Edited by Oishiki Ganguly
To all the Ashokan guys, gals and non-binary pals, welcome to the new semester! Now that we can finally leave the “online hell semester” behind and move into the new year, the dream of an on-campus semester doesn’t seem as far fetched as it seemed a few months ago. For those of us who will be returning, there is, of course, an overwhelming amount of excitement, but this hardly compares to the impatience bubbling out of the first years who are yet to experience the much-hyped-up campus life. From the afternoon naps in the mess lawns during the lunch hour, midnight craving trips to the Dhaba and intense library study sessions (or intense wasting of time disguised as study sessions) to the most important and nerve-wracking bit of hostel life - roommates! While every roommate relationship is unique, there seem to be some popular trends frequently seen throughout campus, and it’s only fair for me to warn you about your potential future roomie. Here are a few common types of roommates that I’ve personally observed:
The Messy One vs The Clean Freak: If you’ve ever seen any chick flicks that take place in a college environment, you’ve probably already imagined what it would be like living with either of these two extremes. If you yourself are a clean freak and can’t stand a single dusty surface, I highly suggest that you practice living in surroundings that are a little muckier than you’re used to, in case you end up with someone who doesn’t share your love for a spotless room. Alternatively, if you’re an absolute pig (adorable) who loves rolling around in their muddy swamp, you might also want to practice cleaning after yourself at least every alternate day. While it may seem like it’s a Herculean task for these opposites to get along, always remember that the key to living together is a pinch of compromise. Think about it as an opportunity for personal growth while simultaneously helping the other to step outside their comfort zone. Clean freaks, enlighten your pet pigs about the polished and fresh-smelling life that comes with a clean room. Messies, help your polar opposite to realise that one strand of hair on the floor doesn’t always need to be disposed of at first sight and is actually, and sit them down for this because they may not believe you, harmless. That way, instead of having two distinctly opposite sides of the same room, you’ll have two sides in the middle ground, leaving your room cozy and consistent.
The Invisible One vs The One You Can’t Get Rid Of: If you’re someone who is terrified of losing their personal space in college, pray to whatever superior force you believe in that you get the Invisible roommate, also known as the roommate who is almost never in the room. When you wake up, they’ve already left the room, when you return, they’re already asleep (or vice versa). You’ll have a grand total of one and a half minutes worth of conversation a day if you’re lucky enough to be in the room during those few minutes where they make a guest appearance to pick up their books or speakers, after which they disappear once again. If you’re someone who fantasizes of finding a confidant in your roommate, don’t be disheartened if you think you have no time to talk to them because they’re always on the go. The great thing about this type of roommate is that more often than not, their reason for being out of the room all day is to meet the tons of friends that they make effortlessly. Their outgoing nature will help speed up your relationship immensely once you take some time to spend with each other. It’s also very likely that they successfully convert you too, dragging you with them everywhere they go! If we look at the other hand, though, there also exist roommates that you absolutely cannot get rid of. These are the introverted individuals who think that there is no better spot on campus than their cozy bed, which is totally understandable. They spend the whole day in the room, cuddled up with their laptop or a book, even asking their friends to bring food for them all the way from the mess because they just don’t enjoy the idea of the outside world. Your room also becomes the hangout spot for their entire group because your roommate refuses to leave (side note - if you’re not comfortable with this, it’s very important to let your roommate know! Communication of comfort levels is vital). Knowing how tedious and stressful life at Ashoka can be, I think everyone becomes this roommate at one point in their college life. That being said, this does make it difficult to find personal space in your own room sometimes. In such a situation, try to keep in mind that your roommate may be cooped up on their own because they’re having a hard time on campus, perhaps because of the overload of work or the homesickness that hits everyone at some point. The best thing you can do in this instance is be there for them and remind them of life outside closed doors. Offer to go with them for events (of which there is no shortage at Ashoka), show them how much more fun it is to read under the sun and introduce them to new people. The great thing about our college is that you can have fun doing almost anything, we just need to be reminded of this from time to time.
The Parent vs The Baby: Although college is supposed to be the first stepping stone into adolescence, some of us jump a few extra stones and reach the most advanced corner of adulthood during this time. What I mean is that college has a way of bringing out the parent in you that you weren’t even sure existed, specifically when it comes to the person you live with. This means reminding your roommate to drink water throughout the day, forcing some healthy food into their otherwise junk-food-filled system, scolding them for not doing their work on time and doting on them on their bad days. This may sound a little frustrating, but you probably wouldn’t survive without them, especially if you’re the baby roommate. If you eat junk all day, don’t understand the process or need of laundry, can’t clean the room alone and basically can’t function without help, then it shouldn't be a surprise that your child-like self will benefit greatly if you get a parent counterpart. This roommate relationship is probably one of the purest ones that exist. Although it can feel a little nagging at times and like any parent-child relationship may contain excessive bickering, it’s always accompanied with an undertone of care and love. It also really helps on the days that you miss your family on campus because it reminds you that you have a brand new family right where you are. The important thing to remember here is that every child eventually does grow up and learns to run the show. Consequently, every parent reaches a phase where they begin to focus more on their own life and well being. The end destination of this duo, therefore, is one of maturity and understanding.
This is a very limited list of what you might face in the room that you’ll learn to call your home, but I hope it gives a clearer idea of the bond (or lack of it) that can exist between roommates. It’s unrealistic to expect all roommates to get along, but if you get lucky (like me) and put in a little effort, you might just find a new best friend to be grumpy with in the morning and laugh with every night before bed. You’ll find a special concoction of traits exclusive to your relationship, creating one of the most memorable parts of your college experience. If not, keep holding on. You’ll get to choose your roommate very soon, after which you can start living the dorm room life of your dreams!