Finding a College Roommate is Harder than Falling in Love

Cover of the novel Roomies. The book takes a common experience of many college freshman, and makes it personal.
Photo via SarrZarr.com

“Everybody is nervous about going off to college. There are many things to worry about. Leaving friends, family. What to bring, what to leave. Which pair of tennis shoes to take with you. Buying mini fridges or microwave. A big worry is roommates. Will they be nice, cocky, a pot head, a computer nerd? Those are the thoughts running through the main characters of Sara Zarr’s and Tara Altebrando’s book, Roomies. Their future college, Berkeley, sends them an email pairing them as roommates. New Jersey native Elizabeth decides to email Lauren, her new California-raised roommate. Over a long summer of fights, family, boys, and emails, the girls form a relationship unlike any other. It’s a book full of love, life, and tuna fish sandwiches. This book brings a whole new meaning to growing up.”

Growing up huh? Eighth grade me wrote this book review, and she thought she had a handle on this whole growing up thing. Shockingly, she was wrong.

The college application process is probably one of the hardest things I have done in my entire life. You spend essentially one whole year focusing entirely on the future. You spend that time writing of your triumphs while only thinking of your failures. Days on end of comparing your stats to strangers, and worse, to friends. You thinking the SAT and ACT are the hard part, and then you get to the essays. You think the essays are the hard part, and then you get to the waiting to be notified part. And finally you think waiting is hard until you get the financial aid packages. As a 14 year old I thought the sky was the limit as long as I worked, so I did. And surprise, I got into college, and by the will of some scholarship god I can afford it. Now, finally I thought, is the easy part: find a roommate.

 There are a few ways to find a roommate.

1.Room with someone you already know.

2.Wait to randomly be paired with someone.

3.Make a profile on the admitted student’s Facebook page.

From the neurotic voice of this article, can you guess which option I selected? Yep, lucky number three. I spent an hour writing the following:

Hey guys! My name is Wren and I am from Portland. I will be studying marine biology. I enjoy swimming, running and exploring! I also like to do some collaging and random crafts and baking. I am actively looking for a roommate, so if you like adventures, cakes on your birthday, and binge eating blueberries and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, then dm me on instagram.

With a few quirky photos of me in the woods, my persona was out there, ready to mingle. Seniors finally feel like they can rest when they get to this step. They think some super cool person who doesn’t have emotional or financial issues will jump at the chance of being best friends. How many potential roommates reached out? None. ZERO.

So I reached out to people who had made profiles. I talked to approximately 20 girls. I connected with about five of them, but of those five, none wanted to room in the same building that I did. I was once again at square one.  So after putting myself out there and trying to make connections, I had nothing to show. I was forced back to number two, waiting to be paired by some computer. This algorithm would determine not only my home environment for the first year of college, but also who might be in my wedding. It would either give me a best friend or a horror story I would tell my children. So, unsure of basically everything, I turned back to a book I read about four years prior. Roomies.

Ironically all taking place leading up to the main characters’ freshman year of college, the book truly covers the insecurities that come with blooming adulthood and leaving home. Two girls in completely different situations and opposite coasts have to learn how to get to know each other while still learning about themselves. The summer before college seemed like a waste of time, a blockade between them and some spectacular unknown future. But it turns out they learn how to be individuals through their relationships with others.  Being an adult does not mean buying appliances or having trendy room decor. Being an adult is about seeing the big picture while still living for today. Best said in my senior quote, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”-Robert Frost. This book isn’t about growing up, it’s about being grown up. So on that note, I’ll be grown up and realize it doesn’t matter who I get paired with as long as I go into it with compassion and openness. And besides, I can always sleep in my car.

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