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Having a terrible first-year roommate is like a right of passage. A mere mention of college is enough to send graduates into a spiral, detailing how their roommate would freeze their tampons, had a live-in boyfriend, or did stick-and-pokes on the dorm’s hardwood floors. While it may suck in the moment to live in an 8×16 room with someone you dislike, it almost feels worse to not share in this quintessential collegiate experience. 

When I received my dorm assignment in August, I was shocked to discover I was placed in a single. Although I had heard that Barnard had used singles for first-years to limit the spread of COVID, I assumed my vaccination status would land me in a standard double, triple, or quad. I had even requested a roommate, who ended up in the single directly adjacent to mine. 

I have to admit that my introverted side had a mini-celebration when I read the assignment. Without a roommate, I wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with someone else’s weird habits, and, even better, I wouldn’t have to justify my own. There would be no issue with my 3 AM peanut butter eating or my late wake up time. I would have my own little oasis, and in the chaos of college, that sounded really appealing. 

It is, to be fair, very nice. I have decorated my space and made it feel like a mini-home. However, there is something very isolating about not having a roomie. I just don’t have that immediate person who is always there to get a meal with or rant to. My social life is totally dictated by me: I have no annoying-but-necessary person there to push me out the door on a Friday night when I’m inclined to stay in my PJs. If I don’t make active plans, I can spend whole days alone, just going from class to class and eating in my room. Worse still, I feel I am missing out on the classic struggle of sharing space with a stranger. When I hear my friends complaining about their roommates, a tiny part of me wishes I had some war stories of my own.

Here is my pros and cons list for having a single in freshman year. I don’t really know who this will help, but maybe some freshman newly placed in a single will come across this article and feel slightly more prepared. 

Pros:

  1. I get to decide when to turn the lights off.
  2. I can watch Gilmore Girls naked in bed any time I want.
  3. I have full interior design control.
  4. I don’t have to ask for alone time when I need it.

Cons:

  1. I had to buy a minifridge on my own.
  2. Sometimes, I have to face my fear of eating alone in the dining halls.
  3. I have to self-motivate to socialize (definitely not my strong suit). 
  4. I don’t have that irreplicable roommate bond.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see whether or not I prefer a single. Who knows, maybe in a few months I’ll relish my time alone or (though, I hope not) despise it. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up article to this one in the Spring. Until then, I am proud to be, in the iconic words of queen Beyoncé, a “single lady.”

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Lily Crowell

Columbia Barnard '25

Lily Crowell is a first-year at Barnard College. She intends on majoring in American Studies and Human Rights. Outside of class, Lily loves dancing, reading, and trying new restaurants. Follow me on Instagram @Lilycrowell
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