Memories That Last a Lifetime

Dec 18, 2000 (Updated Jan 28, 2006)

The Bottom Line The roommate experience can be annoying but it can also be interesting. Good or bad, everyone should experience it.

Who can forget their experiences in college? I sure can't, and when I noticed this editorial category here in epinions, I started to think back to my own experiences with college roommates.

I graduated from high school in a small town in Ohio, and looked forward with enthusiasm to leaving the nest. I was always an independent thinker, and I didn't like the small- town, narrow- mindedness that was commonplace where I lived. I wanted to get away from all that and meet new people who were a little more wise to the ways of the world.

So, I anxiously counted down my days to freedom. On Aug 19, 1984, I left my parents home for good, and moved into the college dorm at the University of Dayton. I didn't have any idea who my roommate was going to be, but I was confident that he would be someone who was more open- minded and more intelligent than the people I was used to living around.

The Big Moment:

I moved into my new home, a small room with bunk beds, a closet, a sink, and a desk built for two. I was the first to arrive. While I was unpacking my belongings, my new roommate showed up. He walked in with bags in hand, escorted by some of his family members. I was anxious to find out about this guy; anxious to get things situated in the dorm room, get rid of the parents, and head out to meet some women and drink some beer!

But, alas, my hopes were shattered! My roommate turned out to be someone completely different than what I had hoped for. He was prudish, naive, vulnerable, trusting of authority, and quiet. In a nutshell, he was a complete bore! He represented exactly the type of person I was trying to get away from.

Oh well, tough luck, huh? But not a problem! I decided I would just let him go his way and I would go mine. I can respect differences in people. While I don't prefer to associate with prudes, I don't mind if they want to be that way, as long as they respect my right to be the way I want to be. I ended up selecting my own group of friends and I ignored my roommate to the best of my ability. I only had to tolerate this situation for eight months. I was disappointed that my roommate wasn't more like me, but the situation could have been worse. At least he wasn't a heavy drug user, right?

Summer Adventures:

After freshman year was over, I needed to look for some new roommates to live with during the summer. All of the friends I had made that year went home for the summer. There was no way I was going to live at home again, so I started looking around for a place to stay. Finally, I noticed a "roommate wanted" advertisement, posted in the dorm. I quickly answered it, met the guys, and signed the lease. My summer was now all set!

These guys were quite different from my freshman roommate. I didn't know when I first met them, but I was quick to discover that these three men had only one thing on their minds: partying!!!!!! All three of them were lovers of drugs, especially pot, which they smoked continuously, whenever the opportunity presented itself. Needless to say, they went through a lot of disposable lighters and a lot of food that summer!

Back to School:

For the fall semester, I once again found myself with my back against a wall. Everyone I knew had already found a place to live, and there were no vacancies available at their respective residences. So, once again, I had to go out and look for advertisements for roommates. They weren't difficult to find. The thing that bothered me was that I wouldn't know anything about the people I was living with. Would they be like my freshman year roommate in the dorm? Or, would they fit the other extreme, like the guys I lived with in the summer? Or, would they fall somewhere in between?

Well, what I ended up with was a diverse group of guys: 4 roommates from completely different backgrounds. One was relatively friendly and easy going. One was a staunch atheist and a member of the army ROTC. The other two were very conservative and were not very tolerant of people who disagreed with them, regardless of how wrong these two might be. They were both completely inflexible in their thinking. It's shocking how this group of young men, so very different from each other, ever became friends in the first place.

Things started out ok, but got a little ugly from time to time. One of the conservative guys, Dave, was quite a strange fellow, indeed. He was the type who would believe the earth was flat, if a person of authority said so. He and his other conservative buddy often got into some intense, emotional discussions with the rest of us in the house; debating such issues as abortion, poverty, religion, the proper role of government, and many other controversial issues.

Final Years:

I was happy when that year of turmoil came to an end. Needless to say, these guys did not ask me to live with them for the next year. I would have turned them down if they had asked me, anyway. After going through these extremes with different types of roommates, I finally got my chance to live with people who were more compatible with my own thinking and my own lifestyle. I moved into the Fraternity chapter house that following summer, where I stayed all the way to graduation. We had our disagreements and squabbles, like all roommates have. But it was nice to finally live with more "middle of the road" type men.

I believe in the "work hard, play hard" philosophy. I think that a person should fulfill his/her obligations first, and then, if time and resources permit, they should let loose and do what they enjoy doing. That's exactly how my final roommates felt, too. They made sure their homework and other obligations were completed, but when it was, they were ready to tap the kegs and celebrate life!

Closing Thoughts:

As you can see, my experience with roommates pretty much covered the entire spectrum of personalities. I lived with prudes; drug addicts; conservative fanatics; and even an atheist. But would I trade this experience? Not at all! I think it helped enrich my life, by showing me first hand just how different people can be.

If you're young, about to attend college, and your wondering whether or not having a roommate is the best way to go, my advice is to go ahead and do it! College is about living through new experiences; finding out about new things and ideas; thinking in new ways; and discovering things that you might never have known before. It's a time to experience and appreciate differences. Some, you will like, and others, you won't like. But it's still something that everyone should live through.

You only get one chance to experience the college lifestyle, so enjoy it! You just might learn something about people that you never knew before!

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Member: Bryan Carey
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