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Roommate Anxiety: How I Survived Living with a Total Stranger

During the summer before I came to Kalamazoo College, one of my biggest concerns about the year ahead was how I would have to live in a small space with a complete stranger. I debated whether or not I should go in blind and let the college pair me with someone according to their Housing survey, or if I should find someone over social media to room with that had the same interests as me. Friends and family who had already experienced their first year at college had mixed reviews: stories of college roommates they were still close to into adulthood
that their school had paired them with, acquaintances they had chosen themselves, and roommates they did not get along with. To say the least, the prospect of choosing another person I would have to live and interact with everyday was overwhelming.

I waited to turn in my Housing survey, going back and forth between wanting to just get it over with and go in blind and trying to find someone online. Luckily, the Admissions Office sets up a Facebook page for every incoming class as a way for students to get to know each other prior to coming to campus. A lot of kids posted information about themselves on the page, like their prospective major, their interests and hobbies, their living and studying habits, and where they were from. I scrolled through most of the posts, noting people with similar interests or habits to mine. As the deadline for Housing requests was quickly approaching, I commented on someone’s post who said she liked to paint and loved the movie, Palo Alto – two of my favorite things. We bonded briefly and decided to room together last minute.

Since there wasn’t much on her social media pages and she went on LandSea without a phone for the last two and a half weeks leading up to Orientation, I was nervous that I knew very little about this random girl I had agreed to room with. Flash forward to move-in day, when we finally met and discovered we were in the same First-Year Seminar without even planning it. Since freshman spend the majority of Orientation with their seminar group, we got to know each other pretty quickly and ate most meals together with people in our seminar during the first couple of weeks of school. Regarding the time we spent together in our room, we laid out ground rules with our RA in the Roommate Agreement every resident has to fill out. During the first few days, we talked about standard issues, like how we preferred to study or what our sleeping habits were, but eventually we became more comfortable with each other and starting talking about our hobbies and our personal lives. As the year went on, we learned more about each other and now my roommate is one of my closest friends here at K. For something I came into college thinking would be a huge deal, living with a roommate turned out to be fairly easy. As long as you respect each other’s space, communicate about your habits and needs, and abide by the rules you and your roommate decided on in the Roommate Agreement, the two of you will be able to peacefully coexist and who knows? Maybe you’ll even become friends.

-Emiliana Renuart ’20