One of the most nerve-wracking parts of coming to a new place where you will be challenged socially, academically and emotionally is figuring out who you will be living with for the next 270 days.
From The Bachelor to Keeping Up With the Kardashians, there’s one thing many reality TV shows have in common—all of their subjects live together. So do all Macalester first years.
So how do you avoid getting into reality TV-worthy situations with your roommate? And how do you make your dorm feel more like home and less like a very large walk-in closet?
Maya Varma ’20, a Doty 2 resident, decided to use unique and slightly questionable decorations: a framed piece of crayon art, a blank chalkboard and a sign made out of yarn that says, “Believe,” to make her dorm feel a little more like home. “I wanted to put really, really ugly decorations on my wall—they make me happy. A lot of people have said that the decorations are ugly by themselves, but together, they make something beautiful, which describes a lot of my life,” Varma said. Luckily, Varma has a “super nice” roommate, who was able to accept that their room would never reach “Pinterest standard.”
Yet, sometimes the residential experience is more about who, rather than what, is in a dorm. Jake Lepak ’20, lives in Dupre 3 and rarely sees his roommate. “I love my roommate,” said Lepak. “He’s awesome. But sometimes we sit in our room at like, noon, just doing homework, and then his friends come kidnap him, and I won’t see him until one in the morning.” Lepak has accepted his roommate’s sporadic social habits. “We’re on the same level, and we laugh at all the same stuff, but he just disappears a lot. I spend zero time with him outside of our dorm, but I think we’re great as roommates.”
Although you might come into college thinking that your roommate needs to be your best friend, Lepak and Kayleigh Kaminski ’20 disagree. “My roommate isn’t what I expected,” Kaminski explained. “She’s much cleaner than I thought, and she’s had a lot of cool experiences, but we’re really different people.” There have been a few situations of conflict-resolution with Kaminski and her roommate, but only small issues like locking the door. “We talk and figure it out. But really, we get along and my roommate isn’t in the dorm very much, so I can watch Netflix without headphones.”
All residential situations are different, and it’s completely unpredictable when you consider that all first years are paired up after filling out a two-minute questionnaire.
I ended up living in a double without a roommate, after my almost-roommate unenrolled from Macalester. Although my living situation is nothing like what I expected, few first years can say that college is exactly what they thought it would be.
“Let go of whatever you think a dorm should look like, or whatever you think your residential situation needs to be,” advised Varma. “Think about your roommate before you buy stuff for the room, or before you do something, but if you want to put ugly shit from Goodwill on your wall, you do it.”
Reality TV shows might be fun to binge watch, but not to live. If you want to avoid finding parallels between Hell’s Kitchen and your residential experience, communicate with your roommate and remember that many other first years have the same stresses as you do.