True Story: My Roommate Left the First Day of Freshman Year

College can be different for everyone, but one thing that usually remains universal is that we all have to learn to live with our roommates. Some roommates live in separate rooms, and others live ten feet away from each other, but we all have people we end up sharing just about everything with.

Coming into my freshmen year of college, I’d be living in a 20-feet-by-15-foot dorm with a stranger. There are very few times in our lives where we will ever be that physically close to another person for such a long time. I still found myself excited for it though. It felt like I was finding a new best friend, someone to watch late night movies with and go out with for our first times away from home.

I had chosen not to match with a roommate; I wanted to leave it up to fate. I’m a big believer in getting the full college experience, and that meant a random roommate to me. I’d spent most of my summer waiting to hear who the UF Housing gods had decided to pair me up with. When I eventually found out, it felt a little strange. There were no long paragraphs of texts about our lives and how we’d be living together for the next year. It was more like silence between us. I wasn’t too worried about it. After all, we would have all year to become friends.

I was the first to move in, which is strange enough on its own. Spending my first night alone in a humid UF dorm was not how I pictured my first night. Later, I’d come to find out that, that would become my first month of college: roommate-less. My supposed-to-be roommate had decided to take a semester off and hadn’t told me until the night before she was supposed to move in.

Having a room to myself at first sounded great: I could have my privacy, and I could make the place feel at home. The problem was that it was my first time at college, and I felt like I was spending it alone. I felt like I was missing out on all the bonding that I saw the other girls in my hall were having. It wasn’t the college experience I had ever pictured.

I ended up spending as much time as I could in other people’s dorms because I didn’t like going home to an empty room. I would come home every day to a bare left side of the room. That side of the room had looked like it belonged in a prison with its naked bed and sparse walls. I felt like I was missing out on the college experience. It felt like fate had cheated me.

Eventually, I got used to the other side of the room being empty. I had even started to decorate it, to breathe some new life into the dorms. After all, I had the room to myself. I could blast any kinds of music I wanted, stay up as late as I wanted and eat an entire package of Publix cookies without feeling judged.

Right when I was starting to get used to the idea that this would be my college experience, a stranger barged into my room one morning about a month into my first semester. I was bleary eyed, very confused and slightly alarmed – mainly because I knew I’d locked the door – and I had met my new roommate.

Our first conversation consisted of her apologizing profusely for waking me up and then her explaining that she was moving in. I’d been extremely confused because no one told me that someone would be moving in. I ended up getting the email the next day.

It was strange learning to share the room that had begun to hold my first college memories. I had to learn how to be a good roommate and how to give and take. It didn’t take me and my now-roommate too long. Even though we live together, we still end up doing just about everything together. We watch late night movies and go out on the town – everything I wanted out of a roommate.

Everyone’s college experience is different. I’ve started to learn that we can’t plan out our whole lives. There are things that happen that are out of our control. My first experience in college was unique. I learned how to be on my own, and how to appreciate having others in my life, too.

Photo credit: Michaela Mulligan