The summer before I came to Syracuse University, I heard piles upon piles of sage college wisdom. Aunts, uncles, teachers, older friends, each dispensed their nuggets of College Knowledge on my waiting ears. They expected me to be stressed – about classes, about leaving home, about making friends – and tried to assuage my fears with fun stories about their time at college. Whether it worked or not, I can’t say, but I tried to absorb it all as if I was studying for a final exam.
Overwhelmingly, the advice wasn’t about classes, or dining halls, or getting lost on the first day (though to be fair, that stuff turned out to be pretty straightforward). Everyone wanted to tell me about their college roommates.
Every story seemed pretty much the same: lasting friendships, sisterly bonds. An aunt told me that my roommate would be the first person to come through for me in a jam. My dad was in one of his college roommates’ weddings.
It’s really cathartic to know going into a new, scary place where you don’t know anyone, that you’ve got a built-in friend on your very first day. Many of my peers and I were of the opinion that Facebook is mostly for moms, but everyone I knew was putting that aside to scour Groups and Pages for the perfect roommate – their perfect first friend. That seemed like a lot of work for me, so I put in a request for a random roommate and let fate guide me from there. It was only afterward that I started to fret about it. What if we didn’t like each other? What if we weren’t friends? Would my college experience be ruined?
(Spoiler Alert: no.)
Fast-forwarding to my first few days after move-in, my new roommate and I quickly realized we had next to nothing in common. She was nice and smart, and she kept to her half of the room, and for my entire freshman year, that was about as far as our friendship went. We sat in companionable silence and did our homework on opposite sides of the room. I offered her pizza when I ordered too much, and she offered me some leftover fries. Beyond that, we kept to our own circles.
At first, I felt a little gypped. I’d heard all these great roommate stories, where was my automatic BFF? But as the semester went on, I quickly found my own friends, in dining halls, in classes, on other floors of my dorm. People I did have things in common with, who I really jived with. Within a week, I had a veritable circle of new friends, who I’d only met because I wasn’t attached to my roommate all the time. One trip to the dining hall by myself, one “great T-shirt, dude, I love that show!” and I didn’t even need a built-in best friend. I’d found the people that would become my best friends all on their own.
The one thing nobody told me on my journey toward Syracuse was that in the end, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate. At this point, I think it was better for me that I wasn’t. I branched out, met more new and interesting people than I would have otherwise.
Now, though, as a sophomore, I can tell you that having a roommate that’s also your best friend? Also a pretty sweet deal.
Meg Burnard ’20 is studying Communication Sciences and Disorders and Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences. She grew up in Rochester, New York. Meg is a member of Democracy Matters, and in her free time she enjoys reading comics, going to concerts, and playing games with friends. More blogs from Meg Burnard.
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