FLTW: Roommate Expectation vs. Reality.

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Having a roommate is weird.

When I first went off to university, I decided I wanted the entire university experience – so I chose a school outside of my hometown, and decided to live in residence with a roommate.

I was super-excited to have another girl around my age to share a room with. If movies had taught me anything, it was that we were going to become best friends right off the bat, I’d introduce her to all the awesome people I met in my classes and she would do the same, we’d stay up late chatting and watching movies in our room, and suddenly we would find ourselves with a tight group of BFFs for life. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

I don’t know if I can say that my roommate and I were ever really friends. We didn’t really have anything in common – she was a preppy English major interested in student council and musical theatre, and I was the goth kid more interested in her boyfriend back home than anything else. We put the effort in for the first month or so to hang out, grab dinner together and talk, but by the end of the year I don’t think we ever spoke to one another. I would usually stay up until 3 am talking with friends back home over MSN or listening to music and. I would wake up around 12, or I would wake up early for class then go back to bed from around 11-3 pm, which I’m sure was annoying to her, having to be quiet halfway into the day. It was a bit of a shock comparing expectation to reality – the roommate situation was definitely not what I expected.

To be honest, I don’t think I was very good at being away from home my first year. I was naturally shy and I went back home every weekend, so I didn’t really give myself the chance to get to know other people at school. I was placed in an all-female residence, which naturally, had a lot of drama that I wanted no part in. Then you throw in the fact that I wasn’t close with a lot of girls in high school (I had a few close girlfriends, but otherwise I hung out with guys), and that this was when my eating disorder was starting to develop (so I didn’t want to eat with other people)…no wonder I felt so weird and out of my element.

It’s no surprise that I transferred back to a school in my hometown for my second year and finished out my undergraduate education there. On one hand, I switched schools for a major I couldn’t take at my first school, but on the other hand, I was not mature enough or ready to be on my own in a new city – I was 17 in my first year. And, realizing that my university life (and my roommate) was not working out the way I hoped it would made the situation even more unpleasant for me.

I moved back in with my parents and stayed with them until I moved in with Eric – so, I’ve never had another ‘roommate’ outside of Eric, and I’m fine with that. I’ve realized that not only do I need my space, but sharing a small space with someone that you have very little in common with is really, really awkward.

So, the roommate thing didn’t really work out for me, for multiple reasons. Apparently, having a roommate is not for everyone.

Bittersweet

This post was inspired by Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, a novel that exposes the gothic underbelly of an American dynasty, and an outsider’s hunger to belong. Join From Left to Write on May 20th as we discuss this novel. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Have a good one!

<— Have you ever had a roommate? Were you friends?

<— Would you rather live by yourself, or with a roommate?

<— Did you have more female or male friends in high school?

70 Comments

  1. I am so nervous about having a roommate next year in college. I am so scared….and so need my own space. I guess I can just really hope for someone who I can just get along with, right?
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted..Power Monday #45 8 Steps to Success When Eating Out Gluten-FreeMy Profile

  2. I actually met my roommate at orientation a few weeks before classes started freshman year and we were roommates all 4 years and continue to be good friends. AWWWWWW yeah yeah I know…I feel like I’m the minority in that situation but I’m glad it worked out how it did.
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted..Chocolate Peanut Butter PopcornMy Profile

  3. This was really interesting to read and I couldn’t agree more- it’s difficult to develop a relationship with a roomie if you have nada in common! In my first year of boarding school, I was rooming with a girl who didn’t speak a word of English so that ended up being awkward. Luckily I could choose my roommate for the next 3 years which ended up being a blast. Especially in such small spaces, it’s so important to be able to have some level of comfort!
    Khushboo recently posted..A weekend of delicious eatsMy Profile

  4. Here in Switzerland it is not very common to go abroad for school or studying, so usually everyone stays with their parents until they get a job or they rent an appartment with other students. I never had a roommate for longer – I always got along very well in skiingcamps with everyone in my room, but I never lived with someone for longer. I think today I would go for it – but back then I was too deep in my ED and couldn’t imagine having people around me watching me eat (or do disordered stuff).
    Lucie@FitSwissChick recently posted..MIMM – Girls and GoodbyesMy Profile

  5. I had a terrible roommate experience my freshman year of college. I lasted 6 weeks in my room before my coach called community living and my mom had my doctor write a note to get me a single because it had caused me to relapse back into my ED when I was in a very unstable place to begin with. I had a single for the next 2 years but lived across the hall from my best friends, and then I moved in with one of them junior year where I’ve been living ever since. Like you, I’m pretty shy so it made the roommate situation hard. I’m lucky that I live in a giant condo so my roommate and I have our own personal space/bathrooms/etc. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to living in a tiny space with other people very soon since I know I won’t be able to afford a studio on my own, but my parents have always stressed how important it is for me to learn to live with people, especially because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Some of us just need our space but we learn to make it work
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted..Last Weekend of CollegeMy Profile

    • that’s true – most people will end up living with someone else at one point, so we do have to learn how to make it work!

