I suspect that it is a universal (and perverse) hobby of college upperclassmen and graduates alike to terrify rising freshman with cautionary roommate stories of horror. This past summer, it seemed like all I had to do was mention the fact that I was about to start college and aforementioned upperclassmen/graduates would inquire about my roommate situation. Did I request a roommate? Did I know who she was? Until a couple of weeks before I left for school, the answers were always “no” and “I did not.” Apparently, these honest answers were basically invitations to terrify me with stories of the ill-adjusted and insane human beings assigned to live with whomever I might have been talking to. So, believe me, I was prepared for the worst.
I am happy to report that I did not get stuck with a sociopath. I have never woken up to my roommate hovering above my bed, whispering, “I just like watching you sleep.” My roommate does not horde insect-attracting stashes of food, she is not attempting to build a replica of Mount Everest out of randomly thrown-about possessions, and has never put me in the situation of having to request the dismissal of a gentleman caller. We’re not exactly best friends, but we respect each other’s space and requests, ask about each other’s days and occasionally share amusing anecdotes (she’s from Istanbul so I generally just ask her about Turkey and she seems pretty psyched to answer my culturally-ignorant questions). I consider myself pretty lucky. However, I know of a few people who have not fared as well.
Since my roommate experience is pretty positive, as are almost all of the experiences of my college friends, I will now share some of my favorite stories, borrowed from my more exciting friends from high school. One friend of mine, who attends school back in Ohio, was getting along with her roommate just fine for the first few days of school. They even agreed to share a fridge and a printer – totally amicable. Then came one fateful night, when roomie was playing her music loudly. My friend asked her if she could put on headphones. Roomie responded that she didn’t have any, then promptly updated her Facebook status to: “Roommate just asked if I had headphones like BITCH WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU ON? I’M NOT TURNING S**T DOWN!!!” Which my friend could see … because they were friends on Facebook. When my friend pointed this obvious out, her roommate promptly blocked her. My friend decided to sleep on another girl’s floor that night, only to later return to shards of plastic in her laundry detergent and candy wrappers in her bed. She moved out soon after.
Another friend of mine, who also ended up in New York City, but at a different school, had a relatively good relationship with his roommate. That is until his roommate started disappearing. Days would go by and, without any explanation whatsoever, the roommate in question would completely vanish. Then, without any notice, he would return for a day or two. They actually still haven’t resolved this – every time roommate disappears, my friend wonders if he is lying in a ditch somewhere. Then he returns and all is well again … until the cycle continues.
Then there are the messy roommates, who view their dirty clothes as draperies that add a delightful sense of ambiance to even the most cell-like dorm room. There are the roommates who just can’t seem to shut up, even when you put on your headphones and smother your head with a pillow. There are roommates of all varieties who beg the question: was this person crazy before they came to college, or did coming to college incite the crazy? I think the bottom line is this: whether you love or hate your roommate, having one at all is a valuable life experience. Learning to live with somebody who is basically a complete stranger inevitably teaches you so much about yourself. You learn your limits and the bounds of your patience, sure, but also self-awareness and the ability to compromise (ideally). At the very least, you get a few interesting stories out of it.
Now comes the fun part. There must be some even better roommate horror stories out there … please share them so that my friends can feel better about their lives.
Want to contact the writer of this post? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie Zeilinger also edits and blogs for The F Bomb.