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Avoiding roommate shock!

June 18, 2002|by ASHA PATEL

It all happened when I got my room assignment in August. I was not too happy, to say the least, when I found that I was to have three roommates during my first year as a college freshman.

I saw the size of those rooms during orientation, and they barely looked like they could accommodate two.

Seeing no rationale in crying about my predicament, I called my roommates later that month to work out who would be bringing what so we wouldn't end up with two of anything.

On the real move-in day (I moved in a day early so as to beat the move-in rush and so that I could get first dibs on bed and furniture - a little trick I picked up from my sisters), I found that our room was the most diverse in the entire hall. Our room housed an African American, a Caucasian Jew, a Hispanic, and myself, an Indian.

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"This won't be so bad," I thought to myself. They seemed nice enough.

Well, let me tell you that just about everyone may seem "nice enough" at first encounter.

It didn't take me long to find that the diversity of our room went beyond ethnicity. All four of us had different but distinct styles, quirks, and idiosyncrasies.

Celeste couldn't sleep when there was any noise in the room, but Erin had to fall asleep to the hum of the television. Tamar had a lot of friends who frequented the room, whereas I often had a lot of homework.

The one thing that all students lose when they go to college - and this is unfortunately something for which preparation is futile - is their privacy. There's no way around it. And this loss was noticeable to an even greater degree in a room of four girls.

You honestly can't help but get irritated at the little things: She's too messy, or he doesn't shower often. It definitely is a change from our quaint little homes where everything is familiar and easy to deal with.

But what are you supposed to say to someone you have just met who snores like a bear in hibernation?

The roommate experience may have initially started out rough for me, but sitting here reminiscing about my three feisty and sometimes obnoxious roommates, I can't help but miss them. Despite all of our differences, we gradually learned about one another throughout both semesters.

We would have those typical late night girl talks, cry fests, hours set aside for "Dawson's Creek," four-day-straight gym routines before realizing that the "freshman 15" pounds that you gain when you go away to college was inevitable. And I can't forget those boy talks.

So for all of you who are college-bound this fall, my advice to you is: Be open minded. Think of your new roommate(s) as your surrogate family for the first year - it's like adopting a brother or a sister. Second, be flexible - chances are, you're going to be assigned to someone not entirely like you. Learn to make sacrifices when necessary because things won't always work out as planned. And last, don't forget to have fun - your first year of college is the most memorable and a good start is to forge a lasting relationship with your new roommate.

I may have approached my particular roommate situation with an initial dislike, but I definitely left school loving each of them.

Asha Patel, a North Hagerstown High graduate and former Herald-Mail intern, is a student at the University of Maryland, College Park.

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