  6. I honestly couldn’t imagine having a roommate. I went to school in my hometown, and stayed with my parents until I had enough money saved up to buy my own place. Part of me feels like I missed out on the whole college experience, but a bigger part of me knows that’s not really who I am and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it. I need my space and my peace and quiet. I like being with people, but I also like having my own little sanctuary that I can come home to at the end of the day.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... playing favourites .My Profile

    • definitely agree – at the end of the day I need some time to myself, which is hard if you’re sharing a small room with someone.

  7. My first roommate was very nice, but we didn’t have much in common either. Plus, she liked to stay up very late and I need my sleep, so that was a point of contention. We both had TVs (in one room) and so we’d plug in our headsets and both watch our TVs from our beds. I don’t know. I still keep in touch with her periodically, and after I heard some other roommate stories (and had a kind of terrible roommate myself when I moved to Connecticut), I think I was really lucky with my first (and only) actual ROOMmate.
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted..Empty NestingMy Profile

    • at least you guys were able to work something out where you weren’t being noisy when the other person was trying to sleep – must have helped!

  8. Roommates. I could write a short novel about this topic by now having had numerous since moving out from home four years ago. It’d even be quite a funny one – my friends and family enjoyed those little anecdotes. Maybe because they’re hilarious when you’re not the one constantly cleaning up the kitchen after your roommate…
    Over here it’s not quite as common to live on campus, though, so people usually share apartments somewhere in the city the university’s in. So I found a flat and then looked for a roommate. Like you always hoping for somebody to become friends with, watch movies, cook, … It never happened. Right now that I’m about to move again I’m pondering whether or not to play the roommate game again but rather not.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted..Good good links #39My Profile

    • definitely fair! And I might have done better in an apartment with a roommate – having my own room rather than sharing.

  9. I’ve never lived with a roommate before. I went to college close to home, so I lived with my parents and commuted. I can’t even imagine living with a roommate. I have that Type A personality and like things a certain way, so that definitely would be a challenge. Luckily, Justin is very similar to me in that sense, so I don’t have to worry about that too much. But the thought of going to live with someone you don’t know anything about and how there are is kind of intimidating. I think I’d much rather live alone.
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..It’s a Liebster Kind of DayMy Profile

    • it’s definitely a little weird going into it – great that you and Justin are compatible with living together!

  10. I had a similar experience with my roommate freshman year of college. We never disliked each other, but we didn’t click as friend either. I was an early-bird, she liked to stay up late, and that was just the beginning of our differences. It’s cool, though. I eventually roomed with friends, which can be an interesting experience in and of itself. You learn so much when you live with someone, so it tests that friendship.
    Jaclyn @ BumpSweat recently posted..26-Week BumpdateMy Profile

    • I’d be almost more afraid to room with friends – I’d be worried I’d get sick of having them around so much!

  11. I have wonderful roommate stories and horror stories. Then again I’ve had 5 roommates over the years so it’s natural that some would work out and some won’t. I’m happy I had the experience and learned a lot about myself from living with other people but now I’m more than happy to have C as my roomie and hoping that won’t ever change
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted..{Weekend Recap} Montreal ShenanigansMy Profile

    • definitely fair! It’s good to get a mix of experiences, I think. I remember the horror story you told me in TO a few weeks ago – that sounded horrible!

  12. I always loved living with a roommate. Except for my first one in college..that was a nightmare. But once I was living with my actual FRIENDS, it was a blast. I wouldn’t trade those roommate years for anything in the world, because once you get married and start living with a BOY full time, you really miss those late night girl times and staying up late laughing with your friends about anything and everything whenever you wanted because they are just a door down the hall!
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted..My Oatmeal: Double Chocolate Chip Oatmeal CookiesMy Profile

  13. Halls of residence (as they are called in the UK) at uni were pretty fun for me. But then again everyone has their own room and you share facilities – so you always had your own space.

    I’m not friends will many folk from uni still, but I am with more of my husbands uni friends – strange but I guess we all get on better!
    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape recently posted..Weekend Spills!My Profile

    • I think that would have been ideal for me – I was fine sharing public spaces, I just would have liked my room to myself!

