find a single apartment to live off campus for my first year of college,” grew into the most frequent complaint that I said to my friends about the ridiculous rule of requiring all freshmen to live on campus.
After finishing my freshman year of high school in China, I decided to study abroad to continue my education.
My high school helped me find a host family to provide me with a place to live while I attended school. However, shortly after I moved in with my host family, an Italian girl moved in too, and since the house featured limited space, we roomed together. My negative outlook on roommates started from that moment.
That year felt like a nightmare. My roommate liked to hangout with friends and party. Unfortunately, I am more introverted and enjoyed staying in the house. Conflicts between us started to emerge with the collision of our different lifestyles. She often invited me to hangout with and her girl who went to the same high school as us. I went a couple times, but each time I went, I felt awful. They talked to each other in Italian, a language I didn’t know, and left me out of the conversation. From that point on, I began to imagine that she probably didn’t like me. However, I didn’t communicate with her about it. Instead, I pretended everything was okay. Most of our conflicts didn’t necessarily come from verbal arguments, but a lack of communication. I didn’t know how to express my feelings.
After that experience, I told myself that I never wanted a roommate again.
Unfortunately, life often challenges me. This time, life challenged me with the college I chose to attend: Penn State. Penn State requires all first-year students to live on campus, which means I would need to live with a roommate. From that point on, I began worrying about living with a roommate because I feared that we wouldn’t get along. I kept thinking about the same thing every day, which distracted me from concentrating on my life. The thought of getting a roommate caused my anxiety level to increase dramatically as I got closer to the end of summer break and the start of college.
August 23 – the first day of class, a day I will never forget.
I met my future roommate Yizhou for the very first time on August 23. When I talked to her, I tried my best to smile and nod in order to mask my nervousness and agitation. We both attended the same class together and afterward she invited me to grab lunch. I completely freaked out. I told myself that I should step out of my comfort zone and try to talk to my new roommate, even though I could clearly hear my heart beating through my chest. I considered it for a long time, then finally, I accepted her invitation. I didn’t know what to say so I chose to keep silent for most of the time. I even started counting the seconds as they passed. I felt so awkward hanging out with someone who I didn’t know very well. That day seemed like a year.
Although my previous experience of living with another girl negatively affected me for a long time, I still looked forward to getting along with my new roommate and maybe building a good friendship with her.
After we lived together for a few weeks, I got to know that Yizhou already owned a small business in China selling clothes. I, on the other hand, kept struggling to set goals for my future. One night, she asked me what I want to do for my career. I looked into her eyes for a long time, only three words came out of my mouth – “I don’t know.” After I said that, she immediately jumped out of her bed and said, “Don’t worry! We will work together through the process and help you find what you are passionate about.” Under her positive influence, I began to open my heart and mind. With time, I started to invite her to go downtown or to the gym with me.
Life went surprisingly smooth until Thanksgiving break.
Since the residential hall closed over the break, I applied for a temporary single room while Yizhou planned to go to California to visit her friends. When I moved to my new room, happiness filled both my heart and brain. However, my excitement didn’t last very long.
During the break, the sun started to go down early. Every time I came out of the gym only the darkness guided me back to my single room. One day, as I returned back from the gym, I just stood sadly in front of my temporary room. I stopped. I didn’t try to find the key and open the door because I knew only loneliness awaited me. For me, only tears and depression accompanied my whole break because I missed my roommate Yizhou.
I never thought that my roommate could impact my college life so much.
I’m beyond thankful for my kind-hearted, loving, intelligent, caring and beautiful roommate, Yizhou. I’m grateful for all of the great memories I made with her. Because of her, I met a better vision of myself and started to get out of my comfort zone. I enjoy living and hanging out with her. The presence and involvement of Yizhou in my life made my entire fall 2021 semester pass like a breeze, unlike August 23, a normal 24-hour day.