Finally, housing assignments are out; I can’t wait to meet my roommate! We’re going to be such great friends, I can feel it.
Fast forward a month into the school year.
So, can I switch roommates?
Most of the time, incoming freshmen get a little say in who their “bunkmates” are going to be. You take a quiz: You list how clean you are, what your sleeping habits are, how many times you hit snooze, how you like to study, etc. You still might not be paired with your future BFF, but chances are you won’t hate each other if you at least share similar habits.
Notre Dame, of course, didn’t give me any quiz to take. I was essentially playing roommate-roulette, and I happened to be paired with a girl who put quite the damper on my freshman year. No amount of advice articles prepared me for such an uncomfortable living situation.
My former roommate, Betty,* was not my cup of tea. (She wasn’t even my cup of coffee, and I love almost all coffee.) In the beginning I let her make all the choices—this girl was going to be my friend, right? However, it quickly became apparent that this was her room and not mine. I slept there, but every other decision was made by her. She didn’t want to loft? No problem, I would. She wanted a chair? Cool, I’ll lend mine to someone else. My hair’s in the sink? I’m so sorry, I’ll clean that out.
After a couple of weeks, I realized that I was cramming myself into one corner of the room, maneuvering around a chair that was smack-dab in the middle and cleaning what I’m 99 percent sure was Betty’s hair out of the sink.
Despite my best efforts to spend as little time as possible in the room, there was still the matter of sleep; though apparently even that was unreasonable to expect. Betty owned the place and had a constant stream of friends moving in and out. Usually that was A-OK, since I spent little to no time there. But even when I would crawl into my sweet, sweet bed, they would stay and talk right next to my head while I was trying to sleep. The whisper was a concept of which they were unaware.
Worst of all, was the dreaded whiteboard, on which I was supposed to write everywhere I was going to be for “safety” purposes.
Again, I agreed to this when I was trying to be friends. Soon I realized that it was nuts; why did she care if I’d stepped out to go to the bathroom? She left an ominous “Please write on the board” when I didn’t comply with my commander’s—errr, I mean roommate’s standards. She clearly didn’t understand that most college students own cellphones and, thankfully, she wasn’t my mother.
I never asked Betty to write down her whereabouts; if she wasn’t in the room, it was a blessing I didn’t question.
After a couple passive tiffs including one concerning a certain missing whiteboard (oops), Betty decided we needed to discuss our “problems” with our RA. All I could think was THANK GOD. Get me out of here, ASAP.
Rather than a much-needed lifeline, I sat through a meeting in which they discussed how I wasn’t nice and how it seemed like I didn’t want to be friends with her, even before school started. She explained how crucial the whiteboard was so convincingly that I almost believed she was my own personal NSA.
I didn’t get a new roommate. On the contrary, I got to stare at a blank whiteboard that generated hate-filled awkwardness for the next five months. She was as controlling as ever, and on the last day I had no qualms saying “Bye, Felicia” to that girl. Word of advice to colleges: Random roommates don’t “build community,” and they can actually make for a pretty uncomfortable freshman living arrangement. I survived, but it’s not easy to live with a stranger, much less one you don’t like.
*Name withheld for privacy