  14. I would definitely rather live on my own than with a roommate… I just like being by myself! I like living at home, I have no shame about it!!
    Cassie recently posted..Getting it Together on the Road: TorontoMy Profile

  15. My freshman roommate was a complete disaster. She stayed out all night drinking/hooking up with guys and we struggled. Thankfully after the first semester we were able to switch! I love living by myself but apparently when you get married, you sign up for a full-time, forever roommate, hehe
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..CINQ Chicago – Summer Kick-Off CelebrationMy Profile

  16. Oh god, don’t remind me. My freshman year roommate was psycho (literally and figuratively). Add to that my homesickness and natural introversion . . . let’s just say my first year of college was not fun. Fast forward a few years and roommates later, and I’m back living with my parents.

    Despite the stigma around ‘still living at home’ in your 20s, I am perfectly happy with where I am. My parents and I get along great, I’m comfortable, and being surrounded by positive support has crucial in my recovery.

    When I’m ready, I’ll move out again, but I’m not going to force myself until it feels natural.
    Rebecca recently posted..Getting Things Out of Your SystemMy Profile

    • if I wasn’t in the relationship that I’m in right now, I can almost guarantee that I’d still be at home with my parents – it was comfortable!

  17. I’m not going to lie, this makes me sad! I know that having a roommate doesn’t automatically make you best friends, but I’m definitely hoping that when I go to university next year it’s a good experience. Seeing so many people comment that their freshman experience was horrible is scary! But honestly I am just hoping that by putting myself out there and being friendly it will all work out.
    Emma @ Life’s A Runner recently posted..The BEST Training Recap You Will EVER Read EVER.My Profile

    • Aww, I didn’t mean to make you sad! There’s definitely some positive experiences in the comments, so people can get awesome roommates!

  18. Interestingly, I had great roommate experiences. I got really lucky and hit it off immediately with my random roomie freshman year (we were annoyingly perfect together). Subsequently, I roomed with people who were my friends and we all managed to stay friends through all the little annoying things. I know that that’s an atypical experience – usually roommate situations don’t go as smoothly. I just got really lucky. I can say that the next time I do move out, I will be living alone almost for sure, unless I magically find the love of my life.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted..Out to Dinner [MIMM #28]My Profile

  19. I have two roommates now for the first time in my life. In London it’s just crazy expensive to live on your own, so 99% of people flatshare. Every house I went to was a big party house and my training and non-drinking regime didn’t exactly fit in. Lucky I found some roommates who are a perfect fit for my wild lifestyle
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..An unusual training weekMy Profile

  20. Roommates in college are definitely an interesting experiment. My situation was made even more complicated by my diagnosis with celiac disease a few months before my freshman year of college. That meant I had to tell the girl I was randomly assigned as a roommate that I needed my own fridge and microwave. Awkward….

    I survived, though, and have an awesome friend set up for my roommate next year! So, really, I think roommates can be amazing – you just have to find one with a similar schedule and temperment

    http://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2013/07/celiacs-and-college-roommate.html

  21. I lucked out with my roommate my freshman year at Pitt…she was only around during the day and chose to spend nights with her bf at his apartment haha. She was very sweet and brought my baked goods often that she made at his place, so I think we would have been fine but not being around each other a ton definitely helped. Sophomore year my roomie was a little crazy (ie wild partier) but she was nice, too, so I didn’t mind it most days. I lived with my good friends for part of junior year, but there were too many girls in the house (five total) so then I needed my own space and lived on my own till Joe came home. I do a lot better on my own or with one other person, but living with my friend and her husband has been fine thus far, too, and I’m hoping that continues
    Caitlin recently posted..Keeping QuietMy Profile

  22. I would have probably been in a similar situation as you if I had to be “assigned” a roommate. I used to be more shy and would alienate myself if I felt like I didn’t have enough in common with someone. Besides, I think we should be able to choose who we want to live with, you know?

