My roommate was Jewish and from Vermont. If I’d been a cartoon, you’d have seen a giant question mark pop up over my head when I found out. Judaism and the entire New England region was utterly foreign to me. How was I going to live with a girl who embodied those two things? After all, I was an East Coast black girl who didn’t have a clue about Seder, let alone maple syrup.
But my roommate wasn’t so bad. She actually loved reading books just as much as I did. While she worked at a library, I pursued my passion of the page by sitting in book stores trolling the shelves for hours on end. Once she emailed me and asked me if I had any recommendations, I lept at the opportunity to get the conversation flowing. We gabbed about the weirdest sorts of things like microwaves, electric water boilers, and home furnishings. Then it was on to the Middle East, Dumbledore and our own family dynamics.
Eventually, we decided to save the rest for moving day. Now that we knew we were email compatible, we were both curious to find out if we could manage to live together. I knew she and I shared one bond, but what about all the other little things that came with being a roommate?
Living with strangers. That’s essentially what a roommate is, right? It’s one thing for your sister to see your smelly clothes on the floor and hear you snoring, but someone you don’t know? That’s why reaching out early is so important. Phone call, email, text – it doesn’t matter. Because the more you know about a person, the less “strange” this stranger is to you. Discuss your likes and dislikes, bad habits, and pet peeves. Don’t be afraid to put it all out there and ask the same of her. The more each of you know about each other, the more comfortable you’ll feel when you finally meet face-to-face.
Sharing is caring, dude. My roommate and I probably wouldn’t have clicked if we hadn’t exploited our love of books. Now we have our own little system. She takes some of mine, I take some of hers, and we exchange recommendations. It’s a very small part of who we are as friends and roommates, but it’s become the glue that holds us together.
No judgements. Be a risk-taker. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you take those three things to heart, you and your roomie should be alright.
– Jumoke Bello