Junior year at Fordham marks the dawn of a new era. Your peers jet off to every continent to study abroad and experience a true preview of what real life is like by moving into their very first off campus apartment. With subletting all under control and study abroad applications approved, it’s finally time to take the reigns of upperclassmen life into your own two hands and make it count.
I had neither of these experiences. An unfortunate change in majors halfway through my college career prevented me from studying abroad, and my parents’ reservations about the surrounding area kept me cooped up on campus. I was going to live with five brand new roommates who I barely knew, and let me tell you, I. Was. Nervous. I was eager for acceptance, anxious to be the best roommate I could be to these strangers, and determined to make a good first impression. Mostly, I was grateful to have a place to live on campus that wouldn’t make me the creepy lone junior living in a single on an all freshmen floor.
I’m happy to say that it worked, and that I gained five new, beautiful sisters last semester. This one is inspired by you gals. With so many roommate horror stories out there to consider, I’d like to take this time to reflect on the good ones.
You willingly dedicate, at the very least, two hours to binge watch a television show or movie together on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter how busy or tired you are. It doesn’t matter if you intern eight hours a day and then spend three hours in a night class when you get out of work. When you get home, you know you will find a handful of your roommates sprawled across the living room couches and kitchen table watching hours on end of Awkward. or Law and Order: SVU. You know that Mondays and Thursdays are your day to watch The Chew on ABC from 1-2 PM and that if you miss one episode, you feel like you’ve betrayed both your roommate and yourself. And when it gets cold outside, you would much rather stay home and watch White Christmas on AMC two times in a row than bundle up and head to the bar.
If, at any given point of the day, you decide that you want to break out into a spontaneous dance craze, you won’t be alone in doing so. Once you start dancing, you know someone will join in. Even if they don’t, your efforts won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Your provocative rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Do What U Want” will turn heads in a judgmental, yet endearing manner. I mean, come on, it’s practically irresistible to avoid partaking in. You’ve probably always been curious about what “the wobble” is, and now, you’ve got five other people who want to learn it and try it with you! And plus, it’s great practice for when you hit up some overcrowded house party that you don’t take seriously, and so you choose to kill it with the dance.
You can spend hours laughing at and listening to throwback music. Every single person in your apartment probably has, at some point, made a playlist of all their favorite Disney hits, 90s top 40 jams, and grunge-alt-pop-rock tunes from the mid-2000s. There are common threads between them. Pretty soon, everyone is either at the table or in one of the bedrooms huddled in a circle with their laptops taking turns cranking up the beats, followed by roaring laughter and pathetically proud singing along.
Family dinners become invaluable parts of your daily routine. When you have your first kitchen, you will want to learn how to cook. It just becomes too enticing. If you say you don’t cook or that you have no desire to, you are lying and have tried it at least once. But when you make a big meal, you become the Italian grandmother you either have or always dreamed of having, and your goal quickly becomes to shove your culinary creations in the face of every person close to you. When you have a mid-week crisis and you bake a cake to alleviate your stress, you know that while this cake won’t last for more than twenty-four hours, you won’t be eating it alone. If you haven’t planned that far in advance, then maybe there are two or three of you who are willing to contribute whatever you have to pull together a small, comforting dinner. These dinners may or may not include pulled chicken and couscous, taquitos and couscous, or chicken noodle soup and macaroni and cheese. Maybe these aren’t the most pleasing combinations, but it is the thought and the company that ultimately count.
Your friends are their friends and vice versa. Your room situation becomes this six-way marriage: everyone gains something and loses something. When your friends come around, your roommates take a liking to them. They can bond and become close. And when their friends come around, you feel like these additional people are a part of your room family too. Pretty soon, you’re hosting get-togethers in your apartment where everybody can come together from different groups and backgrounds and be completely comfortable and happy as a group.
You will learn to love unconditionally. It doesn’t matter if you accidentally woke someone up at 3 AM on a Saturday morning because you were being rowdy and obnoxious after a fun night out, or if someone didn’t empty the silverware tray, or forgot to clean the bathroom on their day. You have found your niche in your living situation, and you would never trade it in or give it up for a bar of solid gold. You become an imperfect, yet beautiful little family. You get comfortable with your habits and the habits of others. And when you find yourself irrationally angry and on the verge of tears over something stupid, you will always have a shoulder to lean on and a friend to embrace you.