    My roommate in college was actually Brandon and his best friend. I know it sounds weird for a young girl to be living with two guys but it all worked out.
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health recently posted..Our Wedding: The ReceptionMy Profile

  23. For me, it depends on who my roommate is. I was really blessed in college when I first went away I roomed with my absolute best friend, and we got along perfectly. The next semester, I roomed with a different best friend, and we got two random roommates who we did get along with great. One more than the other, but still. Then I transferred schools and roomed with ANOTHER best friend, and we had a TERRIBLE roommate. But then we got an awesome one after that. So, I’ve been really lucky, but there are always harder times as well as good ones!
    Brittany Lesser recently posted..Day 3 – Wine Tasting in Napa ValleyMy Profile

  24. I’ve only ever had my sister as a roommate, at least until I got married. My sister was a terrible roommate and I’m sure she would say the same of me, but we were stuck with each other. She had very bad dreams at night and would wake me up wanting comfort. I was not the loving sister I should have been and she would to sleep in the bathroom so she could sleep with the light on. But now that we are older, we are the best of friends and we talk often of someday being old ladies and living together and sharing a room in an assisted living facility…we’ll see how that goes!
    Alicia S recently posted..Bittersweet Memories of my First Time Away from my FamilyMy Profile

  25. I can relate! I didn’t have a roommate in 1st year (I got a single room because of my nut allergy) but I wasn’t really close with my roommate in 5th/6th year. We made an effort at first, but eventually we just gave up – we were too different and truth be told, her sloppiness kind of annoyed me. Luckily I really liked my roommates from 2nd-4th year!
    Chelsea @ Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen recently posted..My favourite local products in the GTAMy Profile

  26. I’ve only had one roommate and that was my freshman year of college. If anything it taught me that I need to live on my own haha! My roommate was the total opposite of me — she was messy, slept in really late on weekends and spent all her time on her computer — so basically I dreaded coming back to my room after classes. Luckily I made a few friends on my floor so I had other rooms to hang out in but after that year I lived in a single suite dorm and then I’ve been living alone in 1 bedroom apartments since then and loving it. I’m someone who needs my own space, and I don’t think I could live with a roommate even if we were friends!
    Ashley recently posted..Dreamin’My Profile

  27. My roommate sucked freshman year! I ended up getting my own apartment the next year and I haven’t had a roomie since.
    Matt @ Runner Savvy recently posted..Dallas Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon Race ReportMy Profile

  28. If you don’t mind me asking what was the university that you attended before moving back closer to home? Just curious if it happens to be mine

  29. I fought a ton with my first roommate during freshman year, but we would always find two hours of peace on Monday nights to watch One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl in reverent silence haha.

    I loved having my own apartment when I transferred though…it could get lonely at times but for the most part it was bliss.
    Tara @ Rovin’ Rambler recently posted..Weekend In PicturesMy Profile

  30. Only had a roomie twice (it’s not a big thing here in Australia) on exchange in America and we turned out to be good mates- he was in International student from Shanghai and all he did was study- but he was a champ and would study in the halls when I wanted to sleep early lol.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted..When your weekend is fuelled by sugarMy Profile

  31. My first roommate was born on the same exact day and year as me. We couldn’t have been more different! We lasted 1 semester together.
    Thien-Kim recently posted..Book Club Pick: Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-WhittemoreMy Profile

  32. Having a roommate is tough. When I went to college I roomed with my neighbor from home, who was also my best friend since Kindergarten. It actually worked out well for us for the time we did it because we were raised similarly so we had similar routines and outlooks on things. However, I can’t imagine it being easy it other situations. After rooming with her I didn’t have another “roommate” until I met Ben.
    Cori @ olivetorun.com recently posted...confessions.My Profile

  33. Pingback: Book Club Discussion: Bittersweet - From Left to Write

  34. Sharing a space with another person is hard.

  35. I transferred schools, my first school, I got along with my two roommates but they hated each other, so awkward. My second school was 70% male and all the transfers were male except for 3 (at least those living on campus) and so I was put Ina freshman dorm. I loved my roommate, it took a few months to build a relationship but we lived together our first and third years and we are still friends today.
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted..Bittersweet: Leaving Your HometownMy Profile

    • that’s nice that you were able to get a friendship out of it! Needless to say, my roomie and I didn’t stay in touch.

  36. I wanted the same experience when I started college, and ended up living in an on-campus apartment with 3 girls – it. was. awful. Worst roommates… they didn’t know how to clean up after themselves, and our apartment smelled BAD. I transferred to a different apartment with a friend, and that worked out better until the girl I shared a room with got on my last nerve (+ my mom was thinking of moving out of state), so I just moved home for the last 2 months of spring semester. I spent the rest of the spring + summer with my mom until my boyfriend and I decided to move in together, which I think was one of our best decisions. It was hard at first, and we definitely had to figure out how to live with each other, but I’m happy he’s been my longest + best roommate!
    Kelsey @ Ramblings of Change recently posted..Thinking Out Loud / #5My Profile

    • haha I think I’m much better off living with my guy than with roommates! Your first experience sounds horrible!

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