With whom shall I room? How to handle roommate speed dating


illustration by Andrea Nebhut

Picking someone to live with is no insignificant task. In fact, it can be kind of terrifying — think about all those couples who date for years but still hesitate to pack their boxes and move into the same small apartment.

Even your best friend might have a few strange habits: What if they leave rotting food on the floor? What if they watch football games in the room, yelling at the screen all the while? What if they throw watermelons off the balcony for fun? Any of this might drastically decrease your quality of life for however long you live with them.

So, what’s a lonely student to do, in order to find their match?

At the tail end of my first year, I was without a living buddy and had no idea how to choose one. I attended a roommate mixer in the lobby of the Witt Center as a last resort. Strangers surrounded me. We all nibbled on the candy that ResLife had set out and made desperate small talk.

I had a pretty good conversation with one girl, and I thought we were hitting it off until she revealed that she loved to have big groups of friends over to play video games. Um, not my style. Give me anything but excessive socializing.

I was about ready to leave the awkward mixer in defeat, but then, a circle of girls formed, and we started asking each other questions. Were we quiet or loud? Up late or in bed early? What were we involved in on campus?

I got to talking with Kathleen, a girl I vaguely knew from my hall, a fellow English major who happened to work at the Trinitonian, about where I was planning on interning in that fall.

She texted me an hour after the event, saying something like, “Hey, we seem to have a lot in common, maybe we should be roommates?”

A bold suggestion, but there was no reason to decline. We figured we should properly meet first, so we got coffee at Einstein’s. We talked about English professors and TV. Since we had enough in common to hold a good conversation, we figured, why not? Let’s live together.

This year, if I do say so myself, Kathleen and I have made a great roommate duo. We’re generally considerate with one another, a quality most commonly exemplified when one tries their best to not wake the other when they’re sleeping. We have a lot to talk about, since we both work as Trinitonian editors and share a major.

Perhaps, most conveniently for me, Kathleen was always available to provide a quick and intelligent answer to my questions back when I was a young Trinitonian intern — even though I probably annoyed her with my infinite journalism inquiries last semester.

In short, Kathleen and I are a good match, even though we had barely spoken to each other before we decided to make the roommate commitment.

What’s the moral of my story? Probably that you might have to take a risk, albeit a calculated one, when making this fundamental decision. Start with similar interests and go from there.

If you have to pick someone you don’t know well, it’s best to select from within your major, or perhaps your job, or at the very least your after-school hobby. If you find someone who likes the same stuff and seems generally considerate, those traits alone may add up to an ideal person with whom to room.

Most importantly, put your best foot forward. I knew people last year who had no roommate options but still didn’t attend the mixer, and to that ridiculous opting-out I say, come on y’all.

If you don’t at least try, you won’t even have a chance of finding your roommate-soulmate.