After reading Conley's piece, I was reminded of my first year of college and how it would have been very different if I hadn't had a random roommate.
I'm a recent college grad and while my freshman year roommate was random, there was still a touch of the digital age to make our first encounter less awkward than imagined. Like Conley's piece, I remember checking a box that said I wanted a 'non-smoker' as my roommate and then all I could do was pray that she wouldn't be crazy.
Well, a few weeks later, an email popped into my inbox and it had a name and an email address. It was my roommate. So there she was, Jen from Ohio. Now, like most anxious freshmen, I added Jen on Facebook and saw immediately that we were total opposites. But being the open minded person I was, I knew I had to give it a shot and I patiently awaited move-in day.
When that day arrived, I was worried, excited and nervous to meet Jen and see what she was like beyond her Facebook picture. And as my family and I walked up the stairs and turned the corner, we were greeted by Jen and her family in front of my new home, room 304.
At the time, I really didn't appreciate this first encounter. But now, as a graduate, I realize that this first roommate introduction was the beginning of my college mindset. This encounter determined how I would think, how I would approach others, how I would interact with others and how I would learn how to accept others for who they are ... flaws and all.
Thankfully, Jen was a good first roommate. Did we have our differences? Of course, what pair doesn't! But we were able to work out our various differences and learn from them and even learn from each other. We learned how to work with each others' sleeping habits, how to compromise on the A/C level and one of the most important issues: What to watch on the one TV in our room. But all these experiences made us grow and now, we both share a bond that we'll remember forever ... the first college roommate.
Jen and I were a good pair for our first year but we were still different people. So we didn't live together at all for the rest of our college years but it wasn't because we hated each other, we just took different paths. We would always wish each other happy birthday on Facebook and if we ran into each other on campus, we'd stop and chat. But we really didn't see each other often since she was a chemistry major and I studied journalism.
On graduation day, as I was walking with my family to my journalism ceremony, I ran into Jen and her family. It was perfect timing – the person I started my college experience with was one of the people I saw on the day that marked the end of it.
Roommates may not be as "random" as they used to be, but at least the option still exists. Like Dalton Conley, I hope that students take a chance and check random for their roommate. If I hadn't, I would never have met Jen from Ohio.